The electronic exchange playing field is not for boy scouts. All is fair in love and war. That’s the message NYSE is sending to upstart “Investors Exchange” aka IEX, as the world’s most formidable financial market trading platform is simultaneously lobbying SEC regulators to block IEX’s application to be designated as a full blown exchange because its speed bump technology slows down important liquidity providers from the HFT world, and at the same time, ICE-controlled NYSE Group is picking the pockets and hijacking IEX’s most compelling order technology for its own use. IEX, which developed a new discretionary peg order type known as “D-Reg” and designed to deliver even sharper pricing for those executing block trades is a secret sauce that purportedly delivers a noticeable $68k in savings on a typical $1bil portfolio execution strategy. Pennies perhaps, but pennies add up when being counted by both buy-side and sell-side commission revenue bean counters. And it’s the buyside who count the most, simply because they provide the fuel that feeds the Wall Street trade execution engine.
In case you’ve been asleep for the past several years, IEX, whose brand was burnished when the firm was profiled in the HFT-slam book “Flash Boys”, is backed with nearly $100mil provided by buy-siders for this value proposition: “Unlike all other U.S. equities trading venues, IEX does not adhere to the principle of price-time priority. Instead, the IEX prioritizes orders by price, followed by broker trades, and lastly time.”
When considering the not-so-subliminal Bronx Cheer filing made recently by NYSE to SEC to promote a new application based on IEX technology, the NYSE unabashedly stated: “we want to create a new order type based on IEX technology. The new order would allow market participants “to serve their customers better, thereby protecting investors and the public interest,”
Fintech wonks might like to believe that intellectual property means something that protects proprietary innovation that others cannot infringe on, but in the regulated world of financial markets, the so-called “what is in best interests of investors” always trumps IP. The take-away message for Brad Katsuyama, the former electronic trading and sales wonk for RBC Capital Markets and brain child of IEX of the ‘altruistic’ platform backed with nearly $100 mil thanks to a group of buy-side flavored investors “All is fair in love and war when it comes to so-called intellectual property within the world of regulated financial markets.”
IEX investors include an assortment of buy-side firms, along with world-famous technology entrepreneurs and even casino magnate Steve Wynn. That said, MarketsMuse curators have a personal note for Wynn:
Dear Steve: Good news. Playing in the world of electronic stock markets is a contact sport. Get your elbow pads on.”
Gretchen Morgenson of the New York Times tells the story in detail via her 10 April NYT column here