The Italian Connection — An Options Journey Comes Full Circle

On a recent trip to Italy, our CEO, Tony Saliba, had a chance to reconnect with friends and colleagues from his days pounding the EU pavement, which brought up a lot of memories. These are his reflections on the trip. [Images courtesy of Borsa Italiana]

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Trading Online Expo 2019 at Borsa Italiana.

In the ’90s, when I made the pre-euro European Union a frequent home, I was busy evangelizing about risk management and the benefits of options trading with my educational firm, International Trading Institute, while also spreading the word about my firm’s technology, an options trading front end.

That period of time in European markets offered tons of opportunities for the entrepreneurially minded as regional markets for options trading began to develop, partially due to the success of OM (now a part of Nasdaq Nordic) in Sweden.

It started in Germany in 1989 — that was the market of the moment. With my boots firmly on the ground, I was able to find what was going to be that next new entrant, all while continuing to check in with my OM friends and spread the options word. That led me to Austria. My traveling loop gained another stop when Spain joined the fray. (Did I mention I was back and forth to Chicago this whole time, too? I probably will never be able to use all the frequent flyer miles I’ve accrued.)

By the time 1994 rolled around, the new rookie draft pick was in Italy. Borsa Italiana was preparing to launch electronic options (which they did in ’95) and the exchange and local banks needed front-end options software and some help with training, which I was happy to provide.

Fast forward to October 2019, when I was fortunate enough to be invited to return to Milan, 25 years after my stint there in the ’90s, to speak at the Trading Online Expo hosted by Borsa Italiana. Being back was surreal.

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Matrix CEO Tony Saliba in the “Unknown Unknowns” Panel at the Trading Online Expo.

I was in the “Unknown Unknowns — Unknown Risks in Financial Markets” panel facing options traders alongside Vincenzo Riflesso, director of risk management with Leonteq Securities, someone I helped train 15 years ago. We discussed managing butterfly strategies in volatile markets and how to conduct the analysis to assist in developing those strategies.

I participated in the opening bell ceremony and had several media interviews, including one with Le Fonti. I discussed with Le Fonti’s Aleksandra Georgieva my belief that industry events like the Trading Online Expo are important and beneficial to options traders of every level.

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Matrix CEO Tony Saliba ringing the Opening Bell.

I got to see so many familiar faces, some of them holding first-edition, yellowed, dog-eared copies of Market Wizards for me to sign.

The key to the whole experience was the people. The International Trading Institute has trained some 8,000 professionals in its 30 years of existence, and I can proudly say that a couple hundred of those run trading desks or are senior level execs with high-end hedge funds. And a good percentage of those are in Italy, which meant that I had the pleasure to reconnect with them during this trip. How things have come full circle!

It was amazing to see parts of my past meet up with my present.

I might not be able to dynamically hedge the wings of my butterflies the way I could back in the CBOE pits in the ’80s, but the legacy of those times lives on. And the picture isn’t even completed, as my firm Matrix Executions will leave its own technological imprint on derivatives markets.

The work is never done! And neither are the flights…

If you’re interested in learning more about Matrix and our service, click here.

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