Subject of 'Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt' to speak at Lehigh

Brad Katsuyama, the CEO of IEX and the man described as “the most powerful person on the market floor,” will speak at Lehigh at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 21, in Baker Hall. The talk—which is presented by the Center for Financial Services at the College of Business and Economics, the Visiting Lecturers Committee and the Zoellner Arts Center—is free and open to the public.

“We are delighted to have such a distinguished speaker come talk to our faculty and students,” said Kathleen Hanley, who holds the Bolton-Perella Chair and is director of the Center for Financial Services. “Mr. Katsuyama’s business venture has the potential to disrupt securities markets and tip the balance away from entrenched practices. We look forward to hearing of the challenges of going head-to-head with powerful and established market leaders.”

Hanley said Katsuyama’s talk “will be of special interest to those entrepreneurial minded among us who hope to positively change the world through new ways of looking at the status quo.”

Katsuyama is the subject of Michael Lewis’ critically acclaimed best-seller Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt, which is considered one of the most provocative books ever written about the financial market. Profiled as an inspirational figure of finance, Katsuyama is credited with tackling the High-Frequency Trade (HFT) controversy that Flash Boys brought to the forefront.

In Flash Boys, Lewis details how Katsuyama noticed how seemingly small discrepancies—often fractions of a penny—were being compounded and costing clients and other market players millions of dollars. Katsuyama uncovered the inner workings of a computerized trading system and developed a plan to identify and correct the effect of HFT tactics. His efforts to restore balance and trust to the market led to the creation of IEX, an upstart stock trading venue designed to institutionalize fairness through the use of technology.

The IEX stock exchange is owned by a collection of mutual funds, hedge funds and venture capital funds that include Bain Capital Ventures, MassMutual Ventures, Belfer Management, Brandes Investment Partners, Capital Group and others, as well as family offices, entrepreneur Steve Wynn and IEX employees.

“We wanted to build a company that reflected the mission we’re on—people who cared as much about doing good as they did about making money,” he told Business Insider in a June 2016 interview.

Katsuyama brought more than 16 years of experience in the securities trading industry to his leadership role to IEX, according to the company’s website. Formerly the Global Head of Electronic Sales and Trading at Royal Bank of Canada Capital Markets, he was responsible for multiple global teams that included electronic sales, electronic trading, algorithmic trading, market structure strategy, client implementation and product management. Prior roles at RBC included head of U.S. cash equity trading, head of U.S. hedge fund coverage and head of U.S. technology trading. Along the way, he spearheaded the development of THOR, a smart-order router that helped clients combat predatory trading strategies.

In his lectures around the country, Katsyama offers a candid assessment of Wall Street’s ethical challenges, and how they can be addressed through ventures such as IEX, which is built on an ideology that fixes a “rigged” stock market while restoring investor confidence.

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