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Chicago: a trading powerhouse

Chicago remains the dominant global force in financial derivatives – principally futures and options.

By Consul-General Michael Wood , Chicago

Chicago's financial markets were built upon the city's history as an agricultural commodities trading powerhouse. Nowadays, the CME Group, formerly the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade, is at the centre of industry.

Australian businessman Andrew Killion co-founded Akuna Capital in 2011. It is an electronic and exchange-based derivatives market-making firm based in Chicago and prevalent on major US option exchanges including CME and CBOE.

In just five years, Akuna has grown from a small start-up with five employees to a top ten proprietary options trading firm in the highly competitive US marketplace. Today, Akuna employs more than 150 people worldwide, but predominantly based in Chicago. According to Mr Killion, "the talent pool is deep in Chicago and the cost of living is reasonable, making it a great city to conduct business".

Mr Killion said Akuna had achieved such rapid expansion through big investment in technological innovation with most staff involved in the technology and quantitative teams. Akuna also partners with cutting-edge US-based technology vendors including Arista, Cisco, Juniper, Intel, Dell, HP, Solace, and Palo Alto.

Another key strategy is to develop deep relationships with the major US exchanges – CME, CBOE, ISE, BATS, NASDAQ, NYSE – and other members of the financial markets industry including brokers, regulators, vendors, clearers, banks, and other related professionals.

Within commodity options which are mostly traded on CME, Akuna is a top 3 firm by volume,including in some commodities which are important to the Australian economy. Within S&P options, the largest listed option complex in the world and the world's benchmark equity index and hedging and investment instrument, Akuna is a top 10 firm by volume.

Sharemarket trading room floor with bidders raising their hands
Last Updated: 26 August 2016
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