The native Hungarian form of this personal name is Péterffy Tamás. This article uses Western name order when mentioning individuals.
Thomas Peterffy (born September 30, 1944) is a Hungarian-born American billionaire businessman. He is the founder, chairman, and the largest shareholder of Interactive Brokers. Peterffy worked as an architectural draftsman after emigrating to the United States, and later became a computer programmer. In 1977, Peterffy purchased a seat on the American Stock Exchange and played a role in developing the first electronic trading platform for securities. According to Forbes he is the richest Hungarian, and the richest person in Florida.
Early life and career
Peterffy was born in Budapest, Hungary on September 30, 1944, in a hospital basement during a Russian air raid. His father emigrated to the US after the failure of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956. Thomas Peterffy, who went by Péterffy Tamás at the time, left his engineering studies in Hungary and emigrated to the United States to rendezvous with his father in New York in 1965. When his father, who was living with his second wife, did not have room to accommodate his son; he gave Tamás $100 and told him to make something of himself. There began the journey that would make a multi-billionaire out of a penniless refugee.
When he moved to New York City, he did not speak English. Peterffy began his career in the US as an architectural draftsman working on highway projects for an engineering firm. It was at this firm that he volunteered to program a newly-purchased computer, ultimately shaping the course of his future. Of his background in programming Peterffy said, "I think the way a CEO runs his company is a reflection of his background. Business is a collection of processes, and my job is to automate those processes so that they can be done with the greatest amount of efficiency."
Peterffy left his career designing financial modelling software and bought a seat on the American Stock Exchange to trade equity options. During his career in finance, he has consistently pushed to replace manual processes with more efficient automated ones. He would write code in his head during the trading day and then apply his ideas to computerized trading models after hours. Peterffy created a major stir among traders by introducing handheld computers onto the trading floor in the early 1980s. His business related to his AMEX seat eventually developed into Interactive Brokers. He stepped down from the CEO role in 2019.
Regulatory influence and political views
In 1999, Peterffy was influential in persuading the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that US options markets could be linked electronically, which would ensure that investors receive the best possible options prices. He has also testified before the United States Senate Banking Subcommittee on Securities, Insurance, and Investment about adding banking regulations.
During the 2012 United States presidential campaign, Peterffy created political ads in support of the Republican Party. Peterffy bought millions of dollars of air time on networks such as CNN, CNBC, and Bloomberg. The ads consisted of a minute-long spot narrated by Peterffy that warned against creeping socialism in the United States. The ads were considered remarkable in part because Peterffy is not a candidate and did not buy the ads through a 527 group but instead paid for them directly.
In the spot Peterffy said, "America's wealth comes from the efforts of people striving for success. Take away their incentive with badmouthing success and you take away the wealth that helps us take care of the needy. Yes, in socialism the rich will be poorer±but the poor will also be poorer. People will lose interest in really working hard and creating jobs." Peterffy did not directly mention Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney or Democratic President Barack Obama, but clearly favored the former.
Peterffy's ad received mixed responses. Joshua Green, writing for Bloomberg Businessweek, said "The ad, while slightly ridiculous, is deeply sincere and also quite affecting." Green also asked Peterffy whether the comparison between the United States and Hungary made in the ad was a fair one: "[Peterffy] couldn't really think that the U.S. was turning into socialist Hungary, could he? The government isn't suppressing speech and throwing political opponents in jail. No, he conceded, it wasn't. But it sure feels like that's the path we're on." Politico reported that the ad was "being hailed as one of the best spots this election cycle", and said that it could have been influential in Ohio due to its large Hungarian American population.
Voter registration records in Connecticut show that Peterffy was registered as an independent voter. Campaign contribution records show that he donated at least $60,000 to the Republican National Committee in 2011 and that over the past few years (as of 2016) has mostly donated to Republican candidates.
During the 2016 presidential election cycle, Peterffy donated $100,000 to the campaign of Republican nominee Donald Trump.
Interactive Brokers Group, Inc. (IB) is an online discount brokerage firm in the United States. The company traces its origin to 1977 when Peterffy bought a seat on the American Stock Exchange as an individual market maker, and formed T.P. & Co. the following year. IB consists of many subsidiaries operating on most major stock, futures, bonds, forex, and options exchanges worldwide. The company commenced a public offering on 4 May 2007 under the ticker symbol NASDAQ: IBKR on the Nasdaq exchange. On October 5, 2018, Interactive Brokers moved its listing to IEX, becoming the exchange's founding issuer. Barron's Magazine stated in 2009 that Interactive Brokers maintains a position as "the least expensive trading venue for investors", and continued to be ranked by Barron's as the lowest cost broker as well as the Best Online Broker in 2019.
OneChicago is an all-electronic exchange owned jointly by IB Exchange Group (IB), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and CME Group. It is a privately held company that is regulated by both the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The OneChicago corporate headquarters is located in the Chicago Board of Trade Building in Chicago's financial district. OneChicago offers approximately 2,272 single-stock futures (SSF) products with names such as IBM, Apple and Google. All trading is cleared through Options Clearing Corporation (OCC). OneChicago currently operates the only U.S. based securities futures marketplace.
Peterffy owns 75% of Interactive Brokers and his net worth is estimated at $19.5 billion as of January 2018 Previously, he was the 76th richest person in the United States, and the 3rd richest in Connecticut. In the same year, Thomas Peterffy was ranked 22nd in the Forbes' annual list of the Forbes 400. He was the richest Hungarian in the World in 2019.
He is divorced, with three children. He is an avid equestrian. He lives in Palm Beach, Florida. In 2015 it was reported that he had listed his 80-acre Connecticut estate for $65 million , but it eventually sold for $21m.