Most chief financial officers (CFO) at successful investment banking firms are chosen after years of working in the financial industry. Kevin Held ’87, MBA ’04, was named the CFO at Adams Cohen Securities within a year of graduating with his bachelor’s degree from Adelphi.

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Most chief financial officers (CFO) at successful investment banking firms are chosen after years of working in the financial industry. Kevin Held ’87, MBA ’04, was named the CFO at Adams Cohen Securities within a year of graduating with his bachelor’s degree from Adelphi.

Held knew before he came to Adelphi that he wanted to pursue a career in accounting. “I knew when I graduated high school that I wanted to go down the accounting path,” he said, “though I didn’t know exactly where that path would lead.” He was also certain that he wanted to stay close to his home in Massapequa Park and commute to school. While finishing up his studies for his liberal arts degree from Nassau Community College, Held began researching schools in the area where he could earn his bachelor’s degree. “In the end, I felt Adelphi had a great business program,” he said. “Adelphi just seemed like the smart choice.”

Held enrolled as an accounting major at the University in the fall of 1985. He devoted most of his time to his studies and his part-time job in the accounting department at a local dental supply company. Among his favorite professors at Adelphi was Allan Ashley. “He always stuck out in my mind,” Held said. “I really enjoyed the dynamics of his classes.”

Almost immediately after graduating from Adelphi in 1987, Held was hired by Adams Cohen Securities, a boutique investment banking firm based in Great Neck, as a staff accountant. The firm managed initial public offerings for many local banks in the area as well as institutions across the country, that were moving to public ownership. Within a year of being hired at the firm, Held was promoted to the role of CFO, a position he would hold for the next nine years.

After working a total of ten years at Adams Cohen Securities, Held learned that the two partners at the firm had made the decision to go their separate ways. “One of the partners essentially retired and the other went to join Sandler O’Neil and Partners,” said Held. Sandler O’Neil and Partners is a full-service investment banking firm and broker-dealer in New York City that focuses on the financial services sector. “They were a slightly larger firm that wanted to do the same kind of work we were doing at Adams Cohen Securities,” he said. “However, at the time, they didn’t have the same capability we had at Adams Cohen.” Held, who took on the role of vice president at the firm, went on to say, “So, myself, and some others who had worked at Adams Cohen joined Sandler O’Neil to build up the business of converting banks to public ownership for Sandler.” 

Held spent three years at Sandler O’Neil and Partners before he accepted the role of CFO at Foster Jefferies, a retail brokerage firm based on Long Island. After two years in this role, Held left to assist a former co-worker with establishing a start-up firm. “I helped raise capital, identify target firms to purchase and then assisted in the buying process, relocating the company, setting up operations and hiring staff,” said Held.

He then moved on to the role of chief financial officer, chief operating officer (CFO/COO) at Financial Resource Group, a boutique financial services firm in New York City that focused on investment banking, private equity, and venture capital funding. In this role, Held was responsible for the finance, accounting, and human resources functions, including budgeting, forecasting, financial statement preparation, and compliance with all securities regulations.

During that time, Held also began thinking about broadening his education. “I felt like I was getting to a place in my career where I was going to reach a plateau,” he said. “So, I thought about furthering my knowledge base. And honestly, because of my wonderful experience at Adelphi, the choice was clear. It just made perfect sense for me to go back to the University and it was one of the smartest moves I’ve made.”

Held enrolled in Adelphi’s MBA program in 2002. Around the same time, Held accepted the position of controller of Liquidnet Holdings, Inc. a New York City based software development firm and CFO of Liquidnet, Inc., its institutional equities broker dealer subsidiary . In this role, Held helped grow the company from a startup to a global enterprise and was involved in the firm’s 250 million dollar equity recapitalization, which at the time was the largest minority recapitalization ever in the industry.

Held, who graduated from Adelphi’s MBA program in 2004, spent almost 13 years as the CFO at Liquidnet, Inc. In 2014, he accepted the position of Deputy CFO at TradingScreen, a leading independent provider of liquidity, trading, and investment technology to the financial community. Only seven months later, he was promoted to his current position as CFO of the company.

“The thing that I enjoy the most is helping to build businesses; make them better and enable them,” Held said. “I’m not the type of individual who can walk into a large company and truly be comfortable because there are a lot of things that are already in place. Whereas, I really enjoy the creation aspect. I like going through the exercise of thinking ‘where do we want to be and how do we get there?’ I’ve always liked working with numbers and the analysis side of the equation but over time I’ve come to embrace the strategy side. There’s more to the job than looking at just where we are with finances. It goes beyond that. It’s about value creation.” 

Published December 2016

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