Sunday, October 21, 2012


Great Minds Think Aloud: Trade Secrets, a novel by Holly Rozner
October 19, 1987: a stock market crash wrecked the financial world when 508 points were shaved from the Dow. During that day, 2.3 billion shares of stock traded, the equivalent of all the shares traded during the entire year. I was there, at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, while the pits emptied out and clerks lined the rooms. Telephone lines were clogged with sell orders that couldn’t be delivered to brokers. No one guessed that the market would open down 200 points, after already losing 4 percent the preceding Thursday and Friday, a 17 percent drop from its high in August of that year. By the end of the day, the total correction was 37 percent, far worse than the crash of 1929.

That event, now twenty-five years old, is the centerpiece of Trade Secrets, a novel about two women whose lives intersect on the trading floor of the world’s largest exchange (a fictitious one) while traders who became quick millionaires face a career finale and imminent foreclosure of their homes. I began to write this story shortly after leaving the floor of the “Merc” in 1988, a month after Chicago newspapers disclosed that the FBI had infiltrated the floors of the two major Chicago exchanges, targeting 47 men and accusing them of trading infractions. The impetus for the story was, of course, based on personal insight and corroborated evidence. The need to use the landscape of a trading floor, which had not been used in a novel, and the drama of the crash and subsequent government sting fascinated me and I was compelled to build a story around these real-life events.

So what I am left with is a very sexy novel, which Kirkus compared to Fifty Shades, with a financial angle that will appeal to a male audience. Women will love the women in this story for their ability to overcome great obstacles in a male-dominated world. There were hardly any women on the trading floors in the 1980’s. In this story, two women from disparate backgrounds emerge as heroines who figure out how to ambush those who choreographed scams the federal government unraveled during its three year investigation. Moles who had been secretly placed in the pits befriended traders. Then some of those men were awakened in the middle-of-the night and threatened with losing everything if they didn’t cooperate with the FBI.

Authors write because they have a story to tell, a message to convey and gnawing desire to tell the truth. It took me years to put this together, to change the love affairs so that a smart woman doesn’t end up falling for a dumb man, which was what was wrong with the first version, and to describe the financial story so readers could understand the nuance of trading without feeling as if they were sitting through a lecture.

Truth and fiction often crisscross, but when the story is based upon actual events, the telling becomes tricky. I don’t think I consciously used sex as the device that would ultimately drive the story, but that is what happened and I’m not sorry about it.

No apologies to those who find this a little like Desperate Housewives. Against the backdrop of financial ruin are characters with their own dimension. They were fun to invent, and now that they are acting out scenes that only fiction could imagine, they are hopefully fun to read.

Enjoy Trade Secrets for its historical perspective and insider’s point of view, but fall in love with the narrative because of its personal interplay.


TRADE SECRETS is the financial story that has never been told – it takes the reader on the trading floor of the world’s largest Exchange where money was pocketed before a trade was processed.

When Remy Masterman becomes a member of the Exchange to unearth the details about her father’s car crash, she comes head to head with Zach Silverman, once her father’s partner and now Chairman of the Exchange. During the crash of 1987 when Zach’s bagman, Jason, faces bankruptcy, his high-heeled wife, Sarna, learns to trade in order to save their mansion from foreclosure. As the lives of these two women intersect, Remy falls in love with Ken Baldwin, never imagining how their careers will collide. Sarna begins a steamy affair with another trader who turns out to be an undercover agent for the FBI during its probe into trading infractions at the Chicago exchanges. When Jason’s clerk is pummeled, along with those investors who misplaced their money with their faith, he and Sarna create a bold, sexy scheme to save Remy and rid the Exchange of those who try to get away with murder.


Holly Rozner traded S&P options for five years and was a member of Chicago Mercantile Exchange for twenty-two years, serving on the Leasing, Member Services, and Finance Committee.

A native Chicagoan, Rozner was educated at a private girls’ school in an elite neighborhood where President Barack Obama now resides. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English and Speech from Northwestern University and was later granted a CPA certificate by the University of Illinois; she was a tax specialist before beginning to trade. Today, Rozner holds an insurance license, a real estate broker’s license and has retained her teaching certificate.

Her unique experiences in a male-dominated world inspired her debut novel Trade Secrets (October 2, 2012), a romance about two women whose lives intersect on a trading floor during the crash of 1987 and the subsequent FBI investigation into trading infractions at the Chicago exchanges.

Rozner spent many years leading Financial Education seminars for women. She and her husband of 47 years live in the northern Chicago suburbs, and have two daughters and four grand children.

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