“Class of 2015”
It is with great pleasure that we unveil the next three members of our industry to be honoured in the Profit & Loss Hall of Fame:
Vince O’Sullivan epitomises all that is good about the foreign exchange industry. He is honourable, looks after his clients and his colleagues, has an in-depth knowledge of the industry, as well an approach that has stood the test of time.
A simple approach to this would be to list the praise heaped on O’Sullivan by the countless market participants that have worked under him at Barclays before moving onto other institutions, but that would undersell him. He was an integral part of the development of the BARX platform through his willingness to engage all-comers on the strengths and weaknesses of each proposal and also led the effort to promote the benefits of e-FX.
As a person, it is testimony to his character that without exception – even though many now work at competing institutions – it is hard to find an institution without e-sales people who have been influenced by O’Sullivan and who are full of praise for the man many call “Uncle Vinnie”.
Not only does this mean that so many in our industry were shaped by working with O’Sullivan, but also that he has had a major influence on how people have viewed the opportunities afforded by e-FX. As one of the pioneers of e-commerce, O’Sullivan exhibited his trademark patience when explaining what were at the time, relatively new concepts to customers and colleagues. His approach perfectly reflected his belief that e-commerce was the way forward for the FX industry.
It is not only his peers and colleagues that are full of praise for O’Sullivan, however, for while banks often chant the customer service mantra, O’Sullivan epitomises it. He is well-respected by his clients, who speak of his willingness to engage, listen and work hard to provide them with the solutions they need. The sheer number of his clients that have suggested him for this award over the past few years merely reinforces the respect with which he is held by all around him.
O’Sullivan started at Barclays in 1978 as a foreign exchange cashier, before moving onto the FX trading desk at what was then one of the biggest FX banks in London. With responsibility for spot yen, O’Sullivan was one of the key traders on the desk and worked through some of the more dramatic market events such as Black Friday, the Plaza and Louvre Accords – all of which produced what was then almost unprecedented market volatility.
In 1994, his knowledge and communication skills were recognised by Barclays and he moved into hedge fund sales, a role he held for the next four years.
A brief sojourn to the currency management side in 1998 preceded a return to Barclays with the task of helping to set up the bank’s electronic platform, Fox, the predecessor to BARX, for which O’Sullivan was responsible for the design and implementation.
O’Sullivan brought his knowledge and enthusiasm to the project, as well as his willingness to engage all sides of the industry and to share ideas. During this time, he became one of the early and strongest proponents of the shift to e-commerce and was rewarded by being named head of e-FX distribution for EMEA at the bank.
The evolution of foreign exchange markets over the past 15 years has been dramatic and was initially driven by a small group of pioneers. Vince O’Sullivan is a huge part of the BARX story and as such, of this industry’s shift to a modern, e-commerce based market. He is a good man in what remains at heart, a good industry.
Jack Linker celebrates 40 years in foreign exchange this year, so it is little wonder that he enters the Profit & Loss Hall of Fame as our Readers’ Choice pick for 2015. He is repeatedly referred to by peers as a true professional – a man whose career has focused on building relationships with peers and clients around the world. In his own words, “FX is a business of numbers, but it’s a marketplace of people”, a mantra he believes everyone working in this industry should never forget.
In January 1975, Linker walked into Lasser’s NYC office. They stood him in front of a big whiteboard, handed him a bunch of colored markers and told him to write down what they said for each of the 20 or so currency pairs listed on the board. Ten minutes later, he had a dozen guys shouting numbers at him and yelling that he wasn’t updating it fast enough. This was Linker’s first experience with market data “latency”…and he was the cause!
In 1978, the market went “international” and brokers were allowed to do business across borders. This meant that brokers were now “linked” with their overseas colleagues via open lines and the “linkman” was the conduit. Needless to say, Linker did a lengthy stint known to all as ‘The Linkman’.
After 16 years with Lasser, he eventually landed at Cantor Fitzgerald in 1993, where he got his first exposure to screen-based trading. “The firm wanted to get into the FX forwards market and we decided that a customised version of their well-known US Treasury screen could work as a hybrid voice/screen model,” he says. “The screen was launched and FX forwards, for the first time, had live pricing displayed on a broker’s screen. It was an exciting time introducing a new service to lots of the same customers I had been dealing with on the phone for so many years. It was a good experience that would teach me a lot for the next phase of my career. “Sadly, I left many good team mates and friends at Cantor, who were then lost on 9/11. They were a big part of my success and barely a day goes by that I don’t think of them,” adds Linker.
When he joined Reuters in 2001, it was to help promote the Forwards Matching platform, which quickly became the leading electronic marketplace for FX Forwards, and Linker was tasked with leading the Americas region for both Spot and Forwards Matching, as well as managing the firm’s foray into the B2C market.
Whether it was with telephones and hand signals, screens and keyboards or algos and APIs, Linker is a strong believer that it is people that drive this business. “I have been unbelievably lucky to work with some of the best people in the market or for that matter anywhere,” reflects Linker. “My clients, my management and most importantly, my colleagues and team mates have made my journey so far, an incredible one. I have travelled to many parts of the world and have too many friends to count that I have met through the FX market. I have been fortunate to manage some of the best people a manager could have and to my teams past, present and (hopefully) future, I salute you. My success is your success and I could not have done it without you.”
“I have known Jack Linker for over 30 years and have always found him to be the upmost professional,” says Peter Connolly, EVP, Transaction Banking, at Wells Fargo. “He is widely known as an honest, straight forward individual that would happily go out of his way to help and support any individual in the market. He is a trusted friend and advisor.”
“Jack Linker is a consummate professional. He is very dedicated and has demonstrated great integrity throughout his lengthy foreign exchange career. Even after 40 years in the business, he still finds himself involved in shaping the future of the foreign exchange business. His Hall of Fame induction is well deserved and I am proud to call Jack a good friend,” says Greg Fiori, director, NY spot trading.
“I have known Jack since the earliest days of my career, and have benefitted from his vast experience and market knowledge. The breadth and depth of his relationships are unparalleled, cultivated over 40 years in the business. Well respected by so many, Jack is a true professional in every sense of the word,” adds Tom Pluta, Co-Head of Global Rates at JP Morgan.
“Jack is a man of integrity and character – a class act representing the old school in the modern day e-generation,” says former colleague, Matt O’Hara. “I’ve been privileged in working alongside him for many years where I quickly worked out that he’s probably forgotten more about FX than the rest of us will ever know! Our market will always be driven by relationships, knowledge and simply rolling up your sleeves to get the job done, all of which are characteristics where Jack sets the benchmark.”
“Jack Linker is an invaluable resource in the FX sector, but he’s also someone that has become a trusted friend for many of us in the industry. He’s a joy to be around, he’s knowledgeable, he’s honest, and he’s fair. Regardless of the year or the topic at hand, ‘Uncle Jack’ is a true gem in this industry,” says Matt Schrecengost, COO, Jump Trading.
Derek Sammann has been at the core of an evolution, and in FX terms at least, he has long been the face of that change. In his eight years at the helm of CME’s FX business, Sammann was responsible for delivering what was for some an unwelcome message.
Entrenched interests in the OTC markets were initially less than willing to accept the story being told by Sammann – one that highlighted the need for greater transparency and espoused the efficiencies and capital benefits of clearing – but his intelligence, communication skills and above all, credibility, won them over.
The fact that Sammann worked in both exchange-traded and OTC businesses meant he was the ideal person to deliver what was for some a dramatic message of change. He did so with skill – he was always the first to acknowledge the importance of strong OTC markets to futures markets. Through his vision, he propelled CME’s FX business to previously unseen heights in terms of the range of participants and, importantly, the volume of business.
Sammann started as a floor trader in 1990, trading FX options on the CME floor before moving to Paris in 1994 to start what became a 12-year association with the Indosuez group in its various forms. He broke new ground at the bank by establishing its floor trading business on the MATIF, the French bourse, where he was one of three appointed market makers for a new FX options product.
He moved into the OTC space in 1995, first with responsibility for the USD/EMS options book at Banque Indosuez and then, four years after Credit Agricole’s purchase of the bank, he was appointed global head of FX options. To this was added structured products in 2003 before the challenge of what was to be a huge role lured him from London to Chicago and to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
Sammann is the first to acknowledge the groundwork done by his predecessors at CME. Notwithstanding that, however, his tenure in CME’s FX business was marked by tremendous growth as his vision and guidance drove the business. The numbers say it all – in 2007, CME averaged in the region of $66 billion per day in notional volume; in 2014, as Sammann transitioned to a new, bigger role at CME, the exchange averaged in excess of $118 billion per day.
Along the way, further responsibility was placed upon a man who was proving he knew how to grow a business in all conditions. In 2009, Sammann was given responsibility for CME Group’s fixed income business and in 2013 he took over the metals and options franchises.
In September 2014, Sammann was promoted to senior managing director and became the global head of commodities and options products for CME Group, including responsibility for CME’s energy, metals, and agricultural products, as well as for its options business.
Derek Sammann has had a huge impact on the FX industry. He has been instrumental in shaping the dialogue around the futurisation of financial derivative products and has tirelessly championed greater transparency in the marketplace. He has dedicated himself to helping people better understand the shifting regulatory landscape that has overwhelmed so many and his work will make what could have been a difficult transition, much easier.