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R.J. O'Brien Launches OTC Ag Structured Products Group
Illinois Ag Connection - 01/10/2019

Chicago-based R.J. O'Brien & Associates (RJO), the oldest and largest independent futures brokerage and clearing firm in the United States, announced that its affiliate R.J. O'Brien Financial has officially launched its over-the-counter (OTC) Agricultural Structured Products Group. Designed for commercial agricultural firms of all sizes across the globe, the bilateral OTC initiative utilizes a first-of-its-kind proprietary software platform developed by the team's financial engineers to analyze client needs and then generate and quote a wide range of customized hedging strategies.

Leading the team is Melisa Culbertson, executive director and senior vice president, OTC Structured Products, formerly an independent floor and electronic grains trader with more than 25 years of experience as a member of the Chicago Board of Trade and Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Before joining RJO, Culbertson was Head Trader, OTC Products for the Chicago division of a major brokerage firm for three years.

The team developed the OTC offering and infrastructure before introducing the product to select clients earlier this year in a soft launch. Because the initiative and trade management is entirely in-house, the group has been able to adapt quickly based on meaningful input from participating clients.

Housed in the RJO portal, the new web-based trading and back-office application, Cara, is a purpose-built tool designed to improve communication and transparency and solve downstream challenges for clients. It does this by assisting in the development of trading strategies, placing orders, tracking quotes in real time, and closely monitoring positions throughout their lifecycle.

RJO Chairman and CEO Gerald Corcoran said: "When we decided to enter this market, we knew we wanted to offer something different than others provide, that would produce real value for our clients. This includes the ability to generate far more quotes, much faster than competition is offering. We're very proud of this unique initiative Melisa and her team have built, giving our clients a truly customized approach and cutting-edge technology to meet their risk management needs."

Culbertson said: "Customized structured products can be an excellent complement to using futures for risk management, giving commercial hedgers more tools and choices to hone their strategies. When our clients and prospects learn about our approach and our extraordinary team, they're genuinely impressed, telling us they haven't seen anything like this in the market before. I am very grateful to be a part of RJO. Since joining the firm, I've seen firsthand how the company truly puts the client first and lives its values every day."

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