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November 2, 2011

We Got the Beat

By Michael Scotti

Congratulations are in order for a group of women who have not only succeeded but thrived in the male-dominated industry of trading. Not all of the 15 award-winning women being feted in "Wall Street Women: A Celebration of Excellence" work on trading desks. But at some point, they all have to deal with traders. You can read their stories in this month's coverage. There is also an event Nov. 10 that will honor these high achievers, too.

Michael Scotti

I'm sure it isn't easy for them to interact with so many men in such a hyper-competitive business, one that is often rough and tumble. But they've all managed to make their mark. I once spoke at an industry conference on the evolution of trading. I reached into my trusty library and pulled out a few anecdotes from "Confessions of a Stock Broker: A Wall Street Diary." The author wrote under the pen name of "Brutus" and offered some eye-opening-and, at times, hilarious-commentary. The diary covered a seven-month period, ending in January 1971-even before Nasdaq was launched.

One character in the book was an order clerk at a regional brokerage office. I can't recall her name, but her job was to get the retail clients the best price for their orders from OTC traders. Yes, she was young and attractive, and had to fend off the retail brokers seeking dates (not to mention the traders she did business with). But she was also a ferocious negotiator, throwing out lines like "Mind freshing up that quote?" if she thought she wasn't getting the best price. The book was an eye into how Wall Street worked before orders were centralized.

There is no question that the clerk in the order room was actually functioning as a trader-but without the title. You can bet when the Nasdaq stock market took off that she moved quickly up the food chain and worked at a brokerage shop. Maybe she landed at Herzog Heine Geduld, the big Nasdaq market maker that had its share of women working there. Or maybe she found a home at wholesaler Mayer & Schweitzer.

Or maybe she went to work at Prescott, Ball & Turben, an Ohio-based broker where Dennis Green ran Nasdaq and OTC trading. Mr. Green spent 38 years in the trading business and is a former chairman of the Security Traders Association. He was chairman in 1990. His daughter Jennifer Setzenfand is incoming STA chairman. Although their tenures as STA chairs are a generation apart, you can read in this month's Buyside Snapshot what unites them. By the way, Ms. Setzenfand got her start at Mayer & Schweitzer. Enjoy the issue.

Michael Scotti

Editorial Director


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