Case Studies
Case Studies2020-10-04T16:45:26-04:00

Welcome to Alphacution’s Document Library. The purpose of this repository is to showcase Alphacution’s deeper and more comprehensive research relative to the analysis found on our Feed. Note that some of the reports found here may have been commissioned by clients, excerpted and distributed by alliance partners, or developed in conjunction with our network of collaborators.

Note that these documents are available as PDFs. Depending on your browser’s behavior and Acrobat Reader Plugin availability, the PDF will display within your browser or will automatically download.

The Proprietary Traders, Part I – Global Roster and Select Rankings

In this 19-page, 15-exhibit, 2,800-word case study, “The Proprietary Traders, Part I – Global Roster and Select Rankings,” Alphacution publishes the first installment of its research series designed to explore the secretive yet influential community of nearly 100 proprietary trading firms spread across the world today, from traditional cash equities market makers to cryptocurrency market makers and liquidity providers. In Part I, Alphacution presents its global roster of proprietary trading firms – including rankings from select perspectives – set against the backdrop of its foundational market ecosystem map and illustrations of the unique importance of this community of “structural alpha’ trading firms. Subsequent installments of this research series will focus on themes like revenue estimation, financial asset rankings, strategy mix, portfolio construction parameters, competitive analyses and related topics. This and related case studies are available to premium subscribers or via individual document purchase.

By |June 13, 2022|Premium|

The Chicago Trading Company with Appendix on European Trading

In this updated 75-page, 77-exhibit chart book, “The Chicago Trading Company with Appendix on European Trading,” Alphacution continues its focus on the explosion of activity in US option markets with a deep dive into another leading option trading firm, CTC, LLC.  In this report, Alphacution leverages evolving modeling capabilities to explore its first example of a proprietary trading firm with core concentration in index options along with the peripheral suite of cash, futures and other option products used to capture volatility arbitrage opportunities. In addition, this version of the report is published with an appendix that details key aspects of the firm’s London-based affiliate, CTC London Limited. Furthermore, this research sets the stage to potentially identify (and rank) other large index option players with similar strategies where the regulatory data is not specifically disclosing exposures to index options. The complete chart book is available to premium subscribers or via individual document purchase.

By |April 27, 2022|Premium|

The Chicago Trading Company

In this 71-page, 69-exhibit chart book, “The Chicago Trading Company,” Alphacution continues its focus on the explosion of activity in US option markets with a deep dive into another leading option trading firm, CTC, LLC.  In this report, Alphacution leverages evolving modeling capabilities to explore its first example of a proprietary trading firm with core concentration in index options along with the peripheral suite of cash, futures and other option products used to capture volatility arbitrage opportunities. Furthermore, this research sets the stage to potentially identify (and rank) other large index option players with similar strategies where the regulatory data is not specifically disclosing exposures to index options. The complete chart book is available to premium subscribers or via individual document purchase.

By |March 31, 2022|Premium|

Simplex Trading, Unadjusted

In this 67-page, 64-exhibit chart book, “Simplex Trading, Unadjusted,” Alphacution borrows the spotlight from the record-setting volumes in the US options market for 2021 and focuses it in on one of the key – yet, relatively little known – players in the space, option market maker, Simplex Trading, LLC. Taking some of its recent modeling upgrades for an initial spin, Alphacution performs its unique brand of visual display on regulatory data to present what is likely to be an unprecedented review of such a secretive player like Simplex. The complete chart book is available to premium subscribers or via individual document purchase.

By |December 31, 2021|Premium|

The Robinhood Effect – Executive Summary

In this 198-page, 273-exhibit, 33,000-word case study, “The Robinhood Effect,” Alphacution brings together data and modeling from 25 entities – 11 retail brokers and 14 wholesale market makers – to explain a new phenomenon that now lives at the center of the US capital markets ecosystem. Alphacution’s most ambitious research project to date, this report covers the governing liquidity economics framework that defines PFOF rates, the mechanics of Robinhood’s aggressive retail brokerage model, the transformation of the retail brokerage industry, the sophisticated strategy architectures of wholesale market makers, and the “retail flow factors” that impact all market actors in the ecosystem – among many other themes and avenues for future research. An executive summary is available for review and download by open subscribers (w/ free registration). The complete case study is available to premium subscribers or via individual report purchase.

By |July 29, 2021|Open|

The Robinhood Effect

In this 198-page, 273-exhibit, 33,000-word case study, “The Robinhood Effect,” Alphacution brings together data and modeling from 25 entities – 11 retail brokers and 14 wholesale market makers – to explain a new phenomenon that now lives at the center of the US capital markets ecosystem. Alphacution’s most ambitious research project to date, this report covers the governing liquidity economics framework that defines PFOF rates, the mechanics of Robinhood’s aggressive retail brokerage model, the transformation of the retail brokerage industry, the sophisticated strategy architectures of wholesale market makers, and the “retail flow factors” that impact all market actors in the ecosystem – among many other themes and avenues for future research. An executive summary is available for review and download by open subscribers (w/ free registration). The complete case study is available to premium subscribers or via individual report purchase.

By |July 29, 2021|Premium|

Payment For Order Flow 2020, Part III: The Retail Flow Factor

In this 17-page, 21-exhibit presentation – Part III of Alphacution’s case study on payment for order flow (PFOF) – we present our preliminary development of the “retail flow factor” for 2020 based largely on a reconciliation of 606 data (from 10 retail brokers / 11 entities) and 605 data (from 7 wholesale market makers). The results include estimated monthly penetration of retail order flow relative to the full U.S. cash equities market for 2020 – including estimated breakdowns of odd lots and round lots – as well as some hints on where we will need to look next to further refine this factor in preparation for extending this analysis throughout 2021 and beyond…

By |June 3, 2021|Premium|

Payment For Order Flow 2020, Part II: Broker Personas

In Part I of Alphacution’s case study on payment for order flow (PFOF), we focused mainly on the rates paid by wholesale market makers to retail brokers under a full range of securities categories and order type scenarios. In this 22-page, 20-exhibit deck, Alphacution presents PART II of its upcoming comprehensive case study, The Robinhood Effect, with a focus on a concept called broker personas. Alphacution’s working hypothesis on this topic is that each retail broker – in fact, all order flow intermediaries – have a unique persona. This persona – a unique pattern formed by order type distributions – is a distillation of client trading behaviors. In this presentation, Alphacution demonstrates that broker personas are partly due to investor demographics and, more interestingly, partly due to broker influence. Furthermore, when we broaden our perspective to consider that retail brokers are now compensated for trade flows largely by their wholesaler counterparts, we see a clearer picture of how desired outcomes could be manufactured…

By |May 14, 2021|Premium|

Payment For Order Flow 2020, Part I: Rate Heatmaps

2020 will be remembered for many reasons. In the context of Alphacution’s ongoing research focus, we want to remember 2020 as the first full year of enhanced transparency into the mechanics and impacts of the long-held practice of payment for order flow (PFOF). It turns out, enhanced use of PFOF as the linchpin in a new zero-commission brokerage framework for retail investors (pioneered by Robinhood) sets a series of dominoes in motion that ultimately influence, to some degree, all stakeholders and all products in US listed markets. The question now is: To what end? In this 23-page, 20-exhibit deck, Alphacution presents PART I of its upcoming comprehensive case study, The Robinhood Effect, with a focus on order routing rate heatmaps.

By |April 27, 2021|Premium|

Rise of Hudson River Trading – Executive Summary

In this 91-page, 102-exhibit case study, “The Rise of Hudson River Trading,” Alphacution adds another leading proprietary trading firm – and recent entrant to the $1 billion+ trading revenue club (2020e) – to its library focused on the most secretive and consequential players in the global markets ecosystem. Notable highlights include the history of Sun Trading and the impacts of its acquisition by Hudson River Trading (HRT) in Q1 2018, and explorations into the firm’s European trading operations, US equity and equity option strategies, comparative analysis with select competitors, and revenue estimation, among many other details. An executive summary is available for review and download by open subscribers (w/ free registration). The complete case study is available to premium subscribers or via individual report purchase.

By |January 23, 2021|Open|

Rise of Hudson River Trading

In this 91-page, 102-exhibit case study, “The Rise of Hudson River Trading,” Alphacution adds another leading proprietary trading firm – and recent entrant to the $1 billion+ trading revenue club (2020e) – to its library focused on the most secretive and consequential players in the global markets ecosystem. Notable highlights include the history of Sun Trading and the impacts of its acquisition by Hudson River Trading (HRT) in Q1 2018, and explorations into the firm’s European trading operations, US equity and equity option strategies, comparative analysis with select competitors, and revenue estimation, among many other details. An executive summary is available for review and download by open subscribers (w/ free registration). The complete case study is available to premium subscribers or via individual report purchase.

By |January 23, 2021|Premium|

2020 IEX ARC.IO Presentation: Hiding in Plain Sight

This is the presentation given at the 2020 IEX ARC.IO virtual conference on November 19, 2020. It outlines the research vision and mission for Alphacution’s research, lists core data sources (to date), provides an overview of our asset management ecosystem thesis (including capacity of alpha), and draws specifically from notable exhibits in our comprehensive cases studies on the likes of Citadel Securities, Susquehanna International Group (SIG), Two Sigma Investments (including certain comparisons to D. E. Shaw), and Jane Street Group.

Full Title – Hiding in Plain Sight: Business and Trading Strategy Intelligence from Slow Data

By |November 19, 2020|Open|

History of Jane Street – Executive Summary

In this 125-page, 149-exhibit, 26,000-word case study, “History of Jane Street,” Alphacution sets a new bar for the scope of a case study focused one of the leading proprietary trading and market making firms in the world, with notable expansions relative to prior cases studies into regional, US option strategy, revenue estimation, and comparative analysis details (including Citadel Securities, Susquehanna International Group (SIG) and affiliates, and Two Sigma Investments and affiliates). The complete case study is available to premium subscribers or via individual report purchase.

By |May 28, 2020|Open|

History of Jane Street

In this 125-page, 149-exhibit, 26,000-word case study, “History of Jane Street,” Alphacution sets a new bar for the scope of a case study focused one of the leading proprietary trading and market making firms in the world, with notable expansions relative to prior cases studies into regional, US option strategy, revenue estimation, and comparative analysis details (including Citadel Securities, Susquehanna International Group (SIG) and affiliates, and Two Sigma Investments and affiliates). The complete case study is available to premium subscribers or via individual report purchase.

By |May 27, 2020|Premium|

Two Sigma Investments, LP and Affiliates – Executive Summary

In this 51-page, 61-exhibit case study on one of the most successful quantitative trading firms launched since the dawn of the 21st century  – Two Sigma Investments, LP – Alphacution presents the next in its series of unprecedented reports based on its modeling of many of the most mythological players and impactful themes operating within the current global asset management ecosystem. Of particular note, this report includes a groundbreaking comparative analysis of key strategy parameters between Two Sigma and D. E. Shaw, with additional analytical comparisons that include Millennium Management and Renaissance Technologies; together a grouping of the most revolutionary asset managers in the large-scale quantitative domain. The complete case study is available to premium subscribers or via individual report purchase.

By |November 24, 2019|Open|

Two Sigma Investments, LP and Affiliates

In this 51-page, 61-exhibit case study on one of the most successful quantitative trading firms launched since the dawn of the 21st century – Two Sigma Investments, LP – Alphacution presents the next in its series of unprecedented reports based on its modeling of many of the most mythological players and impactful themes operating within the current global asset management ecosystem. Of particular note, this report includes a groundbreaking comparative analysis of key strategy parameters between Two Sigma and D. E. Shaw, with additional analytical comparisons that include Millennium Management and Renaissance Technologies; together a grouping of the most revolutionary asset managers in the large-scale quantitative domain. The complete case study is available to premium subscribers or via individual report purchase.

By |November 23, 2019|Premium|

Susquehanna International Group, LLP – Executive Summary

In this 55-page, 64-exhibit case study on one of the most legendary proprietary option trading firms of all time – Susquehanna International Group, LLP – Alphacution publishes the next installment in its unprecedented Hiding in Plain Sight series that leverages an assembly of publicly-available data and a growing library of models based on some of the most impactful market participants in the global asset management ecosystem today. The complete case study is available to premium subscribers or via individual report purchase.

By |July 31, 2019|Open|

Susquehanna International Group, LLP

In this 55-page, 64-exhibit case study on one of the most legendary proprietary option trading firms of all time – Susquehanna International Group, LLP – Alphacution publishes the next installment in its unprecedented Hiding in Plain Sight series that leverages an assembly of publicly-available data and a growing library of models based on some of the most impactful market participants in the global asset management ecosystem today. The complete case study is available to premium subscribers or via individual report purchase.

By |July 30, 2019|Premium|

Deconstructing Citadel Securities – Executive Summary

In this 55-page, 45-exhibit case study on market making powerhouse, Citadel Securities, Alphacution continues to expand its unprecedented Hiding in Plain Sight series to explore the unique trading engines and business strategies of the most successful, noteworthy – and mythological – asset managers in the world by presenting its latest storyboard based an assembly of data that lies open to the public. The complete case study is available to premium subscribers or via individual report purchase.

By |March 24, 2019|Open|

Deconstructing Citadel Securities

In this 55-page, 45-exhibit case study on market making powerhouse, Citadel Securities, Alphacution continues to expand its unprecedented Hiding in Plain Sight series to explore the unique trading engines and business strategies of the most successful, noteworthy – and mythological – asset managers in the world by presenting its latest storyboard based an assembly of data that lies open to the public. The complete case study is available to premium subscribers or via individual report purchase.

By |March 23, 2019|Silver|