The Options Industry Council: 25 Years of Trusted Options Investor Education

October 17, 2017

I am very pleased to be part of a broad industry coalition that is celebrating The Options Industry Council's 25th anniversary. I have spent my entire career in the exchange-listed options industry with the Options Clearing Corporation (OCC) including the last 20 years with the Options Industry Council (OIC) where I currently serve as the Executive Director. This is the role that I am most passionate about because we focus on providing investors with unbiased education that helps them to better understand the benefits and risks of using options as risk management solutions.

In 1992, the exchange-listed options industry was at a crossroads, because exchange-listed options had been lumped in with other financial derivatives products that were held responsible for the crash of 1987. This occurred despite the fact that exchange-listed options performed very well throughout that market turbulence. Five years later, trading activity in the exchange-listed options market had yet to recover. This led industry leaders to recognize that the key to renewed investor interest and potential market growth was education.

At the time, there were five equity options exchanges, and each exchange ran its own marketing and education programs. But with low volumes and revenue, none of the exchanges could afford to run these programs on their own, precisely when they needed them the most. The idea to pool resources and create an industry-wide marketing and education program to promote the responsible use of exchange-listed options was suggested. The exchange heads turned to OCC, the world's largest equity derivatives clearing organization, as the natural leader for this initiative because of OCC's trustworthiness and independence, and the rest is history.

At OIC, we have a little something for everyone, no matter where investors are on their knowledge spectrum. One of the ways to get started is to perform a self-assessment which assesses an investor's knowledge level and suggests a starting point. Investors can take a basic class online or listen to a webinar or a podcast. More advanced investors can also check out OIC's research area, which includes academic studies on the performance of various trading strategies. While OIC originally was focused on the needs of individual investors, we now have offerings for financial advisors as well as institutional investors.

We are working to help financial advisors understand how options can be a differentiator for their practice. We feel an educated advisor who understands how options work can use these risk management tools to benefit the portfolios that they manage. For those advisors who have not implemented a structured options overlay program, we can help them get started. We also plan to increase our institutional outreach in 2018 with the addition of new content for the website, including new market research.

OIC knows there is growing interest in digitally delivered education. Earlier this year we launched a video series to help investors better understand some of the more popular option strategies. We have also added the Options Strategy Builders tool, developed by CBOE Vest, to the OIC website where users can simulate the popular covered call and collar strategies. We plan to continue our work with evening seminars and investor conferences with live presentations that we are working to simulcast in order to expand our reach even further. Most importantly, all of our educational offerings are available for free on our website.

Finally, one of the roles OIC has grown into over the years is industry advocacy. We help educate regulatory and legislative staff in Washington, D.C. on the importance of the exchange- listed options market for investors and the economy. We also are increasingly called upon as a respected source for financial media because of our industry knowledge and independence.

On behalf of my colleagues at OCC and The Options Industry Council, I want to thank all of our industry partners, our exchanges, our community members and our program participants for contributing to the success of OIC these last 25 years. I am also very thankful for the huge support that OCC provides to this important industry resource. As I look back on all that we have accomplished, our work is not yet finished. Investor education is still as relevant and as important as ever, and I am really proud of the role OIC has played as the trusted source for investor education for 25 years. With the continued support of the industry, OIC will remain the leader in unbiased options education for at least another 25 years.

For OIC's comprehensive website, go to and follow us on social media. To learn more about OCC's thought leadership on industry issues, visit OCC's Blog.


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