For Mike Blum, joining KCG Holdings in January 2016 was a reunion of sorts. From 2009 through 2012 he had been head of Getco Execution Services, a key client-facing business of the high-tech Chicago trading firm Getco. In 2013 as Blum was starting a roughly two-year stint as chief technology officer of hedge fund firm Teza Technologies Getco acquired Knight Capital Group. Though he found "some Getco groups still intact" at what is now KCG Holdings, Blum says, the New Yorkbased company "is different in a lot of ways," with a broader range of market making and trading services. KCG a self-described "independent, pure-play, technology-driven intermediary in liquid financial instruments" is in the process of moving all its operations onto a unified technology platform. That creates clean-slate opportunities for efficiencies and innovations that Blum finds exciting and says helped convince him to sign on.
Tapped initially as global head of client technology, Blum, 49, became CTO in October, succeeding Jonathan Ross (No. 4 last year), who left to pursue technology interests outside of trading and markets. With a BS in computer science from the University of Dayton, Blum started his career as a developer for electronic market making pioneer Automated Trading Desk. After serving as vice president of development at Island ECN, he made significant trading technology contributions at UBS, where he became a managing director of the investment bank. Blum notes that his subsequent business responsibilities at Getco, and then taking charge of "the whole technology stack" for the first time at Teza, prepared him for the changes and challenges presented by KCG. He has seen high frequency trading evolve in stages, from "conquering complexity" in market structure to maximizing speed. Although those advanced capabilities cannot be neglected, "the focus now is on alpha," Blum says. "Now it's about getting smarter."
The 2017 Trading Tech 40Click below to view profiles