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Associate Spotlight: Keeping the Lights On

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April 1, 2014

Sure. Lots of famous Joes out there—Joe Namath. Joe Pesci. And naturally, Joe Camel. But we think our Joe Tassone’s the coolest of all. In TD Ameritrade’s Active Trader group, he’s the reason your trades hit their electronic lay-ups just the way they should.

Growing up on Chicago’s south side, Joe would watch family members trade on the floor of Chicago exchanges, which led him to trade equity options at a prop firm early in his career. Now, he’s in his TD Ameritrade groove on the trading platform, with his eye on the ball and sporting a skill for clutch shots.

So, Joe, what’s a typical day for you?

I handle day-to-day operations and production issues, making sure the system runs smoothly. I also handle most of the technical communications between the thinkorswim® platform and TD Ameritrade.

Uhh…Can you translate that into English?

I monitor the health of thinkorswim servers. I make sure we route all orders correctly, and market data and quotes are updating in real time. I handle issues throughout the day—things like incorrect margin, or problems with routing lines. Maybe a customer’s order was rejected in error. There’s always something. Some customers call us the firemen because we put out the blazes and deal with the crises, small and large. When an issue happens during the trading day, there’s no time margin. Deadlines are like “right now.”

Have you had any close calls?

About a year and a half ago, a technology certificate expired. No one could log into thinkorswim one Saturday afternoon. Our developers had to regenerate the certificate. We ended up resolving the problem 15 minutes before the open on Sunday.

You must have been sweating.

Oh yeah, but I had a tremendous sense of relief when we got it fixed. The end result was no client impact and that’s what we’re looking for. I do take it personally if something goes wrong with the system. I feel responsible. If something misfires, it’s on me to fix it at once and keep it from happening again.

How do you sleep at night?

I’m on call 24/7. In the middle of the night, if a futures routing line goes down, I work with our developers, the exchanges, and technology staff to address it. But, we have a team atmosphere. I can’t and don’t do everything myself. I have to be able to trust the people around me as well and rely on them when I need to.

With so much pressure, how do you blow off steam?

I play sports. But, I’m not a guy who likes to just go to the gym. I play basketball, softball, football. I don’t like to run unless I’ve got a ball in my hand.

What’s ahead for your group at TD Ameritrade?

Keep the systems running, keep innovating, stay ahead of what the market has to offer.

Good thing you got big feet. Lots of responsibility. So, what size shoe do you wear?

Size 15—yeah, it’s a pain. It makes shopping for shoes kinda hard.