Press Release

R.J. O'Brien & Associates Turns 100 on Oct. 17

Chicago, October 17, 2014

Last Surviving Founding CME Member Recognized with Award Ceremony

CHICAGO, Oct. 17, 2014 – Chicago-based R.J. O’Brien & Associates (RJO), the oldest and largest independent futures brokerage and clearing firm in the United States, turned 100 years old today. Celebrating the milestone at CME Group this morning, RJO was recognized as the exchange’s last surviving founding member firm with an award ceremony overlooking the agricultural trading floor.

On behalf of the firm and the O’Brien family, RJO Chairman Emeritus Robert J. O’Brien, Sr., 96, accepted the award from CME Group Executive Chairman Terry Duffy. O’Brien served two consecutive terms as the exchange’s chairman in 1967 and 1968. Also on hand to pay tribute to RJO was CME Group Chairman Emeritus Leo Melamed, who succeeded O’Brien as chairman of CME and worked closely with him on transforming the institution at the time.

Also to commemorate the milestone, the firm today unveiled a 21-minute centennial video – the full-length version of a brief video originally released in March.  Both versions feature interviews with O’Brien and several members of the family, two long-time senior RJO officials and a 25-year customer, along with industry leaders Duffy and Melamed.

The video follows the journey of the firm from its humble beginnings to its position today as the largest independent futures brokerage, with 500 employees, more than 100,000 client accounts and more than $4 billion in customer assets. 

RJO Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Gerald F. Corcoran said: “I feel so incredibly privileged and humbled to be a part of this great firm that has benefited from the hard work, determination, integrity and tremendous talent of four generations of O’Briens. Together, we’ve truly created an extended family of top-notch staff and amazing clients. We’ve weathered every market event the futures industry has faced over the last 100 years, and we continue to grow globally, positioning ourselves to tackle new challenges that come our way. It’s fitting that we celebrate today with CME Group as we played a role in its founding, and it was the first exchange we cleared. We will treasure our award as a great symbol of this significant relationship and our 100-year journey.”

RJO began as John V. McCarthy & Company on Oct. 17, 1914. John McCarthy, an Irish immigrant who launched the firm as a butter and egg merchant, started off selling his wares from a cart that he pushed around town in Chicago. He helped create the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (now CME Group) when it transformed from the Chicago Butter and Egg Board into CME in 1919.

In 1947, Robert O’Brien, Sr. married Geraldine McCarthy, John’s daughter, and soon after joined the family business. He started by visiting farmers and egg producers across the country, and he became president of the firm in 1959. John McCarthy died in 1963, and in 1969, the firm became R.J. O’Brien & Associates.

RJO’s industry milestones have included taking delivery of the industry’s first futures contract based on a live animal and championing the rule change at CME to allow women on the trading floor.

About R.J. O’Brien

Celebrating its centennial year in 1914, R.J. O’Brien & Associates is the largest independent futures brokerage firm in the United States, serving institutional, commercial and individual clients globally, in addition to a network of 400 introducing brokers (IB). Clearing more than 100,000 client accounts, RJO services the industry’s most expansive global network of IBs, a vast array of middle market firms and many of the world’s largest financial, industrial and agricultural institutions. The firm offers state-of-the-art electronic trading and 24-hour trade execution on every futures exchange worldwide.