Small Business

The Secret (Working) Lives of Traders

Oil traders on the floor of the New York Mercantile Exchange, New York.

Professional traders, unabashed risk-takers, are often looking for the next hot opportunity not only to trade, but to own.

Many traders are entrepreneurs in other businesses outside of Wall Street and financial services. They're leading secret lives off the trading floor, creating new ventures in varied fields from mobile apps to real estate. They're making personal bets and garnering outside investments for businesses they believe in, allowing them to make money on and off of trading desks.

A Golden Opportunity

Trader Anthony Neglia has benefited from many gold trades. A veteran broker in the goldoptions pit at the New York Mercantile Exchange, he's watched the precious metal nearly quadruple in price since he started his trading company 23 years ago.

Monday through Friday, you can hear his bellowing voice on the floor of the NYMEX. His "big mouth" — according to Neglia's father — has certainly paid off.

He's found another golden opportunity too, in real estate. Neglia runs Volpe Realty, specializing in commercial and residential sales, rentals and land purchases. He and his wife bought the business in 2007, months before the financial crisis. Neglia says "it was a calculated risk."

As a trader, he's no stranger to risk and says he's been able to realize the upside in both businesse, largely because of the many similarities.

"They're both commission-oriented businesses,” he says. “If I don't trade, I don't get paid, and if I don't sell a home, I don't get paid as well. There's a lot of public interaction here in the commodity business and of course you're constantly dealing with people — buyers and sellers."

Finding the right buyers and sellers in the markets — whether it's real estate or precious metals — is what Neglia does best.

An Energetic Venture

Trader Ira Eckstein's energy is certainly evident on the NYMEX trading floor. After a full day of trading energy futures, however, Eckstein is still going. He's off to his newest venture, a start-up tech company.

When asked about his inspiration for this endeavor, Eckstein says it comes down to two words: "social and mobile. "A lot of venture capitalists, a lot of money and a lot of time is going into the space right now," notes Eckstein.

That space now has a new mobile app called Venuing, which Eckstein's company created. It allows fans to interact with each other in real-time at sporting events and other venues.

The mobile app gives fans direct access to other fans, according to Tom Stuart, chief creative officer of Venuing. And in return, sponsors and vendors for various venues — from sporting events to concerts — can have a new platform to advertise.

Product development is complete, and now Eckstein is talking to potential buyers, just as he does every day in the trading pits.

"I rode the oil wave for all these years and it was great," Eckstein says. Now he's riding the next wave in social media in a new company, creating a new venue of his own.

Follow Sharon on Twitter: @sharon_epperson

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