Trading

Ben Smelser

Vice President
Trader

Ben, vice president, is a trader for Breckinridge. In his role, Ben is responsible for both taxable and tax-exempt municipal bond trade execution. Ben joined Breckinridge in 2010 and has been promoted several times during his tenure with the firm. Prior to entering his current role in December 2013, Ben was a member of the Credit Research team. He joined this team in September 2011 as an associate and rose to a senior analyst in 2013. Ben began his career with Breckinridge’s Client Administration team. He is a member of the MSRB Investor Advisory Group, the National Federation of Municipal Analysts and an adjunct member of the CFA Society Boston, Inc. He holds a BS in finance from Southeastern University and an MBA in economics and management from the Elkin B. McCallum Graduate School of Business at Bentley University. Ben currently holds a FINRA Series 65 license. He is based in San Diego.

On the role of Trading…

“Trading is an interesting role because we’re the direct eyes and ears of Breckinridge in the marketplace. We see what’s happening in the market in real time and we’re transacting within that. We also sit at the confluence of credit and portfolio management, so we are absorbing all of that information, and are using it to execute buys and sales for client accounts.

On his typical day…

“I focus on municipal bond primary market trading and I usually begin my days by assessing what happened in the global markets overnight. From there, I assess the calendar for the day which essentially tells me what deals are coming to market and whether there’s been any price talk, so I can determine where I should focus my day. Then, I collaborate with our analysts and portfolio managers to get an idea of the credits we’re looking at, so I can fluidly move through any transactions. That’s usually the first half of my day. The second half of my day is focused on digesting market activity and planning for the day ahead.

On technology in Trading…

“Proprietary technology plays a critical role in our trading process. It’s really the only way we can manage as many accounts as we do. Our technology is always evolving, and we recently implemented a new tool that matches bid-wanted items with our credit and portfolio management information so we can transact quickly and efficiently. It’s significantly advanced our process and speaks to our continual drive to improve.

On how he has progressed at Breckinridge…

“I began my career at Breckinridge and I have had the opportunity to be a part of a few departments in my time here. I began in Client Services, then I moved to Credit Research and now I’m in Trading. My functions have all been very different, but I’ve enjoyed them all and appreciate that I’ve been given the opportunity to progress in the way that I have. Breckinridge cares about letting employees find their niche.

On being one of the first to start Breckinridge’s San Diego office…

“It was great receiving the opportunity to move to San Diego, but I went into it thinking it would be challenging to be separated from the core investment team in Boston. The transition has been seamless though. It well exceeded my expectations, and I believe that it is a testament to Breckinridge prioritizing communication flow between the two offices. That’s big to me. The sense of teamwork and collaboration has not changed.