HC Technologies appoints rare female trading firm president – Finance News

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12 March 2018 | 6:29 pm

With its appointment of Jessica Sohl as president, HC Technologies becomes one of the only trading firms with a woman in a top leadership post.

While Sohl has held the title since December, the firm announced the appointment today, along with its hiring of Giovanni Pillitteri as head of its electronic currency trading. Previously, Sohl was the firm’s chief operating officer and general counsel, and before that she was a regulatory attorney at the larger Chicago rival Jump Trading.

Women have long had a presence in the Chicago trading industry, especially in back-office roles, but few have led the high-speed, electronic firms founded mainly by men who migrated from the city’s trading pits over the past two decades.

Jenny Just, who co-founded Chicago-based Peak6 Investments in 1997 with her husband and former O’Connor & Associates colleague Matt Hulsizer has been one of the few for years. Another O’Connor alum, Dawn Fitzpatrick, formerly headed that pioneering Chicago trading technology business from New York, and she now leads Soros Fund Management, the investment firm founded by billionaire George Sorosformerly headed that pioneering Chicago trading technology business in New York, and she now leads Soros Fund Management, the investment firm founded by billionaire George Soros.

Sohl, 40, aims to keep expanding HC Technologies, which has grown to about 110 employees in Chicago, New York and London, from 65 when she joined the market-making firm as general counsel in mid 2014. She’s also eager to see the industry keep developing more opportunities for women, and encouraging girls to study science, technology, engineering and math.

“We’re excited about HC Technologies’ growing footprint in the industry,” Sohl said in an interview. “We’re really looking forward to growing the business further.”

Sohl and HC Technologies have also been active in the Chicago Brave Initiatives to encourage more female students to pursue studies in STEM fields.

Chicago trading firms, which buy and sell securities and derivatives on financial exchanges to profit from price differences, have had difficulty expanding in recent years because of a lack of volatility in the financial markets, and increasing competition from a handful of mega firms. Like other firms, HC Technologies has sought to diversify its operational mix, adding a private-equity arm, HC Private Investments, in late 2016, and teaming with hedge fund magnate Paul Tudor Jones in a trading team joint venture in 2015.

The role of president at HC Technologies is newly created in light of Sohl taking on additional responsibilities, and Managing Partner Joe Niciforo focusing on other aspects of the firm’s strategic development, Sohl said.

Niciforo, a co-owner of the firm, said he’ll concentrate on development of the firm’s strategic initiatives, including international market-making extensions; a commodity trading investment fund, and potential commodity trading pool; and the new private equity unit.

“The business has gotten much more complicated,” he said in an interview, discussing Sohl’s day-to-day management of the firm.

Niciforo, who formerly worked for Tudor Investment, founded HC Technologies in 2007 with former CME Group Vice Chairman and former Chicago Board of Trade Chairman Charlie Carey, the other HC Technologies co-owner.

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