Kelly Harris is by nature a quiet man, but his formidable presence at Penserra has been felt since the day he joined the firm in 2013. A highly valued equity trader who recently earned his CFA designation, Kelly is well-positioned to offer Penserra’s global institutional trading customers a unique perspective.
Q: You recently earned your Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation, which makes you unique for a sell-side Wall Street equity trader. You also passed each test on your first attempt, which is impressive considering the historical pass rate on each exam is below 50%. Why did you want to pursue your CFA, and how do you plan to plan to make the most of this hard-earned credential?
A: I pursued the charter as a new challenge to myself and to be exposed to material that I don’t have much experience with as a sell-side equity trader. I learned so many different aspects of the industry and it gave me a nice steppingstone to understand more. Pursuing the charter changed the way I think about different facets of the business because it showed me how different sides of the business are connected.
Q: You’re responsible for providing support for equity single-stock and program trading in the developed and emerging markets. What trading tools and techniques do you utilize to bring value for Penserra’s customers?
A: One of the first things I learned when I started trading at Penserra was the ability to trade without the use of algos (VWAP, TWAP, Participation, etc.), by learning what they are doing and how to replicate them. This means knowing the exchange structures, the dark pools, the aggregators, etc. It wasn’t easy at first, but I very rarely use algos now, which allows me to know exactly what is going on with a stock or basket, where it has traded, and if I’ve crossed the spread (or if I need to). I then pass those notes and savings on to the client.
Q: You joined Penserra shortly after graduating from St. Mary’s College with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Your initial position was in the firm’s research department. What drew you to pursue a position on the firm’s trading desk.
A: While I enjoyed working in the research department, trading always seemed so exciting. With trading, every day is a new puzzle that requires quick thinking and constant adjusting. Every day is different with trading and I love that challenge.
Q: How did playing four years of rugby at St. Mary’s College prepare you for the rough-and-tumble world of Wall Street?
A: Rugby differs from many sports as there is only a halftime stoppage in an 80-minute game, which means minimal direction during the game. A key aspect of rugby is digesting information quickly and adjusting on the fly. While there is plenty of direction on Wall Street, part of the challenge is digesting the information quickly and making a call and learning every day on the desk.