RPM Financial Markets Group

Leadership: Tom Bakas • Debra Rabichow • Ian Polakoff • Charles McElhenie

Tom Bakas:

Tom Bakas is the managing principal of RPM Financial Markets Group LLC, with over 30 years experience in financial services, primarily in the exchange-traded derivatives markets.  He has consulted for multiple venture capital-backed and angel financed start-ups, exchanges, and related information technology companies.  As the Managing Director for Financial Market Development he led sales for the Chicago Board of Trade.  Prior to the CBOT he managed business development for major accounts at Eurex.  During the 1990’s he held various leadership positions at Merrill Lynch & Co. in the Corporate & Institutional Financial Group and the Private Client Group, overseeing client service, sales and product management for those business units.  Early in his career Tom was the Chief Financial and Operating Officer at a privately held futures brokerage firm and also held positions with a regulatory agency, where he supervised, reviewed and conducted financial and compliance audits on futures industry participants.  Tom holds a Bachelor of Science in Accountancy from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.

Debra Rabichow:

Debra Rabichow is an executive consultant and founding partner of RPM Financial Markets Group LLC, with over 44 years experience in the derivatives markets. She has served on numerous industry committees, including the Futures Industry Association’s (FIA) operations committee on automated trading (Chair), the Board of Trade Clearing Corporation’s operations committee, the full Clearing House Committee of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), and participated on the FIA’s Law and Compliance Panel on Capital Quality and Firm Liquidations.  Her clients have included numerous Futures Commission Merchants, Broker Dealers, exchanges, clearing houses, law firms, venture capitalists, and software companies.  Prior to forming RPM, Debra served as the Chief Operating Officer at the North American Derivatives Exchange; as the Global Head of Clearing and Settlement at FX MarketSpace, where she helped develop a centrally cleared OTC foreign exchange platform that won the FX Week Innovation Award; and as the COO of Goldenberg, Hehmeyer & Company, where she was instrumental in the expansion of its FCM, BD, and proprietary trading businesses. Debra has also served as an independent consultant, and has held a variety of senior management positions at Smith Barney, Citicorp Securities Inc., and Drexel Burnham Lambert.  She began her career on the floor of the CBOT and has had direct involvement in the evolution and expansion of the derivatives industry including the operational integration of nine mergers and acquisitions.  Debra sees herself as a practitioner and advisor rather than a consultant, and is dedicated to applying her considerable experience to helping develop the next generation of leaders in the financial services industry.

Ian Polakoff:

Ian Polakoff, CPA is a financial services executive and founding partner of RPM Financial Markets Group LLC, with over 15 years of experience in the derivatives industry.  He is registered in Illinois as a CPA, held a Series 27 FINOP license, and holds an International Certificate in Banking Risk and Regulation from the Global Association of Risk Professionals.   Ian has created Risk Management Programs and authored a white paper on risk management for binary contracts that provided the blueprint for a simplified customer margining model.  Prior to founding RPM, he served as the CFO of the North American Derivatives Exchange, Inc., where he helped launch a regulated retail exchange business and obtain regulatory approval for listing and clearing new products.  Ian has also served as CFO of both IG US Holdings, Inc. and Bank of America Futures, Inc. and held a number of senior accounting and finance positions at Bank of America Corporation and RB&H Financial Services LP.  His experience includes futures clearing and execution, integrating Futures Commission Merchant and Broker Dealer financial operations, management reporting design and implementation, performance analysis, and product line expansion.  He began his career as a regulatory auditor for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.  Mr. Polakoff holds a Bachelors Degree in Accounting from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL.  Ian believes in a holistic approach that fosters collaboration throughout an organization to develop sustainable business processes that are well integrated and cost effective.

Charles McElhenie:

Charles McElhenie is an executive consultant and founding member of RPM Financial Markets Group LLC, with over 30 years of business leadership experience.  He has designed compliance and risk management programs for several clearinghouses and FCMs, developed clearing and settlement solutions for a wide range of exchange and OTC traded financial derivatives products, and co-authored the first Dodd-Frank regulatory filing submitted to the Commodities Futures Trading Commission in 2011.  His past clients include The Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Eurex Clearing, NADEX, and LCH.  Prior to forming RPM, Charles was the head of business development at The Clearing Corporation, where he helped launch a CDS clearing service, the Eurex Global Clearing Link, and the Chicago Climate Exchange.  He also held executive positions at T-Systems US, where he helped launch a technology services company, and multiple management positions with IBM, where he participated in launching several lines of business.  Charles graduated from the University of Michigan with a BS in Industrial Engineering, where he was active in both the academic and leadership honor societies.  An engineer at heart, Charles focuses on developing regulatory compliance programs and documentation that are both affordable and effective.