Simmons changes tune

All Wick Simmons wanted was to make beautiful music.

All Wick Simmons wanted was to make beautiful music. But the 60-year-old Wall Street veteran had no sooner announced that he was stepping down as Prudential Securities, CEO than headhunter David Joys of Heidrick & Struggles phoned: Did Simmons want to succeed Frank Zarb as chief of the Nasdaq stock market? “I said no. I had every intention of learning how to play the piano; that was my major goal for the immediate future,” recalls Simmons, an amateur crooner who had long wished he could accompany himself on the ivories. Joys persisted, aided by Zarb, Simmons, buddy of 30 years, since they were colleagues at the old Hayden Stone brokerage firm. Once, in fact, Zarb convinced Simmons, then a sales manager at Hayden Stone’s Boston office, not to jump ship. “Frank was extremely persuasive 30 years ago, and he’s been persuasive once again,” says the new CEO, who assumes his post February 1 and is charged with guiding Nasdaq through a privatization and potential IPO. Instead of practicing his scales, Simmons will be busy setting another kind of example for his two young children. “I think they should see their father go to work every day instead of sitting around the house,” he says.