technical leverage

#Algorithm: Benchmarking the Cost of Post-Trade Processing

Patterns...  Preferably, persistent and predictable patterns...  It could be said that history is influenced by a series of pattern discoveries whereby new patterns are discovered with new tools, new technologies or new methodologies. Discovery always starts with variance of perspective, like a new pair of eyes.  And, that kind of trick never gets old - even during an era of hyper-intensive innovation. So, with that bit of philosophy as our backdrop, we arrive at today's lesson:  Alphacution discovered a persistent relationship between assets and headcount for asset managers, which led to new insights about strategy selections, technology spending, and workflow automation among a broad community of asset managers, hedge funds and others. This analysis was presented in its initial asset manager technology spending study, the Context Machine (April 2018). Upon further analysis, it turns out that there is also a persistent relationship between assets and headcount for asset servicers, like custodians and administrators. The significance of this discovery represents the beginnings of our ability to benchmark asset servicing costs and [...]

By | 2018-09-09T22:58:36+00:00 September 9th, 2018|Alphacution Feed|

Riffs Ep 4 – What Do Hedge Fund Managers Spend on Technology?

Set aside some time to watch Alphacution Riffs Ep 4 wherein we walk through the foundational hypothesis; key highlights; an extraordinary case study involving Citadel, Millennium Management, Point72 and Vanguard (teaser); and, the strategy behind the release of our latest - and, most impactful - study to date, "The Context Machine: Estimating Asset Manager Technology Spending" (April 2018). And, for those of you with a slightly longer attention span, stick around for another "public service announcement" at the end of this one (starting around 11:17) - as we did in the Director's Cut for  Ep 3 - Proprietary Trading, Extreme Automation. The urge to provide value to the human capital component (i.e. - you, me, and everyone in our audience and beyond) - which is actually coming to life as a direct result of our technology focus - seems to be gaining momentum... Enjoy... And, as always, if you value this work: Like it, share it, comment on it - or discuss amongst yourselves -  and then send us feedback@alphacution.com. [...]

By | 2018-04-18T00:22:11+00:00 April 17th, 2018|Alphacution Feed, Video|

Alphacution Riffs Ep 2 – Measuring the Pace of Automation

Episode 2 of our new video series, Alphacution Riffs, picks up where Episode 1 left off - and begins to describe our research mission, modeling methodology and research workflow. We also begin to lay the foundation for our "T-Greeks" benchmarking framework that focuses on measuring and comparing "return on technology" (RoT) - otherwise known as "technical leverage" - for banks and asset managers. Here, we describe how much of our core research effort is currently built on the basis of just 3 simple data points collected for a model library that currently represents 200 large banks, asset managers, hedge funds, and even certain proprietary trading groups, among others - more than 250+ FSI-related companies in all - and how each of those models covers several years, with many of our core models beginning in 2005. With these 3 data points and our 360-degree modeling strategy, we can move beyond the benefits of various market-sizing exercises to more impactful benchmarking exercises. This tutorial is important for our clients and broader network [...]

By | 2018-04-25T22:01:21+00:00 March 28th, 2018|Alphacution Feed, Video|

Virtu Financial: More Acquisitions on the Way, If…

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 [...]

By | 2018-10-31T16:48:33+00:00 March 27th, 2018|Alphacution Feed|

Alphacution Riffs Ep 1 – Technology Strategy is Business Strategy

Alphacution is proud to launch its video series, Alphacution Riffs.  Not only bringing our clients new levels of intelligence - by quantifying and modeling and benchmarking the critical interplay between technology capital and human capital - for their digital transformations, we are "eating at our own kitchen" by leveraging tools and methods of the era to help make our research - and seemingly complex topics - much easier to understand. The digital media landscape is a jungle - and we are not trying to compete in a popularity contest. However, in order to be successful, we do need to consistently identify our best audience and then consistently grab a slice of their attention. Therefore, if you find the visual interpretation of what we are doing with traditionally dry and sometimes in-the-weeds research - like the website stylings and now the video series with its combined Rock n' Roll and Silicon Valley sensibility - to be a bit different, please know that it is entirely on purpose. Sure, it would be [...]

By | 2018-04-21T15:10:30+00:00 March 14th, 2018|Alphacution Feed, Video|

Context Machine: Introducing a Techno-Operational Benchmarking Framework for Asset Managers

Executive Summary Riding the wave of the FinTech juggernaut, technology now permeates all aspects of the financial services ecosystem; front-to-back, top-to-bottom and across the entire business segment spectrum. Any lingering gaps between technology strategy and business strategy are closing; making them indistinguishable from one another. And yet, for all the promise of the revolutions in artificial intelligence, cloud and big data, such attempts are met with unforgiving challenges. Most players in this ecosystem are still using dulled intelligence tools to navigate this rapidly changing and increasingly techno-centric landscape. Finding balance between the primary engines of productivity - information technology and human capital - continues to be conducted like a game of Marco Polo. Operational alpha - a kissing cousin of terms like digital transformation and process re-engineering - is a growing theme among the pantheon of new vernacular in this space that seeks to illuminate such challenges. However, despite its descriptive elegance, operational alpha remains an emerging and elusive concept. In the midst of an evolving supply chain, solution providers [...]

By | 2018-05-25T22:47:20+00:00 October 31st, 2017|Alphacution Feed|

Man or Machine: Who Are The Real Trading Champions?

Despite dramatic changes to the fortunes of quantitative trading strategies of late, they still represent the extremes of "technology leverage" in the global markets ecosystem. This means that due to a high level of workflow automation, these types of firms generate more output - as measured by revenue per employee (RPE) - than any others in the industry. Or, so we thought... In the context of its broader research mission, Alphacution has been focused - perhaps even a little obsessed - on modeling, measuring and benchmarking the interplay between the two primary engines of productivity within the global financial services ecosystem: technology capital and human capital. The value of this research - something we call "navigational intelligence" - is to help technology buyers understand where they fit amongst the constellation of peers and competitors, and for solution sellers to understand the needs and spending patterns of their clients. Until recently, high frequency trading and market-making operations - like those found at Virtu Financial and its newly acquired KCG Holdings - [...]

By | 2018-02-28T16:31:28+00:00 September 20th, 2017|Alphacution Feed|

Technical Leverage in Context

Alphacution defines technical leverage as the difference between revenue per employee (RPE) and technology spending per employee. In the parlance of our T-Greeks benchmarking framework, this difference is also known as T-Spread. I stumbled over the chart below - 50 companies in the S&P 500 with the highest RPE rankings for 2016 - recently and thought it would be notable to add to the knowledgebase. Since our modeling and analysis currently focuses exclusively on companies related to the financial services sector, much of what we find in this exhibit provides illuminating context. Source: Craft Clearly, energy and healthcare companies dominate the RPE metric, with 3 companies producing astonishing RPE levels greater than $5 million. Only 3 companies from the Financials sector (2 insurance - Aflac, XL Group; and, 1 exchange - CME Group) make this list. From our own modeling, the highest RPE we have found to date is Virtu Financial - a high-frequency trading firm - with a 2016 RPE of $2.8 million. Among the world's major banking groups, Goldman Sachs [...]

By | 2018-02-28T16:31:53+00:00 June 20th, 2017|Alphacution Feed|

Deconstructing Hewlett Packard: More Clues to Indigenous Productivity

Remember the game show, Name That Tune? (Look it up...) What if I told you that the basic rubric from that game show - naming a song in fewer notes than your opponent - was useful for predicting all kinds facts about trading and other financial businesses. Tell me your trading strategy and AUM, I can tell you how many employees you have. You are an investment bank with 30,000 employees, I can guess your total technology budget. The list of triangulations like this are actually quite long... Seem strange? Here's some insight: As many of you know, Alphacution is studying the engines of productivity for the full spectrum of financial services firms - and many of their supply chain counterparts - by measuring, modeling and analyzing technology spending patterns and other operational data. Though still relatively early in the game, this research mission has already given birth to a standardized benchmarking framework - "T-Greeks" - that allows us to quantify consensus behaviors within a community of similar entities and determine who is leading or [...]

By | 2018-02-28T16:32:26+00:00 May 16th, 2017|Alphacution Feed|

Nasdaq: Under Virtu Market Data Axe

A quick math assignment: @Nasdaq earned $540 million in information services (aka - #marketdata) revenue in 2016, up 5.5% over 2015 (and, not to put to fine a point on it, but this growth is slowing as 2015 v. 2014  was +8.2%). @KCGHQ spent $148 million on communications and data processing in 2016. @VirtuFinancial is on its way to acquiring KCG - and is on record with a strategy to ultimately consolidate both operations onto a single, unified trading platform. No doubt, this is not lip service. What is the impact on Nasdaq - and other exchanges - whose revenue growth has become so dependent on market data sales? If you are ambitious, here's some additional intelligence that you could use in the analysis: (We have more in the can if you need it.) BTW, you have to guess that all #HFT leaders have really spiffy axes, no?

By | 2018-02-28T16:32:34+00:00 April 28th, 2017|Alphacution Feed|