OptionsHouse, a long-time securities broker, is also officially a futures commission merchant, making it one of the few new recent entrants in the space. Now, OptionsHouse customers can trade equities, equity options, futures and futures options with one integrated platform. However, none of this would have been possible if it were not for the successful merger of tradeMonster and OptionsHouse in early With the merger, OptionsHouse shed its platform and migrated all its customers onto the tradeMonster platform.
So, we went with [tradeMonster] and it happened to be more functional anyway. The platform transition went smoother than expected. The tradeMonster platform then supported some 15, customers but proved scalable as OptionsHouse added multiples of that initial customer base to the tradeMonster platform. The firm beefed up personnel and hired Dan Ryba as head of futures in preparation for becoming a non-clearing FCM.
OptionsHouse estimates that some 25 percent of its active options and equity traders will or already do trade futures. It expects to grow organically as current customers who trade futures elsewhere shift their accounts to OptionsHouse while current customers start trading futures.
The firm also moved to allay fears about customer fund protections, who still have MF Global and PFG debacles on their minds. With more diverse trading, OptionsHouse hopes to improve the longevity of its traders. OptionsHouse already claims sophisticated traders in its ranks — meaning those who are constantly tweaking and hedging their positions.
They have access to the platform 24 hours a day, 6 days a week. More access, and more time to manage risk, will lead to a more nimble trader, and similarly help longevity. Access will further improve in Q3 when OptionsHouse expects futures to be fully integrated into its mobile platform. These active traders are essential as even during recent periods of low volatility OptionsHouse still hit its volume targets. Key to all of this is education.
OptionsHouse knows a reinvigorated educational effort is needed to inform customers of the benefits of its respective products in a portfolio. They have also brought in a third party, Options Animal, to coach customers. But with the right technology and a plan for growing as a multi-asset class firm with plenty of veteran staff, the brokerage may have the combination to join that upper echelon of retail brokers and carve a niche for itself in the futures space.
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