William Brodsky: A Pivotal Figure in Listed Derivatives

Anna Lyudvig

This is the fourth in a series of articles profiling previous Markets Choice Award winners. The 10th-anniversary Markets Choice Awards will be held on May 4, 2022 in New York.

William (Bill) J. Brodsky, 78, has been in the investment business for over 50 years, serving as the top executive at several major exchanges. “I’ve been very fortunate to have had a career that has been not only interesting and diverse, but also very fulfilling,” he said.

William (Bill) J. Brodsky

During his combined 35 years career at the CME and Chicago Board Options Exchange (Cboe), he was recognized as a global leader in the development of the futures and options markets. “I developed relationships and helped advise many startup futures and options exchanges around the world and contributed to the creation of many major futures and option products such as stock index future and options as well as the VIX suite of volatility products,” Brodsky said.

His contributions to Chicago’s futures and options markets were a major factor in Chicago’s becoming the world’s preeminent city for the futures and options markets.

The longtime leader of the Chicago Board Options Exchange as CEO and Chairman, Brodsky resigned from the holding company’s board of directors after the acquisition of Bats Global Markets in May of 2017.

After his resignation from CBOE, he’s been involved in various activities including Chairman of the Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago; Industry Advisor at the Chicago based private equity firm, Madison Dearborn Partners; and an advisor to OCA Ventures, a Venture Capital firm that specializes in pre-growth technology startups. He also serves on the Investment Committee of his alma mater, Syracuse University.

For the last eight years he has also been Chairman of the Board of Navy Pier in Chicago – the most visited place in the Midwest. “I’m passionate about the markets and investing and public service and I’m fortunate to be in a position to focus my attention on building some incredible businesses and giving back to the communities that mean so much to me.”

In 2017, he became Chairman of Cedar Street Asset Management, an international equities fund founded by his son, Jonathan. He is particularly proud that Jonathan’s Small Capitalization International Fund, sponsored by the Harbor International Group of Funds (HAISX) was recently awarded 5 stars by Morningstar.

And, in 2020, Bill, and his son, Michael, founded Options Solutions, a specialized-asset management firm that uses conservative options strategies to help investors to seek higher returns from their stock portfolios and to help navigate the stock market. He said that Options Solutions, which was founded during the Covid pandemic, is going “very, very well”. He added, “We send lots of business to Cboe!”

“It’s practicing what I preached for all the years I was at the Cboe, on how to use options as a conservative investment tool,” he said. He added that the growth of the options market is extraordinary. “There’s no reason why this can’t continue if people continue to prosper, and there’s good education on how to properly use these financial instruments.”

He’s also Chairman of Redmont Wealth Management, a full-service wealth management firm for high-net-worth investors also founded by his family. “We have three companies where I am chairman. I’m involved with each of them, but more as an advisor, and not on a day-to-day basis,” he commented.

Brodsky won Lifetime Achievement at Markets Media’s inaugural Markets Choice Awards in 2013. For more than 20 years, he has been arguably the options industry’s leading advocate in shaping options market policy and regulation.

Brodsky at the 2013 Markets Choice Awards

Throughout his career he has sought to educate end users on the risk management benefits of futures and options and encourage greater use of these products as investment tools.

Brodsky is also a longtime friend of U.S. President Joe Biden. “I went to Syracuse Law School with him.” And, he was the first person to outright beat Biden: “The last head-to-head election he lost was to me for class president,” he laughs.

“I have trouble calling him Mr. President. To me, he’s Joe. And two of my sons were interns to him in the Senate. It’s been a long and very pleasant relationship. And, he’s an extraordinary human being, by the way,” he said.

Recently, the President asked him to serve on the board of directors of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation. “He officially nominated me about a month ago. I’m in the process of filling out papers, because I have to be confirmed by the Senate,” Brodsky said.

Brodsky spends most of his time at his office. He has a full-time assistant, who helps keep track of his varied activities and keeps him from missing appointments.

“I have a very exciting and varied set of activities that I love doing. We also have a charitable foundation (the Brodsky Family Foundation) where my wife and I along with my family make donations to things that we think are important.”

Brodsky said he likes being with his family (he has three married sons) and his six grandchildren, but he’s a workaholic: “The truth is, I like the business. I’m very active and managing my own investments if you can call that a hobby,” he said.

He also helps out a lot of people with their investments. “This country has the best products and the most liquid markets, but, we have to teach people how to use them.”

“We have done a terrible job of that both at both elementary and secondary school level, and even in colleges and universities. So, I do a lot of teaching in business schools and law schools on how to invest,” he adds.

For Brodsky, education is key to success. “Get a good education and then work for good companies where you can grow and advance,” he said. “Build your resume brick-by-brick, and let each one be a steppingstone to the next good thing.”

Previous MCA Winner profiles:

Dan Royal: The Joy of Buy-Side Trading

Jennifer Nayar Tracks Evolving Fintech Space

Larry Thompson’s Career Advice: Keep an Open Mind