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August 11, 2017

High-speed trading group elevates first female to role as CEO

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Modern Markets Initiative (MMI), a trade group representing several prominent high-frequency trading firms, announced the appointment on Wednesday of Kirsten Wegner as its new chief executive officer.

Wegner, a former government relations director for the International Securities Exchange, is the first woman to serve as head of the relatively new trade group. She joined MMI in May 2016 as a senior vice president of business development and will succeed Bill Harts, who will remain with MMI as a senior adviser.

MMI was created in 2013 at a time when U.S. regulators were questioning the role high-frequency trading plays in the markets. Its founding members are Global Trading Systems, Hudson River Trading, Quantlab and Tower Research Capital.

The sector drew increased scrutiny in 2014 after the publication of Michael Lewis’ “Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt,” which alleged financial markets were rigged by the ability of high-speed traders to jump ahead of retail investors.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has been exploring whether to adopt new regulations targeting high-speed trading, as part of a broader review of equity market structure rules.

Wegner’s appointment to head MMI bucks a trend toward the under-representation of women in leadership positions at U.S. financial firms generally.

According to a 2016 Morningstar research report, only about 10 percent of all U.S. fund managers are women

“Due to the rise of high-frequency trading, investors both large and small enjoy a deeper pool of potential buyers and sellers, and a wider variety of ways to execute trades…investors now enjoy faster, more reliable execution technology and lower execution fees than ever before."

Arthur Levitt, former SEC Chairman

The Wall Street Journal, August 17, 2009

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