About the editor

It was 1983 when I left an upper east side 5th floor walkup and a job in the Met bookshop to move to San Francisco and see what I could be. Not quite. I had no contacts, no place to live, no job, and just $2,000 in traveler's cheques. I had toured the west coast with a friend, so my plan was to take People's Express to SFO, find an apartment, get a job at the DeYoung, and boom - done. But, as you might have guessed, things didn't go as planned.

After an early dawn Super Shuttle ride from SFO, I arrived at Union Square, where I stashed my duffle bag in a locker and set off to find an apartment. To put it mildly, it didn't go well. I ended up staying at the YMCA for an extended period, eating Arby's, walking the city, and looking at want ads for jobs. After talking with a temp agency, I didn't expect to be placed, but I received a call that needed me there before dawn and gave me afternoons free. I took the position, which paid very well for this kid from Brooklyn.

Over the years, as the business became more regulated and automated, I moved from physically trading to designing what the traders were looking at. I spent time after the market talking with programmers to give traders and management a faster and better way of seeing what was going on. Much of what I did was to educate on the workflow so the engineers knew what they were coding for. That knowledge, at times, influenced the approach and produced better programs.

From free-format trade entry to graphical sector profit-loss and account penetration reporting, many of the technology solutions started to show financial rewards and highlighted competitive advantages. Technology was removing the inefficiency of delayed human reactions.

As time went on, faster communications facilitated trading algorithms, which then became all the rage. It appeared that a call to one of the streets market makers or floor brokers from my turret was no longer recommended. That meant there was no need to size a pink sheet market or hit a stock down to the figure. The machines imposed the regulatory order and control over increasingly fast markets and with it fleeting opportunities.

But the headwinds were growing against the sell-side, perceived to be ripping off the retail and giving haircuts to the institutions. In real life, when there was a large institutional trade, more often than not the retail was taken along at the same prices. But the regulators got rid of fractions in favor of more precise decimal pricing, chatter between traders was reduced by forced electronic order routing between trading desks, and eventually traders' seats were reduced by continuing automation. See what it was like.

Enter the buy-side. The customer of the sell-side. These are all the high-net-worth individuals, private equity, hedge funds, asset managers, and institutional investment advisors. After leaving the sell-side, I worked with a few technology vendors and a large buy-side firm that each understood the value of direct hands-on experience. I had thought early in my career that I should have learned to program. Not only has artificial intelligence replaced the need for coders, but I had one engineer tell me that if I thought like a programmer, then my value thinking like a trader is diminished. Trading was a personality business that had the fun regulated out of it.

Working with a buy-side trading desk showed me that there was very little difference in the actual trade. The difference was in what happens leading up to the trade. Of course, there's a great deal to say about that, and so I'm developing this site.

Closer to the end of my career than the beginning, I stop to reflect on what I've accomplished and to what end I have toiled. This site will serve as the repository of my professional life experiences, which I hope will give aid to those seeking the knowledge of my time.

As the investment business continues to evolve, leveraging technology to navigate the ever-changing landscape of assets and avoiding the consequences of man's need for greed will remain crucial.

At the Compo Beach office


Contact [chandler@biztt.com] to get more information on this investment management project. Also available for consulting or contract work.