Advantage Futures

Building Organizational Excellence

Interview with John Schlaefke, Chief Administrative Officer, Advantage Futures

April 2010

John Schlaefke, Chief Administrative Officer for Advantage Futures, knows how to get things done. As the point man for much of what goes on at Advantage Futures, John understands and is involved in every aspect of the business–from addressing client needs to overseeing Administration and Accounting to working with our Technology Group to coordinate the recent office move of Advantage Futures headquarters.

John possesses 25 years of industry experience during which he has witnessed ups and downs in the futures industry from both the trading and brokering perspectives. He began his career as a currency desk clerk for First Options of Chicago just before the 1987 stock market crash. He later clerked for Continental Bank and held various management positions at different proprietary trading firms in Chicago prior to meeting Joe Guinan in 2005. Joe was seeking someone who completely understood the needs of a trader and possessed the administrative experience to manage a wide range of projects. John was a perfect fit for the job.

John’s first order of business was to expand and improve the Advantage Futures Disaster Recovery Center in Downers Grove, IL. John knows that minimizing risks is critical to traders. Clients must be confident that their clearing firm has sufficient disaster recovery facilities in case of a power outage or other crisis in downtown Chicago. The Downers Grove Facility, with its own redundant power supply, is designed to provide this peace of mind.

In addition, John oversees all accounting and administrative activity at Advantage. “Statements, billing, money management and the front desk staff are all integral to the client experience,” says John. He may not interact with clients face-to-face on a daily basis, but John is well aware that these services often make or break a client relationship. Due to his experience on the trading side, John is sympathetic to the issues traders face and works tirelessly to minimize them.

More recently, John managed the relocation of Advantage Futures headquarters from the CME building to the Chicago Board of Trade building. This was no small feat and required the cooperation of many employees. His task was made more complex by the fact that Advantage is one of the few clearing firms that offer trading facilities to clients who require space for their trading operations. John is quick to acknowledge that, “Without our completely dedicated technology group working full days, nights and weekends for several months, it would not have been possible. The key to a successful move is to make it as seamless as possible for the clients. By staggering the move in stages, our technology group avoided interruptions during the trading week. Ultimately, I believe move will help us better meet the needs of our clients not only locally but around the world,” reflects John.

So what differentiates Advantage from other clearing firms? “We hire the best people in the industry who really focus on providing the best client experience possible. It’s the personal touch we offer that truly sets us apart from our competitors.” For a guy involved in every aspect of the business, John remains cool under pressure.

As he considers the future of the business, he recognizes that electronic trading and automation will continue to evolve. “Our success is dependent on our ability to manage the details. As processes become more sophisticated, traders will expect more behind-the-scenes assistance from their clearing firms.” Makes sense coming from a guy who has spent his career managing details from behind-the-scenes.

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