R.J. O’Brien & Associates (RJO) is the oldest and largest independent futures brokerage firm in the United States, handling client assets of $4 billion and regularly capturing top-tier market share in agricultural and financial futures products at both the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) and Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT). 

As one of the last “boutique” firms, still majority owned by the Chicago O’Brien family, RJO was always looking for solutions to evolve their business into the modern era. Replacing the firm’s decade-old trading platform became paramount to its continued success.

CEO James Downs was well known in the industry for his time as a fellow trader on the paper order-covered floors of the CBOT. But, R.J. O’Brien’s CIO was more interested in Connamara’s deep knowledge of QuickFIX/n and Onyx, a trading platform we built for Rosenthal Collins Group widely by retail and professional traders.

Connamara was a perfect fit for the project. RJO’s existing platform had a code base that had become convoluted and difficult to maintain in its decade of use. Additions and enhancements applied without Agile development or automated testing caused constant reliability and maintainability issues. Still, stakeholders feared that designing a new platform from scratch would dismantle a familiar and comfortable, existing system.


Connamara collaborated with the O’Brien IT team, who did a masterful job navigating the shifting and negotiating priorities in RJO’s dream platform with the company’s stakeholders.

Our engineers recognized that RJO’s existing platform was written in C++ and C# programming languages on Microsoft Windows OS and employed FIX. Understanding and acknowledging that our client’s internal software development team was most comfortable with those tools, the decision was made early on to build a new platform consistent with that technology stack. This eliminated the need for retraining of the RJO team in the handover process.

While engaging Connamara’s custom development services, the IT team requested that we transfer Agile Methods to their team so that Agile could be deployed when RJO took over the ongoing support, maintenance, and enhancements. Connamara Agile extends the lifespan of software through automated testing, test-driven development, and continuous integration.


R.J. O’Brien successfully replaced their legacy trading platform. Thanks to our advocacy for best practices in creating large-scale systems, RJO’s internal IT team has since adopted Agile. Now, the platform can be easily enhanced and maintained to meet the ever-evolving business needs that futures markets demand. 

RJO’s Next Gen platform gave Connamara a chance to once again demonstrate our unparalleled depth of knowledge in capital markets and Agile methods of software development.

“I wanted to thank you and your team for the work on our Next Gen project. We’re live and migrating order flow from the legacy system to the new one…I appreciated the structure, processes, and tools the team brought to bear on our work. They were new to some RJO folks and refreshers to others. But, it was the first time we used them all on such a large initiative. Your team worked well with ours – I received feedback to that effect from my team. Chris, Andrew, Grant, Mike, John, Matt, and yourself were easy to get along with.”

Dru Carlson, Director of Development, R. J. O’Brien

We meet you where you are and take you where you want to go

See how custom software solutions from Connamara can accelerate your business objectives.