Back in the early 1990s I worked at Instinet as a sales-coverage person. My job was two-fold: to assist our clients in trading and to develop relationships with them (and get them to trade more with Instinet). Some clients took to the system immediately; others not so much. It was a big challenge to convince passionate traders to trust their sensitive order flow to a machine. Even then there was the simple truth that trust ultimately is a bond formed between people – human beings. You trust a person by meeting them, looking them in the eye, and shaking their hand; the trust comes incrementally and not all at once.
It was at Instinet early on that I met Major. He was my client. He is a Gulf War Veteran. He is a Boston College guy. He is as tough as they come, and as Irish as they come. He is old school in his values, yet progressive in his embracement of technology. He used to be one of an army of traders at that firm in Boston, and he was and still is my favorite.
We connected as friends pretty quickly; Major is honest and always says what’s on his mind. He won’t remember this (but I do)… he laid into me at the beginning of our friendship pretty severely for a mistake I had made in aiding him execute an order. I yelled back. He liked that. And so our relationship and friendship grew. For years we worked as partners. We were always singularly aligned, and we were always barking at each other. Countless times my right-hand, Patty Blaettler, had to act as phone- go-between between Major and me when our barking got so intense that we would not talk to each other directly. He would yell on the phone at Patty “you tell him to get his ass …. ” and I would yell at Patty “you tell him he can go to…..” But we trusted each other, and I valued his trust and opinion so highly then – and still do today, although today we don’t bark at each other 🙂
Major is the trader I referenced in Broken Markets:
Major: Morning hero. Are you ready?
Major: I mean are you ready, hero?
Me: Yes… shoot Major.
Major: A-game today. Focus. No ‘sorry’. No ‘buts”. We got wood to chop. Are you ready, hero?
Me: READY MAJOR!
Major: Better grasshopper. Be up man. Remember… the heaviest thing on a man’s chest is his chin. Let’s go:
QCOM. Seller. Me. Take a hundred with a figure limit. Stock gets there… I lose. No cutesy bootsy fellah. Say it back to me.”
Me: QCOM selling 100,000 shares with a figure limit you would.
Major: That’s right mister. Next. MCLD. Call is out in the name. They are gonna gun it early. Be there. Take half a hun. Get a third done in the first 15 minutes then call me. You with me hero?
Me: Got it. Next.
Major: Worldcom. WCOM. Buyer. Me. Take 100k to buy and nibble. Don’t chase. Nibble don’t chase. But if the stock comes in to 50 cents I own. No Cutesy Bootsy. You with me hero?
Me: Yes. WCOM buying 100k carefully.
Major was the first person I turned to when I was thinking about leaving Instinet in late 1999 to start up my own execution business. He was one of only five people I went to for advice, and that list included my father and brother. I don’t have a lot of friends; I never have. But Major will always be my friend. He is the real deal. Honesty, integrity, kind, family-man, leader, tough. bald… these are all words that can be used describe Major, but if you really want to know what Major is like, then just look at his children. Imagine the kind of man it takes to raise a boy who runs towards a bomb to help people instead of away from it.
I never wrote a note about a buyside trader before. Today I wanted to.
Major has become a free-agent. I know for a fact that he will be courted by other buyside firms soon, but I sincerely hope he thinks differently. Major belongs in Washington. We actually need someone like him as a regulator. Can you imagine the SEC getting their hands on someone with his buyside perspective and his trading knowledge through different market structures? I wonder if they understand the instant credibility he has among buyside traders, brokers, and HFT firms. With all of the different stock exchange committees he has sat on, and with his leadership in organizations like STA and NOIP, I can only see him being the ultimate steward for future generations of investors and traders.
Major, you need to be thinking about this direction. Get off that island and take off the Hawaiian shirt, duty calls on you. Oh… and this morning note has no picture. Yours is too ugly.