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The 2017 Trading Tech 40: Richard Prager

< Wall Street's Nerds: The World's Most Powerful Trading Executives1. Richard PragerHead of Trading, Liquidity, and Investments PlatformBlackRockLast 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 40Click below to view profiles
1. Richard PragerBlackRock2. Chris IsaacsonBats Global Markets3. Bradley PetersonNasdaq4. Brad LevyMarkitSERV5. Dan KeeganCiti
6. Glenn LeskoBloomberg Tradebook7. Bryan DurkinCME Group8. Mayur KapaniIntercontinental Exchange9. Mike BlumKCG Holdings10. Raj MahajanGoldman Sachs Group
11. Ronald DePoaloFidelity Institutional12. Nick ThemelisMarketAxess Holdings13. Jenny KnottNEX Optimisation14. Billy HultTradeweb Markets15. Rob ParkIEX Group
16. Bill Chow & Richard LeungHong Kong Exchanges and Clearing17. John Mackay (Mack) GillMillenniumIT18. Paul HamillCitadel Securities19. Eric NollConvergex20. Veronica AugustssonCinnober Financial Technology
21. Tyler Moeller & Joshua WalskyBroadway Technology22. Alasdair HaynesAquis Exchange23. Gaurav SuriArcesium24. Manoj NarangMana Partners25. Michael Chin & Neill PenneyThomson Reuters
26. Robert SloanS3 Partners27. Anton Katz & Stephen MockAQR Capital Management28. Donal ByrneCorvil29. Stu TaylorAlgomi30. Alfred EskandarPortware
31. Steven RandichFinancial Industry Regulatory Authority32. R. Cromwell CoulsonOTC Markets Group33. Peter MaragosDash Financial34. John FawcettQuantopian35. Donald
Ross III
PDQ Enterprises
36. Jennifer NayarVela Trading Technologies37. Dan RajuTradier38. Susan EstesOpenDoor Trading39. David MercerLMAX Exchange40. Oki MatsumotoMonex Group