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Associate Spotlight: Dinner Is Served

January 1, 2015

Like the best technology, great cooking means both art and science make it into the blender. Too much salt and your guests aren’t returning any time soon. TD Ameritrade’s John Hart knows what today’s traders want and need, and he’s just the guy to give it to them.

After making his first trade at 10, John set up a major university’s network system at 11. And when he joined TD Ameritrade in 2006, he built the thinkorswim® forex business from the ground up. Today, as Managing Director of Trading Products, he’s responsible for the design, development, and strategy behind TD Ameritrade’s next-generation tools and trading platforms.

Outside the job, Hart is a wunderkind chef, proficient in several international cuisines. His is a love of fancy foods, fine wines, and the right gadget, for, well, anything. His little known secret: Hart carries a dongle multipack so he has the right-sized tool for any situation. If something must be plugged in, he’s your man.

1 // John, what’s on your current hot list of new stuff?

thinkorswim sharing is a great new technology launched in 2014. This enables our users to share a chart and click on it to get the exact settings, even if it uses a custom script. On the old trading floor, there was a community. You could observe the techniques a trader used. There was a social aspect that was lost during the move to the internet. This sharing tool gives users the ability to once again have that conversation.

2 // What makes TD Ameritrade technology so special?

We’re listening. We saw sharing as a behavioral need because people were already doing it, and we knew we could create something better than what they were using. We are intensely focused on what clients request. Fortunately thinkorswim is agile. It lets us quickly change direction based on customer feedback. As a trader, I spend a lot of time studying financial instruments. I always strive to understand what the client wants to see. First, you have to know your audience intimately and what’s possible in terms of product development.

3 // What are your group’s bigger goals?

We’re focused on delivering more and faster market data, along with better tools to help our clients visualize and contextualize the market. Our whole group truly gets development. We push our teams hard to stay ahead of the curve.

4 // You trade, too. Share some market wisdom you live by.

Buy low, sell high. Do that over and over again and you’ll be ok. I always look at historical and implied volatility before I get involved with a trade.

5 // So, the kitchen. What’s your latest passion?

Naturally I don’t follow recipes. I create them. Last week I made a spherified pineapple sauce for a ceviche. It formed a membrane around the liquid to to allow the sphere to explode in your mouth. A little off the beaten track but it came out great.

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