SFSTA Plans 90th Conference; Aims to Boost Education, Networking

Stephanie Libien, Affiliate President of San Francisco Security Traders Association (SFSTA), said “working hard, having an interest and having confidence” are qualities that have served her well as a woman in finance.

Libien has been involved in SFSTA for the last 15 years. “I’ve been in the industry for a long time. When I started, I would go to many SFSTA events, and that’s how I got involved in the organization,” she recalled.

“I think I caught the industry at the right time. There’s a strong group of females in San Francisco that has really helped me navigate the male-dominated environment,” Libien told Traders Magazine.

“But it’s really grown a lot with many more women coming into the industry, which has been very exciting to see,” she added.

Apart from being on the SFSTA Board, Libien is a Managing Director and Head of West Coast Equities at Jefferies, a broker-dealer with over 1,700 registered representatives nationwide. Prior to joining Jefferies in June 2009, she worked at UBS, where she was a Director focusing on Direct Execution Sales. Previously, she held a similar sales role at Bloomberg.

According to Libien, SFSTA has been around for a long time and this month the organization will have its 90th annual conference.

“The great thing about San Francisco Traders is that we have a lot of commitment and participation from the buy side. I think that’s what makes us very unique,” she said.

Currently there are over 200 local members at SFSTA, said Libien, adding: “We’ve been able to grow the membership and allow people who are not just traders into the organization, so anybody can be involved in the business in San Francisco and really create those networking opportunities,” she stressed.

“We’ve also expanded our volunteer work, which has been really rewarding. We try to give back to the community as much as possible.”

Libien said that SFSTA organizes a lot of networking events for the community.

“We do a lot of educational events for the community, as in the trading community of San Francisco. And then we also do what we call ‘give back’ volunteer events with charities in the broader Bay Area community,” she explained.

Libien noted that SFSTA’s main objectives are to promote the interests of its members by creating a networking environment and educate members on the global financial markets, as well as give back to the community by fostering goodwill and high standards of integrity.

When the COVID pandemic first hit, SFSTA canceled its yearly conference. “We were trying to be very careful and very respectful of everybody,” Libien said.

Since then the organization has had two outdoor events – a Bocce Ball and Golf Tournament. “What we’re trying to do is just allow people to have an opportunity to see each other, but in a safe environment. California has very strict rules around Covid. And so we’re just trying to make a safe place where people can come and see each other,” she said.

Next week SFSTA will host its main event. “We are oversubscribed. And it’s amazing to see how interested people are in attending,” Libien said.

On Thursday, June 10, there will be a virtual conference, and from Friday, June 11 to Sunday, June 13 a networking event at Pebble Beach Resort. “We’re very excited. This will be the first time we’ve used the hybrid format. Normally, what we would do is have an educational speaker series in person, followed by a networking event. This year we are going to be having an all-day virtual conference with networking on the weekend,” Libien commented.

She added that there will be six panels during the virtual event: “We are doing everything from the general economy and rates to a buy-side trading panel, to a listing conversation about SPACs, IPOs and direct listings. Then we’re doing two panels on market structure – one is on retail and one is on the evolution of trading technology.”

Libien thinks there’s significant interest in certain topics right now: “The whole retail situation has been very topical and interesting. Then there is a lot of interest in the whole SPAC, IPO and direct listing panel. I also think trading tools are becoming way more advanced as we really step into the future in this area.”

Libien thinks the conference is going to be a big success: “We’re experiencing a huge amount of interest in the conference.”

She stressed, however, that they have to be careful with Covid: “We have to make sure people are vaccinated, or test negative for Covid within 72 hours. We are trying to keep as many options outdoors as possible, and we also need to abide by any distancing rules.”

Libien believes that if the virtual conference is popular, SFSTA will keep that going forward. “It just allows so many more people who can’t travel to be involved and get an education.”

Other than the main event, SFSTA also tries to offer many volunteer opportunities, according to Libien. “We are thinking in the fall things may open up as the US does well with the Covid situation. If that’s the case, then we plan to offer some volunteer opportunities for members.”

“We also like to do some educational opportunities for our trader community, so that could include some panel or discussion events, likely keeping up our outdoor options. We normally have an end-of-year get together, for example, so we’ll see if that’s going to be possible or not,” she concluded.