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Blue Trading System’s is a family of traders, technologists, innovators and committed professionals. The women and men that work here want to build something that not only meets demand but advances the industry. We are sharp, loyal and strategic.

As we enter 2018, we wanted to highlight the people behind the name. These are the ones applying their knowledge, dedicating their time and investing their money in Blue Trading Systems. Throughout this year we invite you to learn more about the people building the solutions.


Pedro Pinto
What is your name, title and responsibilities at Blue Trading Systems?
My name is Pedro Pinto, I am one of the founders of BTS. My main responsibility is to lead the Software Development group.

How did you get into this field of derivatives trading? Trader or technologist?
My grad school advisor was golfing partners with Trevor Colvin our CEO, back in 1999. At the time Trevor was looking to grow the technology team at Blue Capital Group and my advisor put us in touch. I knew nothing about finance but it was very clear after talking to Trevor that this was an exciting field, filled with intelligent people dealing with very challenging technical problems.

From your perspective, can you describe the relationship between BTS and its clients?
Given our roots as a trading firm we have a deep empathy with our customers. We understand that their livelihood is inextricably linked to the performance and sophistication of their trading systems. That consideration is one of the main drivers in our decision making. Our product design, development and testing efforts are all oriented towards building robust, high-performance high value software that maximizes our clients bottom line.

How has BTS evolved since you started at the company?
Our group started out as the technology arm of Blue Capital Group, a fairly successful options market maker. As we transitioned to working as a Software Vendor we went from sitting next to a single customer trading a very narrow set of instruments in a specific way, to serving the broader trading community. Navigating this transition was challenging, but ultimately extremely rewarding. We were able to develop new processes and new technology that allow us to quickly go from product concept to robust production code.

What are a few challenges the industry is currently facing?
One of the biggest challenges we see are increasingly prohibitive technology costs. Today it is almost impossible for all but the largest trading firms to develop competitive trading software in-house. We see ourselves as playing a small role in combating this consolidation pressure. Because building trading software is all we do, we have gotten good at it and we are able to provide the trading community with high-quality solutions at a fraction of what they would have cost to develop internally.

What is your favorite piece of advice regarding trading, technology, the markets, leadership?
Do sweat the details. That is where the devil is.

If you had to pick, what animal would you be and why?
Dolphins of course. The smartest animals on earth, all they do is muck about in the water having a good time.

Blue Trading Systems attended the 92nd annual Securities Traders Association of Chicago’s (STAC) Mid-Winter Meeting last week in Chicago. Exchange representatives, technology providers, trading firms, hedge funds and industry professionals gathered to discuss issues impacting our industry. Hot topics included cryptocurrencies, low volatility in the markets and corporate responsibility.

Cryptocurrencies

Least surprising, one of the most well attended panel discussions was a conversation on cryptocurrencies led by Bcause’s Sean Ristau. Mitigating risk was a main theme as panelist Michael Mollet from CBOE Global Markets admitted that they chose to align their new Bitcoin futures contract with the licensed digital asset exchange and custodian, Gemini, because it is a regulated entity. Launched by the Winklevoss twins, Gemini is a New York trust company regulated by the New York State Department of Financial Services. It is subject to fiduciary and capital reserve requirements as well as cybersecurity and banking compliance standards.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission has also approved trading of Bitcoin as a new asset class but that doesn’t eliminate issues dealing with the definition of a cryptocurrency, tax implications and market manipulation concerns. While this may be a lucrative market, many traders are still in a wait and see mentality as regulatory authorities work out the kinks.

Trading Signals

Jerry Hanweck from Hanweck moderated a panel looking at trading signals and how traders are finding direction in low volatility markets. Panelist Mike Wisnefski from the Materials Exchange talked about the different approaches experienced traders have compared to the new generation of traders such as quants and robots. Wisnefski advised that experienced traders will have a leg up if they think differently using old school methods.

The panelists also touched upon the importance of extracting information from data and looking at alternative sources for trading signals. The panlists couldn’t pinpoint where to look for alternative data but said that this is non-conventional information like sentiment data, personal anecdotes, or deriving data from one market and applying it to another. As the markets adapt to new entrants, it seems even a birds eye view of a parking lot and when cars are parked there could be used to extract alternative data.

Corporate Responsibility

The conference also included a fireside chat with Silvia Davi from Thesys Technologies in an intimate conversation with Patsy Doerr from Thomson Reuters. They addressed the need for gender diversity and inclusion within the financial industry. Davi provided context around the issue reporting that about only 5% of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are women. Doerr was optimistic in saying that the financial industry is gearing up for a transfer of wealth in the next few years and that women will be the primary decision makers when it comes to finances and investments. In fact according to Business Insider, by 2020, women will control $22 trillion in investable assets.

Conclusion

The STAC Mid-Winter Meeting was a great place for BTS to visit with industry colleagues and hear about the new challenges and opportunities facing our industry. The markets are evolving, there is no doubt about that. We have new asset classes that excite but scare some participants, we have traders forced to look at unique venues for trading signals as well as a transfer of wealth that may shift the corporate mindset to be more inclusive of gender diversity. All in all it was a great gathering that addressed thought provoking issues and we look forward to our further involvement with STAC.


Blue Trading System’s is a family of traders, technologists, innovators and committed professionals. The women and men that work here want to build something that not only meets demand but advances the industry. We are sharp, loyal and strategic.

As we enter 2018, we wanted to highlight the people behind the name. These are the ones applying their knowledge, dedicating their time and investing their money in Blue Trading Systems. Throughout this year we invite you to learn more about the people building the solutions.

This week we are excited to introduce to you Taha Afzal, Managing Partner and Co-founder of Blue Trading Systems. Taha will be in Chicago this week at the Securities Traders Association of Chicago’s Mid-Winter Meeting. If you would like to meet with him, please send him a note at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Taha Afzal
What is your name, title and responsibilities at Blue Trading Systems?
Taha Afzal, Managing Partner and Co-founder. While we’ve been around for almost a decade, BTS operates like a startup and just like most, responsibilities include anything that needs to be done. However what I enjoy the most are product design, developing volatility management tools and electronic trading algorithms.

How did you get into this field of derivatives trading? Trader or technologist?
Technologist. During the last few months of graduate school, I got exposure to financial engineering which got me interested in derivatives, and as luck would have it, a friend of mine forwarded me an email of his friend who was looking to hire developers at an Options trading firm. That firm was Blue Capital Group, from which Blue Trading Systems was spun off, and the hiring manager was Pedro Pinto.

From your perspective, can you describe the relationship between BTS and its clients?
I believe that close relationships with clients is one of our strengths. The founders stay in constant touch with our clients, and whether it is discussing volatility curve dynamics or helping them optimize their electronic trading engines for maximum performance, we are always there to help them. We love to discuss ideas with our clients and incorporate their feedback into the system, to make it a win-win situation for both sides.

How has BTS evolved since you started at the company?
Technologically, we have never been stronger. Philosophically, we have never been more in touch with our strengths.

What are a few challenges the industry is currently facing?
Rapidly growing and fast evolving regulations for one. For algorithmic traders, its the need for speed and the constant challenge to be at the forefront of it (thankfully, that works in our favor). There is also the ever growing volume of data, which presents its own challenges.

What is your favorite piece of advice regarding trading, technology, the markets, leadership?
Embrace the changes, things move quickly. However, respect the basics and fundamentals, they never go away. Hire the best people you can, and trust them.

If you had to pick, what animal would you be and why?
King Cobra. It eats other snakes !

If we have piqued your interest, please visit our About Us page for more information about our people and our history. We also invite you to learn more about our superior options and futures trading platforms BTS Edge and BTS Spark.


Blue Trading System’s is a family of traders, technologists, innovators and committed professionals. The women and men that work here want to build something that not only meets demand but advances the industry. We are sharp, loyal and strategic.

As we enter 2018, we wanted to highlight the people behind the name. These are the ones applying their knowledge, dedicating their time and investing their money in Blue Trading Systems. Throughout this year we invite you to learn more about the people building the solutions.


Trev Colvin
What is your name, title and responsibilities at Blue Trading Systems?
Trev Colvin, CEO, which in my case is a misnomer. I am the oldest and put in most of the money. I provide managerial and business guidance.

How did you get into this field of derivatives trading? Trader or technologist?
I defected from science to finance. Lucky me. It’s been great. I love the urgency. It’s exciting.

From your perspective, can you describe the relationship between BTS and its clients?
We genuinely care and try to give them better service than they ever thought they would get from a software vendor. I wish they would bug our offices so they could hear how we talk about customer service amongst ourselves. It’s a big deal.

How has BTS evolved since you started at the company?
We have acquired wisdom and character from humiliation.

What are a few challenges the industry is currently facing?
Dwindling volatility and figuring out which, if any, aspect of your intelligence will not become irrelevant when replaced by its superior artificial version.

What is your favorite piece of advice regarding trading, technology, the markets, leadership?
Figure out how to be your authentic self and develop your natural gifts instead of trying to prove something, to whom? Nobody cares.

If you had to pick, what animal would you be and why?
Buddha, because he is the highest form of animal I know.

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