Monday, November 30, 2009

Making Markets in Her Home Country

Did you know there exists a nascent, operating stock exchange in the Dominican Republic? And did you know the head of the exchange is a Consortium alumna from Michigan's Ross School? Darys Estrella Mordan for the past two years has been the CEO of the BVRD, the Stock Market of the Dominican Republic.

The exchange, formed in 1988-89, does not yet trade equities, but is taking steps to do so first by overseeing an active market for commercial paper and bonds among about a dozen issuers. Over time, the exchange will permit stock trades when it is assured of an active, liquid market for stock trading. That will occur when the investing public there gets comfortable with an electronic, liquid trading venue, when local, family-owned companies become confident enough to issue stock to the public and after the launch of other government-privatization programs.

For now, less than two dozen banks and brokerages are members and engage in daily fixed-income trading over a two-hour period of about 16 bond or CP issues (about $1 billion in daily activity).

Estrella Mordan is charged with leading the exchange into equities, but will do so when the timing is right. In its latest issue, she told Bloomberg Markets she wanted to build an equity platform emphasizing liquidity and transparency. "When you have a centralized platform, when you have a screen where you can go to see the prices, everybody wins," she said. The first IPO on the exchange is scheduled for 2011.

Estrella Mordan's road from Consortium graduate to head of the exchange was not a winding, distorted path. Every step or pause on the road paved a way to the next opportunity. There are links in the path--enabled by a Consortium MBA, preparation and hard work, but also by contacts, a Goldman pedigree, steadily increasing knowledge in the trading industry, and long-time interests in returning home at some point.

As she told Bloomberg Markets and Hispanic Professional magazines, she grew up in the Dominican Republic and decided to attend college in the U.S., graduating from Vassar College. A Hispanic Studies major, she took a job at the asset-management firm Deltic, a first immersion in business and investments.

After eight years at Deltec, she pursued and applied for the Consortium fellowship, entering Michigan in 2000. (The Orientation Program was in Chicago that spring.) She interned at Goldman Sachs after the first year and joined it full-time after graduation. While at Goldman, she specialized in fixed-income sales, eventually becoming a Vice President.

In the meantime, she had an urge to return home or do something related to building capital markets in her native country. While at Goldman, she helped found "Dominicans on Wall Street" and had opportunities to meet the top finance people of the Domincan Republic. After just five years at Goldman, when the exchange looked for a new CEO, her name was known among board members; it decided to offer her the job.

Within five years after her Michigan/Consortium degree, she was already leading a critical trading operation in a place she wanted to be, tasked with the challenge of expanding a business and pushing it into a daring direction of stock trades.

For more about Estrella Mordan, see For more about the exchange, see
Tracy Williams

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