Trading Floor Becomes Actual:
Baruch pitches in to help Wall Street Traders
The virtual trading floor at Baruch College's Subotnick Center for Financial Services is virtual no longer. Suddenly, what was once a purely educational facility, has become an actual trading floor, a temporary home and place of business for some 30 displaced Wall Street commodities brokers.
REFCO Vice President Jeffrey Bauml gathered his wits after the September 11th tragedy and focused on the urgent matter of finding a home for employees who could no longer use their World Financial Center offices. He remembered that Baruch College, his alma mater, had opened a Financial Services Center just 18 month ago. Could they help him?
Gruntal, & Co., one of the Subontick Center's original founding partners, also asked if Baruch could accommodate a few of their people.
Bruce Weber, director of the Subotnick Center immediately went into action. "We had to scramble," Weber says. "Somehow we got 20 extra phone lines in here-traders can't function without their phones. Also we had to get permission to turn this place from a simulated trading environment to an actual trading room."
Understanding the urgency of the need, Reuters, which supplies the Subotnick Center with live data feeds from exchanges all over the world, agreed. "Not only did Reuters agree to the let us trade, they arranged immediate access to the London International Financial Futures Exchange Chicago Board of Trade, which we previously lacked," Weber said.
So how are the traders faring in their temporary quarters at Baruch College? "We're not missing a beat," says Bauml. "The only things I don't have are my knickknacks and family photos. But we have everything else we need. This is truly a state-of-the-art facility. The 'can-do' spirit here is terrific."
Sidney Lirtzman, dean of Baruch College's Zicklin School of Business, is not surprised. As the moving force behind the creation of the Subotnick Center he knew it was fully equipped. From the brightly lit Daktronics ticker display to the 40 Compaq AP workstations, to its real-time market data feeds, the Subotnick Center has quickly become a centerpiece of education for Baruch's many hundreds of finance and accountancy students.
" There was never a question in mind that we had to find a way to help," Lirtzman said. "We have all the electronic and technical capabilities Wall Street needs. And we're a public institution. We have a special responsibility to the citizens of New York City."
Frank Rodriguez, a 30-year old REFCO trader from the Bronx, is happy to be relocated to East 25th Street, home of Baruch College's Library and Technology building which houses the Subotnick Center. "If we weren't here we'd be in Chicago," says Rodriguez, who's been with REFCO for 41/2 years. (Chicago is the main headquarters of REFCO). "And who wants to be separated from their family at a time like this?"
In more normal times the Subotnick Financial Services Center and the Bert and Sandra Wasserman Trading Floor, as it's officially designated, are used to give Baruch's MBA candidates and undergraduate business majors experience with instant financial decision-making, actual trading situations. Some of the students are staying around to watch the traders in action. "They're learning a lot," says Weber.