Rocket Scientists with Attitude

Rice Financial carves out a profitable niche in the municipal interest-rate swaps market

serving as a senior swap advisor to the city.

The firm has also been growing internally as Rice has hired a number of veteran municipal bond bankers from a variety of disciplines. For example, Peter Barbera, a former principal with Alex. Brown & Sons, was tapped to head Apex Pryor’s sales, underwriting, and trading desk. The underwriting firm also added Philip Smith, a former Smith Barney analyst, who is responsible for much of the firm’s quantitative analysis.

When Rice isn’t building up his business, fending off competitors and developing highly technical instruments, he takes to the sky, ironically, to relax. He flies small planes from local airports in New Jersey, one of his favorite pastimes. “When you’re up there you never think about work or anything else,” he says.

And in the world of derivatives rocket science, there are always new paths to travel. He adds, “There’s a saying in aviation, ‘The runway behind you doesn’t do you any good at all.'”

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