Alphacution provides numbers, pictures and rationale for "price improvement" - in the context of captive retail order flow - having an indelible function that is different than what you have been told by those who traffic in it...
It has been almost exactly 2 years since "Jack" - the mastermind behind the Amsterdamtrader blog that chronicled a ton of insider's knowledge about the high-frequency trading and market making world from about 2009 thru 2016 - posted his closing submission. Despite that, I still wanted to pause for a minute to give props where they are due. The contents of the Amsterdamtrader still sit out there in the blogosphere, open for any particular puzzle solver to stumble onto. It was here that I found several missing pieces to Alphacution's modeling puzzle belonging to Optiver and IMC. Here's a first sample (or two) of what has come of that discovery: Alphacution typically looks through a technology lens to see how various players operate around the global financial landscape - and what those findings may foreshadow for other players in neighboring regions of the ecosystem. Often labeled "technical leverage," we are quantifying - wherever possible - the impacts of technology in and around the trading and investment management arena. In practice, [...]
When we launched our first trading program at Quantlab in the late 90's, we didn't have direct market access yet. We generated an order list (overnight) that was worked throughout the subsequent market session at the discretion of an algo-equipped executing broker; some of whom now roam the halls at Jefferies / Leucadia. This was the era when 1- to 3-day portfolio turnover was considered fast - SOES bandits were still a thing - and Schwab would soon acquire electronic trading pioneer, CyBerCorp, from Philip Berber - a short drive down the road from our Houston headquarters in Austin, TX. Of course, everyone had nicknames then - as I suspect they still do now. Ed Bosarge, founder of what eventually became Quantlab (after at least 3 prior related incarnations that began for me around 1996), was known as Dr. Evil. Let's just say it's a hair-raising story about a swashbuckling pioneer of applied math involving a hideous toupee... I was known as Mr. Bigglesworth - or, "Bigsy" for short. No [...]
If you read Part 1 to this post (from December 15, 2016) then you know that at least as of the end of 2015, financial reports from HFT bellwether Virtu Financial illustrated strong and even increasing profitability. Our surprise from these impressive figures came from the countervailing hypothesis that HFT was already well past its prime (given the evidence of prop shop closings and consolidations over the past 5 years or so). Apparently, Virtu didn’t get that memo. However, upon closer inspection of the most recent quarterly reports – which as of now yields details over 11 quarters starting in calendar Q1 2014 (March) and ending in calendar Q3 2016 (September) – even this bellwether may have seen its best days. Exhibit 1 (below) is one perspective of what this recent turn of fortune looks like: Some translation: After spiking in Q4-2014 and peaking in Q1-2015 at an annualized (adjusted net trading) revenue per employee (RPE) of over $4.1 million, trading revenue as of the end of Q3-2016 has returned to somewhat less [...]