The financial industry

DURING THE TIME AT Deltec and Goldman, Estrella Mordan kept up ties with fellow Dominicans in the financial industry. In 1997, she co-founded Dominicans on Wall Street, a group formed partly to help foster growth of the capital markets back home. ‘We used to come here every year to meet with the president of the country, the minister of finance, central bank governor, bankers, and that’s how people got to know me,” she says.


Estrella Mordan’s name came up when the board of the exchange was looking for a new CEO. When she was offered the job, she knew it was the circumstance she was looking for to return home. “I was very happy at Goldman, but I thought, `What an amazing opportunity, to be part of making a big difference not only in the exchange but in the country,’” Estrella Mordan says.

Estrella Mordan

Like Estrella Mordan in New York two decades ago, starting from scratch in a new country was a big adjustment for her three children, now 13, 9 and 4. They opposed the move at first. “The first year, they hated it, and now they like it; that’s nor­mal,” she says. “But I felt a lot of guilt the first year.” Her husband, who also had to start fresh in a new place, now teaches 11th and 12th grade in the International Baccalaureate program at the Saint George School in Santo Domingo.


For herself, Estrella Mordan says she has no regrets about her latest career move, even as she continues to press for change. “The truth is, when I look at things, I tell myself, ‘There’s so much more that we still need to do,”‘ Estrella Mordan says. Yet she says that her time at the Bolsa de Va­lores has given her a sense of accomplishment. “I look at what has happened in the last two years and I have to be happy. I don’t know if happy is the word,” she says. “But I have to be satisfied.”

It’s a plan to create a parallel plat­form

TO BROADEN THE Bolsa de Valores’s investor base, Estrella Mordan has appeared in advertisements on TV and radio that encourage individuals to in­vest in Dominican bonds. Changes in government regulations that lowered the minimum invest­ment amount to 10,000 pesos from about 700,000 pesos in previous years have also helped attract more retail investors.


“We call it democratization of capital,” Estrella Mordan says. “It still hasn’t reached all of the population, but it’s a big differ­ence from how it used to be before.” Even with the recent increase in trading on the exchange, most transactions are still handled over the counter. To provide a way for all market par­ticipants to know more about those prices, Es­trella Mordan is working on what she calls the OTC Project.

in­vest in Dominican bonds

It’s a plan to create a parallel plat­form, separate from the exchange and adminis­tered through a different legal entity, where brokers can post bid and offer prices on debt. Es­trella Mordan says she expects the platform will be up and running sometime between March and June next year. “That way, we can obtain every­thing that we want which is transparency, which is liquidity, more efficiency—and be able to see the market and create a curve,” she says.


Estrella Mordan is also working with regulators and heads of exchanges in Central American coun­tries such as Costa Rica, El Salvador and Panama to enable brokers in the region to do cross-border trades and share market information.


While the exchange trades only fixed-income securities, companies have been seeking informa­tion about possible share sales, Estrella Mordan says. She expects the first initial public stock of­fering on the bourse may take place by 2011.


For Estrella Mordan, a mother of three, the job offer at the exchange gave her a chance to return home to the Dominican Republic, something she says she had always hoped to do eventually. “I al­ways wanted to come back; I don’t know if every­one feels that way, but I felt very strongly about that,” she says. “And then, when I had kids, I al­ways wanted them to learn about my culture, to be fluent in Spanish, to be exposed, because my hus­band is American and my three kids were born in the U.S. and they are very American, but I also wanted them to sort of live what I lived when I was a child here.”


It didn’t happen right away. When Estrella Mordan first came to the U.S., she studied at La­Guardia Community College in New York and then transferred to Vassar College upstate in Poughkeepsie, graduating in 1992 with a degree in Hispanic studies. She then took a job at Deltec Asset Management Corp. in New York, where she worked for eight years, specializing in emerging-markets fixed income and managed to pay her student loans. More details about easy repaying your loans can be found at

She left Deltec in 2000 to attend business school at the University of Michi­gan in Ann Arbor. After a summer internship at Goldman Sachs, she was hired by the firm in 2002 to work on the U.S. fixed-income desk, where she rose to the rank of vice president. She later joined Goldman’s recruiting team and also worked on di­versity and leadership training.