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Leman Leaves Citigroup

Citigroup restructures and finds no room for longtime FIX leader.

"Minus one" is not only the way to describe the wind chill in New York this week; it is also an appropriate term for Citigroup's global corporate and investment banking business. Effective tomorrow, Jim Leman's position of managing director of electronic equity trading and connectivity will be eliminated, and Leman will leave the bank.

"The firm decided to eliminate my position as part of a reorganization," says Leman. "The reorganization is going on because they've decided they want to put a few different units together on one plate, and they just decided they were going to do it with a slightly different group of people."

Leman's departure coincides with the establishment of a new group at the bank called Alternative Execution Services, according to a Citigroup internal memo obtained by Wall Street & Technology. The memo, penned by James Forese, head of Global Equities for Citigroup, says that AES will include program trading, transition services, and client connectivity. In addition, the group will include customer trading models, analytics and "smart" servers as well as soft-dollar and introducing-broker services.

The new group is being formed to confront the challenges of "the advent of Alternative Trading Systems, the increase in Direct Market Access, the prevalence of Program Trading and the development of 'smart' algorithms for computerized trading," according to Forese's memo.

Citigroup's AES, which will be overseen by Will Geyer, the firm's managing director of US Global Programs, will be charged with client marketing and pricing for its included execution channels and other non-traditional client segments. In addition, the memo reads, the group will undertake the responsibility of customer needs and implementation of technology-related solutions.

Forese and Geyer declined to comment through a Citigroup spokesman.

One industry source notes that comparable units are likely to appear at other firms. "I don't see Citigroup being the only institution pursuing endeavors such as that," says the source, who requested anonymity. "It's just the first that is publicly discussing it."

Leman's departure after 22 years of service to the firm has come as a surprise to many in the industry.

Michael O'Conor, the global steering committee chair of FIX Protocol Limited, an industry organization dedicated to the promotion of the Financial Information eXchange (FIX) protocol, says that Leman has been fundamental to the development of the real-time electronic-messaging standard. "He has probably been the most significant contributor to the FIX protocol and the FPL since its inception," he says. "He was there at the beginning, helping to develop it."

However, other industry sources point out that industry involvement does not always fall into the job description of an institution.

Tom Jordan, president of New York City-based consulting firm Jordan & Jordan, says, "It is unfortunate that contributions made at the industry level are not valued extensively at the firm level."

Leman says that despite his leaving Citigroup, he plans to stay involved in committees focused on the middle office, FIX and reference data, as well as Omgeo, as an ex-officio.

His next career move is undetermined for now, but Leman says that Citigroup has offered to help find other positions within the firm, as well as potentially tap into him for consulting services. He also plans to explore opportunities at other firms, consultancies and vendors involved in global connectivity and the middle-office space as well. "I'm keeping my options open," he says. "There is more than enough opportunity to find things to do in the industry."

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