Self-made billionaire Thomas Peterffy immigrated to the United States in the mid-60s. A young man and penniless, he had some engineering training that landed him his first job. But it was his acute interest in computer programming that started his path to becoming a billionaire.
Unlike many investor profiles we have covered, he is not a public figure with a mainstream media presence. Although he did sponsor and appear in an ad for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in 2012.
Many people ask themselves what is Thomas Peterffy’s net worth. So, we set about finding the answer to that question. We will also look at his investing style and his view on alternative assets as well as his biography.
What Is Thomas Peterffy Net Worth?
Investor Thomas Peterffy has a personal net worth of about $20.3 billion. Thomas Peterffy is the main shareholder of Interactive brokers. Peterffy owns the largest share of Interactive Brokers through a holding company, IBG Holdings Inc.
At the time of writing, IBG Holdings owned 76.1 percent of Interactive brokers with Thomas Peterffy as the main stakeholder. Peterffy also owns 100% of the common Class B stock, which together with his ownership of IBG Holdings gives him total voting rights of 75 percent.
Thomas Peterffy Biography
Thomas Peterffy was born in Budapest, Hungary on September 30, 1944. His parents were Hungarian aristocrats who had lost almost everything to the Soviet Union invasion. Peterffy was squeezed by a meager lifestyle and relentless oppression by the communist regime.
By 1965, Thomas Peterffy left Hungary to join his father in the United States. In Hungary, he had received training as a surveyor and managed to land a job in an engineering firm in New York state. The company had just bought one of the first computers, an Olivetti No.1.
However, nobody at the company knew how to program their new computer. Peterffy volunteered, as he didn’t speak any English, he thought it might be easier to learn a programming language. The bet paid off, and Peterffy became a skilled programmer.
Peterffy used his computer proficiency to make pricing models for Wall Street firms, back in a time when few people had any computer understanding.
By 1977, Peterffy had managed to save $200 thousand to fund the start of his profitable trading career. He used $36,000 to buy a seat on the American Stock Exchange on the options trading floor. He then used his programming skills to automate options pricing to be more accurate at picking winning trades. His entrepreneurial spirit gained traction very quickly.
In 1978 he founded his first company, T.P. & Co., and hired four traders that would use his system. In 1982 he founded his second company, Timber Hill Inc., and a year later he managed to obtain permission for the exchange to have handheld computing devices on the trading floor.
This caused a major stir but ultimately allowed Peterffy to automate his calculations at a much faster rate than anyone else at the time. The automating process was one that Peterffy understood extremely well. So, the process of automated and electronic trading began with this company under Peterffy’s leadership.
And in 1994 he founded Interactive brokers that automated trading orders for institutional and individual investors and traders. The company grew into a multinational enterprise with offices in 33 countries and offering millions of products to trade in.
How Did Thomas Peterffy Build His Wealth?
Thomas Peterffy started small and by saving what he could manage to buy himself a seat on the American Stock Exchange. The exchange only launched the options trading floor in 1975. So, not only was Peterffy taking a bet on trading successfully but on the future success of the options market.
From his success at trading options using his programming skills, he learned to automate pricing models and created a successful start. But his entrepreneurial spirit was not satisfied, and he kept on expanding.
In the same year Peterffy introduced computer power to the trading floor, Timber Hills expanded to 12 employees. By 1987 the company had 67 employees and was trading on various exchanges from Chicago to Germany.
By 1992, the company had grown to 142 employees with trading activities expanding to Switzerland. The expansion of trading using computerized futures and options trading systems continued into the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Norway, Australia, and Hong Kong.
With the growth in operations also comes more staff. The number of employees grew to 284 by 1997. In 2001, the company changed its name from Timber Hills Inc. to Interactive Brokers Group LLC. Thomas Peterffy stayed at the helm as CEO until 2019, when he stepped down from that role and remained as Chairman of the Board.
In 2007, Interactive Brokers sold 10 percent of its shares in an IPO worth $1 billion. This happened after turning down an offer to sell to Goldman Sachs. Peterffy had to change his business model slightly. As faster automated trading houses squeezed Interactive Brokers’ profit margins.
The company’s market-making business shrank from $331 million pretax profit in 2009 to $72 million in 2013. While the company’s broker business continued to make more money. Pretax profits doubled to $814 million between 2007 and 2013.
Does Thomas Peterffy Invest in Alternative Assets?
Thomas Peterffy is not a very visible man in the mainstream media. However, he has let some channels know his views on alternative assets such as cryptocurrencies and land. Well, that does not seem surprising, many investors from Wall Street are beginning to get involved in digital coins. And it seems farmland is also becoming more appealing.
In an interview, Peterffy admitted that he had decided to allocate some of his funds to crypto. His reflections were cautious back in 2021, when he made the comment referring to the fact there’s always a chance this could be something important. Referring to crypto.
Since then, his views do not seem to have changed much. He is pessimistic about the immediate direction of crypto. Stating high ongoing inflation, economic turmoil, and a stock market rout as the main factors jeopardizing crypto prices.
However, he does feel that if the drop in Bitcoin continues and reaches $12,000, that would be the level he would look at buying some more. Yes, he still holds Bitcoin.
Thomas Peterffy is also one of the largest individual landowners in the United States. He currently ranks 19th on The Land Report ranking. Peterffy owns vast timberland and farmland. In 2017, Peterffy bought Foley Land & Timber in Florida, an estate of 561 thousand acres worth $710 million.
How Is Thomas Peterffy Net Worth Calculated?
Thomas Peterffy’s net worth is calculated by taking his declared assets and subtracting liabilities. Since not all of this information is public, we can come to an estimate. Even though we don’t have all the exact information, what is available is sufficient to calculate Peterffy’s net worth with a small margin of error.
The fact that he is listed as the main owner of Interactive Brokers Group allows us to assess Peterffy’s net worth with some accuracy. Many authoritative outlets such as Forbes have also published similar figures to our own.
Who Else Invests Like Thomas Peterffy?
Not all investors have the same investing style. To compare investors like Thomas Peterffy, check out some of the profiles listed below.
Want to Invest Like Thomas Peterffy?
Thomas Peterffy is an astute investor who has tapped into computer power and programming to make his fortune. He predominantly has made his investments discrete, but we do know he holds alternative assets.
He’s one of the largest individual landowners in the United States, and despite the current crypto winter is still holding Bitcoin. Having said that, he is also still hoping Bitcoin price falls to $12,000 to buy some more.
If you want to follow Peterffy’s investing success you can take advantage of a tax-enhanced savings account. Open a self-directed IRA where you can hold all types of assets including real estate and crypto.