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May 31, 2000

Minneapolis Traders Move to the Gridiron

By Peter Chapman

Life for traders at U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray just got bigger and better.

After 15 years at Minneapolis' Piper Jaffray Tower, the broker dealer moved its main offices and trading unit down the street into the new, cactus-shaped U.S. Bancorp Center. Equity traders occupy 10,000 square feet in the new building, up from 4,000 at Piper Jaffray Tower.

"It's a 10,000 square-foot football field," said Tony Cecin, Piper Jaffray's director of equity trading.

The 115-person trading staff, which includes 20 Nasdaq market makers, 20 sales traders and 10 agency traders, has clear sightlines. There are no columns and low-hanging monitors. Ambient lighting and brand new IBM flat panels reduce eyestrain. BT Turrets offer each trader 1,600 direct lines. Used with closed-circuit TVs, they also allow traders to attend the morning meeting without leaving their desks.

For listed traders, lines into the New York Stock Exchange bring electronic floor looks from floor broker handhelds.

Processing power is up, too. Brand-new IBM 300 PL workstations with 667 megahertz coppermine processors run video-intensive applications. Compaq 850-R servers with 733 megahertz processors connect to Nasdaq for trades and the BRASS service bureau for position-keeping. Piper needs the speed. Nasdaq volume doubled in the first quarter to 2.5 billion shares, according to Cecin.