2016 Another Year of Positive Momentum for OCC

Craig S. Donohue
January 05, 2017
By Craig S. Donohue ,Chairman

In 2016, OCC's evolution from a clearing and settlement utility to becoming a systemically important market influencer was highlighted by our company being recognized with two Clearinghouse of the Year Awards; from Global Investor/ISF and Futures and Options World. These awards underscore the hard work and dedication of OCC's entire team to ensuring confidence in the financial markets and the broader economy. They also recognize OCC as a preeminent clearing organization and they acknowledge our adaptions to increased expectations as a SIFMU.

Reflecting our purpose of ensuring confidence in the financial markets and the broader economy, OCC recorded its fifth-best year ever in terms of cleared contract volume in 2016 with over 4.16 billion contracts. Total cleared futures volume at OCC set a new record with 56 percent volume growth, and securities lending CCP activity was up 37 percent from 2015.

In the past year, the OCC team took great strides to enhance our resiliency by reducing the regulatory remediation gap and putting in place proactive policies and procedures to identify and resolve new problems, all while strengthening our relationships with regulators and reaffirming OCC as a strong, visible advocate for the U.S. listed options industry.

OCC's resiliency was affirmed on several fronts in 2016. The development of our risk control principles served as the catalyst for significant and positive change in the resiliency of the listed options market, to the credit of the options exchanges and the benefit of the entire industry. The nearly 40 rule changes filed by the options exchanges consistent with the risk controls outlined in our March proposal are demonstrable steps that bolster the resiliency of our markets against the risk of erroneous trading activity.

On September 21st, Standard & Poor's reaffirmed OCC's AA+/Stable rating, saying "OCC has a credible plan to build the capital and liquidity resources to absorb the default of its two largest members." This decision was a positive recognition of our efforts to strengthen OCC's financial safeguards framework in order to better conform to international standards. It also reflects very favorably on the work performed by many of my OCC colleagues to strengthen the resiliency, risk management and capitalization of our company.

In February, the SEC affirmed its earlier approval of our capital plan, saying "given OCC's critical clearing functions and its systemic importance, the Commission agrees that having OCC increase its capitalization is appropriate and in the public interest." We were gratified by the SEC's action, as the benefits of the capital plan extend beyond the enhanced resiliency of the markets we serve, and demonstrate our commitment to operating as a not-for-profit industry utility.

OCC also is working hard to be a strong and visible advocate for the U.S. listed options industry. We were gratified in April when the U.S. Department of Labor's final fiduciary rule appropriately moved away from limiting the ability of investors to hold listed options in their retirement accounts. OCC worked closely with the U.S. Securities Markets Coalition to educate Members of Congress and regulators on the importance of providing individuals with the right risk management tools to help them save for their retirement, with a constant message that investor education is exactly what is needed to promote responsible and prudent use of listed options by investors.

Throughout the year OCC continued to advocate on behalf of the industry for recognition of U.S. central counterparties such as OCC to be deemed qualifying central counterparties by the European Commission. This recognition is important to OCC and market participants for several reasons, foremost among them that it would allow EU banks' and EU bank affiliates' exposure to those CCPs to be subject to a lower risk weight in calculating their regulatory capital. The SEC's approval of the clearing agency rules in September is a critical step toward an equivalency agreement between that agency and the EC. We are pleased that the EU extended the transitional period deadline, and we intend to continue working with the SEC, the EC, and the European Securities and Markets Authority as they strive toward a common approach for the regulation of cross-border CCPs.

With all of the change currently underway in Washington, D.C., it becomes more important than ever that OCC and the options industry continue our strong advocacy work on behalf of market participants. We must continue to promote with regulators and policymakers the importance of providing individual investors with unbiased educational content through the Options Industry Council so we can drive industry growth through prudent and responsible use of these valuable risk management tools.

OCC also experienced an evolution in the leadership of our organization. We were fortunate to attract three new members to our Board of Directors who bring valuable market knowledge and expertise to support the work of our leadership team. These new members: Susan Lester; who has nearly 30 years of banking experience, Tom Wittman; Executive Vice President and Global Head of Equities for Nasdaq, and Bill Yates; Managing Director of Finance for TD Ameritrade, strengthen OCC's mission to provide exceptional risk management and innovative solutions to reduce systemic risk.

From a management perspective, we enhanced our leadership structure with the creation of an Office of the Executive Chairman, which includes Mike McClain as Chief Operating Officer and Scot Warren as Chief Administrative Officer. Mike's experience with technology and operations, and Scot's focus on driving enterprise alignment and enhanced execution of our corporate objectives, allows us to combine their breadth and depth of knowledge more effectively to support our organization as we move forward.

The addition of Amy Shelly as CFO, and the promotion of John Fennell to Chief Risk Officer, along with several other additions to our leadership team, were a clear demonstration of our ability to attract the best talent to OCC, and of our deep bench strength within the company.

Throughout the year, and despite the strong economic and regulatory headwinds, OCC's mission remained the same. And that mission will continue into 2017. We remain committed to providing confidence in the markets we serve through a robust and transparent risk management framework. As the foundation for secure markets, OCC will sustain its resiliency, foster innovation, and lead advocacy and educational efforts with global policy makers to ensure that we continue to drive industry growth and contribute to the reduction of systemic risk in the financial system.

To learn more about OCC's thought leadership on industry issues, visit OCC's Blog.

Your acceptance of all cookies will permit robust site functionality. If you don't allow cookies, some features and functionality of OCC's site may not operate as expected. If you do not choose either cookie setting for our site, or if you close this window, this message will continue to display on each page you visit. Cookie settings can be controlled in your Internet browser to automatically reject some forms of cookies. For more details on cookies this site uses, see our OCC Site Cookies page. In addition to using cookies, we retain other information, including your Internet Protocol (IP) address, for the purposes listed in the Privacy Policy. Do not accept analytic cookies Accept analytic cookies