Five Minutes With Joe Bigane

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FIVE MINUTES with Joe Bigane, Managing Director of 7ticks

Bigane, who joined technology firm 7ticks in 2005, holds a general business degree and has over 14 years of management and business development experience working for firms in the financial services industry. He focuses on cultivating 7ticks' operations, client services and business development teams. Bigane says that in Chicago 7ticks competes most closely with guavatech IT business solutions.

Q: What does "7ticks" mean? What is the significance of the name of the firm?

A: We get a lot of questions about that. The number seven originates from an ancient word that signifies completeness, and has come to symbolize a degree of perfection. A tick is the smallest measurable unit of change, and is used as both a measure of time and price. In computing, a tick is one clock cycle on a processor, and in finance a tick represents the smallest price unit by which a futures contract moves up or down. In summary, 7ticks is completeness and a degree of perfection in finance as well as computing.

We live in a world that is constantly changing and operate in an industry with rising requirements for success. Rapidly evolving financial markets and continual advances in technology create new opportunities for those who stay ahead of the curve. In this fast-paced environment, success is a race we win by staying 7ticks ahead of the competition.

Q: Why was 7ticks started?

A: The firm was started in 2002 to address the growing demand from proprietary trading firms, FCMs, and IBs for technical IT consulting support. The move toward electronic trading from traditional floor trading was well underway and many firms still didn’t have the knowledge or resources to manage that transition.

Q: Why are you located in a loft building on Wells Street in Chicago instead of a location inside of the financial district?

A: Our business can really be run from any particular geographic region. Being in Chicago or near the financial district is very helpful. That being said, we didn't want a traditional office. We were looking for space that complemented our culture. Our space is fun, open, and has character versus some of the more traditional types of office space found in the financial district. In addition, more and more of our customers are located outside of the Financial Loop, making the requirement to be located there much lower.

Q: Who have been your mentors and role models in the industry? Why?

A: Specifically, over the last 5 years Kevin Bohren (Chairman of 7ticks) has been extremely influential in the development of my management and decision-making skills. In addition, Dan Curry (presently at Spryware) played a big role in educating me on the specifics of the market-data industry. Finally, Scott Caudell (my partner at 7ticks) has been instrumental to me learning the technology side of the business.

Q: What is different about 7ticks compared to other technology firms that specialize in managed IT services for the financial trading marketplace?

A: We’ve been at the forefront of the electronic trading revolution, giving us tremendous insight from a broad range of customers.

Neutrality. We don’t trade, nor are we an FCM or IB. 7ticks is purely an independent provider of managed technical services to financial trading industry. We are also trying to provide insight into the infrastructure (including client facts and figures for latency for the day and exchange figures). Many will sell you the car but won't let you look under the (hood). We want you to look under the (hood) all the time.

We see more and more people entering the managed services sector. It's more important today than ever that we...continue to stay at the forefront. The nice thing is we have a pretty good track record and customer base. (In addition) there are some barriers of entry for (our) competition. It's an expensive business and then there is a time factor in setting up the technology. Even if you have all those things in is basically a game of thousands of moving parts. Get just a few of those moving parts wrong, and it can be really damaging.

Q: How would you describe the culture at 7ticks? How does it/doesn't it lend itself to the operations at the firm?

A: We are very careful about who we hire. Quality versus quantity. Each new candidate is interviewed by one of the partners to ensure culture is preserved and enhanced. Our culture and the people that form it can be best described as fun, energetic, smart, respectful, truthful, and extremely passionate.

Traders are relentless in their need to compete and stay ahead of the curve from a trading perspective. Not only do you have to be fairly competent in whatever area that hopes to grow, you have to sign up for the challenge and drive and passion sides of the business that are just critical to our success.

(Bigane added that the passion to win still exists, whether the trader profile has changed to mathematical wiz kid and quant or not.)

Q: What is the biggest challenge 7ticks has faced as a firm so far? How was the situation handled?

A: Early on in our business life, we started to develop our own software trading platform. The network infrastructure business that 7ticks is known for today was merely an avenue to fund software development efforts. However, the network infrastructure business started to grow rapidly and ultimately we had to make a tough decision to abandon the software efforts. It was a difficult decision for us given the significant investment of time and capital we had put into the project.

Q: What is the strangest request 7ticks has fielded?

A: Because we have exceptionally talented network engineers we do get quite a few requests to help with personal home networks - computers, cable modems, phones, home entertainment systems, etc. These one-off requests can be a major distraction.