Nasdaq and the Case of the Missing Market Data

In late April 2017, we noticed a new string of dominoes falling at the fast, automated end of the trading spectrum: With Virtu about to gobble up KCG - not to mention additional consolidations of principal trading groups like RGM Advisors (to DRW), Timber Hill (to Two Sigma) and Chopper Trading (to DRW), among others - it seemed pretty clear that one of the next dominos to fall would be in the direct-feed market data space. The question was: To what degree? (See: "Nasdaq Under Virtu Market Data Axe," April 28, 2017) And yet, when we went back to look - via updating our Nasdaq model - this picture showed up: As Paul Harvey used to say: "...And now the rest of the story..." Obviously this trajectory is the opposite of what was expected. Better yet, in a dictionary somewhere is this chart - at least, of late - next to the words, "fairly smooth sailing" or "strong growth." Over the last few years, data products (and the growth in [...]

By | 2018-03-23T18:26:37+00:00 March 22nd, 2018|Alphacution Feed|

Bulge Bank Headcount Index: Rare Uptick in Q2

It's only happened twice since the peak, recorded nearly 6 years ago (at the end of Q3 2011): Alphacution's bulge bank headcount index has recorded a rare uptick, as of the end of Q2 2017 (see Exhibit, below). Now, of course, it may be too soon to sound the trumpets that a major turn has been made for headcount in the global banking sector. The moves - in either direction - are still small. Although, who knows? Maybe the expectation of regulatory rollbacks has got bank hiring managers feeling more exuberant of late. Or, maybe - as we suggested in our prior post - that process automation, particularly among quant shops, actually requires more people is something that applies more broadly in financial services (given the push to implement more AI). One thing is for sure, most of our bulge banking tracking sample (7 of 9) is bigger in terms of headcount than they were more than 10 years ago. Only UBS and Citi are smaller, but that has been [...]

By | 2018-02-28T16:31:34+00:00 August 30th, 2017|Alphacution Feed|

Automation May Require More People

Here's  a quick jolt of provocative thought, just in case your brain - like mine - has become a little soft over these summer months: Talk of AI and various other forms of process automation have reached a fever pitch. With that phenomenon comes a flood of new intelligence - and also a heavy dose of mythology. Sometimes the difference between the two is not immediately obvious. The idea that automation has a tendency to kill jobs is one of those if-then statements that is rarely if ever questioned. In the world of trading, quantitative (aka - automated) strategies have earned a reputation for becoming incredibly successful with few employees, thereby supporting the prevailing wisdom. Well, it turns out that "quant shops" just might scale headcount relative to assets under management (AuM) differently than other managers with other trading strategies - and not in a way that is supported by prevailing wisdom... Alphacution just sent a completed draft of its first major asset manager study over to the editor. This [...]

By | 2018-03-20T16:39:30+00:00 August 24th, 2017|Alphacution Feed|