Scott A. Brusso is a director of foreign exchange (FX) for the CME Group. He was appointed to this position in July of 2007 after working in the area of currency product marketing for the exchange since the early 90s. Brusso, who coaches kids in gymnastics and baseball in his free time, recently talked with MarketsWiki‘s Christine Nielsen about the evolution of CME Group‘s Forex products and his assimilation into a financial market position after rather comfortably traveling the world.
Q: How did you get your start in the financial industry? Was it always your goal to be involved with the markets?
A: I have three sisters. Their husbands worked at the CME, and two of them worked in the Forex quadrant. I started in currencies. I was basically working with them, they were running arbitrage business between the banks and trading floor. It wasn’t my goal at all to be involved with the markets. It was accidental – that’s if anything really is accidental.
Q: I don’t see it listed on your LinkedIn page, but I’ve heard that you spent time training as a monk. Could you touch on that?
A: Yes, I became a monk. I don’t, in general, talk about it, unless I have a reason to talk about it. I had been traveling around the world. Africa, Afghanistan. I found myself in Northern India, coming in contact with Tibetans (The Dalai Lama) was a life-changing experience. It was more to do with spending time with them, learning from them. Because of visa issues, I went back and forth between India and Nepal for seven years. Their teachings are based on peace – compassion and sensitivity for all forms of life. You don’t hear too much about that in our daily life here (in the States).
I didn’t have any culture shock at all traveling around the world. It was more of an adjustment moving back to Chicago. If the traders bought 5s on the trading floor, they were praying for it to tick up to 6, etc. They were “praying” for personal gain. In monastic life they pray for world peace and happiness. The key was trying to bridge these two worlds. I grew up the same as most of the individuals on the trading floor so I could relate, but I had changed.
Q: What is the most challenging project that you’ve worked on while employed at the CME? What project has been the most fulfilling?
A: The most challenging was taking the FX products around-the-clock electronically. Here, FX products were traded in open outcry. They were at around 5,000 to 6,000 at night (in terms of volume) as of the April of 2001 launch date. We had to make sure we “set the table” correctly (by having liquidity providers, etc., involved).
You really must know your customers. It was a challenge because many were set up to be on the trading floor or had moved to the OTC market. We had to make sure the technology worked for the users. The launch was excellent. The first day market makers were streaming prices and buy side customers were trading.
Q: How important was it for the Forex complex and for the CME overall to put FX products on Globex?
A: Hopefully, history will prove that it was essential. If we didn’t go electronic, we could have opened the door for competitors to take that business.
Q: Were there lessons learned through the lack of success of FXMarketSpace? If so, what were they?
A: FXMarketSpace was possibly ahead of its time, but one lesson was customers wanted to decouple execution from clearing.
Q: How do E-Micro Futures fit into the CME’s product offerings and vision for the complex? What about the challenge the product poses to cash FX business?
A: The E-micro (retail) world has grown dramatically. Micros are designed for the small, retail-type customers. We’re adding this to the CME FX suite to extend our offering to meet all the customer needs.
Q: What are your hobbies? What is the farthest you have gone to pursue this/these hobbies?
A: I like to play tennis. I don’t have that much time. I coach kids in gymnastics and baseball. I enjoy working with children. You can show children life lessons through sports. For example, with a back handspring, when they accomplish something they thought was not possible you can emphasize that you should never say you can’t do something…throughout life people will tell you can’t do things, never believe that you can’t do something.
Q: What were your impressions of the CME and the futures industry upon your first day on the job at CME? What are your observations about the exchange and industry now?
A: I started at the CME in 1983. There is always change. The exchange overall has really developed. It’s more user friendly. Electronic trade has leveled the playing field. Once on Globex, everyone is on equal footing. It’s become even more level and allowed for all users down to the individual investor.
Q: Is there anything else that you’d like people to know about you? Anything else you’d like them to know about the CME’s Forex products?
A: I hope they realize that I do care about them. I’m not just out for myself. I do care about them, that they do well and that we all grow on a business and personal level. The CME allows them the largest, fairest market from which to trade.