Alexander Saint-Amand; Thomas A. Desmond

President, Chief Executive Officer, Gerson Lehrman Group; Chief Growth Officer, TradeKing

Social Networks and Financial Markets
26 minutes, 12.3mb, recorded 2008-02-06
Thomas A. Desmond; Alexander Saint-Amand

Common attributes of social networks include reputation, ratings, transparency, and messaging of all types. Can these aspects be effectively applied to professional pursuits such as investment research or online trading? In separate presentations, Alexander Saint-Amand and Thomas A. Desmond detail how their firms encourage just such behavior through a combination of software features and user experience.


Saint-Amand explores how his research group uses technology to qualify, engage, grow, and manage a global network of industry experts. The challenges of classifying highly specific expertise are not well met by commonplace job boards, expert portals, and the like. Additionally, the nature of an institution-to-institution transaction, he asserts, is fundamentally different than a purely social exchange. The former requires sophisticated support services in the areas of assessment, engagement, payment framework, scheduling, and dissemination of results.


Desmond outlines a set of techniques and features that make TradeKing, an online options and stock brokerage, a 'first-mover' in the realm of leveraging community in the online trading market. Traders naturally organize around themes and ideas, Desmond observes. The platform supports and enables this by reducing barriers to participation, automatically tracking and presenting a trader's interaction with the community, and by depicting ROI from actual trades verified by TradeKing.


Trust, credibility, availability, easy exchange between participants - the fundamentals of any community - are the focus here as they are discussed from the perspective of the quintessentially closed club of Wall Street.


Alexander Saint-Amand is President and Chief Executive Officer at Gerson Lehrman Group (GLG). Before joining GLG at its inception, he worked for Bloomberg in New York and Frankfurt. His articles have been published in The New York Times and Frankfuerter Allgemeine Zeitung, among other publications. Alexander is a graduate of the University of Virginia.

Thomas A. Desmond is the Chief Growth Officer for TradeKing, a top-ranked nationally licensed online broker deal. Prior to joining TradeKing, Tom was a co-founder, Partner and Managing Director of Baird Venture Partners, LLC, a venture capital firm based in Chicago, IL. Prior to Baird Venture Partners, Tom served as a Vice President in Robert W. Baird & Co.’s Investment Banking Group. Tom was also a Senior Product Manager and Senior Analyst at Morningstar, Inc. and an Associate in Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s Investment Banking Division. Tom earned an MBA with distinction from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and MA with high honors from Michigan State University and a BA, cum laude, from the University of Notre Dame.

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