82d43db06190ab883d2500dde13aed831The volume in the options market at Euronext Amsterdam will decline in a few months. TOM will tweak their routing model, capturing a few more percent of the retail order flow.

Best price guarantee

Currently, the retail orders from brokers Binck and Alex will always be executed on TOM. They have a “best price guarantee” – when the price on Euronext is better, the retail client gets execution on TOM against Euronext’s prices.

Stat trades

The trade itself is executed on Euronext, but moved to TOM thanks to market makers who are willing to take these positions on their books. They won’t really notice, apart from building up long/short positions in certain strikes on Euronext/TOM. This volume is executed on both TOM and Euronext. They call this “STAT” trades.

In a few weeks TOM will tweak this model. Market makers can opt-out for the hedge on Euronext. When client order comes in and the price on Euronext is better, it will be executed on TOM and randomly given to market makers who participate in this schedule.

Basically, market makers suddenly don’t have to quote anymore – they will do trades on other people’s quotes anyway. And this flow will never reach Euronext again. In the beginning of May this schedule will start with DSM.

ABN AMRO

As shareholder in TOM, the state owned bank ABN AMRO will finally connect to the exchange in a few months. Clients will be connected to the Smart Order Routing (SOR) – in contrast to Interactive Brokers. Another bank lined up for TOM is BNP.

No lower fees

The retail investor doesn’t benefit at all from the competition between TOM and Euronext. Fees aren’t lowered, nothing to choose. Partly because the brokers will just pocket the lower fees at TOM.





SuperdoeiNot afraid to admit it, I have read it first in the comments here. It has been confirmed : IMC has sacked 23 employees last Wednesday (April 9th).

Some traders, some IT staff. That’s around 10% of the headcount in Amsterdam being shown the door. Add up the folks who left after pocketing their bonus two weeks ago. There must be a lot of empty desks in the office.

And is it me, or does IMC have a new website?





IMC buying Goldman

3 Apr 2014

Altijd paar dozen achter de hand houdenSuddenly a bucketload of news on IMC.

First of all, Wiet Pot and Remco Lenterman have called their old pals at Goldman Sachs. Seems IMC is bidding 30 million for the floor trading business at the big board in New York.

Maybe they’re keeping the specialists alive as main argument for HFT, it’s a kind of dinosaur after all. But one with lots of media coverage. Hard to say why IMC would like to expand in such a shrinking market – but they sure will have their reasons.

WSJ calls Lenterman CEO of IMC. Probably by mistake, as they aren’t short of CEO’s with Defares and Pot. On the other hand, it wouldn’t surprise me if @Lenterman takes over the helm at IMC someday.

Trouble in Amsterdam

Thursday the 27th of March was bonus day, and it was followed by at least half a dozen of resignations. Some high profile people left to spend more time with their garden.

A source insists “they left with a cloud of suspicion hanging over their heads” . They may be spending a year on gardening leave during the non compete clause – before joining a rival firm or starting their own.

After this the Managing Director trading Europe, Koen Huisman, was shown the door. As a former very successful bond option trader, he apparently was less gifted as a manager. Peter Principle at work.

While IMC is having great years in the USA and in Asia, the performance at the headquarters in Amsterdam has been disappointing for a few years in a row.

IMC Chicago developer bonus 2012

The developer bonus at IMC Chicago is also in, but these are last years numbers (bonus over 2012). The Y axis is thousands of dollars, and including the base salary. No names or initials, just a plain bar chart.

VOC Mentaliteit





[This is a piece by the lobby group for European HFT traders, FIA EPTA, and appeared first on their website. While I'm not completely in the same boat, and it's not a groundbreaking view on the matter - it's still a good read.]

By Johannah Ladd, Secretary General, FIA European Principal Traders Association

Today marks the end of my first month as Secretary General for FIA EPTA. In only a month, my eyes have opened to the many misconceptions I see reflected in the media about what our member firms actually do. Although I came from a principal trading company myself, I was frankly not very aware of the public dialogue around trading firms and market structure. Principal (or proprietary) trading firms have a reputation for being secretive. In my experience, it’s no one’s plan to be secretive; rather, these firms are filled with busy entrepreneurs who aren’t pushed by customers (because they don’t have any) or public shareholders (because in most cases they are privately held companies) to publicize and explain everything they do. So they just get on with it – because solving an intellectual software development puzzle, in practice, is more urgent than talking to the press. But it’s now clear how many people outside this world are curious about what we do, and in absence of us talking about ourselves, a lot of incorrect information goes around online, so it’s time to change.

I’d like to start by trying to clarify a subject rife with misunderstanding: high frequency trading (“HFT”). Not many people understand what HFT is, but have a vague, uneasy sense that it represents a  certain type of market participants, who are at best opaque and at worst up to no good.

If I can impart one message, it’s this: high frequency trading is nothing more than a technique for sending orders, like e-mail is for sending messages. It’s a tool used by banks, brokers, asset managers, or firms like ours, but … not all principal traders are high frequency traders! Likewise, not all high frequency traders are principal trading firms!

EPTA stands for European Principal Traders Association. The main characteristic uniting our members is that they trade exchange-traded financial markets as principals, not as agents for clients. That means they only trade using their own capital, for (and at) their own risk. This is not “Wall Street.” These are small groups of entrepreneurs spread out across the world: in the US – Austin, Chicago, Houston, Kansas City, L.A., San Francisco and more; in Europe – Amsterdam, Hamburg, London, Prague. Our firms are active in a variety of asset classes such as futures, equities, foreign exchange, and fixed income, and on a variety of exchanges, globally. This is key: they engage in automated, manual and hybrid methods of trade generation and execution encompassing a wide variety of strategies.

Generally our member firms do all use algorithms, like so many modern businesses today. Amazon does, to generate recommendations of what you should buy; Facebook does, to rank your friends’ status updates; Google does, to prioritize the relevance of pages to your search topic; and UPS does, to help deliver packages in the most efficient way possible. An algorithm is nothing more than a step-by-step method for doing a job.

Many different companies active in the financial market use algorithms to enter trading orders on electronic platforms. The algorithm executes pre-programmed trading instructions, making decisions based on variables including the timing, price, or quantity of the order. Algorithmic trading is widely used by investment banks, pension funds, mutual funds, and other buy-side (investor-driven) institutional traders, as well as sell-side traders, such as principal trading firms, market makers, and hedge funds.

HFT is a sub-set of algorithmic trading. It is a technique that ensures that information, orders and trades are processed quickly and efficiently. It’s characterized by low latency infrastructure and high messaging frequency. Any company that operates computerized algorithms, whether on the buy- or sell-side, might also elect to use HFT techniques for some or all of their trading.

HFT is a strategy-neutral technique. E-mail is a much faster medium than a hand-written letter, but it doesn’t imply anything about the content. Likewise, HFT can be used to facilitate many different strategies by different types of market participants. Most of the strategies conducive to the HFT medium are in fact quite simple arbitrages which could previously have been performed at lower frequency, but which now, due to evolving technology, have to be executed faster in order to be timely. For example, a basic arbitrage strategy evens out price discrepancies in a particular security trading simultaneously on different markets. This makes sure no investor pays more for a share than the markets think it’s worth.

Likewise, market makers use HFT to provide liquidity to the exchange. Market makers are in effect providing a public service to the exchange world. They provide liquidity, reduce transaction costs, and facilitate trade by standing ready to buy from anyone wanting to sell and sell to anyone wanting to buy. They don’t have an opinion on whether prices will go up or down. They simply quote both a buy and a sell price on a financial product and hope to make a profit on the difference between them (the ‘spread’).

Being a market maker is a highly complex profession. Market makers have to understand not only the products for which they make a market, but also their relationship to other financial products across many other markets. Competition and technology have changed the job of being a market maker. HFT techniques enable market makers to manage their risk by processing all publicly available information as quickly as possible and updating quotes regularly in real-time to avoid that their prices become stale. Market makers have to stick to risk controls laid down by the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) and their own risk management departments. That might mean that from time to time, they have to exit the market, for example when they’ve hit limits that prevent them from re-entering bids, or because they have to build down positions that have created too much exposure or demanded too high a margin call for the company. But as their bread and butter is providing liquidity, they post quotes again as soon as it’s safe (for both the markets and the firms) to do so.

In general, HFT has been proven by numerous academic studies to be a benefit to investors, for example through the tightening of the bid/ask spread. Since the advent of HFT, price discovery has improved, and liquidity has increased. Historically, the founders of these firms are the same “locals” who fought against the monopolistic pricing on exchanges back in the day when you had to buy a seat to be able to participate. Nowadays, they’ve formed their own firms and celebrate the more democratic market made possible by technological innovation. Their role in the markets, today, is to even out inconsistencies in the prices of a product, no matter where it’s trading. That means investors can now more or less always be assured that the prices being quoted encompass all the latest information available.

Of course, any tool can be misused by the willing. There have been instances of different types of financial companies abusing HFT techniques to facilitate manipulative strategies. Market abuse can take many forms; it can also be perpetrated by manual or low latency trading. Regardless of how market abuse is carried out, it should be punished, and EPTA firms stand behind regulatory and judicial authorities that pursue and enforce against those who damage the integrity of public markets through manipulative and disruptive trading practices.

In future blogs, we’ll explore other aspects of algorithmic trading, with the aim of shedding light on the fair & competitive investment decisions trading firms make.

The views expressed in this blog post are the personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policies or positions of the FIA European Principal Traders Association or the Futures Industry Association.





IB joins TOM

24 Mar 2014

ib-logoMajor news today in the derivatives exchange landscape. The global retail broker Interactive Brokers (IB) will connect to TOM, The Order Machine. The official press release is short on details, but suggested the market share in Dutch options would surpass the 50% for TOM.

Depending on the exact details, this could be true. If all order flow will be routed to TOM by default, there won’t be much volume left on Euronext (apart from market makers trading with each other).

No TOM Smart Order Routing

It’s important to know IB will connect directly with TOM, without using TOM’s smart order router. IB has got it’s own smart order router for the US market. Unsure if they will use their own smart routing. The main point is the fee for trading on TOM with IB. The spreads in the market are the same.

For sure it won’t be able to beat DeGiro, with 85 cent per option contract.

Interactive Brokers is a listed company, and the parent of famous market maker Timber Hill. In the Netherlands IB is present with labels of Today’s and Lynx.

Price discovery still at Euronext

Currently, the price discovery process happens fully at Euronext. This could change with this new deal. Then again, it’s too soon to draw big conclusions. The press release was short, and one of the few facts was incorrect. Tried it myself, the connection with TOM wasn’t operational on March 24. Time will tell.





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