Cboe Focuses on Execution

After making nine acquisitions in the past two years, Cboe Global Markets may be a bit less aggressive on the M&A trail, CEO Ed Tilly indicated.   

“Rest isn’t the right word, but we’re focused on executing” on promises made to clients, investors and employees, Tilly said Thursday morning at the Security Traders Association Market Structure Conference in Washington, D.C. 

“Our eyes are always open” for acquisition opportunities, Tilly said. 

One promise, broadly speaking, is delivering on building a sustainable Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) framework. 

The ‘S’ and the ‘G’ in ESG  will soon be table stakes for companies, Tilly said. “Our associates will hold me and our leadership team responsible to have us represent the global community in leadership and in our hiring practices,” he said. “Little decisions made today will pay off for years.”    

The advancement of the ‘E’ in ESG will have a longer tail, Tilly said, as the industry still needs to play catch-up. 

Chicago-based Cboe now operates in 26 markets and must comply with the rules of 18 different regulatory bodies. “We are focused on building a global network to operate etrusted markets,” Tilly said. “Boundaries are shifting, trading days are expanding…Anywhere we compete, we want to have a presence and offer a common, consistent experience and a  transparent market.”

Globally, Tilly said the theme for exchange operators, as highlighted at the recent World Federation of Exchanges conference, is market resiliency. This means “in the event the world changes in an instant, we are able to operate markets where different opinions are able to be expressed in a transparent way.”

With regard to the sometimes uneasy coexistence of public and private markets, Tilly said both venues have their purpose, but there needs to be a level playing field such that market participants aren’t unable to exploit arbitrage between different levels of regulation. 

Tilly was asked to look back over his career, which started in 1987 when he joined Cboe as a clerk on the trading floor, which was known for its sharp elbows. He said the biggest surprise has been the evolution of the work environment. 

“It was ‘eat what you kill’” on the floor back then, Tilly said. “Now we have an incredible management team, which would accomplish nothing if we didn’t have trust and a common goal. Floor traders don’t think like that; it’s ‘how can you get ahead of the other guy?’”