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Phil Albinus
Phil Albinus
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Exclusive: Inside the GETCO Execution Services Trading Floor

Advanced Trading takes you on an exclusive tour of the New York trading floor of GETCO Execution Services, the solutions arm of GETCO.

As a global market maker, GETCO provides liquidity for the marketplace as well as a variety of trading tools and services for the buy side and sell side. Founded in 1999 by Stephen Schuler and Dan Tierney, the market maker employs 400 people in its Chicago, London, New York offices as well as other branches around the globe. Advanced Trading visited the new trading floor for GETCO Execution Services, the solutions arm of the firm where clients can access a wide range of tools from trading algorithms to execution services to a dark pool, GETMatched. We also visited the firm's Designated Market Maker station on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange to see first-hand how they facilitate trades for their clients.

The GES Trading Floor

The newly built trading floor that houses the GES Team is a few months old and just a five-minute walk from the New York Stock Exchange. A team of 19 to 25 traders and service providers work on this floor – depending on projects that require travel. The trading floor has several open positions for growth and sports a video conferencing system called Always On so that employees can see their counterparts in the GetCo London and Chicago offices.

Global Head of Client Services

Global head of client services for GETCO Execution Service (GES) Mike Blum (right) travels regularly for his job but he relies on the Always On videoconferencing solution used in the firm's New York, Chicago and London offices. If Blum has a question for a colleague in the other GETCO offices, he simply speaks into the camera for a direct response. "That's one of the best things about this group, we put everyone in one room," says Blum. "We have sales people, ops, developers, and compliance all sitting together, intermixed. This creates an interesting dynamic where everyone feeds off each other."


Managing Director and Head of Sales

Managing director and head of sales Drew Krichman has a bird's eye view of GETCO's clients, the exchanges they connect to and the overall market with an array of proprietary tools on his screens. "It’s a 30,000-foot view of the sales side. These guys watch other systems and look at order types. That means that they have a lot of alerts in their sights," he says. "If a call goes down, it rings a bell; if a customer is out, it rings a bell. If something crazy happens to a destination we route to it rings a bell." Once the bell rings, does this mean Drew and his team spring into action? It depends, he says. "The team is so small and that means that everyone lends a hand. If these two guys are certifying a trade with someone, the phone rings and we can jump on it," he says.


Senior Accounting Analyst

Senior accounting analyst Laura Lifors has a variety of responsibilities on the GES trading floor where she keeps an eye on overall costs. "Right now the spreadsheets I have open are [market] structure but throughout the day, I switch desks and look at billing issues, customers who need to change contracts or if they request additional information." Occasionally Lifors travels to other GETCO offices to check on projects. On the New York trading floor, Lifors usually has six or seven spreadsheets open at all times including one screen dedicated to e-mail for quick responses to clients and co-workers, but mostly it's spreadsheets on multiple screens. "Yes, I live in Excel," she says.


Head of Algo Trading

GES updates their algorithms daily. This is a lot of work for the 25-member team and the man in charge of the formulas is Chase Lochmiller, managing director, head of algorithmic trading (right). "We're building out the algo suite, purposing the technology we have on the market-making side to apply the execution algorithms," he says. He also helps the US market-making equities desk and explains strategies to clients on the road. Chase looks at GES Home, a client-monitoring screen where GES employees can view both viable and rejected trades. "I have a proprietary tool that displays the different order book at the different venues. It's not Excel but proprietary technology we use to manage market making," he says. Lochmiller also has a screen dedicated to Getco's internal wiki for blog posts. "We had a record day the other day -- 74 million trades -- in the system. We usually do 25 to 60 million," he says.


Fixed Income Sales Director

A recent hire from Citi, Samantha Coyne (right) is GETCO's fixed income sales director. The firm decided to roll out similar offerings from its equities side to fixed income clients. Instead of providing dark pools we wanted to provide a live-streaming executable service to end users, she says. Coyne relies on her Bloomberg feed for understanding the markets, she says. "Part of my job is not only being able to integrate with the end user from a technology perspective but also to be able to understand our flow and make sure it is respectable and customizable for the end user," she says. She also scans her GES dashboard, an internal monitor tool for overseeing client flow and to make sure the firm gets the best executions.


Head of Institutional Sales

Chris Amorello (right), managing director, head of institutional sales, was brought in to head GETCO's institutional sales efforts, which began in 2011. "The institutional agency broker business is where we are executing trades on behalf of investors such as hedge funds, mutual funds, and so forth," he says. "They send us orders to execute over the course of the day. If they have a block of shares they want to get done they would use our algos."


Chief Compliance Officer, GES

As chief compliance officer for GES, Brian Ignatowitz (right) supervises and oversees the GETCO team and makes people tow the line and do the right thing. "We're looking for best prices, making sure there is enough liquidity, overseeing lots of data and alerts," he says. "We try to do as much as possible because we do as much human intervention as possible."


Software Designer on Day One

As a GES software developer, Jim Greco (right) worked closely with Samantha Coyne on the newly launched fixed income system that debuted in September 2012. "It went live two hours ago. It's working great so far," he says. "We put a lot of time in testing internally and with the customers. All of the coding was done in house."


Chief Operating Officer, GES

As COO of GES, Jon Herrick (right) oversees daily operations in New York. In fact, he's been in Manhattan with Drew Krichman since the beginning, he says. That was back when the firm was working on its ATS and algorithmic trading business. Herrick is confident about the move to Fixed Income. "It's a strong asset class for us on the prop side and having Samantha join the team, and a combination of our liquidity and the technology that we have built out through our client services offering in equities we think it's really going to make it," he says. "It's the next generation of what we are offering." As can be expected, Herrick relies on his Bloomberg feed along with a host of bespoke internal monitors and tools.


Ring The Bell

Visitors to the trading floor are invited to ring the bell and gong to herald the start of the trading day. Our reporter and photographer politely demurred.


Corporate Relations Director

Because the GETCO floor traders – the designated market makers – are not allowed by rule to call the listed companies directly, John Kosakowski (right) steps in. "We are managing all of the relationships from upstairs and we also bring in new business. Any company hoping to list on the New York Stock Exchange, we pursue them and try to convince them to not only list of the NYSE but to represent them on the floor," he says. Most of his day is spent in GETCO's New York office, which is a few short blocks from the NYSE trading floor. Pointing to his screen, Kosakowski says, "we just had the open so this is all the calls I have just received and this is where the stocks are indicating, where they are looking to go. I will take that information, pick up the phone and call the CFO at the respective company and say, "Hey, this is what we are looking at right now. We're expecting the stock to open at X so when it opens I'll let them know who is buying the shares and selling the shares."


GETCO on the NYSE Trading Floor

With more than 850 listed companies in its roster, GETCO is the second largest Designated Market Maker (DMM) on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. There are 21 locations or stations inside the GETCO booth, where 21 DMMs monitor the stock prices of the companies represented by GETCO.


Chief Compliance Officer

Chief compliance officer Tom Ficchone (right) oversees the DMMs for GETCO. "We don’t necessarily control the price; we manage the price," he says. "Our objective is to balance off of supply and demand and find the equilibrium price committing our capital to create equilibrium. We don’t influence price – we openly make sure there is liquidity to allow the market to trade." Ultimately, he says, "our responsibility is to the marketplace."


Designated Market Maker

As a DMM for GETCO's clients, Peter Giacchi's (right) human role is needed more than ever. "Even with electronic trading, our role has actually increased. When you see that you have 90 percent market share, you could sit back and people come to you. Now that the market has changed and profit share has gone down, the liquidity and technology we provide is one of our offerings," he says. "With 20 years of experience, you almost become a detective to figure out what is going on with stocks." Besides, it's in his blood. "My father was on Wall Street and my mother was in the business and the first time she took me to breakfast at the Lunch Club, I've loved this place." What does he love about this job? "Everything," he says, with a smile.


DMMs At Work

The GETCO DMM station humming with activity.


John McNierney, DMM for GETCO.

Checking In on Europe

While other DMMS look to regional and national markets DMM Donald Civitanova (right), along with fellow DMM Wingszi Chiang (behind him), follows stock trading for companies based in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. If the differing cultures and regulations weren't a big enough challenge, the time differences force him to keep the hours of a dairy farmer but technology helps. "I used to get up and check the news and trades at three in the morning," he says. Now he can check in on overseas markets with his iPad to get a head start in the trading day but, as he puts it, "these days that's around 4:30 am."

[For more behind-the-scenes looks at other Trading Floors, check out Advanced Trading's Anatomy of a Trading Floor.]


A World View

An eight-year veteran, Wingszi Chiang covers the international hot spots that her colleague Donald Civitanova doesn't oversee, or as she puts it, "Latin American stocks, South Americans and the other half of Europe that Donnie doesn't cover." How were things on the day that Advanced Trading visited her station? It's a light day, she notes. "In the morning what I look at is parity. Usually it opens closer to parity, closer to where the home market is trading," she explains. "We are pretty sensitive to volume because it's a lot harder to get volume here with the international stocks. So our role here is to make sure that the buy side and sell side is to make the customers more comfortable in investing in the stock and make sure that if they buy it, they can get out of it and vice versa." What's the best part of her job? "I love the rush," she says.


GETCO Securities

[More Photos: Inside Abel Noser's Trading Floor]


Phil Albinus is the former editor-in-chief of Advanced Trading. He has nearly two decades of journalism experience and has been covering financial technology and regulation for nine years. Before joining Advanced Trading, he served as editor of Waters, a monthly trade journal ... View Full Bio

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