In this introduction to the 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…
Alphacution contributor, Stanislav Dolgopolov, provides a detailed review of potential regulatory issues - including payment for order flow (PFOF), the multiplicity of roles of off-exchange market makers, and their informational advantages, among others - that may receive new scrutiny in the aftermath of the GameStop congressional hearings.
There are many ways to rank prop firms and market makers, given the right data. However, depending on the market or the metric used, rankings will differ. Outside of our case studies, here are some figures we've never shared on the Feed, and the implications are likely to be quite consequential for the road ahead...
“Nothing vast enters the life of mortals without a curse.” – Sophocles With a geyser of attention-snatching news as our normal daily backdrop, one could easily be forgiven for missing a signal from a collection of recent market structure clues. Individually, most of these have been on the radar of those that follow capital markets closely. And then there are others that are much deeper down in the weeds. Taken together, however, they paint of picture of increasing levels of market complexity coupled with increasing dependencies on fewer dominant players. Here’s the evidence: By now, most of you know that the launch of Long-Term Stock Exchange (LTSE), the launch of Members Exchange (MEMX), and the launch of MIAX Pearl equities exchange – all of which going live this month – bring the total number of US equities exchanges to 16. Now, considering that 33 alternative trading systems (ATSs) and at least another 12 internalizing broker-dealers (including wholesale market makers, single dealer platforms (SDPs) and central risk books) executed trades in NMS (national market system) stocks in 2019, US equity market fragmentation continues to [...]
"The Adviser integrates information, computing power and human skill to attempt to systematically extract alpha." - Two Sigma Advisors, LP brochure On October 17, 2019, Bloomberg reports that "HSBC Considers Equity Pullback in London, New York, Germany." We used this as a catalyst to add to our ongoing bank-owned broker-dealer modeling. Here's a review of Alphacution's prior analysis in this space: Alphacution has begun to assemble a composite model on bank-owned broker-dealer operations. Before now, we have conducted the first phase of modeling for: Goldman Sachs & Co. Morgan Stanley & Co. Deutsche Bank Securities, Inc. UBS Securities, LLC Credit Suisse Securities (USA), LLC J. P. Morgan Securities, LLC - formerly known as Bear Stearns & Co. Among the notable players remaining, we still need to add Bank America / Merrill, Citigroup, Barclays, BNP Paribas and likely Nomura, too. In time, we could expand further from there... However, given this latest news referenced at the opening, we now add SocGen's and HSBC's broker-dealer arms, SG Americas Securities, LLC and HSBC [...]
No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it. - Albert Einstein On October 4, news broke on all the major market news outlets that - after feasting on a meal formerly known as KCG Holdings, Inc. (KCG) in 2017, which itself was a combo platter made up of GETCO and Knight Capital - Virtu Financial, Inc. (Virtu) was returning to the all-you-can-eat buffet to consider the total consumption of multinational agency brokerage and financial markets technology firm, Investment Technology Group, Inc. (ITG). Of course, this news generated a chuckle around here because it seemed that it was not too long ago that someone was predicting that this kind of pairing would make sense for Virtu - if conditions were such that they needed to bolt something else onto their expanded frame. Oh, wait a sec, that was us... To wit, from Alphacution's post "Virtu Financial: More Acquisitions on the Way, If..." (March 27, 2018): "One other notable move for significant growth for a firm [...]
With volatility spiking in Q1 of 2018 - and the successful porting of KCG's intellectual property (IP) prior to that in late 2017 - VIRT earned a welcomed reprieve from the conditions of recent quarters, as we predicted here (and elsewhere prior to that). In the exhibit below, Alphacution's as-if modeling of the combined entity - Virtu + KCG pre-Q3 2017 - yields a level of net trading income that would not have been seen since Q1-2016. Meanwhile, Alphacution's tracking of adjusted net trading income per employee - a proxy for our common look at revenue per employee (RPE) - starkly illustrates the path through the most recent maneuvers: Persistent declines in top line "productivity" since its most recent peak in early 2015 ultimately led to the acquisition of KCG, which closed in July 2017. Swift transfer of KCG's IP onto Virtu's infrastructure along with elimination of redundant technology and human capital allowed this productivity measure to bounce off its lows in Q3 2017 to finish the year as strongly [...]