About Paul Rowady

Paul Rowady is the Director of Research for Alphacution Research Conservatory, a research and strategic advisory platform uniquely focused on modeling and benchmarking the impacts of technology on global financial markets and the businesses of trading, asset management and banking. He is a 30-year veteran of the proprietary, quantitative and derivatives trading arenas. Contact:; Follow: @alphacution.

Hudson River Trading vs. Tower Research Capital: Lessons in Strategy Geometry – Part I

"Nature uses only the longest threads to weave her patterns, so that each small piece of her fabric reveals the organization of the entire tapestry."Richard Feynman As a brief prelude to our upcoming case study on Hudson River Trading (HRT), I wanted to tease with some unusual findings: Alphacution has occasionally toyed with understanding the "shape" made by a simple ranking of 13F positions by value, particularly for a selection of leading market making and other proprietary trading firms; typically those with high 13F position counts. Because of the preponderance of portfolio hedging or just because of high position value concentration in the top positions, the common "L" shape yielded no obvious insight. (As reference, we demonstrated this finding early on (in 2018) in our Feed post, "Goldman Sachs' Book: Hiding in Plain Sight.") However, shifting to a log scale ranking created a more interesting shape even though our analysis remains incomplete and interpretations remain elusive. To date, we know that the slope at the beginning of the curve often [...]

By |2021-01-01T18:18:17-05:00December 11th, 2020|For Subscribers|

Walleye Trading’s Book: Hiding in Plain Sight

“There is an old saying: If you want to hide the treasure, put it in plain sight. Then no one will see it.”Larry Dossey By now, avid readers of Alphacution know the joke: We have taken that which had previously been hiding in plain sight about the most secretive and mysterious players in the world of trading, and shed some light on them. Hence, today's title image metaphor is a well lit and colorful chameleon set against a black background. While much more in this zone of the ecosystem is no longer hiding from us, there are many fascinating discoveries yet to be made... Related to this idea, there's a super-cycle of research and development going on in the background at Alphacution, much of it currently about option markets. At the risk of redundancy, the options markets - in particular, those with skills for trading in option and other derivatives markets - hold a special key to the evolution of listed markets, and those who are most likely to remain [...]

By |2020-12-10T23:41:08-05:00December 10th, 2020|For Subscribers|

Susquehanna Securities and the Hidden Stat Arb Strategy

"The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.."Plutarch The comment has been made here before, likely more than once: As we go along the path of our research, our ability to see - to interpret the data, and the shapes that are formed from that data - tends to improve. This is not only true of newer shapes forged from amalgamations of newer data - and additional sources - but of older shapes, as well. Recently, I stumbled over a series of charts first published in July 2019 in the Feed post, "Ranking Strategy Speed for Top Quants, Market Makers," which remains among our more fascinating discoveries. Therein, we compared average stock position sizing for a list of notable trading and hedge fund firms, from Renaissance Technologies (RenTech), D. E. Shaw, and Two Sigma to Jane Street, Hudson River Trading (HRT), and Tower Research Capital (TRC). Citadel Securities and Susquehanna Securities were in the mix, as well. The rankings were roughly delineated between [...]

By |2020-12-11T15:57:24-05:00December 1st, 2020|For Subscribers|

HAP Trading’s Book: Hiding in Plain Sight

"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change, that lives within the means available and works cooperatively against common threats."Charles Darwin Consider that the capital markets are like an evolving ecosystem wherein the players - from market makers to hedge funds to the largest asset managers, among others - are like various species of creature. Depending on environment conditions and levels of adaptability, some species thrive and some don't... On the extinction front, just today Bloomberg reported that York Capital Management's founder, Jamie Dinan, announced that he would be existing the firm's hedge fund strategies thus joining other high-profile hedge fund exits for the year, including John Paulson of Paulson & Co and Louis Bacon of Moore Capital Management and a growing list of legends and luminaries who have already retreated from the hedge fund business. In parallel, this event strengthens Alphacution's core thesis about the finite capacity of alpha, the [...]

By |2020-12-03T20:38:56-05:00November 24th, 2020|For Subscribers|

#TBM – Yellen and Me: The Catalyst Behind the Rate Decision

In light of current events, we bring this one back from the Alphacution archives. Welcome to - uh - Throwback Monday? < This is a test. This station is conducting a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. This is only a test.> I had been in this room before. It was the early post-Dodd Frank days. Maybe February 2012. I had authored a study on the impacts of new regulations on collateral and initial margin requirements for OTC derivatives (OTCDs). The study had been commissioned and was being promoted by the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE). Largely as a result of my global initial margin estimate of US$ 2 trillion for OTCDs, it had made a big splash. On the back of this, the event invites and media came knocking. My friend, John McPartland – “McP” to those who knew him longer than 15 minutes – invited me to present at a monthly luncheon for Chicago financial muckety-mucks. Now, it was good to be back. For this night’s event - [...]

By |2021-01-04T15:40:48-05:00November 23rd, 2020|Open|

The Plot Thickens: IEX Intervenes in Citadel Securities v. SEC

"It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important."Sherlock Holmes For those of you who prefer the Cumberbatch version of Holmes - or anything else you might want to get off your chest - feel free to take your leave to intervene at For the rest of you, this is a quickie to highlight the fact that (on Friday the 13th) IEX has taken its own leave to intervene in Citadel Securities v. SEC in defense of its newly approved discretionary limit order, "D-Limit," which is further based on its crumbling quote indicator (CQI). We had a little more to say in the recent Feed post, "Citadel Securities Picks Fight With SEC Over Crystal Ball," around preserving the value of a peek at the future... The meat of the matter from the court filing - pages 1 thru 9 of 16 - is posted below. We may not know much more until April 2021 when the proposed joint briefing schedule has [...]

By |2020-12-03T21:04:24-05:00November 16th, 2020|For Subscribers|

Alphacution Press: Crain’s Chicago Business on the Surge in Option Trading

"Stock options trading has skyrocketed 31 percent this year to an annual record, lifting the fortunes of the firms in Chicago that specialize in them."Crain's Chicago Business reporter, Lynne Marek Alphacution contributes analysis to the Crain's Chicago Business story on how local firms have pocketed profits and expanded operations in a record boom after several tough years in "It's a great time to be an options trader" with mentions of Chicago-based firms, all of which Alphacution has touched upon (or more) here on the Feed, including Citadel Securities, Wolverine Trading, Old Mission Capital, Simplex Investments, Dash Financial Technologies, Chicago Trading Company (CTC) and Akuna Capital. Recent related analysis on option markets in Alphacution Feed posts include: Pennies and Locomotives: Hypothesis for Virtu's Next AcquisitionSummary: 2020 Order Routing Revenue Expected to Exceed $2 BillionOptions Powerhouse IMC Financial Markets: Stung by Pandemic Volatility?Simplex Trading: Against the Odds Runaway Concentration Risks in US Option Markets

By |2020-12-03T21:33:16-05:00November 14th, 2020|Press|

Pennies and Locomotives: Hypothesis for Virtu’s Next Acquisition

"Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking."John Maynard Keynes Back in the day, we called it picking up pennies in front of locomotives. Today, that locomotive is one nasty beast... Virtu is having a banner year in 2020, with 9-month net trading income (NTI) at an all-time high of nearly $2 billion. Virtu also appears to be well-positioned to benefit from periods of heightened volatility and volume in its core US cash equity strategy going forward. In other words, there is no specific need for Virtu to do anything dramatic. So, our hypothesis here is this: If there was a dramatic move to be made by Virtu that would cause a material uptick in growth potential, what could it be? Note: If you haven't already done so, our recent Feed post, "Trading Strategy Secrets: Hiding in Plain Sight" is worth reading as a detailed setup for this post... Right out of the gate it needs to be said that we [...]

By |2020-12-03T20:42:28-05:00November 13th, 2020|For Subscribers|

Trading Strategy Secrets: Hiding in Plain Sight

"Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom."Viktor Frankl Alphacution's exploration to tease insight from the available data - to make the data dance - continues to expand. Sometimes this is due to weaving a new and unfamiliar data source. And, sometimes it's due to seeing something entirely new in a familiar dataset. A challenge in the process is the growing sense that we can never quite tell all the fascinating nuggets of the stories we discover. Be that as it may, the fact that data can be electrified to dance about the most consequential and mythological players in the capital markets ecosystem after they have expended so much energy to remain secretive makes this journey that much more thrilling. What follows here is a concentrated example of our expanding capabilities... Today's story takes advantage of Virtu Financial's latest Q3 2020 earnings-related data dump. Virtu is a regular topic on the [...]

By |2020-11-17T18:09:30-05:00November 11th, 2020|For Subscribers|

Summary: 2020 Order Routing Revenue Expected to Exceed $2 Billion

"The opportunities that everyone cannot see are the real opportunities."Jack Ma When counting the top four retail brokerage platforms engaged in payments for order flow - including Robinhood, TD Ameritrade (along with TD Ameritrade Clearing - both of which currently in the process of being acquired by Charles Schwab), E*Trade (now a unit of Morgan Stanley), and Charles Schwab - Alphacution estimates YTD order routing revenue for 2020 thru the third quarter is nearly $1.8 billion. Of these main players, only Robinhood grew its order routing revenue for Q3 to $194.5 billion from $180.3 billion in Q2. Among the other major headlines are these: By wholesale broker, Citadel Securities leads; paying $711.9 million (or, 40.3% of total) for combined stock and option order flow thru Q3 2020;By retail broker, TD Ameritrade (including TD Ameritrade Clearing) leads; receiving $825.2 million (or, 46.7% of total) in combined stock and option order routing revenue thru Q3 2020;By product segment, payments for options order flow led at over $1.0 billion (or, 59,1% of total) [...]

By |2020-11-09T22:23:10-05:00November 9th, 2020|For Subscribers|