Boris Ilyevsky has been a part of the ISE family since 1999. In this interview, Boris reflects on his experiences at ISE over the last decade.
Q: When did you start working at ISE?
A: I started working at ISE on March 29, 1999, as a Marketing Assistant. At the time, there were only about 12 employees and ISE was just starting to announce their plans to launch an electronic options exchange. It was very important to get the word out. I was helping to create road show presentations for potential members and literally stuffing press releases into envelopes.
Q: What other positions have you held throughout your career at ISE?
A: A few months after I started working at ISE, I got involved with ISE’s Market Making application. I was focused on enhancing the system to make it more user-friendly and I ended up training our new market makers on the software. We obviously wore many hats back then, and I was involved in all the initial Member set-up activities and worked in Member Services, running mock trading sessions ahead of our launch.
When we launched trading in May 2000, I joined ISE’s Market Operations team where I answered phones and addressed trading issues. It was there that I truly learned all about options trading – trial by fire.
From Market Operations I moved into Business Development where I had responsibility for CLICK Trade, the front-end trading system we offered to our Members. As ISE grew and our products diversified, I remained focused on building the options business – establishing and building relationships with our member firms. As time went on my responsibilities increased and I became more involved in the strategic aspect of the options business. I ultimately took on responsibility for New Products and Product Management. Today I have overall responsibility for the options business line.
Q: You have worked at ISE for over a decade. How does the ISE you knew then compare to the one that you know now?
A: The biggest difference is how ISE has matured as an organization. We’ve evolved from a start-up, to a public company, to an important piece of a much larger organization. While we are still as nimble, competitive and lean as we were in the beginning, we are more sophisticated and structured in the way we run our business.
What I find most interesting is that the atmosphere – the culture, the positive feel of the place – has stayed the same. We’ve been able to maintain this small, family-like culture where people really enjoy working together. That is what was so attractive to me back then, and that small-company feel has not changed to this day.
Q: How has the industry evolved since you started working at ISE?
A: Apart from the obvious move towards more automated trading and decimalization, the industry is much more competitive and the participants are much more sophisticated. While institutional customers have fueled much of the growth over the last decade, the retail segment of the business has grown tremendously. In my view, the most significant difference is that options have become much more of a mainstream investment vehicle. However, there is still a lot of room to grow.
Q: ISE transformed the options industry when it launched trading in 2000. As Managing Director of ISE’s options exchange, how do you view ISE’s role in the options industry today? What is your vision for its future?
A: ISE’s role has been and will continue to be to promote a healthy, competitive environment that contributes to the overall growth of the industry, and further acceptance of the product by the retail and institutional communities. We need to continue to do what we’ve done over the last 10 years – offer a market place with tools and functionality for our membership to help serve their customers and make their businesses successful. We will continue to innovate and develop new options trading tools while running a lean and efficient business.
I also believe that it is our responsibility to be a strong advocate for the benefits of the options product, especially in the face of regulatory uncertainty and the negative media attention that the capital markets have received. It is important for us to be a leader in continuing to educate both the users of options as well as the regulators.
Q: What has been your favorite experience at ISE in the last 10 years?
A: One of the things that I am most proud of is the success of PrecISE Trade, the front-end trading application that we developed completely in-house. The first front-end application, CLICK Trade, was a very important part of our business. However, we reached the point where we needed to have complete control over the development of a member facing application and to enhance our ability to deliver new functionality faster. With this in mind, we embarked on this effort.
We first rolled out PrecISE in July 2006, but I would say that when we passed the 400 active user mark in August 2009, we knew it was successful. That moment was extremely satisfying because it was a reflection of the hard work and dedication of everyone involved on the technology, product management and business development teams, and everyone else at ISE who was involved in that project.
Q: What does ISE’s 10th anniversary mean to you?
A: Ten years is a very important milestone, especially when the age of the options industry is taken into perspective. There are obviously companies out there that are celebrating hundreds of years of being in business, but the entire options industry is less than 40 years old. Having started as a new entrant in a relatively young industry with something that was really brand new and revolutionary – and to still be here and going strong 10 years later – is really an accomplishment. On a personal level, it is a very proud moment. I am very proud to have grown up together with this firm.