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Trading Technology 30: Ben Sylvester

Ben Sylvester
No. 19
Head, U.S. Equity Trading Group
J.P. Morgan Asset Management 
Ben Sylvester Over the past 15 years, says Ben Sylvester, head of J.P. Morgan Asset Management’s U.S. equity trading group, “everything has changed” in the speed, structure and regulation of securities markets and how investment managers access them. “But,” he asserts, “money managers haven’t really changed with that.” The statement hardly applies to Sylvester, 43, whose group executes more than $250 billion in trades annually. When he joined the $1.3 trillion-under-management JPMorgan Chase & Co. unit three years ago from Springfield, Massachusetts–based Babson Capital Management, Sylvester initiated an in-depth review of trading protocols across the firm and the industry. That led to an overhaul in the collection of trading data, a more disciplined approach to transaction cost analysis among traders and the creation of a trading system dubbed Execution Optimizer. A related development, Manager Alpha Profiles, quantifies portfolio managers’ performance relative to their trades and enables traders to craft better-tailored strategies. Sylvester says order placement times have shrunk from minutes to milliseconds and transaction costs are down 30 percent. Now he is literally thinking in pictures, working with a visualization artist to remap the way buy-side traders receive and digest research, analyze risk and execute orders.

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