On July 21, I attended a fascinating webinar hosted by CommPRO. The webinar was called Democratizing Data & Financial Services Solutions. This webinar gave insight and predictions as to where we are in the world of financial communication and financial technology and where we may be going. Although there were several speakers with incredible panels, the one I am going to speak of was my personal favorite; it included an interview with Mr. Leo Melamed.
Mr. Leo Melamed is globally recognized as the founder of financial futures. He is known to have revolutionized markets by creating the International Monetary Market (IMM) and introduced the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) to many financial instruments, including Treasury Bills, Eurodollars, and stock index futures. In 1987, Mr. Melamed introduced the world’s first futures electronic trading system, known as Globex. In addition to his outstanding financial developments, Mr. Melamed is recognized a hero, as he is a Holocaust survivor that endured an escape odyssey that lasted two years. According to his biography, “the escape spanned three continents, six languages, the Trans-Siberian railroad, and Japan — — courtesy a life-saving transit visa from Japanese Counsel General to Lithuania, Chiune Sugihara — — happily ending in the United States in 1941.”
In the panel, Lisa Leiter, EVP of financial Comms at Edelman, interviewed Mr. Melamed, and they discussed his journey to success. Mr. Melamed attributes his past experiences to be the bridge towards his success. In his escape from the Holocaust, Mr. Melamed fled from Poland to Lithuania. This is where he claims, in the interview, to have first learned about the value behind currency. He stated, “the only place to determine value is in the marketplace.” He elaborated on this quote by providing an anecdote; when Leo and his father had escaped Poland and ended up in Lithuania, they had to figure out the value of the currency in the foreign place they landed. Leo and his father were able to do this by tersely communicating with the bread seller at the local market, handing the baker a singular coin and pointing to the bread. The baker and seller of the bread laughed and roughly conveyed to them the correct number of coins that the bread was worth. It was at this moment that Leo and his father learned the value of the currency in the marketplace.
From an early age, Mr. Melamed was intrigued with value and had officially entered the world of finance while he was in law school. Although a lawyer by background, Leo fell in love with the financial industry. In the interview, he claims “you have to love what you are doing… My immediate love was trading.” He was attracted to trading as “everyday was different and you had to figure out where the markets were going… It’s exciting… That just gets into your blood.” Mr. Melamed made the complete shift in profession and entered into the finance industry. It was here that he pondered why the futures were always agriculturally related. He questioned, “if it worked in agriculture, why could it not be used in finance?” From then on, Mr. Melamed pioneered new financial instruments, launched myriad financial products, and became the founder of financial currency futures. He introduced the modern era of finance; but, his work did not stop there. Mr. Melamed understood at an early age that technology was coming. He knew that eventually technology would have the capability to replace the broker; it would ironically replace, yet create jobs. He states “I was certain it was coming.” In 1987, Melamed revolutionized trading with the introduction of Globex.
Mr. Melamed saw the future and power of technology and did not discard its potential, but rather embraced it. In our modern-day society, we are seeing the ample technological developments of blockchain and its potential. Many are not aware of this potential but others are certain it is coming, just like Mr. Melamed. From his interview, viewers captured the wise words from a hero and pioneer. Though there were several takeaways, I think that one main aspect should be that your past experiences are the catalyst for your future, and your future can be created from the potential you see today. Learn to understand the marketplace and the technology developments, like blockchain and crypto, that are likely to shape the prospective times to come. Until then, #ToTheMoon!
Disclaimer: cryptocurrencies are risky and volatile investments. These comments above should not be perceived as investment advice.
Jordana Cohen, Writer and Associate, Alpha Sigma Capital
Jordana joined Alpha Sigma Capital in November 2020 as writer and associate. Jordana graduated magna cum laude from Tulane University with a business major in finance and a minor in Spanish. In addition to her academic accomplishments, she has substantive experience in management and marketing endeavors through her establishment of several start-up events to fundraise for pediatric cancer research. Alpha Sigma Capital is a pioneering digital asset fund that invests in growth companies, private and public equity, mergers and acquisitions, and special situations. Alpha Sigma Capital believes in a fundamental research approach for investing and supporting the blockchain economy; and, it is rigorous in determining the value of such organizations.