R.J. O'Brien & Associates

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R.J. O'Brien & Associates
Founded 1914
Headquarters Chicago
Key People Chairman and CEO, Gerald F. (Gerry) Corcoran
Employees 500
Website rjobrien.com

R.J. O’Brien & Associates, LLC (RJO) is the oldest and largest independent futures commission merchant (FCM) in the United States, and is considered one of the last boutique firms in the industry. It is a privately held business majority owned by the O'Brien family of Chicago. The firm facilitates 24-hour execution and clearing on all the major futures exchanges worldwide. In 2014, RJO celebrated its 100th year in business.[1]

The company's headquarters are in Chicago, with affiliate offices in New York, Canada, London and Hong Kong.

RJO services a global network of more than 400 introducing brokers, along with some of the world’s largest financial, industrial and agricultural institutions. Its futures division specializes in trading access for individual investors. RJO provides clearing services for more than 80,000 client accounts.

As of July 2016, the firm reported client assets of $4.3 billion and net capital of $214 million.[2]

On March 12, 2014, FIA presented RJO with an award for “100 years of excellence” in the futures industry. [3]


RJO’s roots extend to 1914, when John V. McCarthy, an Irish immigrant, established a cash butter and egg brokerage. John V. McCarthy & Co. went on to become a founding member of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange five years later. RJO is the only CME founder still in existence.

The firm has been through four generations of family.

In 1959, Robert J. O’Brien, Sr., McCarthy's son in law, was named president, and the firm’s name was changed to R. J. O’Brien & Associates, Inc. In 1967, O'Brien was elected chairman of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. [4]

Two sons of Robert J. O’Brien joined the family firm and took leadership roles. Robert J. O’Brien, Jr. was named president in 1975. John W. O’Brien was named chief executive officer in 1986. The current CEO, Gerald F. Corcoran, took the reins in 2000, and added the role of chairman in 2007.

Over the years, RJO diversified from being an introducing broker’s FCM into a full service firm offering a broad suite of services to retail and institutional customers. Much of its technology was built and developed in-house. Even during a harsh environment in the industry, RJO grew dramatically into the largest independent futures brokerage, with 500 employees, more than 100,000 client accounts and more than $4 billion in customer assets.

In 2007, the firm sold a majority stake to the investment firms Spectrum Equity Investors and Technology Crossover Ventures for an undisclosed sum, while the O’Brien family retained a minority ownership.[5] In December 2010, RJO was back in the hands of the O’Brien family after the two private equity firms opted to sell back the control acquired in 2007.[6] It remains majority-owned by the O’Brien family.

When MF Global declared bankruptcy in 2011, RJO inherited a large number of its customers as they scrambled for somewhere to land after that firm was destroyed. RJO saw an increase in segregated customer funds of almost $800 million the November after MF Global fell, an increase of 31 percent. [7]

In 2014, RJO was honored at the Futures Industry Association's International Conference in Boca Raton, FL for their 100 years in business. As part of the celebration, a short video was played at a lunch prior to a presentation by newsman Ted Koppel.

The full-length version of the 100th anniversary video, which debuted October 17, 2014, can be seen on RJO's web site here. The video plus a brief write-up can be found on the JLN web site here.

RJO has been aggressive in building its business, even as many firms were trimming down amid the crush of low to negative interest rates and increased regulatory burdens. In 2015, the company purchased London-based The Kyte Group, one of the largest clearing firms in Europe, strengthening RJO’s UK and European operations. RJO also continued to grow its Asian operations, and expanded in the FX space.[8]

Products and Services

RJO facilitates 24-hour execution and clearing on every major futures exchange in the world. It operates on an agency-only model, and does not participate in proprietary trading.

The firm is a clearing member of:

The firm's Canadian affiliate, RJO Canada, is a clearing member of the Montreal Exchange and ICE Futures Canada.[9]

The company's London-based affiliate, R.J. O'Brien Limited (RJO Limited) was approved as a Category 2 clearing member of the London Metal Exchange (LME) on July 23 and went live on August 19, 2015. [10]

More introducing brokers are associated with RJO than any other FCM in the industry. RJO hosts an annual conference for introducing brokers, a semi-annual broker training program and quarterly regional meetings.

RJO provides anonymous access to the marketplace through open outcry and online. Institutional and commercial clients can access RJO’s order desk around the clock to handle specialized orders and strategies. RJO also offers these clients customized back-office services. The firm has teams that specialize in grains, interest rates, metals and softs markets.

RJO offers proprietary market insights which include daily updates and trade ideas as well as long-term price outlooks in the futures, cash and OTC markets.

The RJO Futures division offers individual investors online trading platforms and broker support.

Key People



  1. R.J. O'Brien Celebrates Centennial. R.J. O'Brien.
  2. FCM Financial Data. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
  3. R.J. O’Brien & Associates Receives Award from FIA for 100 Years of Excellence as Firm Begins Centennial Celebration. CBS8.
  4. RJO Centennial Video. RJO.
  5. R.J. O'Brien & Associates Company Profile. Yahoo! Finance/P.R. Newswire.
  6. O'Brien Family Resumes Control Of Chicago Brokerage RJ O'Brien. Nasdaq.
  7. Insight: Two firms flourish in frenzied MF Global aftermath. Reuters.
  8. Shipbuilding: RJ O’Brien Building Business in Tough Times. John Lothian News.
  9. press release. R.J. O'Brien.
  10. R.J. O'Brien Goes Live on London Metal Exchange. R.J. O'Brien.