KATSUYAMA: 'Wall Street will be disrupted by people working on Wall Street'

These days, barely a week goes by without a former Wall Street trader joining or launching some sort of startup.

At investment banks, trading revenues have collapsed over the past five years, while the rise of technology has led to a shift in power on Wall Street.

One of the more successful startups of the past five years is IEX Group, the trading venue made famous by Michael Lewis’s book “Flash Boys.”

The firm has raised more than $100 million in funding, and is valued at more than $250 million. It has also filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission to become a stock exchange, with a ruling expected this month.

Business Insider sat down with Brad Katsuyama, CEO and cofounder of IEX, to discuss high-frequency trading, his mission, and the controversy surrounding the firm.

Katsuyama has a Disruptive Innovation award on his shelf, prizes given out each year to company founders and others who are shaking up an industry. Other winners include snowboard designer Jake Burton, and Airbnb’s Brian Chesky.

Katsuyama said that disrupting institutional finance is particularly hard to do, because the industry is heavily regulated. Still, he expects more people to give it a go, and for most of those to come from within the incumbents on Wall Street.

Here’s an excerpt from the interview:

We have always said that Wall Street will be disrupted by people working on Wall Street. It has always been our thought, because you need to understand and to have experienced the inefficiency yourself to really have the resolve to try and change it. It is tough. It is highly regulated. It will get messy. I think some of these people who are leaving have seen it first hand, know there is a better way. Some of them will be successful trying to fix that, and unfortunately many of them won’t. The desire to go and out and try and solve the problem, I think that is only going to happen more and more, which means the likelihood of one of these things sticking goes up.

IEX’s approval, there are a lot more people outside of equities watching this. This is really about whether the incumbent forces can use the regulatory apparatus to keep out new entrants. Given all the support we have, and the momentum we have, I’ve heard it first hand from a lot of different people from a lot of different pockets of our industry, they’re watching this very closely. They’re rooting for us.

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