Thinkorswim’s spacious Chicago digs

Discussion in 'Retail Brokers' started by rubibond007, Feb 8, 2008.

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    tradermonthly magazine:

    “The idea of an ‘office’ is kind of a stretch for us,” says Don Roberts, managing director of Thinkorswim, the Chicago options-brokerage firm. He’s not kidding: The company’s sleek headquarters is as cavernous as an Airbus hangar, occupying 24,000 square feet over two floors of a warehouse built in 1908 by now-defunct retailer Montgomery Ward, overlooking the Chicago River just northwest of the Loop.

    Thinkorswim cofounder Tom Sosnoff, 50, presides over the fray from an alcove just off the main floor that serves as a de facto living room for his employees. Otherwise, the immense space has few partitions and no cubicles — some three dozen traders, as densely grouped as straphangers on the rush-hour El, occupy workstations at the center of the loft. “We try to pack people in tight,” Sosnoff says. “It creates noise and energy.” Thinkorswim moved here in March 2006, having outgrown its old redoubt in the Lakeview neighborhood on the city’s North Side. It has since reconfigured the space five times to accommodate headlong, steady growth — it currently boasts roughly $2.6 billion in client assets, up from just $105 million half a decade ago. The most recent overhaul, though, was also the most significant: Upstairs, in an area almost as large as the main floor, stretches “the Wall,” a bank of 160 trading screens, all tricked out with Thinkorswim’s in-house software, that runs nearly 50 yards. “It looks like a video gamer’s dream,” Sosnoff says.

    Since January 7, the Wall has been home to 20 traders selected from a pool of amateurs who have passed through the company’s most advanced training program. They’ll spend two months at the Wall — an immersion that will, with luck, turn them into trading pros whose skills will redound to Thinkorswim’s benefit.

    The Wall has many functions, Sosnoff notes: It’s an investor-education program, a marketing tool and a technology R&D lab. But perhaps its most poignant feature for Thinkorswim’s traders is the way it exudes the feel of the trading floors of old. The Wall’s workstations, it turns out, have no chairs. “We tried to re-create the look and feel of open-outcry,” Sosnoff says. “That’s part of what makes traders hungry and aggressive: The torture of standing there, not being comfortable, with the competition around you — that’s crucial.”
  2. nitro


    I met those guys a few years back. Not only is their software beautiful, but they are really nice people as well. I hope their success doesn't spoil them or ruin their culture.

    Success well deserved, imo.