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A Fond Fairwell to Fintech Pioneer Neil DeSena

Those of us who have worked in and/or around the world of electronic trading for more than 15 minutes readily know about REDI, the ubiquitous direct access execution platform for stocks and options that was introduced by Spear Leeds & Kellogg in 1987 to its professional clearing customers, a universe that grew to thousands of professional traders across the globe. For those not old enough to remember Spear Leeds aka SLK, it was one of the financial industry’s largest specialist firms with it biggest boots on the ground on the NYSE and Amex, and for decades, one of the largest clearing agents for stock and options exchange members and upstairs prop traders. SLK was also one of the industry’s most recognized upstairs market-makers until being acquired by Goldman Sachs in 2000 for a whopping $6.5bil. For those in the know, Goldman’s record-setting acquisition was attributed in part to a fellow by the name of Neil DeSena, “a boy from Bayonne” whose name was synonymous with REDI from the day it was first introduced in 1987, to the day the platform came under Goldman Sachs stewardship, to the day in 2016 when REDI was sold by GS for $1bil to Reuters Plc, and for every day in between, including now, when a trader somewhere in the world uses REDI to send a buy or sell order for stocks, options and/or futures into the now global OEMS platform.

History has already shown that the usually prescient Goldman Sachs wanted not only SLK’s prop-trading business and its clearing customers-which delivered hundreds of millions in high-profit revenue , GS also wanted to be at the forefront of electronic trading and SLK provided that. And, it was Neil DeSena who offered that entree. Until his untimely passing last week, barely three months after celebrating his 52nd birthday, Neil DeSena’s name and the brand name REDI remained forever intertwined, despite the fact that Neil had retired from his role as a Goldman Sachs MD several years ago. It was DeSena who was widely-credited for taking the REDI electronic platform from a closed stock and options order routing system for SLK clearing customers to a a billion-dollar, global OEMS platform synonymous for trading stocks and listed equity options. Upon Goldman’s acquisition, Neil became a GS managing director and under their banner, he built REDI into the industry leading global multi-asset trading system, expanding data centers and global networking through Europe and Asia with full interdependency/redundancy, creating a fully 24×7 global institutional trading platform. In 2015, Goldman sold REDI to Reuters for a cool $1bil.

Ironically, Neil DeSena was not an inventor, nor a prodigy software wonk, and not an MIT-educated computer geek or a Harvard MBA. Neil came to the financial industry as most did ‘back in the day’; he was a humble, but eager “boy from Bayonne” who came from a middle-class family and like so many others from the hamlets near the world’s trading centers, he aspired to work on Wall Street’s trading floors. As noted in his bio at SenaHill Partners, the fintech merchant bank Neil co-founded in 2013 with Justin Brownhill after retiring from Goldman, Neil’s first Wall Street job was typical to that of other 23 year olds; he scored an entry-level, back-office clerk (for retail broker Quick & Reilly). After rising through the ranks and learning how to leverage technology and lead people, Neil joined SLK in 1992, where he became the first employee of REDI. To the tens of hundreds that Neil since touched throughout his personal and professional life, ‘the rest is history’, but Neil’s history and the legacy he leaves behind cannot go without mention.

Neil DeSena was a classic innovator and entrepreneur who always maintained a prescient view when it came to the future of marrying technology and financial markets. He was less a student of technology than he was a student of human behavior and the inherent opportunities that technology-based solutions could provide to one of the world’s biggest industries. Better than most, including the legions of Wall Street technology and business development gurus, Neil had an innate and intimate understanding of the the mindset of those who navigated stock and options marts and what they would need to be more efficient and more effective, before those savvy-traders knew themselves. It was Neil’s thought-leadership, his uncanny ability to gain the trust and confidence of those around him, his foresight as to how/where/why technology could be leveraged, and perhaps most of his all, his endearing personality and sense of integrity that served as a benchmark for so many people he encountered.

Never one to rest on his laurels and certainly not like so many from the finance industry who aspire to build wealth for themselves and retire to a life of luxury, when Neil left Goldman Sachs, it took little time to decide “What’s Next?” Joining hands with Justin Brownill, one of the trading tech industry’s most successful entrepreneurs, the two formed SenaHill Partners in 2013 and framed the firm to be one of the very first fintech merchant banks focused on fostering upstart and industry disrupting financial technology firms. Since the firm’s creation barely four years later, more than two dozen finance industry tech pioneers have joined as network advisory board members; each contributing expertise, relationships and insight in their respective areas and helping to review nearly 2500 business plans submitted to SenaHill. The collective of professionals has gained the attention of finance industry and tech industry titans and has put wind behind the sails of dozens of disruptive startups focused on areas from bitcoin and distributed ledger to financial-flavored media platforms.

Irrespective of the degree of success enjoyed by enterprising start-ups that DeSena and Browhill have helped guide, Neil DeSena’s truest success is illustrated less by counting the literally hundreds of people who came to offer kindness and support this past weekend to Neil’s wife Carolyn and his three young children, Madeleine, Neil Anthony, and Jack, but more by the legacy he leaves; Neil always reminded those who were smart enough to listen that “material success is fleeting; honor and integrity are the most important virtues, as it those qualities that we should all be remembered for.” Continue reading

goldman sachs MBS fine

Goldman Sachs in Whopping 5bil Settlement Over MBS Deals

Announced after the close of trading on Thursday, Goldman Sachs $5.1 billion settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, AGs from NY and IL and two other federal agencies in connection with the big bank’s underwriting and sale of mortgage-backed securities (MBS) sounds whopping, but seemed to have little impact on the Squid’s stock price in after-hours trading ..Below extract courtesy of CNBC..

Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) said Thursday that its fourth-quarter earnings will take a roughly $1.5 billion hit as it has reached a nearly $5.1 billion settlement agreement in principle related to its “securitization, underwriting and sale of residential mortgage-backed securities (MBS) from 2005 to 2007.”

The bank said in a Thursday release that its agreement in principle will resolve actual and potential claims from the Department of Justice, the New York and Illinois Attorneys General, the National Credit Union Administration and the Federal Home Loan Banks of Chicago and Seattle.

The terms of the agreement say that Goldman will pay a $2.385 billion penalty, make $875 million in cash payments and provide $1.8 billion in consumer relief. The bank said that the relief will be partly composed of principal forgiveness for underwater homeowners and distressed borrowers.

Goldman will also contribute to construction financing, affordable housing, and debt restructuring support.

Shares of the Squid traded slightly negative in after-hours action.

The agreement in principle is still subject to final negotiation of the documentation, the bank said.

 

cryptocurrency

Goldman Sachs Wants Patent To Settle Trades in Bitcoin Tool

(TradersMagazine) Trading settlement and clearing could go the way of bitcoin, as white glove bulge bracket brokerdealer Goldman Sachs and fintech aficiondo has filed a patent for technology to settle securities in the cyber cryptocurrency.

As first reported in Bitcoin Magazine on November 19, the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) published Goldman, Sachs & Co.’s patent application 20150332395 or “Cryptographic Currency For Securities Settlement.” The patent described “ […] methods for settling securities in financial markets using distributed, peer-to-peer, and cryptographic techniques ” using a cryptocurrency named SETLcoin.

The application lists Paul Walker and Phil J. Venables as the inventors of the technology.

Walker is the co-head of technology at Goldman and a member of the Board of Directors of the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation (DTCC).  Venables is managing director and chief information security officer at Goldman Sachs.

The patent application addresses chain of custody of an asset, counterparty risk and settlement through a cryptocurrency called SETLcoin. According to the patent application viewed by Bitcoin Magazine, SETLcoin ownership can be used to prevent fraud, including float fraud such as kiting.

Goldman Sachs and IDG Capital Partners co-led a $50 million strategic investment round in Bitcoin company Circle in late April of this year. This was the first publicly announced cryptocurrency investment by Goldman. However, as reported by CB Insights, Goldman’s investment activity into fintech startups has been intensifying.

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Tony Kelly To Spearhead Goldman Sachs’ ETF Development

Goldman Sachs Group Inc., which is looking to issue exchange-traded funds this year, hired BlackRock Inc. veteran Tony Kelly as head of product development for that unit.

Kelly, who spent 15 years working in the iShares ETF business at Barclays Plc and BlackRock, will join Goldman Sachs as a managing director, according to an internal memo sent Friday, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg News. He’ll report to Michael Crinieri, who moved from the New York-based bank’s trading division last year to lead the ETF effort.

Goldman Sachs is seeking to capitalize on the explosive growth in ETFs as it pursues a goal of increasing revenue at its investment-management division by more than 10 percent a year. The ETF industry took 23 years to reach $2 trillion in assets and just two more years to reach $3 trillion, which it did in May, according to research and consultancy firm ETFGI.

In a May filing, Goldman revealed the names and the ticker codes of six impending actively managed ETFs including – Goldman Sachs ActiveBeta Emerging Markets Equity ETF (GEM), Goldman Sachs ActiveBeta Europe Equity ETF (GSEU) and Goldman Sachs ActiveBeta International Equity ETF (GSIE). The underlying indices of the funds will be focused on securities with high scores on criteria like value, momentum, quality and volatility.

Goldman also declared the names and ticker codes of five passively-managed ETFs. These include – Goldman Sachs Equity Long Short Hedge Tracker ETF (GSLS), Goldman Sachs Event Driven Hedge Tracker ETF (GSED) and Goldman Sachs Relative Value Hedge Tracker ETF (GSRV). These funds will focus on hedge-fund strategies to curb interrelation with the broader equity market trends.

To read more, click here. 

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Goldman FinTech Fixation Sneaks Into Start-Up Space with Online Lending To Consumers

One of the biggest investment banks on Wall Street, Goldman Sachs, is making a change to its business model–adopting what seems to be tactics advanced by startups.

Soon, Goldman will offer loans online to both consumers and to small businesses as it looks to tap into a marketplace worth nearly $850 billion. The new unit will offer the loans through a website or an app — functioning like a virtual bank in one of the oldest companies on Wall Street. Without the costs of bank branches and tellers, Goldman can lend the money at lower interest rates while still making a profit. The company hopes to be ready to make its first loans next year.

It’s a big change for Goldman’s business model — before, the only people who could obtain a loan from the bank were its high-net-worth clients.

Goldman can establish a consumer lending business now because it converted from being an investment bank into a bank holding company during the financial crisis.  It also allowed Goldman the opportunity to interact more directly with consumers.

Goldman Sachs did not comment when asked about their business plan explored by this New York Times’ story. 

 

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Goldman Sachs Readies ETF Launch

MarketsMuse blog update profiles Goldman Sachs preparing for a launch of its own ETFs. Goldman Sachs is the largest U.S. investment bank and they are finally going to make the move to become a huge player in the ETF industry.  The firm has completed all its necessary paperwork with the SEC as of May 4th for its six ETFs. These six new ETFs include: Goldman Sachs ActiveBeta International Equity ETF (GSIE), Goldman Sachs ActiveBeta Emerging Markets Equity ETF (GEM), Goldman Sachs ActiveBeta Europe Equity ETF (GSEU), Goldman Sachs ActiveBeta Japan Equity ETF (GSJY), Goldman Sachs ActiveBeta U.S. Large Cap Equity ETF (GSLC) and the Goldman Sachs ActiveBeta U.S. Small Cap Equity ETF (GSSC). This MarketsMuse blog update is courtesy of ETFTrends’ Tom Lydon and his article, “Goldman ETFs Near Liftoff“, with an excerpt below. 

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Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS), the largest U.S. investment bank, is getting closer to launching its own exchange traded funds.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission dated May 4, New York-based Goldman Sachs revealed tickers and fund managers for its six “ActiveBeta” ETFs as well as tickers for its five passively managed ETFs.

Among Goldman the managers for the ActiveBeta ETFs are “Steve Jeneste, a managing director most recently oversaw portfolio management of macro and multi-asset strategies. Another is Raj Garigipati, vice president, who most recently served as chief risk officer for Goldman’s QIS unit,” reports Chris Dieterich for Barron’s.

To continue reading about Goldman Sachs preparing  for the launch of its six “ActiveBeta” ETFs, click here.

 

Paul Chou, LedgerX

The 1st Regulated Bitcoin Bourse? Frmr Goldman Sachs Algo Trader Pitches LedgerX as a Regulated Exchange

MarketsMuse.com update courtesy of extracts from today’s edition of Traders Magazine.

Yet another coin is being tossed into the fountain of Bitcoin dreams and wishes. The latest aspirant and first to file a full-blown registration for a “Bitcoin Bourse”with the CFTC is “LedgerX”, a company led by former 6-pack broker-dealer and MIT Alumni Paul Chou, who was most recently a Goldman Sachs trader.

According to the filings, LedgerX hopes to become a fully-regulated derivatives exchange clearing house. While at Goldman, Chou was responsible for developing, trading and risk managing algorithmic equity trading strategies for U.S. and Japanese markets. Also, he developed a set of cross-asset strategies and devised a method to unify and optimize the trade flow across hundreds of trading algorithms. Prior to Goldman, Chou delivered trading and spread-risk tracking tools on projects for Citadel Investment Group and Morgan Stanley.

Chou, who serves as chief executive officer of LedgerX, is designing the exchange and currently has filed registration papers, bringing the bourse one step closer to reality. LedgerX’s registration, filed with the CFTC, is open for public comment until Friday, January 30th. On December 15th, the CTFC requested comments on the LedgerX submission.

If approved by the CFTC, LedgerX would be the first federally-regulated Bitcoin options platform and clearing house to list and clear fully-collateralized, physically-settled Bitcoin options for the institutional market. LedgerX has also applied for registration with the CFTC as a swap execution facility and as a derivatives clearing organization on September 29, 2014.

LedgerX is backed by several high profile investors such as Google Ventures and LightSpeed Ventures. Also, Jim Newsome, former chairman of the CFTC and former chief executive of NYMEX, and Tom Lewis, former CEO of both Ameritrade and Green Exchange, currently sit on the LedgerX board of directors.

Simultaneously, to build a Bitcoin derivatives market, he is bringing together corporations seeking to hedge their Bitcoin exposure and financial institutions searching for trading and investing opportunities in Bitcoin.

According to Chou, more than 80,000 entities accept Bitcoin, including brand names such as Dell, Expedia and PayPal.

 

Options Exchanges Prepare For Worst Cases; “Algos Gone Wild”

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A year after Goldman Sachs <gs.n> bungled a software upgrade and lost tens of millions of dollars from unintended trades, the 12 U.S. stock options exchanges have crafted new rules for dealing with erroneous transactions, according to draft documents seen by Reuters.

Under the proposed rules, unintended trades placed by professional traders will usually have their prices adjusted to levels as close to their fair market value as possible, while wrong trades by retail customers will be mainly be undone, five sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The rules are meant to protect investors from algorithms gone wild and other sources of market turmoil. Regulators and exchange operators across equities, commodities and other markets have been taking steps to prevent mistaken trades from spiraling into collapses, a rising concern as trading grows increasingly automated.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/r-exclusive-us-options-exchanges-craft-rules-to-fend-off-turmoil-2014-8#ixzz3Bof6Z9Ce

Move Over Ashton Kutcher: ex-Goldman’s Greg Smith Now Most Popular

If you haven’t read, or at least heard about the brouhaha surrounding GoldmanSachs’ former head of equity derivatives Greg Smith and his farewell-to-the-firm soliloquy in today’s New York Times, you might be on an advance scouting mission to Mars on behalf of Newt Gingrich.

Aside from this story occupying Wall Street, and the hearts and minds of the talking heads at CNBC, as of this writing (1:40pm, EST), Google data indicates “Greg Smith/GoldmanSachs” has been mentioned more than 250,000 times across the “Net” , not including this phrase being one of the Top 5 Twitter tweet phrases across the globe.

Greg Smith, Former GoldmanSachs VP

Move over Ashton Kutcher; Greg Smith is now an uber super-star for bearing his soul in a dramatic ending of his career as the spawn of “The Squid.” And, let’s not forget to mention that while Smith’s letting the door hit himself on the way out might impact his severance, it has also made him a fav among ethical females.

My better half, struck by the ethos articulated by Smith’s op-ed, txt’d me to ask whether I knew if Greg Smith is single. She claims to have posited the question on behalf of our marrying-age daughter; but any idiot that knows us could easily detect the inherent conflict of interest; no doubt my wife can guess that Smith is too old for our daughter, but just right for her mom the cougar.

Smith’s soberly-stated reflections of his tenure, and in particular with respect to his claims of  conflict of interest becoming a cultural norm at Goldman is no surprise to critics of Wall Street, et.al. Socialistic Cynics will argue that conflict of interest is both an ingredient and a by-product of capitalism, and therefore breeds contempt.  But, as one actively-trading hedge fund manager/Goldman customer says (without being authorized by his firm to speak on the record), “..One needs to fully understand..the double-sided coin before cashing in the conflict of interest complaint.” Continue reading