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September 12, 2006

B of A Gets New Blood

By Peter Chapman

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  • B of A Gets New Blood
  • Page 2

Bill Harts recently joined Banc of America Securities to head up strategy for its equities trading arm. A consultant to Banc of America since June 2005, the veteran strategist and market structure expert aligned himself with the big brokerage following the departure of chief operating officer Ross Stevens.

Harts reports to Peter Forlenza, Banc of America's global head of equities and a former colleague on the program trading desk at Salomon Smith Barney.

Harts has spent much of his career evaluating, building and investing in new trading systems. He started on Wall Street with Goldman Sachs. There he designed an automated market making system that he later built for Shearson Lehman, the largest Nasdaq market maker at the time.

As head of strategy for the equities trading group at Salomon Smith Barney in the 1990s, Harts steered the broker-dealer into the STRIKE ECN, the Primex price improvement system and a few smaller investments. His last job was head of strategy for Nasdaq, where he spent about a year.

The exec discussed Banc of America's plans with Traders Magazine Executive Editor Peter Chapman.

Traders Magazine: What is your role at Banc of America Securities?

Harts: I am responsible for equity strategy-Where we are heading, what businesses we are going to be in, which ones we won't and why. The electronic trading group had grown so fast that Pete [Forlenza] wanted to take stock of where we were, to be introspective. Which businesses do we like? Which ones don't we like? Which businesses do our customers like? To inventory the spectrum of our products and services to ensure we are meeting our clients' needs.

TM: There have been several departures from the electronic trading group in the past year. Is the firm finding it difficult to execute a strategy?

Harts: None of the departures had anything to do with lack of focus or strategy and have had very little impact on our business.

TM: Banc of America Securities is generally not held in the same regard as a Goldman Sachs or a Morgan Stanley or a Credit Suisse when it comes to electronic trading. Do you have work to do?

Harts: People would be quite surprised if they knew how large our business is and how important we actually are in the electronic trading space. We will start releasing some metrics soon and I think some people will be very surprised.

TM: Any changes in store?

Harts: I don't know if I would say changes, but we are going to sharpen our focus. Our product offering is broad and diverse and we need to hone in on the opportunities that we have to make our customers' lives easier. I would like that to be our focus.

TM: Narrow things?

Harts: If anything, we will broaden our product offering and focus on the tools that make trading easier for clients.

TM: What does the buyside want?

Harts: It depends on which part of the buyside you are talking about. The traditional money managers want ways to utilize the intelligence and resources of their traders in the electronic environment and ways for electronic tools to interact with their traders to make them more productive. Trade better, faster, smarter, etc. Our job is to provide those tools.