As head of the Americas for Orc Software, Martin J. Leamy (Marty) is responsible for sales and marketing initiatives as well as support and engineering efforts for the company’s American customer base. He has an extensive background in the software and professional business ranging over 20 years. Before joining Orc Software, Leamy was the president of operations in the Americas for Pointsec Mobile Technologies, which was acquired by Check Point Software Technologies. As pressure builds to ban “flash trades,” Leamy sat down with JLN’s Jessica Titlebaum to talk about Orc’s high-frequency clients and how they differ around the world, as well as how he got to where he is today.
Q: Orc is a global firm headquartered in Sweden. What do you see as the differences between market participants around the world?
A: A lot of our customers are large proprietary trading firms, and we have noticed American prop trading firms have a very entrepreneurial spirit. We have seen some tough times in this industry. However, what we call “refugees” from the big banks are not only popping up in other trading firms but they are starting their own shops. The Americas also have very sophisticated traders but I think that has to do with how advanced the Chicago exchanges are. It is the Chicago heritage. We have also noticed lately that a lot of our Chicago customers want to trade the Asian markets. We believe there is more growth to come for Asia and find it beneficial to have an office and staff there. In fact, Orc Software just opened an office in Japan. Chicago, New York and San Francisco all have very sophisticated trading abilities and I would say are on a level playing field. Our products, Orc Spreader and Orc Liquidator, which foster high frequency trading environments and benefit high velocity spread traders are more popular in America then they are overseas. The style of trading is different over there. Where we see a lot of proprietary trading firms here, our European offices work more with investment banks.
Q: Orc Software saw a 30 percent growth in the first half of 2009. Besides Asia and Latin America, what other markets are you looking to for future initiatives?
A: We have some business in Brazil and Mexico. Even though Mexico is a small market it’s one to keep an eye on. We also have some clients looking to infiltrate the Dubai markets. We have been working with the Dubai Gold and Commodities Exchange to enable our clients with access to a new region.
Q: What do you think of Senator Charles Schumer’s proposal to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to ban “flash” trades?
A: While banning flash trades might be reasonable, I am not sure that Schumer understands the role these high frequency traders play in the market. We need people who understand the financial industry creating policies that will regulate the markets in a way that will foster market growth, not market reduction. We should let the experts who know and understand the industry regulate the markets.
Q: As more exchanges offer co-location, essentially leveling the playing field for traders, what do you see as the next frontier for technology?
A: Co-location enables traders to reach the lowest possible latency level when executing their trades by placing trading software and servers near the exchange. However, speed is only half the battle. Traders are also looking for smart and sophisticated trading strategies. They want flexible tools that will allow them to successfully navigate these unprecedented markets. I am happy to be in a position to provide these tools to our customers in a timely manner.
Q: Is there a specific event that you have experienced in your career that has taught you something?
A: I have been involved with 15 acquisitions. Sometimes I was the lead guy and at other times, my firm was being acquired. Three years ago I was at Pointsec Mobile Technologies. It was a Swedish company and they were acquired by Check Point Software, an Israeli company. Experiencing the merging of the two organizations as well as the cultures prepared me for any future acquisitions I may play a role in. Planning ahead and moving quickly on these matters is important for a smooth transition.
Q: Have you had any mentors throughout your career?
A: I have had a few mentors, including Doug Colbeth, who was the CEO of Spyglass when I was there. Another business contact I look up to is John Shackleton, the president and CEO of a company called Open Text Corporation. Whether it was crafting a business deal or launching a company, these men were very entrepreneurial and made good business decisions. They were also successful at aligning their everyday activities with the overall strategy of the company. I try to instill that in my employees now.
Q: Outside of business, what are some of your interests?
A: I like outdoor activities like biking and surfing. There is a technique to surfing. Once you get up on the board you are okay, but you have to be quick on your feet.
Q: Can we draw any parallels between your technique for surfing and your strategy for life?
A: Yes. Experienced surfers have a short memory because when they try to get on a wave and fail, they get back up and try again. Surfing is very Zen-like, you have to live in the moment and wait to catch that right wave.