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August 31, 1998

Incoming STA Chairman Art Kearney He's Committed and Ready for the Good Fight

By Michael L. O'Reilly

Art Kearney has never had problems making a commitment. He's been married to his wife Connie for 29 years, and they have seven children, ages seven to 27.

He's been an employee at John G. Kinnard & Co. all of his working life, starting as a mailroom employee at the Minneapolis brokerage firm in 1968. Today, he is director of capital markets at Kinnard, overseeing almost half of the firm's 350 employees. He also sits on the firm's board of directors.

Next month, Kearney will be named the 1998 chairman of the Security Traders Association, capping a 25-year affiliation with the organization.

"This business has been very good to me. I started as a mailboy and worked my way up. I feel I have something to give back to this industry," Kearney said. "That's one of the reasons I've committed myself to the STA. You have to be involved and put something back into the business."

Kearney would like to build the public profile of the STA, and get the organization more involved in new developments that affect trading.

"I want to continue to build the visibility of the STA, so that we have an impact in the growth of the marketplace," Kearney said. "A lot of major issues affecting the future of Nasdaq and trading are being decided now. Exchange consolidation. Electronic trading. New regulations. The STA needs to fill an important role in how these developments come to fruition."

Kearney has a close association with Nasdaq, having begun his trading career during the infancy of the market.

Promoted from the mailroom to the operations department in 1968, he was given a spot on Kinnard's agency-trading desk in 1972. In 1973, he began trading Nasdaq stocks at the firm.

"In 1973, Nasdaq was only two years old, and I was trading on the agency desk," Kearney recalled. "One of our senior traders was trading on Nasdaq when it started, and it literally drove him crazy. He just walked off the desk one day and never came back."

Kearney moved over to the Nasdaq desk to replace the senior trader. He credits the growth of Nasdaq over the next 25 years as a key to his firm's success.

In 1973, the firm had three Nasdaq market makers and covered only a handful of stocks. By the early 1980s, when Kearney began to co-manage the desk, the firm had 14 market makers in two offices, and handled more than 400 stocks.

In 1996, Kearney left the desk to manage equity capital-market operations for Kinnard. Responsible for trading, institutional sales, research and corporate finance at the firm, he dramatically rebuilt the trading department.

He closed the firm's Denver office and trimmed the trading department from 14 traders to eight. He also reduced its roster of stocks, from 425 in 1996 to 175 today.

Kearney said changes in the structure of Nasdaq in the last two years has cut profitability at Kinnard, and forced the firm to consolidate its trading operations.

"Nasdaq allowed us to grow so much in the last 25 years. But now it's creating a lot of frustrations, and we've had to restructure our operations," Kearney said. "That's why I'm committed to building the presence of the STA. I want traders to be involved in the changes in our marketplace."