PFOF

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|

Robinhood: Q3 Order Routing Revenue Continues to Break Records

"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."Ralph Waldo Emerson The juggernaut that is the Robinhood commission-free trading app has accumulated some dents and bruises over the year, along with a number of truly breathtaking successes. One of the more overexposed stories in a year engorged with superlatives, system outages, a customer suicide and, most recently, the hacking of thousands of accounts has challenged Robinhood's meteoric rise along the way. Together, these headwinds have delayed Alphacution's prediction of the timing of an oncoming IPO. All that said, one aspect of the Robinhood juggernaut - certainly among the more important aspects to its key stakeholders - is persistent growth in order routing revenue; the largest component of total revenue. After two quarters of blockbuster, pandemic-fueled numbers showcasing the inner workings of Robinhood's order flow firehose, the Q3 2020 order routing figures have recently been made public. The headline is that after the second quarter's monstrous $180.3 million in payments for [...]

By |2020-11-02T22:38:42-05:00November 2nd, 2020|For Subscribers|

Citadel Securities Picks Fight With SEC Over Crystal Ball

"If you are not paying for the product, then you are the product."The Social Dilemma In a rare display of miscalculation, Citadel may have overplayed its hand... Here's the setup: According to Bloomberg, "Citadel Securities LLC has sued the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over the regulator’s approval of an order type introduced by stock-exchange operator IEX Group Inc." Approved by the SEC in August and launched on October 1, IEX's discretionary limit order type - or, "D-Limit" - is essentially a mechanism designed to protect liquidity providers from potential adverse selection by latency arbitrage strategies - otherwise known in less polite company as getting "picked off" on the basis of stale quotes. In a comment letter, dated April 23, 2020, Citadel Securities expresses its objection to IEX's proposal, in part, because it "will broadly and indiscriminately affect myriad liquidity takers, including retail and institutional investors as well as market makers in equities and related asset classes, such as ETFs, options, and futures." (Hold that thought for a minute...) Now, [...]

By |2020-10-28T23:55:05-04:00October 28th, 2020|For Subscribers|

Stranded, As Virtu Bids Farewell to Madison Tyler

“We don’t receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us.” – Marcel Proust With pandemic-era factors being historically and paradoxically hospitable for market volumes and volatility, those players that stand in closest proximity to the sources of listed liquidity have experienced an unexpected windfall so far in 2020. Today, with market making revenue for the past two consecutive quarters at all-time highs and seeming to bend a long-term downward trend in a new upward direction, VIRT stock found its own all-time high… For the remainder of this story, we need to refresh your perspective with a little context: Founded in 2008, Virtu is the youngest of a dozen leading proprietary trading and market making firms in the world: What is most unique about Virtu, however, in the context of this group is that it has grown primarily by acquiring other people’s trading strategies – typically by outright acquisition of other companies – from the beginning. By comparison, all the others on this roster have [...]

By |2020-10-02T16:02:53-04:00September 9th, 2020|For Subscribers|

ETF War Games

“Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses – especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.” – Leonardo da Vinci Market making in individual stocks has become so competitive that most hyperactive strategies – the ones that reside in Alphacution’s structural alpha zone – have turned to increasingly rely on some form of ETF arbitrage. This competitive dynamic is exacerbated by factors such as liquidity fragmentation, liquidity internalization, payments for order flow (PFOF), and the winner-take-all impacts of process automation (aka – scaling via technology). For those proprietary trading firms with few, if any, options positions in their portfolio, cash ETF position concentrations (based on total 13F position counts) are represented as follows: When we isolate the leading order flow wholesalers and consider aggregate cash ETF positions as a percentage of 13F gross value, one of the clues that rises to the surface (in concert with the findings in the prior chart) is the prominence G1 Execution Services (G1X), a unit of legendary derivatives powerhouse, Susquehanna [...]

By |2020-10-02T15:50:55-04:00September 2nd, 2020|For Subscribers|

Daily Average Fugazi’s: Robinhood Postures for IPO

“Name of the game? Move the money from your client’s pocket into your pocket. Number one rule of Wall Street: Nobody knows if the stock is going up, down, sideways or in … circles. It’s all a fugazi…“ – Mr. Hanna, Wolf of Wall Street On Monday, August 10 at exactly 11am EDT (you know, after the opening bell was safely in the rearview mirror), Robinhood Markets, Inc. – the anti-incumbency insurgent trading app platform and self-proclaimed democratizer of all things financial – set out to dominate the week’s financial news cycle by enticing media powerhouse, Bloomberg, to drop a news bomb into an ecosystem already negligently over-stimulated on the topic: “Robinhood Blows Past Rivals in Record Retail Trading Year.“ One piece of data was exclusively revealed to Bloomberg at the center of this story: 4.31 million daily average revenue trades – commonly known as DARTs (and generally defined as customer orders executed divided by trading days) – were recorded in June with the additional explanation that “the firm is revealing the data for the first time, [...]

By |2020-10-02T15:34:20-04:00August 13th, 2020|For Subscribers|

Alphacution Joins the eXponential Finance Podcast – S2E1

Alphacution Director of Research, Paul Rowady, joins eXponential Finance Podcast host and Tokyo FinTech founder, Norbert Gehrke, for a spirited – if not, highly-caffeinated – and entertaining discussion covering a wide range of Alphacution’s most illuminating research themes, from the genesis of its trading and asset management ecosystem map to the concept of alpha capacity to the implications of the current commission-free trading landscape and, of course, the riveting Robinhood phenomenon. Enjoy…

By |2020-10-14T22:00:30-04:00August 11th, 2020|Podcasts|

Q2 PFOF Craziness: Robinhood Becomes Parody of E*Trade Commercial, Competes with TikTok for Attention…

“There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as the result of voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion, or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved.” – Ludwig von Mises, economist Someday, sufficiently far into the future, when we have somehow broken free of the illusion, we are going to look back on this chapter in world history and wonder how we had entered into such a collective state of insanity in parallel with such profound technological advancement… The Fed has all but said that it will prevent markets from declining (and plug whatever economic holes it needs to plug and lubricate whatever financial gears it needs to lubricate), no matter how much money it needs to print, debts and deficits be damned. This is not a characteristic of free markets, nor is it a feature of a capitalist system… And so, as if gleefully hurling itself from a trampoline [...]

By |2020-10-02T15:23:24-04:00August 6th, 2020|For Subscribers|

TD Ameritrade’s Q2 Update: To Infinity or Oblivion?

"Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in." - Michael Corleone, The Godfather: Part III   Chicken or egg? For today's story, we know which one came first. However, we may never know for sure which one was the more prominent cause of the recent sustained spike in US stock volumes: A frictionless environment brought on by a zero-commission framework or a high-volatility market brought on by a once-in-a-century global pandemic? Granted, there may be additional factors at play here. Like the gamification of market interfaces as substitution for a sports apocalypse. People need something to do. And, when confined for extended periods, they will naturally choose paths of least resistance, especially those that entertain, are addictive and tickle financial desires... This is what one of those paths looks like; notably since March 2020: Now, I made a point last week, in "Robinhood's Trailing Stop Orders: Extreme Profitability, By Design," to say that we would try to avoid seeming redundant in our topical choices, at least [...]

By |2020-08-17T07:14:01-04:00July 23rd, 2020|For Subscribers|