Resilience Drives Leavey Alumni Peter Giacchi to Lead Securities Trading into the Future
Before the internet took off in the mid-90s, stock trading was manual and cumbersome. While it worked at the time, it’s hard to believe every share of stock traded was recorded by a clerk on a keyboard. It took 4 clerks to record the sale of just one stock. Fast forward a few years and 40 stocks could be traded with no clerks. As the markets became more systematic and algorithmic, technology allowed people to execute trades from their cell phones. The markets have become more efficient and more open to a wider audience of potential investors.
Peter Giacchi '92 grew up in Manhattan, where his mother and multiple family friends were traders and brokers. He started his Wall Street career in 1992 at a family firm and has seen first-hand how technology has dramatically changed the markets over the past 30 years.
While the markets were adapting and evolving, Giacchi’s career focused on the New York Stock Exchange designated market maker (DMM) business at Citadel Securities. Companies that want to list their shares on the public market select a DMM to help them secure capital and ensure investors can trade their shares seamlessly. Citadel Securities is the largest player in the DMM space, responsible for 60% of the symbols currently traded on the exchange. A full 80% of all new listings on the NY Stock Exchange – IPOs, spin-offs, mergers – select Citadel Securities to be their DMM. The firm is responsible for approximately 25% of all equity trading and 35% of all retail volume in the US.
“This is an industry where you are never going to be right all the time. The markets ebb and flow, but they also pivot and succeed. And so does Citadel Securities. We talk to the C-level executives of the largest companies every day. Being able to react quickly to the market is how we get to an 80% win rate.”
As the head of DMM Floor Trading at one of the largest trading firms in the world, Giacchi plays an important role in how the markets function and evolve. His primary responsibilities include:
- Helping the markets run more efficiently by committing capital and providing liquidity to facilitate trading, particularly in times of volatility
- Maintaining relationships with the 1,600 operating companies that use Citadel Securities as their DMM; his team of traders helps these companies understand what drives performance in their shares
- Bringing new companies that are going public to the New York Stock Exchange and Citadel Securities
The Evolution of the Markets
Expanding markets appeal to new investors, creating more capital for private companies that want to access public markets. One of the most significant changes, according to Giacchi, is how technology has changed what traders are doing.
Fifteen years ago, traders were focused on trading, and the company relationship was secondary. As trading became more systematic, algorithmic, and electronic, traders in the DMM role could focus more on the client relationship. “Efficiencies have made it possible for traders to focus on higher order tasks and build better relationships with clients”, Giacchi explained. Things that can be programmed are programmed, leaving more time to drive business insights and add more value to clients.
Giacchi is leading the Citadel Securities DMM team to a unique place with a strong value proposition. The firm has the capital to provide liquidity, the technology to control risk, and the people who understand the importance of relationships. In addition, they have scale that no one else has, which allows Citadel Securities to bring more data and insights to enable companies to thoroughly understand their performance.
Market and Personal Resilience
Much like the market, Giacchi has demonstrated his own resilience over time. He knew from a young age he would attend a Jesuit college, but he didn’t know just how much of a long-term impact it would have on his life. He attended a Jesuit high school in Manhattan and he wanted to continue on the same path. “They were free thinkers. They really pushed you to have an opinion. They embraced vigorous debate. They never said you were wrong.” Giacchi explained. He also knew he wanted to go away for school and experience something different from the Manhattan big city experience. When Giacchi and his family visited Santa Clara, “I felt like I belonged there and wanted to spend the next four years there.”
He almost didn’t spend four years there. During his sophomore year, Giacchi was in a horrific car accident that killed his roommate and left Giacchi with many injuries – two broken arms, a broken eye socket, 160 stitches, skin damage requiring grafts – and a very long recovery time. His parents wanted to take him back to the East Coast, but one of the Fathers at Santa Clara told them, “If you take him home now, he’ll never deal with what happened; let him grieve with his friends; let us take care of him.”
And they did. Santa Clara and his roommates took care of Giacchi as a person and a student. With two arms in casts, he needed help with everything from feeding to getting dressed and his roommates proved to be the truest of friends in every sense of the word.
Looking back on the experience, Giacchi said, “Trust in the fact that you believe you are in the right place. Don’t make a decision about college on who has the biggest football stadium – where do you belong? Have faith in your decision because in your heart you know where you belong. I’m not sure what would have happened if I left Leavey and Santa Clara, but I can say with certainty that whatever road I would have taken to recovery would have been much more arduous without Santa Clara.”