Brian Schell, executive vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer of Cboe, and executive sponsor of the company’s scholarship and mentorship program, Cboe Empowers
At Cboe Global Markets, we are dedicated to fostering trust in the financial infrastructure we build and maintain. Our mission is to operate an inclusive global marketplace -- one that invites participation from all types of investors -- and in our view, that starts with financial literacy.
What is Cboe’s perspective on financial literacy, and why is investor education so important?
We are living through the largest wealth transfer in modern history, with older generations projected to pass down approximately $70 trillion in assets by 2042. But the next-gen investor is different from their elders. With zero- cost commissions, the ease of order executions and the availability of trading tools, retail investors today can take greater ownership of their own wealth management needs and generate potential returns that were once realized by a smaller segment of market participants.
The entry of a new class of retail participants has clearly brought a new wave of investors who are participating in the markets for the first time, creating a need for more access to education. As investor demographics continue to evolve, financial literacy has become more essential than ever to fostering inclusion in the capital markets for all investors -- both large and small -- regardless of their investment experience and objectives. An educated investor is a smarter investor. It’s critical that these new investors understand both the prudent use and potential risks of the products they are trading. And the commitment to investor education must be an industry-wide focus.
How does Cboe support the financial literacy of the new generation of retail traders?
As a trusted global market infrastructure provider, our mandate is to provide resilient and well-functioning markets that help investors execute trading, manage risk and build long-term wealth. In line with this commitment, we are focused on helping our customers better understand our products and access our markets so they can benefit from our solutions.
We continue to enhance our offerings to keep pace with the diverse needs of today’s investors, whether it is delivering new products and educational resources to help investors become more knowledgeable and confident or providing new and innovative ways for customers to access our markets with greater ease and efficiency.
Our new Nanos options product is a great example of how the combination of education and access can be extremely powerful for new investors. With a one-multiplier, instead of the standard 100-multiplier, these smaller-sized, lower premium options allow retail investors to enter the options market at a lower price point and with less risk. Nanos helps new investors build their confidence at their own pace as they progress in their financial literacy journey. Cboe’s educational arm, our Options Institute, is also expanding its curriculum to offer more resources to help these new retail investors become more familiar with trading options.
Finally, we continue to broaden our collaboration with both private and public sectors. This includes working with industry peers and local community organizations to empower the global communities we serve through providing access to products, services and resources that continue to foster participation in the financial markets.
How is the Cboe Options Institute catering to the needs of diverse market participants as demand for investor education continues to grow?
We have been providing best-in-class investor education through our Options Institute (“OI”), teaching the responsible use of options and trading strategies for more than 35 years. The OI’s mission is to increase investor IQ, and our team of educators is dedicated to creating financial literacy programs that are easily accessible and welcoming to investors of all experience levels.
Recognizing the rise of the retail options trader, the OI has reinvigorated its educational programs to offer a more modern teaching approach to appeal to these new investors. Our content is not only interactive, relatable and engaging for individual traders, but also covers the full spectrum of investing topics -- from the basics to complex trading strategies -- to guide investors as they grow throughout their educational journey. Through our Adjunct Faculty Program, students can also interact with renowned industry and academic leaders to learn from the best and brightest in our industry. We plan to further expand our offerings as our student base continues to grow around the world.
The OI is equally committed to serving institutional investors and has a long history of educating them on the utility of Cboe products. Each year, the Cboe Risk Management Conference (RMC) gathers top traders, strategists and researchers from leading institutions to learn about the latest products and strategies for managing risks and enhancing yields. We couldn’t be more excited to return to the conference in Iceland this year after a brief hiatus during the pandemic and look forward to covering an exciting agenda that will focus on the derivatives and digital asset markets.
Tell us more about Cboe’s partnerships with the public sector to drive financial literacy in your communities.
At Cboe, we wholeheartedly believe that early financial literacy, combined with access to education, has the power to change lives. To be the difference we want to see, we founded Cboe Empowers, a community engagement program that supports under-served Chicago students from primary school to career, through mentorship, scholarships and access to Cboe’s associates and work environment. Many of our associates had already been involved with outstanding charitable and mentorship organizations, and Cboe Empowers brings together these efforts to drive even greater impact.
I’m particularly pleased with the launch of our Cboe Empowers Scholars Program this year. In our inaugural ceremony, we awarded five full-ride scholarships to African-American and Latinx students from underrepresented areas in Chicago. We plan to eventually expand our program to offer more scholarships, and in other locations around the world, to support even more students in the communities where Cboe associates live and work. We have already set aside $5 million to fund the Cboe Empowers Scholarship Program.
Cboe Empowers also partners with Working in the Schools (WITS) and Greenwood Project, organizations that have played a significant role in lifting up under-resourced youth in our communities through education and financial literacy programs. Greenwood Project introduces minority high school and college students to the financial services industry, connecting them with learning opportunities, professional resources and internships. To date, Greenwood Project has helped more than 400 students from diverse backgrounds start their careers in the financial services industry.
We are pleased to have donated $250,000 to help fund Greenwood Project's annual operations in 2020. To deepen our partnership, we are committed to donating an additional $100,000 each year, beginning from 2021 through 2026. We’re proud to support the continued expansion of the Greenwood Project and honored to welcome several Greenwood Project scholars as interns each summer.
We are delighted to partner with the WFE and IOSCO to Ring the Bell for Financial Literacy during World Investor Week. As market volatility, economic concerns and rising inflation impact people worldwide, financial literacy is more important now than ever. It is our goal to help investors of all kinds build a more sustainable financial future for themselves and their families and we are grateful to the WFE and IOSCO for their continued advocacy of financial literacy.
The views, thoughts and opinions contained in this Focus article belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the WFE’s policy position on the issue, or the WFE’s views or opinions.