Bill Miller, Penserra’s Director of IT in Chicago, is a securities industry veteran whose latest challenge included moving Penserra’s entire Chicago operations to a new location. In our latest Penserra Profile, Bill discusses the ins and outs of the move, the evolution of trading technology, his perspective as a former floor broker on the Chicago Stock Exchange, and whether he roots for the Cubs or White Sox.
Q: As a Director of IT at Penserra, you were the primary point man for the firm’s recent move in Chicago. What were some of the obstacles you faced, and how did you manage to pull off the move in such a limited amount of time?
My biggest challenge was to be certain any spending was responsible while also frugal. In a time when we are all conscious of spending, I had to focus on shrewd negotiations with our vendors. This included the Phones, security systems, lighting, HVAC systems, the building management team, and even the furniture vendor responsible for the ergonomics of each workstation. Another significant obstacle I had to consider was not to disturb production. I wished it had taken less time, however, we made our critical deadlines! It was important to have our ducks lined up and to have a fall back plan for every associated project. “Measure twice and cut once” theory usually takes more time, but it ensures success in the end.
Q: You’re a Wall Street veteran with over three decades of experience. From your perspective, how has the evolution of technology impacted areas such as trading and operations, and what do other significant changes do you foresee in the coming years?
When I first started in this business, the hardest thing to achieve was matching a buyer and a seller and having both sides feel equally satisfied. Today matching a buyer and seller is taken for granted. Reporting transactions 4 or 5 times to assorted destinations, at different times, is increasingly burdensome. The evolution of technology has its pros and cons: it brings us super transaction speeds and decreasing transactions costs, but also forces us to be nimble to rapid changes in order to stay ahead of competition and regulation.
Q: You began your career as a floor broker on the Chicago Stock Exchange, and you’ve been a fixture in the Chicago trading community since the 1980’s. What aspects do you believe differentiate Chicago from other financial centers?
I don’t think there is that much of a difference when it comes to the financial centers, except that Chicago has more derivative houses than any other financial district in the US as well as numerous hedge funds. Chicago’s large financial center combined with a small community of participants proves to me that it’s still a relationship-driven business no matter where you live.
Q: White Sox or Cubs?
I was born and raised a White Sox fan, but unlike the masses, I’m not a hater. I love going to Wrigley, which I call “the largest bar in Chicago”, for a ball game and beer with friends.