Joe Patrina & Wall Street Systems

Joe describes “True Global Processing”

Joe Patrina was one of the founders of Wall Street Systems and the company’s President from 1986-2006, at which point the company was sold to a private equity firm.

In 2003, Risk Magazine, the leading publication on the topic of controlling financial risk, selected Joe and 24 other software innovators and financial modeling mathematicians who in the late 1970s and 80s had been the early pioneers of  “Risk Management” This new field dealt with the measurement and management of the growing levels of financial and operational risk prevalent in large trading institutions.

The selected luminaries were honored at a black tie function at Ciprianni’s in NY.  The following is an interview given by Joe to a Risk reporter in advance of the event.

Risk:  What were your aims when you set up Wall Street Systems?

Joe:  Most people in our space know that Wall Street Systems is an industrial strength player offering large firms a complete Global trading platform, which they use to unify their worldwide operation.  What few people know is that the concept for the “true global” 24/7 engine came from the airline industry.

Risk:  Go ahead tell me about it

Joe:  Already in the 1970s the airlines had robust systems and were working as streamlined global enterprises with unified point-of-sale/flight status systems.  Their worldwide offices were linked together with instantaneous information.

When I got into the financial trading business in the late 70s at European American Bank, there was nothing like this in our industry.  Other than a few primitive position keeping systems and manually intensive back office systems, the best system was inside our head.  Traders were essentially in their own world, working off of paper blotters.  Managers based decisions on verbally communicated, and manually derived data.  We were really an early stage industry.

Risk:  Sounds like the wildwest

In more ways than I can say here.  Anyway, my obsession was to do for the financial world what others had already done for the airline industry, In the early days I even met with System Engineers from British Air and Delta to see how they visualized things.

Risk: Sounds like you were the Wyatt Earp coming in to fix Dodge

Joe:  Not quite.  We didn’t carry live weapons.

Risk:  Ok how did you build the system?

Joe:  While at European American Bank, the founders of Wall Street Systems went on to develop an “open” financial instrument application, able to accommodate the evolving complexity of new instruments and able to operate in a fluid no time processing environment.  By 1982 we released the first version of the system to European American Bank.  At that time our bank was number two in foreign exchange behind Citibank and number two in funds transfer behind Chase, so we had our hands full.

Risk:  How did you become an independent company

Joe:  From 82 to 86 we continued to enhance the system, but in 1986, when European American Bank decided to focus exclusively on retail banking, we helped the bank retrench from the international trading markets.  In turn, our new company – Wall Street Systems – acquired the rights to the software, which has since been called The Wall Street System.

Risk:  What happened next?

So we entered the market, determined to be the first true enterprise scale supplier.  From the start we partnered with very large firms like Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse First Boston, State Street, RBS and then went on to work with many other European and Fareast banks as well.  Later the big corporations, like BP, Ford, HP and VW came in as in the 90s their operations had rapidly become global too.   As the business grew we opened offices in Europe and Asia, and just kept moving.

Risk:  No doubt.  Do you enjoy it?

The award dinner part is great.