Longtime exchange and brokerage executive Robert Ray passed away Thursday of a cardiac arrest in Atlanta, according to sources.
Bob Ray, 60, was serving as the CEO of CME Europe at the time of his death. He moved to London to run the exchange’s European and Asian business interests a couple of years after the CME Group bought the Chicago Board of Trade in 2007. Ray was a senior executive of the CBOT at the time the CME acquired them.
Ray also worked in senior trading and derivatives business development roles with Robertson Stephens Inc., Dean Witter Reynolds Inc., Carr Futures and Continental Grain Company. He had also previously worked at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange from 1984 to 1986 as director of financial marketing and product development.
He was known for his humor and straight talk and admired by colleagues, competitors and journalists alike.
Peter Wind, a longtime friend said, “his discerning candor, always with a touch of humor and usually a smile, touched so many in our industry, was something very special and to our collective benefit”
Bernie Dan, who hired Ray at the CBOT in 2002 said, “Bob Ray was an outstanding individual and was highly respected throughout the industry. In addition, he was funny, clever and a great friend. I will miss him dearly. My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. “
Maria Gemskie, a former CBOT colleague of Ray’s said, “Bob’s humor, wit and charm was second to none, and his passion for the CBOT was infectious. No idea was too big when it came to marketing the products and services of the exchange. When we launched the mini-dow contract back in mid-2000s, Bob, in his role as of head of marketing, arranged a promotion campaign with the “CBOT Mini Dow” name wrapped around a mini cooper and placed the car in the plaza of the CBOT for weeks. At the end of the campaign he raffled off the car. This was just one of the many creative initiatives he under took. He will be missed by many.”
Walt Lukken, President of the Futures Industry Association said, “This is a sad day for all of us who had the good fortune to know Bob Ray. I have such wonderful memories of Bob, typically involving animated story-telling late into the night at industry conferences about the colorful people and events that built our industry. He was a true pioneer, one of the most passionate and fiercely competitive guys around, and incredibly generous and encouraging of others, including myself. All of us in the FIA family will miss him terribly.”
Simon Rostron, a London-based public relations executive and friend of Bob Ray’s said, “Bob was one of the most hard working and most courteous men in the futures industry. Known, respected and hugely admired across the world, his tireless efforts made an enormous contribution to the development of CME as the predominant international derivatives exchange group.”
Jeremy Grant of the Financial Times said, “The futures industry is full of characters, as I discovered when I arrived in Chicago 12 years ago to cover the futures and options exchanges for the FT. But few were as big as Bob Ray. An out-and-out red wine and steak guy, he was one of the most accessible, friendly and helpful exchange executives, always ready to take a call or accept a last-minute request for a meeting that would yield some insight. And as many will know, he lit up any industry gathering simply by walking into the room. Yet he was also fiercely loyal to, never compromised, and always defended, the Chicago exchange community. In many ways he was also its first ambassador abroad, when he landed in London with the CME. I owe him a lot as a journalist, and am grateful for the many drinks he stood me at bars in Chicago, Boca Raton, Buergenstock and London. Travel well, Bob. We miss you.”
Steve Hamilton, a trading business liaison with DRW Investments (UK) Ltd. said, “met Bob when he moved to London, source of great humour and experience. I will fondly remember him, when recalling past events, telling me that he could remember these things because he was ‘older than dirt’.”
Bryon Ousey of Newgate Communications LLP in London said, “a very sad loss for the industry. I worked with Bob as an external communications adviser intermittently over almost two decades. As an individual, he is irreplaceable. As a leader ,he could be candid and combative but he was also a visionary, something hard to find in the industry today. He will be sadly missed by many-on both sides of the Atlantic-not least for his sense of humour and fun.”
Chris Malo, CFO of Sun Trading LLC said, “working with Bob at the CBOT was one of the highlights of my career. He was truly “one of the good guys” in our industry and his leadership and vision for what could be done will be missed. Over the past 24 hours, his passing has created the opportunity for so many of us to reconnect and share the love we all had Bob. He will be sorely missed.”