Jim Gray
Jim Gray

James Gray is Co-founder and Chairman of optionsXpress Holdings, Inc., the online options, futures and stock brokerage. Since taking its first customer in January 2001, optionsXpress has fundamentally changed how retail investors use exchange-traded derivatives for investing and strategic portfolio management. Gray, with 20 years in the options industry, is also President of G-Bar L.P., one of the nation’s largest independent options trading firms.

Gray is active in many civic and professional organizations, serving on the boards of the Shedd Aquarium, Children’s Memorial and the Chicago Museum of Science & Industry. He is also a member of the Young Presidents Organization, the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center, the Executives Club and the Economic Club of Chicago. Through the Avrum Gray Family Fund and the G-Bar Foundation, Gray is also a supporter of the Chicago Botanic Gardens, Chicago Symphony, Jewish United Fund, Lyric Opera House, Gene Siskel Film Center, the Ravinia Festival and the “Chicago 2016” effort to bring the Olympics to Chicago. Gray holds a B.S. in Finance and Economics from the University of Iowa.

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Q Barron's, Kiplinger, SmartMoney, Forbes - they all say you're the best online broker.

A We took the company public about five years ago. We started in '00 and today we've got over 300,000 customers. It's just been a lot of fun. We work with some tremendously bright and successful people, and they're really the drivers of our business.

Q At the time you launched, there were many online brokers, large and small. How did you think you could succeed?

A We really built our business on the premise of wanting to level the playing field and adding better products and capabilities to allow retail customers to trade like the pros. A lot of these new products were being treated more as an accommodation by the traditional online brokerage firms. We wanted to deliver it at a cost that was very competitive and compelling for our retail consumers.

Q What inspired you to start optionsXpress?

A As one of my partners likes to put it, "options traders were being treated like lepers." He had this great idea to build a "leper colony" - a place that embraced traders.

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