Alumnae News & Highlights

Call Cynthia Bassett ’57 a pioneer in the financial services industry. When she started working, fewer than 3% of financial advisors were women nationwide.

An undecided major when she entered the all-female Hollins College, Cynthia quickly realized she enjoyed economics classes above most others. By her junior year, she’d transferred to the University of Wisconsin, “which had one of the best economics departments in the U.S.,” she says. The co-ed environment was good preparation, notes Cynthia, for the male-dominated world of financial services. “When I walked into my first econ class I was only one of two or three women and the professor announced, pointing to me, that he could no longer tell his jokes.”

Cynthia’s first job after college brought her back home to Cleveland, where she began a job working on portfolios at a firm that soon merged into Prescott & Co. After eight years, “I was strongly encouraged – almost pushed – to go into retail sales,” says Cynthia. “I was either going to sink or swim.” Luckily, she found it both “challenging and stimulating” and continues to work closely with clients and their families today – many of whom have been with Cynthia for three generations – in her role as Senior Vice President of Wealth Management at UBS Financial Services. For the past eight years, she attended the invitational Barron’s Top Women Advisors Summit.

Cynthia attended HB from 7th through 12th grades. She served on the school’s Center for Global Citizenship Advisory Committee and continues as an advisor to the Center and mentor to its director. She says HB helped prepare her for her future – especially, she notes, math teacher Mrs. Ecclestone’s classroom discussions on the stock market. In addition, Miss Wheeler’s geography lessons prepared her for overseas trips - initially to visit a classmate in Germany, and later a fellow HB grad in Iran. This prompted a 50-year-long hobby in international travel focusing on “cultures on the cusp of change.”

Cynthia has been to all seven continents, visiting countries ranging from Bolivia to Bhutan. She initially took photos for her own personal collection, but after a 1984 trip to Papua New Guinea, she was encouraged by friends to “take my photography to the next level.” Now, 33 years later, Cynthia makes DVD’s of her travel photos with scripts by her sister, Nancy Bassett Kaeser ’50, (available at Her photographs have been published through the Circumnavigator’s Club and in various editions of the Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia.

Cynthia’s travels have also given her a unique perspective on global investments for her work in wealth management. “One should never underestimate,” she notes, “the fundamental necessity of understanding one’s place in the global community.”

  • Distinguished Alumnae Award