Commentary

Tim Quast
Traders Magazine Online News

We're All HFTs Now

In this guest commentary, author Tim Quast looks back at the history of HFT and how the market has evolved to where many firms now fit the definition of high-frequency trader.

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November 2, 2011

Celebrating Excellence

Women Trailblazers, Entrepreneurs, Mentors, Rising Stars and Others Honored for Their Achievements

By John D'Antona Jr. and Gregory Bresiger

Trading is and always has been a man's world. But there are exceptions to every rule. Women in trading have made their imprint on an industry that has not always been female-friendly. Welcome to "Wall Street Women: A Celebration of Excellence." This issue features 15 award-winning women who have placed their mark of success upon the Street-and as a result, are being honored for their accomplishments.

While a small number of women have survived the tumult of Wall Street, the great ones have thrived. The winners' stories of leadership, perseverance, assertiveness and charity are inspiring to both women and men.

Take Jeanne Murtaugh, for example, a Wall Street pioneer. A 38-year veteran, she founded Wachovia's retail brokerage division. Murtaugh will deliver the keynote address at the inaugural event feting the winners on Nov. 10 in New York. Her success formula? A vision; being able to see where markets were headed.

"It was very important," she said, "to be strategic in my orientation. I clearly was not only committed to working hard, but identifying a trend line in a market."

A love of the business has been a primary driver that has propelled these high achievers to success. Just ask senior sales trader Sylvia Rocco, a 40-year veteran at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, who started on the trading desk in the 1970s. She recalls being the only woman in a men's locker-room atmosphere, given no formal training yet being asked to handle institutional clients' orders while her male counterparts were traveling.

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"I worked for four brokers as their sole assistant," she said. "The three hired before me quit within a few days. I guess they didn't like the hectic atmosphere."

But she remained and persevered. She has long been an anchor on the desk-a mentor to the junior traders who look to learn from her, as well as a respected colleague to everyone.

Indeed, perseverance is the name of the game for others, too. Kathy Cheevers, chief executive officer at Chicago-based Cheevers & Co., has seen much in her career. But nothing compares to Sept. 11, 2001 and the aftermath, according to Cheevers. It was a time that tested her commitment to the business.

"I remember when I was on the phone with a broker and then it just went silent," said Cheevers, who opened her firm in 1982. "But we kept going."

Other women have similar stories, ones that demonstrate their determination and patience, as well as their desire to succeed.

RBC Capital Market's chief operating officer Deborah Freer said she had to establish that she was "not going to be walked on." At the same time, Freer had to determine "the right level of assertiveness." Freer won a Traders Magazine Mentor Award, along with BofA's Rocco.