My Meeting With Interactive Brokers CEO Thomas Peterffy

The inside scoop from one Fool's interview with Interactive Brokers' founder and CEO.

Mar 16, 2014 at 4:38PM

At The Motley Fool, and particularly in Stock Advisor, we spend quite a bit of time evaluating management. That's why Jim Mueller and I traveled north to tony Greenwich, Conn., to interview Thomas Peterffy, CEO and founder of Interactive Brokers (NASDAQ:IBKR)

The full audio recording and transcript of the interview is available only to Stock Advisor members. However, I can share my impressions and a few key tidbits. In short, I was quite impressed by Peterffy. Here are four reasons why.

1. Actively engaged in the business
When we arrived, Peterffy wasn't ensconced in a corner office or huddling in a back room with other top managers. He was out on the open floor, talking to one of his programmers. During the interview, he quoted the average client commission charge from last month down to the penny. He's 69 years old and already worth billions, so it would be understandable if he wanted to disengage a bit. But I got the distinct impression that he is still heavily involved in the details of the business.

2. Sticking to the strategy
The success of Interactive Brokers has been driven by its technological prowess and ability to automate trading to drive down costs. In the interview, Peterffy explained that he still considers himself a programmer at heart. And while Interactive Brokers is part of the financial industry, he considers it a technology business. When I asked about potentially simplifying the Interactive Brokers trading platform to appeal to a wider market, he smiled and shook his head. No -- Interactive Brokers will remain focused on catering to sophisticated investors. As he said, "You have to focus on a few things and do them very well." In other words, he's sticking to the strategy that has worked.

3. Thinking long-term
When I asked Peterffy about the key operational metrics that he tracks, the first thing he mentioned was customer profitability. He wants to make his customers more profitable by driving down costs and offering excellent trade execution. And I don't think he's doing that for altruistic reasons. He understands that, over the long term, Interactive Brokers will benefit by helping its customers succeed. And it's natural for Peterffy to be thinking long-term. He's by far the largest investor in the overall company.

4. Being a straight-shooter
Before the interview, Peterffy's assistant showed us to his office, which is right off the open office floor, and he joined us a few minutes later. He was not accompanied by any flunkies from public relations or investor relations. After a few minutes of small talk, he asked us to sit down and begin the interview. He politely volunteered to answer any and all questions with no script. We just gave him a microphone, I asked questions, and he answered them all with no hesitation. Unfortunately, many CEOs have a tendency to answer investor questions with rambling bits of corporate doublespeak. So I appreciated Peterffy's directness and candor.

Foolish bottom line
I came away from the meeting impressed by Peterffy. Admittedly, these are just my impressions from a short meeting. Judging management is a notoriously difficult task. But this meeting provided me with another useful data point, which, along with my analysis of Peterffy's track record and incentives, gives me confidence in the leadership at Interactive Brokers.

Is Uncle Sam about to claim 40% of your hard-earned assets?
Thanks to a 2013 law called the American Taxpayer Relief Act, or ATRA, he can, and will, if you aren't properly prepared.

Fortunately, The Motley Fool recently uncovered an arsenal of little-known loopholes to protect yourself from ATRA and help keep the taxman at bay when he inevitably comes calling. We reveal them all in a brand-new special report. Simply click the following link for instant, 100% free access.

Protect my hard-earned wealth from Uncle Sam

Brendan Mathews has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Interactive Brokers. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Money to your ears - A great FREE investing resource for you

The best way to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as “binge-worthy finance.”

Feb 1, 2016 at 5:03PM

Whether we're in the midst of earnings season or riding out the market's lulls, you want to know the best strategies for your money.

And you'll want to go beyond the hype of screaming TV personalities, fear-mongering ads, and "analysis" from people who might have your email address ... but no track record of success.

In short, you want a voice of reason you can count on.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich," rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

And one of the easiest, most enjoyable, most valuable ways to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as "binge-worthy finance."

Whether you make it part of your daily commute or you save up and listen to a handful of episodes for your 50-mile bike rides or long soaks in a bubble bath (or both!), the podcasts make sense of your money.

And unlike so many who want to make the subjects of personal finance and investing complicated and scary, our podcasts are clear, insightful, and (yes, it's true) fun.

Our free suite of podcasts

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. The show is also heard weekly on dozens of radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers are timeless, so it's worth going back to and listening from the very start; the other three are focused more on today's events, so listen to the most recent first.

All are available for free at

If you're looking for a friendly voice ... with great advice on how to make the most of your money ... from a business with a lengthy track record of success ... in clear, compelling language ... I encourage you to give a listen to our free podcasts.

Head to, give them a spin, and you can subscribe there (at iTunes, Stitcher, or our other partners) if you want to receive them regularly.

It's money to your ears.


Compare Brokers