Originally From Attain’s 3/’11 Newsletter:
Managed Futures have come a long way in the past 37 years, and so has Barbara Mueller, who will be retiring at the end of March after nearly four decades dealing with futures trading. Barbara has been working in the industry since 1973, and has been an invaluable asset to Attain Capital since 2006.
In honor of her retirement, we’re taking a break from our traditional analysis this week to pay tribute to Ms. Mueller. It has been an honor to work with someone as knowledgeable, talented and motivated as Barbara, and here she provides us with her (often comical) insight from 37 years of experience in the world of futures trading.
Moving Forward, Looking Back
When Attain asked me to come up with a list of the best things I’ve learned after more than 3 ½ decades in the futures industry, it was pretty daunting. After all, 37+ years ago, we were in the stone age of trading. We did have the wheel (and telephones), but there were no personal computers, no fax machines, no stock index futures, no US options on futures, no 24 hour markets, and gold was trading at $135 an ounce. There were no Treasury bond futures or other financial instrument futures. The CFTC and NFA (the futures regulatory agencies) did not exist yet. We were governed by the CEA -the Commodity Exchange Authority. And the list goes on.
Typical commissions were $75 to $100 round turn. Account forms were only 1 page! Some of the prices were still written on blackboards at the Chicago Board of Trade and you could inspect physical grain there as well. The whole managed futures industry was an still an embryo, with Richard Dennis not teaching his Turtles until 1983 and Paul Tudor Jones still a clerk on the trading floor. S&P futures, the most popular trading system vehicle in the world, wasn’t launched until 1982 (the minis didn’t start trading until 1997!) Options on commodities in the United States weren’t authorized until 1984 and System Writer, the precursor to Trade Station, wasn’t launched until 1989.
As one of the first women brokers in the futures industry, it’s been quite a journey-and an accidental one at that. I was just waiting for a teaching job to open up in the Chicago Public School System and my Dad suggested I go to work for one of his friends at the Chicago Board of Trade in the interim. Thirty seven years later, I guess I can no longer call this an “interim” job!