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The 2017 Trading Tech 40: Richard Prager

  • By Peter Vasiliev

1. Richard Prager
Head of Trading, Liquidity, and Investments Platform
BlackRock
Last year: 2

In recent years banks have pulled back from their traditional roles as principals in fixed-income trading, forcing market participants to find ways to fill the liquidity gap. BlackRock's Richard Prager was among the first to grasp the magnitude of the challenge and get vocal about it. As global head of trading after joining BlackRock in 2009, and in his current role as head of trading, liquidity, and investments platform, Prager has not only been working within the firm on new approaches — typically centering on electronic bond trading technology — but also taking the lead in pushing the investment community as a whole toward more efficient and liquid markets. He initiated dialogue about everything from using exchange-traded funds to gain exposure to bond sectors, to the need for behavioral changes in the market, to trying new trading protocols.

"The reality is that we're much more dependent on the plumbing than ever before," says Prager, 56, who had a sell-side career, including eight years at Bank of America, before joining the $5.1 trillion asset management giant BlackRock, where he is a member of the global executive committee and leads the global trading, liquidity, and securities lending teams. One highly visible and increasingly popular change in fixed-income market structure is the all-to-all Open Trading initiative, on which BlackRock partnered with MarketAxess Holdings. "We feel good about the progress we've made for both our investment clients and shareholders," Prager says. "We are focused on developing innovative solutions to overcome the liquidity challenge."

Despite regulators' concerns about liquidity availability, management, and risk, a full-blown crisis hasn't materialized. "We've had Trump, Brexit, rates going from 135 to 248 on the ten-year [Treasury bond], but we haven't had any calamities," Prager says, adding that technology alone is not the solution: "It's about people and the machine." BlackRock is hiring talent to ensure that the firm adapts to a changed trading environment — with, for example, more of a liquidity-providing and price-making mind-set. "When you're a price maker, you earn alpha," he says. "That's a different way of behaving in the world."


The 2017 Trading Tech 40
1. Richard Prager
BlackRock
2. Chris Isaacson
Bats Global Markets
3. Bradley Peterson
Nasdaq
4. Brad Levy
MarkitSERV
5. Dan Keegan
Citi
6. Glenn Lesko
Bloomberg Tradebook
7. Bryan Durkin
CME Group
8. Mayur Kapani
Intercontinental Exchange
9. Mike Blum
KCG Holdings
10. Raj Mahajan
Goldman Sachs Group
11. Ronald DePoalo
Fidelity Institutional
12. Nick Themelis
MarketAxess Holdings
13. Jenny Knott
NEX Optimisation
14. Billy Hult
Tradeweb Markets
15. Rob Park
IEX Group
16. Bill Chow & Richard Leung
Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing
17. John Mackay (Mack) Gill
MillenniumIT
18. Paul Hamill
Citadel Securities
19. Eric Noll
Convergex
20. Veronica Augustsson
Cinnober Financial Technology
21. Tyler Moeller & Joshua Walsky
Broadway Technology
22. Alasdair Haynes
Aquis Exchange
23. Gaurav Suri
Arcesium
24. Manoj Narang
Mana Partners
25. Michael Chin & Neill Penney
Thomson Reuters
26. Robert Sloan
S3 Partners
27. Anton Katz & Stephen Mock
AQR Capital Management
28. Donal Byrne
Corvil
29. Stu Taylor
Algomi
30. Alfred Eskandar
Portware
31. Steven Randich
Financial Industry Regulatory Authority
32. R. Cromwell Coulson
OTC Markets Group
33. Peter Maragos
Dash Financial
34. John Fawcett
Quantopian
35. Donald
Ross III
PDQ Enterprises
36. Jennifer Nayar
Vela Trading Technologies
37. Dan Raju
Tradier
38. Susan Estes
OpenDoor Trading
39. David Mercer
LMAX Exchange
40. Oki Matsumoto
Monex Group

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