The late William F. ("Billy") O'Connor was the co-founder of O'Connor & Company - acquired in 2006 to form Fortis Clearing Americas - First Options of Chicago and O'Connor and Associates. He also is a former chairman of the Chicago Board of Trade. He is a member of the Futures Industry Association Hall of Fame.
William F. O’Connor was a legendary figure on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade. A member of the exchange since 1955, he stood out in the trading pits with his green plaid jacket and shock of white hair.
With his brother Edmund, O'Connor co-founded O’Connor & Company in 1959. In 1972 First Options of Chicago was founded; it grew to become the largest clearing firm for options market makers in the world and was acquired by Spear Leeds & Kellogg in 1977. O’Connor and Associates was established in 1977 as a proprietary derivatives trading company, and in 1994, it was acquired by Swiss Bank Corporation.
During his career, O'Connor exercised considerable influence on the evolution of the CBOT, serving not only as its chairman from 1990 to 1992 but also as an important voice for innovation and technological change. In particular, he was one of the early champions of single stock futures and the guiding force behind the development of Project A, the exchange’s first successful electronic trading platform. He also was an early proponent of cooperation between the two Chicago exchanges. He proposed the “Futures Exchange Common Goals Committee” to explore ways the two Chicago exchanges could unify such areas as operations and clearing to their mutual benefit.
O'Connor became chairman of the CBOT in 1990 when Karsten Mahlmann resigned as chairman after being elected to a then record 4th consecutive term. Mahlmann resigned in the wake of the collapse of Stotler Group Inc., a firm he headed and for which he was the largest shareholder.
O'Connor was the chairman of the CBOT during an incident in the financial room where a trader, Darrell Zimmerman, initiated a series of improper trades in bond futures and options that led to his clearing firm, Stern & Company, being suspended from the exchange.
He also helped negotiate a deal between the CBOT and the CBOE in 1992 concerning CBOT full member's exercise rights to trade on the CBOE.
The Chicago Sun-Times described O'Connor as: “a tenacious Irishman who elevated Chicago’s financial markets to international prominence.”
O'Connor created the William F. O'Connor Foundation, which gives grants primarily for medical research, focusing on cancer prevention and cure. Giving also for arts, culture, and education in the Chicago, Illinois, area.
O'Connor graduated from the University of Illinois.
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