FLASH FRIDAY: Meet Ryan Kwiatkowski, STA Chair

FLASH FRIDAY is a weekly content series looking at the past, present and future of capital markets trading and technology. FLASH FRIDAY is sponsored by Instinet, a Nomura company.

Traders Magazine has a long history of covering the Security Traders Association and profiling the organization’s leaders. Recent coverage has included catch-ups with former STA Chairs John Gisea and Jack Hughes, as well as former STA Institutional Committee Member Pete Jenkins.

Today we look to the future (or at least the next year). Ryan Kwiatkowski, Head of Broker Dealer Sales at StoneX Group, was introduced as the new Chair of the STA at its 89th annual annual market structure conference, held Oct. 12-14 in Washington, DC.

Traders Magazine caught up with Kwiatkowski to learn more about him and his plans for the coming year. 

Congrats on the new role. To start, talk a bit about your career to date and your current role / responsibilities at StoneX?

I started my career in 1998 at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida. I worked there for six years in various roles, leading into their retail broker dealer sales department. I was a customer of StoneX, which at the time was International Assets Holding Corp. 

In 2004 I came up here to Winter Park and joined a small broker dealer that ended up going defunct. I was in the process of going back to Raymond James when StoneX offered me a position to lead their broker dealer sales team. 

They were reassembling their desk structure back in 2004, and it was a much smaller firm, so it was a great opportunity. Over the years, we’ve grown tremendously as a group through mergers and acquisitions, and I’ve had the opportunity to build out a broker dealer sales team that has expanded into an institutional product as well.

How long have you been involved in STA, in the Florida chapter and nationally? 

I went to my first STA event in Florida back in 2000, in Orlando. I was tapped on the shoulder at a golf outing to come on in an advisory role. I was happy to help out in any way I could — once I got approval from Raymond James, I signed on. 

I helped out mostly with sponsorship opportunities. I found it to be a great learning experience, and being involved also helped enhance STA’s ability to get more folks down to Florida, based on their coverage of Raymond James and Franklin Templeton and other firms down here. It justified their coming down for STA Florida.

I was successful in getting sponsors for STA, and since then I’ve served in almost every possible role –  secretary, treasurer, vice president, and president. I’ve done a 20-year stint for STA Florida and still help out in various roles within the organization, while being incoming chairman for STA national.

What do you see as the role of the STA in the industry? What is its purpose / mission?

We are the voice between The Street and the regulators. Especially now as the SEC has a very active agenda, we’re here to promote our input, to serve as the voice for STA members by offering guidance and suggestions. We want to help improve securities markets, and by extension improve the experience of everyone involved in securities markets.

What are your thoughts on becoming STA Chair? What do you want to do to move the organization forward?

I’ve looked back at what my predecessors have done as STA Chairs, ie how each one of them made an impact and what was their main focus. By observing how they’ve each approached and implemented this, it has given me the confidence that I can come in and have the same kind of impact. 

There’s a lot going on – auction markets, tick sizes, digital assets. With digital assets, for example, how can we bridge the gap between digital assets and traditional securities markets? Many firms do not trade digital assets currently – not because they’re forbidden or they don’t understand it, but because there needs to be more clarity on how they can connect the two. I want to help bridge that gap, to bring those two synergies together for greater good so that we can offer the end client additional options on investing.

The more we get digital asset folks involved, that will help STA grow as well and STA can help out that side of the business. There are a lot of gray areas with regulators on digital assets –  STA has helped bring clarity to gray areas in the securities industry over the past decades, and we can help digital assets in this same way. 

What should we know about Ryan Kwiatkowski personally? 

I was born in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, but I moved to St. Petersburg Beach, Florida when I was three, and I grew up there. I played many sports, and during my later high school and early college years I actually played beach volleyball semi-pro and I traveled around doing that. 

I love doing activities with my children. I have five children, ages 22, 20, 18, 16 … and four months. You can say I came out of retirement – I got remarried and I’m 44 and I still have the energy and I was just like, let’s do this one more time.

We live in Winter Park, a bit north of Orlando. As a family we always try to stay active – we like to travel, do outdoor activities, surf, fish. Anything that involves the water, really. 

It sounds you have some in-house babysitters?

Yes, it’s helpful, and my kids are great with it. I have three boys and two girls, my daughters being the two younger ones.

What else would you like to add? 

I want to reiterate that it’s an honor to be a voice and to be selected by my peers in the industry. I’m going to continue to do that as our past Chairs have. I want to set the same example that those before me have – I hope I can fulfill the duties as they have, and when it’s time to pass the torch to our next chair next year, I will do so knowing I’ve added some value to the industry and helped out.

I’m all yours — I’m one of the most approachable people you’ll ever meet, I’m always great for follow ups and always around for a chat with anyone, anytime. I just love conversation and really enjoy being around folks.