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February 1, 2000

Record Hires Ahead For Nasdaq Trading

By Sanford Wexler

Arecord number of pros could be hired by market maker firms this year as Nasdaq experiences robust price gains and strong share volume, according to industry executives.

While regional consolidation is displacing some pros and electronic communications network pose a threat, the welcome mat will greet vets and rookies at many desks. "Get me more competent bodies," said Aldo Parcesepe, head of OTC trading at Bear Stearns & Co.

The New York-based market maker expects to expand headcount on its Nasdaq desk by about 25 percent, or 20 pros, over the next 12 months. The desk currently has about 65 pros, including some 18 market makers and seven sales traders

Nasdaq supergiant, Knight Securities in Jersey City, said it plans to repeat last year's hiring binge, increasing its trading staff by another 40 percent, or in the region of 60 pros. The firm, which has some 600 staffers, had 80 position traders, two agency traders and 82 sales traders, according to the most recent Market Maker's Survey, conducted by Traders Magazine in 1999.

Herzog, Heine, Geduld, a cross-town rival, said it expects to recruit some 40 traders, an increase of about 20 percent, at its roughly 210-person trading desk. Herzog's desk currently has 40 market makers, 35 sales traders and about 135 support staff.

Nasdaq wholesaler, Sherwood Securities said it plans to add another 60 troops on its trading desks, bringing overall headcount to 310.

While some regional firms have been annexed by larger competitors, or are facing competitive pressures, others are expanding at a rapid clip. Boston-based Adams, Harkness & Hill, which has six market makers and eight sales traders, sees new jobs for three traders this year.

In Memphis, Hedi Reynolds, head of OTC trading at Morgan Keegan, said the firm's 13-person desk will recruit about three more traders this year. "We will be bringing on more junior traders to handle the changing nature of the business," Reynolds said.

C.E. Unterberg, Towbin in New York is maxed out on its headcount until later this year. In the last six months, the desk hired eight new traders, including four market makers and four sales traders. "We doubled the size of our desk," said Brian Finnerty, head of institutional trading at C.E. Unterberg. "This year we'll probably only hire one or two more traders."