Tom Jordan is president and CEO of Jordan & Jordan, a market data, management consulting, and information technology services firm that specializes in the financial services and securities industry. Jordan is the advisory chair of the Financial Information Forum, a SIFMA Market Data Committee member, an RTTM Advisory Committee member and sits on the WSTA Content Committee. He is also on the board of regents at Saint Peters College in Jersey City, and marched in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York on March 17, 2009 as an aide to Parade Grand Marshall, Michael J. Gibbons.It was the 248th St. Patrick’s Day Parade, according to Jordan’s recollection. Jordan talked recently with Christine Nielsen of the MarketsWiki staff.
Q: Let’s start with what Jordan & Jordan, a professional services firm focused on the financial community, does. Why did you found the company? To whom does the other Jordan in the firm name refer?
A: [There was] no big plan; [I] had finished work as chairman of Knight-Ridder Financial Information Group and friends from Drexel Burnham who had just filed for bankruptcy asked if I wanted to assist them marketing their software. It was a great deal: office space, excellent products and a good commission. Then word of mouth assignments just lead from that with the consistent focus being core competency in the financial markets and the application of technology. I had some entrepreneurial experience in that I had opened a country store between college graduation and the U.S. Army, so [I] knew the joy of creating and running a small business. I was starting a company where I could sell some of the software and be profitable right out of the gate…After running a major company for awhile and now only having to worry about yourself, it was relaxing. It helped to recharge everything I was doing.
[The name was formed with expectations that his daughter may someday join the firm, he said.] My daughter was in high school at the time. Eventually, she went into investment banking and then private equity. It got to the point where I couldn’t afford her anymore.
Q: How would you characterize Jordan & Jordan. Is it an ISV, a consulting firm?
A: [Jordan & Jordan has three arms of service that address the securities industry: Management Consulting, which includes formulation of data management strategy and strategic marketing; Technology Services, which includes FIX integration; and Market Data Services, which includes data usage audits.]
The arms developed over time. I’m really driven by what customers ask us to do. We’d never done any selling until last year. It was comfortable, and we were getting business. [Jordan said that because of the economic downturn, Jordan & Jordan had to adapt.] Last year was the worst year we ever had. We probably didn’t react very quickly. We figured it would turn faster than it did…We’ve streamlined. We’re refocused… We’re probably on the early edge of the pain. We’ve improved…
Q: What is the most challenging situation you’ve faced with your firm and in your career overall?
A: It was 2008. [The question was] how to adjust and still keep the kind of company that we have. I think it would have been difficult to cut back and go into one aspect of the business and do okay.
We didn’t close down any of the businesses. I think we’re being proven right.
Q: You were a managing director with Knight-Ridder Financial/Americas from 1985 to 1990. What were your impressions of the financial market at that time? What are your impressions of the financial market now?
A: Whatever time you’re in, you think it’s a very competitive market…but in the financial markets, that’s not really the case as much. There really was no competition on the exchange [front]. If you step ahead…the options market is very competitive. ….We are a much more efficient market now. It’s much more competitive. Firms are more efficient.
Q: What do you do in your free time?
A: I swim and play tennis. We have property in the Adirondacks. I ski during winter. Most of my week is spent in cities [Jordan & Jordan has offices in New York, London and Chicago]. On weekends, I get out [of the city].
Q: What is something about you that would surprise your colleagues?
A: People know me pretty well. I’m sort of an open book. There’s not much to surprise there. People probably think of me as being pretty intense. I’m thinking about work, checking the BlackBerry…I can go away for a week or so and not check messages. That might surprise some people. [Jordan said he tends to take a vacation in August.]
Q: When you were a little boy, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: I did become a teacher for a while – a math teacher. I was a senior at St. Peter’s College in Jersey City and a math teacher at St. Peter’s Prep had to leave for an emergency heart operation. I was a math major and an education minor so I just took my remaining courses in the evening division and taught Trigonometry and Matrix Algebra to some very bright kids. I had not taken Matrix Algebra so sometimes questions would come up where I did not know the answer and I would say we will cover that tomorrow. That evening I would study that topic and teach it the next day.
When I went to college, my mom and dad said they would pay for college if I got a teaching certificate. I was 20 years old, and the kids were 17 and 18. I would go home at night, study the book and then teach them the lesson the next day.
Then I went into the service. I was an officer in the Army. I really enjoyed it and liked the competition – competing with other officers for the results.
… Then I wound up working for IBM. It was also a competitive environment there…and it’s so much fun…because you had to figure out how to get (past) where you were.
Q: What would the child Tom Jordan think of the Tom Jordan now?
A: I think he’d be satisfied. The young Tom Jordan was always trying to learn, always looking for new experiences. We’re all the results of our parents. [They’d say] do it with a lot of integrity. I think the young Tom Jordan would take a look and say “well done.” The same question might be what would my parents think.