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April 30, 2004

Life On the Edge: He was a kickboxing and wrestling champ, broke a Guinness world record and circle

By Ingrid Eisenstadter

Manny Santayana gives new meaning to "life in the fast lane." He spends half his time traveling in Europe, Asia and the U.S., working about 60 hours a week for Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB). And in his leisure time, he runs marathons, races speedboats at 100-miles per hour, and rides his Harley "really fast."

As marketing and sales director of Advanced Execution Services (AES), Santayana helped to launch CSFB's monster trading platform. And, under his management, that's moving really fast, too. In two years, it's gone from zero to 80 million shares traded daily. That's about 40 percent of Credit Suisse's total U.S. volume in listed and Nasdaq stocks.

AES' money manager clients get direct access to markets in 23 countries. Using up to 250 data points per second, the system provides eight trading strategies. Santayana says his favorite one is called the "guerilla" tactic. It is for trading illiquid shares, while remaining anonymous.

"The guerilla quietly hides in the bushes monitoring price and volume, while waiting for liquidity," Santayana explains. "When liquidity appears, the guerilla starts firing orders into the marketplace and when liquidity dries up, it goes back into hiding and waits for the next opportunity to attack. It works."

Santayana's hectic schedule is not aging him. He's almost 50, looks 40 and has the energy of a teenager. He needs it, and he thinks on his feet.

On His Feet

That comes naturally to this trading professional because he learned how to win with his feet: In 1981, at age 25, he became the New York State Kickboxing Champion, and that came only a year after his black belt in karate. He was just continuing a personal trend: In 1975, he broke a Guinness world record at a charity dance marathon, where he managed to stay on his feet for three days, 14 hours, and one minute. But then, Santayana has been at the top of his game for a long time. He was only 16 when he became a Pennsylvania State Wrestling Champion in high school. "That was a defining moment for me," he says about his first big win. "It took dedication, focus and commitment, and that's when I knew that I could compete and succeed."

Most men who speak about being in peak form are talking about a period of maybe a month when they were 19. The last time Santayana ran a marathon, however, was just two years ago in Reykjavik, Iceland, where he was on a trip with some Paris clients. He says he likes the Boston Triathlons best, however, "because there's free beer at the end of the race."

A New York City resident today, Santayana is a long way from the coal mines and dairy farms that once supported his father and grandfather in Pennsylvania, where he grew up. His big-city career began in 1978, after getting his Master of Science from Penn State. That's when he took a job at IBM selling financial applications. After a decade of hard work - he was annually named a member of the IBM 100 percent Sales Club - he decided to take it easy.

Life in Sales

For Santayana, a relaxing vacation meant circling the globe, visiting 100 cities in 33 countries in a trip that lasted a year. By the time he came home he had decided to go into the market full time and picked up series 7, 9,10 and 63 licenses. This eventually brought him to where he is today; a people person who loves his life in sales.

"I was at work till midnight last night," Santayana says, and laments in particular one night when he wasn't. That was during the East Coast blackout of last summer, "when I walked from 24th Street to 68th Street in Manhattan," Santayana recalls, "and climbed 19 stories to my hot apartment."

Back at the office in New York City, however, CSFB's seven back-up generators had kicked in, the AES system was up and running, and so was the office air conditioning. "Big mistake," he says today with a laugh. "I should have stayed at work and slept on my desk."