John W. O’Brien Sr. set futures brokerage and clearing firm R.J. O’Brien & Associates on a transformative journey to grow and distinguish itself globally, assuming the role of CEO in 1986 and as chairman from 2000–2007. When he took over the company, RJO had $10 million in customer assets. When he passed in 2022, that figure was $8 billion.
O’Brien was a principal shareholder and decades-long board member of the firm his grandfather founded in 1914. As a longtime floor broker and highly successful trader, he had a reverence for the firm’s clients, RJO employees and the futures industry. Operating with integrity and a keen attention to risk management were guiding principles he instilled. O’Brien had an unwavering focus on building meaningful personal relationships with clients and prospects, travelling far and wide to meet with farmers and ranchers to understand their challenges, and following up meticulously.
A visionary, O’Brien positioned the company as a leader that stepped outside the box to grow beyond its agricultural futures roots, and his support ensured RJO was among the first to seriously invest in technology in the early 1990s.
- Hall of Fame