Journey on Wall St.
Laurier alum talks about his experience with fair trading and becoming a prominent business figure in New York
Bradley Katsuyama graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University with a bachelor of business administration in 2001 and is now one of the most prominent figures on Wall Street.
After working as an associate at the Royal Bank of Canada on Canadian soil, Katsuyama was transferred to RBC in New York to do equity trading.
From 2007 to 2009, Katsuyama expanded his work on a global scale, first running equity trading in the United States, and then moving onto global electronic sales and trading for RBC.
The strong business and economics education he received at Laurier helped Katsuyama’s understanding of the world, fair finance and stock markets, despite having to leave the co-op program to keep his internship at RBC.
“Laurier did a lot of casework so I learned how to work well with people. I built some of my closest friendships there,” he said.
He further explained the balance between learning at school and learning on the job.
“I think school in general teaches you a lot about how to learn, and most of life is learned on the job, but it definitely gives you an approach to tackling obstacles and challenges.”
Katsuyama emphasized the importance of three things to current students, regardless of whether they’re in business: networking, hard work and humility.
“Networking is extremely important. Surrounding yourself with good people is extremely important,” he said.
“Find mentors and engage with them in a productive way. Second is just work ethic. No matter how talented you are, you just have to be willing to outwork your competitors.
“Thirdly, I think you always have to have a sense of humility. No matter what you have accomplished, no matter what you want to accomplish, it is always better to be humble than the opposite.”
He said all three aspects are interdependent and each is necessary to sustain the other.
While Katsuyama was at RBC in New York, he learned about issues surrounding computerized high-frequency trading, which asserts that the stock market is rigged for the benefit of insiders.
Katsuyama tackled the issue directly, an issue that has been prevalent for years on Wall Street.
He didn’t like the way high-frequency trading was taking over the stock market, and in 2012, left RBC to start his own broker-dealer company called IEX, which launched in October 2013.
This garnered him the title as hero in Michael Lewis’ bestseller, Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt.
The tell-all book received a mixed review of acceptance and opposition, and opened Katsuyama’s life to the press and public.
He has been interviewed on television segments such as 60 minutes and CNBC, in which he was able to explain and defend his beliefs.
Since bringing attention to the issue of high-frequency trading, Katsuyama also has been called a “fear monger.”
He was further accused of blowing the issue out of proportion.
He will continue to find himself in the public eye when the paperback version of Flash Boys comes out next week.
Regardless, Katsuyama continues to be the humble businessman on Wall Street approaching stock markets with a fair approach.
“Life has certainly changed quite a bit,” Katsuyama told The Cord in an e-mail.
“I am now stopped on the street and recognized in the weirdest places. The media attention has certainly been good for our business, both attracting new customers and also a lot of talent to join the IEX team.”
“I have met a lot of interesting people who I never imagined I would be interacting with and am very thankful to be in this position.”