Chopper Trading Intramurals: Soccer Update – Summer 2014

If you follow my blog, then you know that Chopper has an excellent soccer team that plays in the evening on Monday nights.  The games are hosted by the Chicago Sport and Social League, and are played with 11 players from each opposing team.  To recap this past season, Chopper’s 17-person team ended the summer with a clean 2-0 victory at the finals to win the whole division!

As clear as the final victory was, the players tell me it wasn’t always so easy to win with solid margins. The preceding semi-final game was apparently one of the toughest games the team played all year.  They managed to pull through with a 3-2 victory, much to the credit of Chopper’s goalie who blocked three of the five shots from the opposing team.

As with any activity, having a good mascot has been essential to the team’s success.  Since my dog Chopper is the firm’s mascot, it only makes sense that our soccer team have a canine mascot, as well. One of the players always brings her dog, Ollie, to boost morale.

If having a cool dog for a mascot and enjoying the sport were not exciting enough, I hear Chicago’s unpredictable weather also contributed to the excitement of the season.  I recall a story of one game in which a spontaneous thunderstorm erupted out of perfectly clear skies, soaked the players for five minutes, and then evaporated as quickly as it arrived.  That’s lake-effect weather for you!

For updates on Chopper Trading activity, follow Raj Fernando on Twitter.

Chopper Trading’s Chess Team

Chopper Trading employees apply themselves to a diverse array of sports and hobbies in their free time.  One of those hobbies is chess, sanctioned by the Chopper Chess Team, which plays in the East Division of the Chicago Industrial Chess League.  Seven of Chopper’s employees meet once a week to practice and prepare for competitions scattered throughout the fall, winter and spring seasons.

While some activities can be picked up and set down without too much difficulty, chess is not one of them. Since the team’s creation in 2012, it has exhibited the dedication necessary to excel at the game, and the hard work has paid off in a big way.  Every player has demonstrated consistent and marked improvement over time, culminating in a third place team ranking in the East Division this year.

From what I hear, Chopper players have frequently had the pleasure of upsetting higher rated players and teams.  In the 2012-2013 season, Chopper’s team won the league-wide “highest team upset award,” and a Chopper player won the league-wide “highest individual upset award.”

The Chopper Chess Team has improved its final standings every year. In 2014, the players achieved their best record with six wins and three losses resulting in the previously mentioned third place ranking in the East Division. While this technically qualified the Chopper team to participate in the league-wide playoffs for the first time, our players were unfortunately unable to participate due to travel and scheduling conflicts.

Nonetheless, Chopper’s team has led victories over employees from a number of prominent Chicago area businesses and institutions such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, the American Medical Association, Enova Financial, and Northwestern University.

Overall, I think the Chopper Chess Team is highly representative of Chopper employees as a whole: driven, hard-working, and always bent on improving.  I want to congratulate the team on a well-played season, and wish everyone good luck in their competitions this next year.

To learn more about Rajiv Fernando and Chopper Trading activity, follow @rajiv_fernando and @ChopperTrading on Twitter.

Chopper Trading at Mardi for a Cure

Two weeks ago a group of Chopper employees complemented our sponsorship of the Mardi for a Cure gala by attending the event, which supports a great cause while celebrating Carnival season.  The event was hosted by Friends for a Cure of Diabetes, which is a charity dedicated to raising money to fund clinical and bench research at the University of Chicago Kovler Diabetes Center.  According to the American Diabetes Association, nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes.  Without help from organizations like Friends for a Cure, new technologies would take many more years to develop and reach the people who need them most.

In addition to creating an enjoyable evening, the Friends for a Cure team achieved its most successful event ever.  There were more than 600 people in attendance – an excellent turnout especially considering the snow – and auction items brought in over $425,000 for the charity.  The auction included a wide selection of valuable and interesting items and services like a canine spa day, tickets to the skybox at a Cubs game, and getaways to exotic places like Carbarete, Dominican Republic; the island of Bonaire in the Caribbean; and the Mediterranean.  The evening was a valiant effort to benefit a cause that affects so many people.

 

For more updates, “Like” Raj Fernando on Facebook.

Chopper Trading Holiday Party 2013

Our annual holiday party is a way to wish Chopper employees the very best for their holiday season. It brings the entire team together with friends and family to enjoy each other’s company, and to enjoy a crucial component of any holiday festivity: delicious food. We had a lively dinner, drinks, conversation and a band – Maggie Speaks – that encouraged people to get up and out of their chairs to dance.

The closing of the year reminds us to thank our fellow Chopper team members for their hard work, and tremendous growth and improvement that they have demonstrated throughout 2013 – even though their efforts have been appreciated every day. I have said it before and I’ll say it again; I am so proud to work with some of the smartest, hardest-working individuals in the industry.

Happy holidays to all!

2013 Chopper Trading Holiday Party | See more event photos on Raj Fernando’s Flickr photostream 

Raj Fernando Attends Clinton Global Initiative 2013 Annual Meeting

For many years now, I have attended the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting to show my support for the organization’s ground-breaking philanthropic initiatives.  This annual meeting is one of the most dynamic events I attend all year, and I am always inspired by the accomplishments that are showcased.

The purpose of CGI is to convene global leaders from across the political and economic spectrum to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. To date, the initiative has spurred investments and donations for philanthropic causes valued at nearly $90 billion dollars.

The annual meeting is a time to identify priorities for the year ahead, encourage discussion between global leaders, and, to rally CGI members.  Held in New York, the theme of the 2013 conference was “Mobilizing for Impact.” Lectures and meetings focused on empowering organizations to tap into their potential, as well as women as leaders, and youth through education.

This year I learned that CGI-facilitated projects will provide for two million girls around the world to enroll in school, nearly 12 million children to receive a better education, and more than $7 billion to be invested in or loaned to small- and medium-sized businesses.  I’m honored to be a member of CGI and I look forward to continuing to support this organization’s remarkable accomplishments.

Raj Fernando

Raj Fernando at the 2012 CGI Annual Meeting | View more photos from the 2012 CGI Meeting on Raj Fernando’s Flickr photostream

 

 

Raj Fernando’s Chopper Trading Sponsors PAWS Chicago Fur Ball 2013

Chopper Trading’s sponsorship of the annual PAWS Fur Ball is one of my favorite ways to give back to the Greater Chicago area, by helping to build ‘No Kill’ local communities for cats and dogs.  PAWS has had a tremendous impact in the lives of animals and humans alike, by helping the two find each other, and by setting new standards in the way that homeless animals are treated.  Since our firm is named after a dog I found through PAWS – my dog Chopper – it’s only fitting that the company give back to this organization.

The Fur Ball, held at the famous Drake Hotel, is one of the only black tie events I have been to where canine guests are treated as well as – if not better than –human guests! The dogs in attendance were able to enjoy a gourmet buffet, a complimentary spa treatment, and first class pet-sitting while their owners enjoyed live entertainment and dancing.  There was even a dog communicator in attendance this year, which if nothing else sparked some interesting conversations.

As part of the fundraiser, PAWS held both a silent and live auction with unique prizes to generate some much-needed funds for the organization.  Every year I’m impressed by the items up for bid; the notables this year included two all-inclusive tickets to the 2014 Super Bowl, the chance to rub elbows with celebrities on the red carpet of the premiere of the film “Transcendence”, a tour of some of the best golf greens in the country, and a ski trip.

With more than 700 people in attendance – including guests such as well-known musician Billy Corgan – the gala was a successful fundraiser, and by far one of my favorite events of the year!

 

Chopper Trading’s Annual Golf Outing

Every fall I look forward to Chopper Trading’s annual golf outing, and I was not disappointed this year.  Held at the Oakbrook Hills Marriott Golf Club, we were able to enjoy some of the nicest weather Chicago has had all year: 70 degrees and sunny.  I think my colleagues here at Chopper would agree that there is nothing like 18 holes of golf on a gorgeous day, to unwind after long hours at the office and further reinforce our “work hard, play hard” attitude.

While all of Chopper’s team members are highly talented and experts in their profession, some of us have spent more time on the green than others, so we decided to play a scramble format amongst the 72 participants. In the spirit of good sportsmanship I won’t mention who won – everyone had a great time, which is incentive enough!

And of course, as with any fun sporting event, good food is essential; the “19th hole” included delicious Illinois barbecue to refuel and cap off a great day!

Raj Fernando Participates in Panel Discussion at Annual Rosenblatt Global Exchange Leader Conference

The recently held 6th Annual Rosenblatt Global Exchange Leader Conference was an opportunity for portfolio managers, analysts, traders, asset managers, and proprietary trading firms like Chopper Trading to meet, network and discuss some of the most important trends in the industry.  As to be expected with Rosenblatt initiatives, the conference was professional, focused and productive for me and our firm.

Rosenblatt asked me to contribute to the panel discussion on proprietary trading.  While our discussion was mostly mired in industry talk about core cash-equities markets, and the potential impact of mergers, acquisitions, and IPOs coming down the pipeline, the panel also aimed to put the debate surrounding automated trading into perspective for investors and reporters.

In addition to speaking on the panel before the audience, I was able to hear updates about the next biggest trends set to impact our industry.  For Chopper to maintain a competitive edge, it’s important that our employees and our leadership continually challenge the status quo and drive ongoing improvement and learning.  This conference was just another way to seek out the information that helps Chopper to stay ahead of the game.

For more information on Rosenblatt Securities events, please visit their events page.
Follow Raj Fernando on Twitter for industry news and Chopper Trading event info.

Raj Fernando Hosts Fundraiser For Louis’ Groceries

This October, I hosted an event to help a first-of-its-kind local non-profit, Louis’ Groceries. Louis’ Groceries is striving to eradicate food deserts, which are communities where residents don’t have access to affordable healthy food.  Its mission is to make sure that the residents of Grand Crossing, Ill., a lower-income and hardworking area, are getting enough of the foods that are both good tasting and good for them. Louis’ Groceries also aims to develop a business model that will enable neighborhood corner stores to successfully retail fresh, healthy foods in food deserts throughout Illinois, or even the country.

Since opening in 2012, Louis’ Groceries has been selling fresh fruits and vegetables, meat and dairy products at low prices. It has also been teaching local residents how to prepare wholesome, easy and affordable meals, to help them develop essential cooking skills that work for busy schedules. By making healthy foods more accessible, the hope is that low-income residents will be able to eat more food that is nutrient dense, and less fattening, thus lowering obesity and diabetes rates.

To support the importance of healthy food, Louis’ Groceries invited six top Chefs from around Chicago to prepare locally sourced and appetizing food samples for the recent fundraiser at my home.  Among the chefs were:

  • Richie Farina, Sous Chef at Moto Restaurant, and a “Top Chef” contestant during the show’s ninth season.
  • Matt Eversman, Chef/Partner at OON, who opened his own restaurant at the age of 28 and has since developed a reputation as one of  the city’s best.
  • Tom Van Lente and Kevin Cuddihee, Head Chefs at TWO Restaurant and Bar, who have a unique culinary style inspired by their commitment to local ingredients, which they showcase in their work.
  • Mark Sparacino, Chef from Prosecco, who is well-known and experienced, and brought his Italian recipes to the table at the fundraiser.
  • Last but not least, Courtney Lance, Louis’ Groceries own Chef, prepared healthy and delicious sandwiches that her customers can learn how to make in the store.

With the help of our incredible chef participants, we were able to raise $100,000.00 for Louis’ Groceries. Thank you to everyone who attended, and contributed to the effort!.

Chopper Trading Sponsors Chukkers for Charity

Once again, Chopper Trading was proud to sponsor the 11th annual Chukkers for Charity on September 7, hosted by the Rotary Club of Oswego.  The Rotary Club of Oswego uses this Charity polo match to raise money to support local and international health, humanitarian and educational needs.  Proceeds from the event will help to fund well-known projects such as Polio Eradication Worldwide, Water Wells in Haiti, Owens Family YMCA Strong Kids Campaign, and CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) Kendall County.  The Rotary Club of Oswego also supports a number of children’s sports teams and other organizations in the area such as Kendall County homeless shelters and scholarship programs for the local community college.

With approximately 400 attendees from regions all over northern Illinois, the polo match was an opportunity for Chopper Trading to contribute and connect with the local community and carry on a sport with an extensive heritage in the greater Chicago area.  Steeped in traditions that date back hundreds of years, polo is an exciting sport that attracts people from all walks of life to enjoy good food and great company.  We are glad to know that our sponsorship helped the Rotary Club of Oswego carry on these traditions, and will enable them to help make a difference in people’s lives throughout the community and around the world.