STA has benefited from the leadership of its Chairmen and Presidents throughout the history of the organization. The unique characteristics of each of these leaders have contributed to the outstanding organization STA is today. To view a list of these esteemed individuals, please click here.
The Security Traders Association (STA) was formed at a pivotal time in the nation’s economic history – as the Roosevelt Administration’s New Deal promised to move the United States from the grips of the Great Depression to prosperity. The Securities Act had just become law and the Securities and Exchange Commission had been formed to regulate the issuance and sale of corporate securities to investors and bolster public confidence in the stock market.
The STA (formerly NSTA) was born in the Windy City, when the Chicago Bond Traders Club invited security traders across the Midwest to join them at their annual outing on August 21, 1934. To view the NSTA Minutes of August 21, 1934, please click here.
Within just three years, traders from across the nation flocked to Los Angeles for the annual convention, where a new, more detailed STA constitution was drafted and approved. Back then, the STA worked closely with the young SEC on a variety of issues of the time, which included deliveries of stock in a woman’s name, among many others.
The post-World War II “Own Your Share of American Business” campaign by the New York Stock Exchange opened up Wall Street to hundreds of thousands of small investors, but also to a variety of securities schemes. The SEC responded with increased oversight of the industry, and the STA responded by helping the regulators formulate laws to insure investor protection in the new environment.
By the 1960s, issues such as the separation of brokerage and dealer functions, SEC supervision of the over-the-counter market and the extension of government controls over margin requirements were in the spotlight. During this time, back office problems resulted in shorter hours. The STA helped members keep informed on these issues and to get involved in the debates that would determine their resolution. It also helped to develop STAQ (Security Traders Automated Quotation System), a forerunner of NASDAQ, which updated information on 1,500 of the more active OTC stocks throughout the market day at hourly intervals.
With the advent of NASDAQ and the growing complexity of the market and increased investor access continuing into the 1970s, it became clear that the all-volunteer STA needed to adapt to changing times. In 1973, Morton Weiss, a securities trader in New York who had long been involved in STA activities, became the organization’s first full-time president. The move proved to be an insightful one, with congressional debate on the Securities Acts Amendments of 1975 beginning soon afterward. STA was an integral part of that discussion.
In 1984, Morton Weiss expressed his intention to retire and the STA formalized a search committee to locate a new President. In 1985, the position was offered to John L. Watson III and he began an eleven-year service to STA.
This was when the Association made its move to increase membership, which grew to over 7,500 with 37 affiliate organizations. It also became an international organization with the establishment of three international affiliates in Canada, Paris and London.
It was also during this period that the STA Foundation was created and funded. The Foundation, dedicated to education, has been active since in support of a variety of educational opportunities. It is the Foundation that allowed for the creation of the STA University in 2006.
In 1997, John N. Tognino was elected President and served through 1999. It was during this period that STA became a “player” in Washington. This was accomplished through efforts to seek relief from SEC transaction fees that we collected at the rate of five-times the required amount. STA was a lead proponent of legislation to provide “fairness” on these fees.
In 1999, Leopold Korins became STA’s President and carried this effort to a successful conclusion with the signing, by President George W. Bush, of the Investor and Capital Markets Fee Relief Act that provided a dynamic formula, which has lead to fees today of approximately half of what they were at the onset. This was an important period for STA in that it led a fight and won – gaining recognition and respect on the Hill.
It was during this period that the most significant market structure change began to take shape. NASDAQ collusion charges, in part, resulted in the imposition of Manning limit order obligations. Soon thereafter, decimal trading was mandated. This change will clearly mark a historic point for the market making community, as the implications were far reaching and economically devastating.
The history of STA would not be complete without mention of September 11, 2001. STANY lost 44 precious members on this terrible day. The current STA office was dedicated months following this event and dedicated to the memory of these members. “We will not forget.”
The STA office was located on the 45th floor of the North Tower and happily report that was successfully vacated via a long walk down the stairs incurring no physical harm.
Late in 2001, John C. Giesea was elected President and CEO and continues to serve in this position today.
With the imposition of these critical rule changes, along with technical innovation, which caused many significant market making firms to sell, and ultimately either vanish or substantially cut staffing. STA membership has been impacted through this attrition so that today membership is now 5200.
In 2003, Regulation NMS – the SEC’s effort to “modernize” the national market — became the discussion point with the trade-through rule being the centerpiece for debate.
Importantly, STA produced its first “white paper’, “Fulfilling the Promise of the National Market System”. This was a ground breaking effort by STA. Demonstrated great teamwork and capitalizing on the tremendous resources of our members, we created a document that was a “signature” piece. It was hailed as an important contribution of thought on a most difficult rule filing. The Hill and the Commission were quick to congratulate STA for sharing its views. In fact, though the rule came out differently, STA’s position was absolutely correct based upon the recommendation of a “phased approach”.
In the past 10 years STA has evolved into an organization of a full mix (buy-side and sell-side) of individual members as opposed to being dominated by the NASDAQ influence. The organization has matured in ways unthinkable in the past. The Committees of STA are functioning at high levels producing output that STA shares in Washington via Comment Letters. We enjoy being recognized in Washington as an organization representing professionals whose interests are aligned with investors. This recognition is borne out by our having been invited to testify before the SEC, the House Financial Services Committee, as well as the Senate Banking Committee. This is a direct result of years of effort by many STA leaders who have been committed to the betterment of the organization and our markets.
In the past five years, STA has seen business and educational content, across the country, increase dramatically at all functions of STA and its Affiliates. During 2004 a vision of offering on-line learning for our members was born. In 2005-2006, extensive polling and effort produced the STA University. This was unveiled in October of 2006 and in 2007 it will be a key resource introduced to our members. We are discovering many ways, beyond course work, that technology will allow us to provide to our members, through streaming video and other means. This effort is a “mission” to add value to our members while they enhance their value to employers.
No history of STA could be written without mention of the character of our members. STA members represent the best of patriotic, caring and generous professionals. Many, if not all, of our Affiliates are actively supporting charities in their respective locales. Not only is there significant financial contribution, but “sweat equity” has become more common in recent years. We tallied 2005 affiliate giving at approximately $1.5 million. The events of 9/11 and Katrina brought an unsolicited outpouring that was almost shocking. We also witness individual tragedies where local members as asked for support – the group always responds in a manner that is so heartwarming.
STA has a very rich history made possible by the quality of its members and the skills of its leadership. Each year we have a Chairman and Board that dedicate valuable personal time to allow this organization to grow and assist in the continual transformation of our markets, the best in the world. The revolving leadership has provided a blend of leaders who, each year, make their mark and provide energy to elevate the role STA plays today. We are grateful for all leaders, local and national, that without whose contribution we would not exist today.