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November 1, 2012

Academy and J.P. Morgan Train Vets

By John D'Antona Jr.

Academy Securities, a veteran-owned agency broker, has enlisted J.P. Morgan Chase to help newly discharged soldiers become Wall Street professionals.

The San Diego-based firm is a certified Disabled Veterans Business Enterprise and has received a $4 million subordinated loan from the bulge firm to expand its business operations, including its trading desk and staff.

The program falls under the U.S. Treasury's Mentor Protégé Program, which provides large companies with incentives to help smaller ones establish themselves in business.

Academy will use the funds to hire and train military veterans in sales trading, investment banking and municipal finance. It has eight sales traders-four of whom are military vets-staffing its three trading desks that trade international and domestic equities.

"Our relationship with J.P. Morgan Chase greatly enhances our firm's capabilities and ability to hire more military veterans," said Chance Mims, chairman and chief executive officer at Academy Securities. "We are honored to be mentored by such a respected firm that shares our mission to employ veterans."

Naval officer Phil McConkey, a former wide receiver with the New York Giants, is one the firm's partners and supporters of the initiative, as is Mims.

Its game plan is to marry two types of veterans: those who have served their country and are hungry to learn the trading business, and longtime Street professionals willing to share their knowledge and serve as mentors.

Both firms want to support men and women who have served the country after Sept. 11, 2001, and create a firm that employs a 50/50 split between Wall Street pros and combat vets, said director of trading Jamie Atwell.

"JPMorgan Chase's partnership with Academy Securities dovetails with the firm's ongoing commitment to hire and engage the military veteran community," said Paul Palmeri, head of public finance at JPMorgan Chase. "The mentorship agreement with Academy Securities is a unique opportunity for our firm, and we're excited to do whatever we can to support their mission of hiring military veterans."

The mentoring program will last four years and use J.P. Morgan's training materials and technology. Through this agreement, J.P. Morgan will provide mentorship to Academy Securities personnel. This will include training and consultation on overall business and organizational management.

There are several ways to execute trades with Academy. It offers algorithms that it white-labels. It declined to disclose the provider. There's also the traditional routing of orders via FIX messages or over the phone. Academy clears through Wedbush Securities.

Academy Securities employs veterans and service-disabled veterans, including those returning from post-9/11 service, in areas including investment banking, public finance, trading and funds placement.

Thirty-eight percent of the broker's 25-person workforce is military veterans, and the firm expects that number to rise to 50 percent in the coming year, Mims said.

The broker expects to hire and train vets for positions ranging from sales trading to administration and technology, using the investment from JPMorgan Chase, he added.

Some 1 million service members are expected to leave the military and become civilians between 2011 and 2016, according to government figures.

Military veterans, Mims added, have one of the highest unemployment rates in the United States.

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