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wwII-ww2-D-Day-June-6-1944

Remembering D-Day, June 6, 1944

We pay tribute to all WWII Veterans, those who landed on the beaches of Normandy, France to repel Nazi Germany’s forces and those who made the ultimate sacrifice on D-Day, June 6, 1944, to defend the values that we hold so dear.

MarketsMuse Curators extend a warm salute to Mischler Financial Group, the industry’s oldest investment bank owned and operated by Service-Disabled Veterans for providing additional color to this post.

The Normandy landings were the landing operations on Tuesday, 6 June 1944 of the Allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overlord during World War II. Codenamed Operation Neptune and often referred to as D-Day, it was the largest seaborne invasion in history. The operation began the liberation of German-occupied France (and later western Europe) from Nazi control, and laid the foundations of the Allied victory on the Western Front.

Planning for the operation began in 1943. In the months leading up to the invasion, the Allies conducted a substantial military deception, codenamed Operation Bodyguard, to mislead the Germans as to the date and location of the main Allied landings. The weather on D-Day was far from ideal and the operation had to be delayed 24 hours; a further postponement would have meant a delay of at least two weeks as the invasion planners had requirements for the phase of the moon, the tides, and the time of day that meant only a few days each month were deemed suitable. Adolf Hitler placed German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in command of German forces and of developing fortifications along the Atlantic Wall in anticipation of an Allied invasion.

The amphibious landings were preceded by extensive aerial and naval bombardment and an airborne assault—the landing of 24,000 US, British, and Canadian airborne troops shortly after midnight. Allied infantry and armored divisions began landing on the coast of France at 06:30. The target 50-mile (80 km) stretch of the Normandy coast was divided into five sectors: Utah, OmahaGoldJuno, and Sword. Strong winds blew the landing craft east of their intended positions, particularly at Utah and Omaha. The men landed under heavy fire from gun emplacements overlooking the beaches, and the shore was mined and covered with obstacles such as wooden stakes, metal tripods, and barbed wire, making the work of the beach-clearing teams difficult and dangerous. Casualties were heaviest at Omaha, with its high cliffs. At Gold, Juno, and Sword, several fortified towns were cleared in house-to-house fighting, and two major gun emplacements at Gold were disabled using specialized tanks.

The Allies failed to achieve any of their goals on the first day. CarentanSt. Lô, and Bayeux remained in German hands, and Caen, a major objective, was not captured until 21 July. Only two of the beaches (Juno and Gold) were linked on the first day, and all five beachheads were not connected until 12 June; however, the operation gained a foothold which the Allies gradually expanded over the coming months. German casualties on D-Day have been estimated at 4,000 to 9,000 men. Allied casualties were at least 10,000, with 4,414 confirmed dead.

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Quant-Centric ETF Market-Maker Jane Street Adds Corporate Bond Axe

Jane Street Capital, the quant-centric proprietary trading firm best known for its dominant role in the ETF marketplace–including its role as a liquidity provider for stocks and options as well as exchange-traded funds to buy-side accounts– has a new arrow in its quiver; making markets in corporate bonds.  The firm disclosed that it is lifted its anonymous veil and is now a ‘disclosed dealer’ on electronic bond trading platform MarketAxess (NASDAQ: MKTX).

jane-street-capitalShall we guess whether the 6-pack banks and their first cousins–the industry’s legacy source of liquidity to buy-side managers navigating the corporate bond market landscape are (i) happy to have a new competitor, (ii) happy not to have to make markets and tie up balance sheets with inventory of hard-to-move corporate bonds or (iii) f–king pissed that tech-focused prop trading firms are now invading a secondary market product area that banks have viewed as their exclusive territory since time began?  Jay Berkman, a ‘bond-tech’ pioneer given his co-founding role of BondNet, the corporate bond markets’ first electronic exchange platform when it launched in 1995 (and later acquired by BNY) answered the MarketsMuse editor’s question with: “Is that a rhetorical question?!”

As noted by WSJ reporter, Matt Wirz, investment banks and brokerages are the main go-betweens for money managers looking to buy and sell corporate bonds, about $25 billion of which trade daily in the U.S. Now, Jane Street Capital LLC, has begun offering the same service to investment firms on electronic trading platform MarketAxess and has recruited about 60 clients, people familiar with the matter said.

The move puts Jane Street in direct competition with traditional dealers like Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. It also shows how bond markets are being transformed by electronic and algorithmic trading, innovations that swept stock and currency markets more than a decade ago.

Jane Street’s headquarters are a five-minute walk from Wall Street, but in some ways the firm is more akin to a Silicon Valley startup than an investment bank. “They have a different approach—there’s not a lot of sales and a lot of technology,” says Mike Nappi, a bond trader for mutual-fund manager Eaton Vance Corp. who has bought and sold bonds through Jane Street. “That’s different from a traditional bank where they have a lot of sales and the technology is more like Microsoft Excel.”

By joining those ranks, Jane Street aims to get recognition from asset managers for the balance sheet it uses to buy and sell with them, ultimately boosting the amount they trade with the firm, said Matt Berger, the firm’s head of fixed income and commodities trading. Jane Street trades about $550 million worth of corporate bonds in the U.S. every day, he said. This amounts to about 2% of the overall market, five times more than the firm traded two years ago.

That expansion would have been impossible without the recent spread of electronic bond trading.

Technology-driven trading firms like Jane Street and Virtu Financial LLC emerged after stock exchanges electronified in the 1990s, connecting  buyers and sellers through computers and reducing trading times to fractions of a second. The firms’ computer scientists built programs to cull market data and identify profitable trades that humans missed. Now, quantitative trading firms dominate the stock market.

Electronic trading has been slower to catch on in debt markets because bonds typically trade over-the-counter rather than on centralized exchanges. That has begun to change over the past five years as banks and money managers turn to electronic trading and data analysis to trim costs and to connect to more trading partners. Electronic trading platforms like MarketAxess have given Jane Street and other quantitative investors venues to apply the technology they used in other markets.

MarketAxess accounted for about 18% of all U.S. investment-grade bond trading last year, up from 12% in 2014, according to data from the company.

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Jane Street, founded by four partners including Michael Jenkins and Robert Granieri, now has about 50 bond salespeople and traders. Recruiting materials tout chess facilities, office gyms, math puzzle contests.

The firm trades less debt overall than most banks, which still employ hundreds of human sales and trading staff. But when it comes to its inventory of corporate bonds, “we are on par with the banks,” Mr. Berger said.

Jane Street hold bonds on its balance sheet for days or weeks to facilitate so-called portfolio trades of bundles of bonds often tied to ETFs. The portfolio deals normally range from $50 million to $750 million but can go as high as $2 billion, a person familiar with its trades said.

Read the full WSJ story here

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TradeWeb Cashes In, Broker-Dealer Investors Cash Out via IPO

Bonds and Billions 3.0…Tradeweb Markets, one of the original electronic bond trading pioneers, which first introduced its dealer consortium platform in 1996, proved that patience is a virtue when it comes to monetizing enterprise value. The company raised $1.1billion via its Nasdaq-listed IPO yesterday (NASDAQ:NW). Illustrating investor attraction to owning a piece of the fintech company focused on fixed income trading, the company increased the number of shares they first planned to offer from 27.3 million to 40 million shares and upped the ante for the IPO price from a $24-$26 range to slightly north of $27. The IPO puts a $6bil valuation on the company–whose original investors include a consortium of broker-dealers.

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Tradeweb CEO Lee Olesky photo courtesy of BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS

Per snippet from Bloomberg News, Tradeweb intends to use proceeds to buy shares held by eight of the 11 large banks that own stakes in the company, including Bank of America Corp., Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley and UBS Group AG, according to its registration statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Tradeweb’s IPO is also the biggest for a financial services company in the U.S. since online lender GreenSky Inc. raised $874 million in May.

The offering follows benefits administrator Alight Inc.’s decision in March to postpone plans to raise up to $800 million in an IPO. Alight and Tradeweb are both owned by private equity firm Blackstone Group LP, which led the $17 billion acquisition last year of Tradeweb parent Refinitiv from Thomson Reuters Corp. Tradeweb, founded in 1996, builds and runs electronics markets for trading government bonds, derivatives, exchange-traded funds and other financial instruments over the counter. It handled an average of $549 billion in daily trades in 2018, according to its IPO prospectus.

Tradeweb posted net income of $160 million on $684 million in revenue last year.

As noted by Liz Hoffman of the WSJ, online venues are gaining ground in bond trading, digitizing orders that were once placed over the phone. At MarketAxess Holdings Inc., Tradeweb’s closest listed peer, trading volumes have more than doubled since 2014.

At $27, Tradeweb’s stock will list at about 30 times the company’s annual earnings. MarketAxess trades at nearly 50 times its earnings, while exchanges such as NYSE ownerIntercontinental Exchange Inc. fetch about 25 times their earnings.

JPMorgan Chase & Co.Citigroup Inc., Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley led the offering. Tradeweb will start trading Thursday under the symbol TW on the Nasdaq Global Select Market, according to the statement

Affiliates of Refinitiv will continue to hold about 54 percent of Tradeweb’s outstanding common stock, according to filings.

If you’ve got a hot insider tip, a bright idea, or if you’d like to get visibility for your brand through MarketsMuse via subliminal content marketing, advertorial, blatant shout-out, spotlight article, news release etc., please reach out to our Senior Editor via cmo@marketsmuse.com

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Hoorah! HONR ETF; ESG is Now the New Normal For Institutional Investors

ETFs $HONR and $VETS advance an intriguing investment thesis: companies that stand up for military veterans outperform their peers.

Much like the view that women-led VC firms tend to outperform their male-dominated competitors, the thesis for investing in a culture-centric portfolio of companies is an approach now used by a broad spectrum of leading institutional investors. Dubbed “ESG” (Environmental, Social and Governance), the acronym refers to the three central factors in measuring the sustainability and ethical impact of an investment in a company or business. According to proponents, these criteria help to better determine the future financial performance of companies (return and risk). Of the 1500+ exchange-traded funds, only a small percentage provide a vehicle by which investors can express their interest in companies based on their cultural criteria. And, within the context of a thematic ETF comprised of companies that stand-out with respect to their leanings towards military veterans, there are only two ETFs to choose from.

Offering accolades to public companies that stand out for recruiting and supporting military veterans as well as active service members is no longer just a virtue, it is, according to more than a few experts, a winning investment strategy. Insightshares led the charge with the launch last January of InsightShares Patriotic Employers ETF (NYSEARCA:HONR), which is comprised of approximately 100 constituents and comes with an expense ratio of 0.65%. In April of 2018, ETF firm Pacer introduced The Pacer Military Times Best Employers ETF, $VETS–an index of 37 companies that is heavily-weighted with financial, industrial and information technology companies has an expense ratio of 0.60%

Truth be told, the performance for both of these funds correlates to the S&P 500, the distinction is an investment in these ETFs includes a proxy to support carefully-vetted veteran-centric philanthropies, as both donate 10 percent of the management fee to military-related charities.

Matt Villarreal, Head of Equity Trading for Mischler Financial Group, the industry’s oldest broker dealer owned & operated by Service-Disabled Veterans stated, “The constituents of the two respective veteran-centric ETFs include the most recognized and most widely-held Fortune corporations, which infers overall performance will correlate to major indices. The thesis that select companies that occupy thought-leadership positions when it comes to hiring military veterans and having former military officers in senior roles is easily defended. Companies that prominently support the military veteran community generally have higher employee morale and evoke higher customer embracement when compared to peers. The best part of these ETFs is they also have a dedicated mission to support veteran philanthropies, which proves crucial to the folks who have put themselves in harm’s way to protect the rest of us.”

Rich Cea, Head of Insightshares provides his perspective courtesy of a recent FOX Business Interview:

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MEMX-Do the US Equities Markets Really Need 14 Venues?!

For those who missed the MarketsMuse memo from Jan 14, there appears to be yet another exchange coming to the US Equities markets, as if the industry needs one more platform to facilitate trading in publicly-listed stocks. The latest platform, which is still on the whiteboard, is a consortium-based initiative named “Member Exchange”, whose creators have dubbed “MEMX.” As widely reported, the proposed exchange is being spearheaded by two of the top NYSE Designated Market-Making firms, Citadel Securities and Virtu-both of which are best known for their domain fluency in the world of high-frequency trading and both came to be NYSE DMMs by gobbling up legacy NYSE “specialist firms” after the now 227-year old institution was transformed in 2005 from a member-controlled “non-profit” into a for-profit enterprise, which is now controlled by the $42billion market cap company, Intercontinental Exchange, Inc. (NYSE:ICE).

MEMX challenges NYSE NASDAQ
MEMX wants to compete with NYSE and NASDAQ

Joining Citadel and Virtu in this initiative-which vies to compete directly with NYSE, Nasdaq and the assortment of other venues that facilitate trading in listed stocks is a collective of retail brokerage firms (Charles Schwab, E-Trade, TD Ameritrade, Fidelity Brokerage, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch) along with investment banks Morgan Stanley and UBS).  The $70 million question (the amount of capital they’ve put together to seed this initiative) as to why this consortium has been formed and what their game plan is has been a topic of spirited discussion across the sell-side. The moving parts necessarily connect to market data fees, payment for order flow (“PFOF”) and incentive rebates paid to those who provide liquidity to the markets. And most important, who profits the most from the complex fee schemes.

Perhaps the most granular coverage and commentary have been courtesy of industry think tank TABB Group, the research and strategic advisory firm focused exclusively on capital markets. Firm principal Larry Tabb has provided objective insight courtesy of this week’s dissertation, excerpted here:

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Larry Tabb, TABB Group

The question is: Why on earth do we need a 14th US equity exchange?

To understand why the brokers feel they need a new exchange, you need to understand a bit of history. Historically, there were two major equity exchanges: the 200-plus-year-old NYSE and the Nasdaq. These were member-owned exchanges that operated like utilities. After some regulatory challenges with the NYSE and Nasdaq, the SEC opened up the exchanges to competition, and a number of new equity matching platforms were developed. These new quasi-exchanges launched in the late 1990s/early 2000s and, while they looked and acted like exchanges, they were called ECNs and operated under a lower regulatory threshold. These platforms automated predominantly the Nasdaq market. In 2005 the SEC passed Regulation National Market System, or Reg NMS, which forced the NYSE to face competition as well.

By the mid-2000’s the traditional exchanges were also allowed to go public as they moved away from member-owned utilities. During the late 90’s and early 2000s, the traditional exchanges bought up the ECNs, and just as it appeared that the market would be reconsolidated under NYSE and Nasdaq, Dave Cummings, the CEO of Tradebot, along with another high-frequency firm, Getco (which became Knight and subsequently was acquired by Virtu), entered into the ECN space with the development of BATS. By 2006 BATS obtained funding by industry participants and it became a quasi-industry consortium.

When BATS entered the market, it provided competitive pressure to keep both Nasdaq and the NYSE in check. However, as BATS grew, an opportunity emerged for BATS to become a full-fledged exchange (2008), go public (2016), and, in 2017, get acquired by Cboe.

As BATS went public and subsequently was acquired by Cboe, its governance changed. Once BATS became public and was acquired by Cboe, instead of being managed as a lower-cost industry-owed entity, it needed to be run like a for-profit entity, similar to the NYSE and Nasdaq. During the 10-year span since BATS became an exchange, other exchanges were acquired by the NYSE and Nasdaq, until we reach today, when the 13 US equity exchanges are all – except for one, IEX – owned by NYSE (which was acquired by ICE in 2012), Nasdaq and Cboe.

If you’ve got a hot insider tip, a bright idea, or if you’d like to get visibility for your brand through MarketsMuse via subliminal content marketing, advertorial, blatant shout-out, spotlight article, news release etc., please reach out to our Senior Editor via cmo@marketsmuse.com

As the major exchange groups consolidated many of the competitive exchanges, industry brokers/institutional investors began to feel that the exchanges were becoming less responsive to the dealers (and their clients) that sent them order flow. This created frictions between the dealers and the exchanges and culminated with the October 2017 SEC Market Data roundtable, where it appeared the dealers and larger investors were targeting the three major exchanges as being non-responsive, while the exchanges responded that the industry was being needlessly greedy and attacking their business model.

Et voilà, the announcement in early 2019 of the Member Exchange.

MEMX-larry tabb perspective

So What’s MEMX Thinking?

TABB believes MEMX’s initial strategy will include the following:

SIP Rebate

While BATS started out as an ECN (a lit ATS), the opportunity to become an ECN has become problematic, as ECNs are not entitled to SIP market data revenue, which could easily provide MEMX with $10 to $20 million a year, as IEX with less than 3% market share generates approximately $10 million in SIP revenues. In addition, given the competitive threat, the order routing facilities that used to be operated by some of the smaller exchanges are no longer in operation, meaning an ECN needs to rely on an exchange for universal access, and given the competitive threat, it is unlikely that an exchange owned by the large three providers would develop that infrastructure. So, for MEMX to share in SIP revenues and control its own routing, it needs to become a regulated exchange.

Cookie-Cutter Model

The fastest way to obtain exchange status is to deploy a “cookie cutter” exchange, modeled exactly like an existing exchange. Unlike IEX’s speedbump, which caused a two-year licensing delay, MEMX will most likely employ a standard maker-taker model, with virtually nothing odd or controversial. While the other exchanges may complain about the added complexity of a fourteenth exchange, MEMX’s exchange application will be completely dull and boring, raising no flags with regulators. That will speed up approval and remove any possible SEC delays.

High Rebate

Once approved, MEMX, operating off the BATS playbook, will most likely employ the ‘Crazy Eddie’ “our prices are insane” pricing strategy: MEMX will provide a larger rebate than its cost to take liquidity. This will achieve two goals: first, it will provide an incentive for market makers to provide liquidity; and second, that incentive will be passed back into more aggressive pricing. While most of the high-rebate exchanges have super tiers of 32 mils (cents/share), MEMX will need to provide a higher rebate than 32 mils or provide more clients with access to the 32-mil top tier. Interestingly, these high rebates and the conflicts that it creates, is exactly what the buy-side is railing about, forcing the SEC to implement the new Access Fee Pilot, which I will discuss later.

To read the entire piece, click here

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CNBC Debuts Programming Dedicated to ETFs-Finally!

MarketsMuse coverage of the exchange-traded fund (ETF) industry began nearly ten years ago, and our senior curators have since been scratching their heads as to why CNBC, the retail investors’ most-watched business news network had never created dedicated programming to educate their viewers about ETFs, an asset class that has consistently grown (by as much as 20% YoY). How big is this market? Based on various metrics published by the assortment of ETF Issuers, more than $3 Trillion (with a “T”) of ETFs are held by US investors, the global market size is over $5 Trillion (with a “T”).

More telling, RIAs (Registered Investment Advisors) that manage money for retail investors now allocate well more than 50% of client money into these thematic funds. That said, CNBC–the business media channel that has become ubiquitous for its retail investor-targeted 12 hour+ daily coverage of stock market activity, interviews with fund managers, sell-side research analysts and public company CEOs have provided merely tangential insight to the ETF marketplace. Until now, that is.

Yesterday, CNBC premiered a new segment titled “ETF Edge” and hosted by commentator Bob Pisani. The premiere segment captured two particularly insightful ETF industry veterans; hedge fund manager Tim Seymour (who is also one of CNBC’s frequent market commentators) and Andy McCormond, Managing Director of ETF Execution for agency broker-dealer WallachBeth Capital, a boutique institutional brokerage whose thought-leadership on the topic of ETFs and better approaches to executing orders in ETF products has been embraced by a discrete universe of institutional investors and tens of dozens of RIAs for more than 10 years.

Hats Off to CNBC for shedding more light on an asset class that retail investors need to know more about.  Roll the opening show clip!

ETF Edge, January 23, 2019 from CNBC.

If you’ve got a hot insider tip, a bright idea, or if you’d like to get visibility for your brand through MarketsMuse via subliminal content marketing, advertorial, blatant shout-out, spotlight article, news release etc., please reach out to our Senior Editor via cmo@marketsmuse.com

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Kumaresan Wave Labs electronic trading

Corporate Bond e-Trading: “It’s like déjà vu all over again.” The Latest Effort…

The never ending battle to electronify the secondary market for corporate bonds has yet another new entrant that aims to disintermediate corporate debt dealers that ‘control’ the trading in what has morphed from a $2trillion market to a $9 trillion marketplace during the last decade alone. As profiled by CNBC last week, the platform is called Wave Labs and its led by former Nordea Asset Mgt head trader and “fintech quant wonk”. Miles Kumaresan.  Wave Labs purportedly as a new sauce that distinguishes itself from the current generation’s e-bond trading platforms; its powered by AI and algorithms that select corporate bonds based on buyer’s criteria. How Wave Labs helps to address the needs of sellers –which is arguably a crucial feature for any electronic trading platform–wasn’t addressed in the CNBC story

As best said by MarketsMuse Senior Curator Jay Berkman, who was credited with being a co-founder and head of business development for the 1990’s era “BondNet” and arguably the first electronic trading platform for corporate bonds, “At risk of infringing on any copyright that Yogi Berra might have,  “It’s Deja Vu All Over Again.”

While BondNet may have had the best technology, its business model was flawed, according to Berkman. “The business was positioned as an inter-dealer broker when it should have been positioned as a utility owned by a consortium of dealers, who would otherwise have an incentive to provide liquidity. When attempting to move to the buy-side, the dealers put the company into the penalty box.”  MarketAxxes, which started after BondNet, had the right approach-which explains how/why it grew to what is now a multi-billion market cap company, even if its niche is mostly matching small size trades (under $5mil notional). That typical trade size

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Miles Kumaresan, CEO of Wave Labs

metric is illustrative of the obstacles that face any electronic platform that hopes to secure a presence in the corporate bond market. As one industry veteran pointed out, “Stocks are bought and [corporate] bonds are sold (by a salesman); if there’s a new black box that can actually pick the precise bonds that an institutional buyer wants, without having to deal with a salesman, that’s the holy grail.”

During the last 3-4 years, newbie disruptors who have sought to be the new kids on the bond block seeking to displace the role of bank trading desks have included among others, Liquidnet (whose pedigree is more tied to equities trading),Trumid, Electronifie, OpenBondX,  and EMBonds. Their respective value propositions are the same: since the crisis of 2008, when bank balance sheets were forced to scale down inventory holdings, bank trading desks have not been able to address the liquidity needs of the marketplace. Each of the new generations of bond trading platforms has cute features, the most common being peer-to-peer trading, “RFQ” (request-for-quote) and also, scheduled auctions, as opposed to continuous bid-offer actionable price streaming. Electronifie and Trumid -both represented by fintech merchant bank SenaHill Partners, combined within two years of their respective start-up phase, as both struggled to get past B Rounds for funding in the course of trying to get a foothold in the marketplace.

Per the CNBC coverage by Hugh Son (@hugh_son), “Leaning on his quirky charm and the bravado of a true believer, Kumaresan says he has gotten meetings with some of the world’s biggest asset managers. He mentions their names — giants in the industry — and then requests that they stay out of print. As he tells it, the demonstrations of his prototype usually end abruptly as executives gush over its potential.”

One could argue those conversations end abruptly because Wave Labs is just the latest wave. As Berkman suggests, “Kumaresan might be better off tuning into Kevin O’Leary, the CNBC pundit and notorious Shark from ABC’s “Shark Tank”, and consider licensing his technology to MarketAxxes or TradeWeb–as they’ve already got the most important two elements: credibility and customers.”

If you’ve got a hot insider tip, a bright idea, or if you’d like to get visibility for your brand through MarketsMuse via subliminal content marketing, advertorial, blatant shout-out, spotlight article, news release etc., please reach out to our Senior Editor via cmo@marketsmuse.com

 

For the full story about Wave Labs, “This quant says his tiny start-up is about to blow up Wall Street’s $8 trillion bond trading monopoly” click here

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GTS, NYSE Top DMM Now Joins Forces With Boutique Investment Bank

Trifecta Month for GTS; NYSE DMM, Quant-Trading Powerhouse and Fin-Tech Think-Tank Now Aligned With Investment Bank Specializing in Primary Debt & Equity Capital Markets

GTS, the NYSE’s Top DMM, and one of the global trading market’s leading multi-asset electronic market-makers, is on a strategic deal-making binge. On the heels of GTS co-founder and CEO Ari Rubenstein’s November 2 announcement that his firm acquired Cantor Fitzgerald’s 35-member ETF market-making and institutional broking crew, last Thursday while in London, Rubenstein announced that GTS is expanding its collaboration with BNP Paribas to now include live-streaming US equities pricing, on top of already delivering GTS’s UST price feed through BNP’s platform. Making November a hat-trick month for GTS, Rubenstein today announced that his firm is joining forces with boutique investment bank Mischler Financial Group (“Mischler”), a specialist in primary debt and equity capital markets and institutional brokerage providing secondary market execution for equities and fixed income.

Founded in 1994, Mischler Financial is also the industry’s oldest diversity firm owned and operated by service-disabled veterans; a designation that enables GTS to advance a Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) value-add to its armory of new solutions and client experience that GTS will bring to investment managers and issuers of debt and equity across the listed-company landscape.

Below is the opening extract of the press release.

New York, NY – November 19, 2018 – GTS, the New York Stock Exchange’s largest Designated Market-Maker (“DMM”) and a leading electronic trading firm, and Mischler Financial Group, Inc. (“Mischler”), the financial services industry’s oldest minority broker-dealer owned and operated by service-disabled veterans, today announced a strategic alliance that will establish a best-in-class offering for primary debt and equity market underwriting as well as secondary market best execution across the capital markets.

The partnership, which is anchored by a technology-powered offering for public companies and a broad universe of capital markets participants, will yield a low-cost, more efficient and more effective trade execution experience. Mischler will become a “forward operating base” for the growing GTS capital markets franchise, affording clients access to technology and sources of liquidity that are generally only available to the world’s most sophisticated investors.

Founded in 2006 as a proprietary, quantitative trading firm, GTS is now a recognized thought-leader in market structure and proudly oversees trading for more than one-third of NYSE-listed companies. The firm has an extensive track record developing and deploying proprietary, industry-best technology to bring better price discovery, trade execution and transparency to the markets.

“This is a high-tech, high-touch partnership designed to meet the needs of a new generation of issuers, asset managers, and trading and investment professionals seeking low-impact market liquidity and best-in-class execution,” said Ari Rubenstein, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of GTS. “Clients are rightfully demanding innovation in the marketplace, and this alliance is uniquely designed to provide that and much more.”

Mischler, established in 1994, is an active underwriter across global equities, corporate and municipal debt, government securities and structured products. In the last three years alone, Mischler has played a role in almost 700 primary debt and equity market transactions. The firm also provides conflict-free share repurchase services for corporate treasurers as well as secondary market trade execution in equities and fixed income for a discrete universe of public plan sponsors and institutional investment managers.

Continue to the entire news announcement here

If you’ve got a hot insider tip, a bright idea, or if you’d like to get visibility for your brand through MarketsMuse via subliminal content marketing, advertorial, blatant shout-out, spotlight article, news release etc., please reach out to our Senior Editor via cmo@marketsmuse.com

 

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Attention! Veterans Day + USMC Birthday Salute to Veteran Owned BD Mischler

In Honor of Veterans Day and the USMC 243rd Birthday, MarketsMuse Curators extend our appreciation to all US Military Veterans, Happy 243rd Birthday and Semper Fi to all US Marines, a special salute to the battalion of sell-side broker-dealers owned and operated by Service-Disabled Veterans, and a Special Shout Out to Mischler Financial Group’s “Mischler Marine Expeditionary Force”, comprised of Managing Director, Public Finance Rick Tilghman; Senior Analyst, Capital Markets Jonathan Herrick; and Director, Portfolio Strategies Jason Klinghoffer, CFA.

OORAH! & SEMPER FII

If you’ve got a hot insider tip, a bright idea, or if you’d like to get visibility for your brand through MarketsMuse via subliminal content marketing, advertorial, blatant shout-out, spotlight article, news release etc., please reach out to our Senior Editor via cmo@marketsmuse.com

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Mischler Financial Group Marine Expeditionary Force

 

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NYSE DMM GTS Securities Buys Cantor’s ETF Market-Making Business

Breaking News: GTS Securities, the NYSE’s biggest specialist firm aka Designated Market Maker (“DMM”) and one of the electronic market-making world’s biggest players in the FX and rates markets is now aiming to become the ETF industry’s biggest market-maker the old-fashioned way, by buying into the space. After several months of speculation and rumors of a pending deal, GTS formally announced today they have acquired the entire team of ETF brokers and traders from Cantor Fitzgerald. According to the press release issued by GTS, the deal to acquire Cantor’s ETF team of approximately 35 ETF sales traders led by ETF industry veteran Reginald Browne is expected to close in February 2019. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

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(l)Reginald “ETF Godfather” Browne (r) Ari Rubenstein, co-founder GTS Securities

GTS was established by former NY Merc floor traders Ari Rubenstein and David Lieberman, who looked to Amit Livnat, a top-of-class graduate from the world famous Israel Institute of Technology to serve as the firm’s resident tech wonk. Of the three, Rubenstein is the camera-facing thought-leader, who first cut his teeth in the trading business as a runner on the floor of the New York Mercantile Exchange and later became a floor trader on the New York Cotton Exchange. Aligning with fellow floor trader David Lieberman and Livnat, GTS was first positioned as a quantitative prop trading firm that leveraged in-house trading technology and home-grown algorithms to peel incremental profits by executing tens of thousands of transactions per day across US equities, rates and FX markets. GTS levered its high-frequency trading domain expertise and morphed into its current role as a global trading powerhouse once the firm took control of the NYSE’s biggest specialist firm operated by a unit of Barclays Bank.

“For the first time on a scale never seen before, the most sophisticated Wall Street technology is being deployed for mainstream investors, be they institutional or retail,” said Ari Rubenstein, CEO and co-founder of GTS. “Investors around the world can now leverage the very best in machine learning, artificial intelligence and execution technology to help them save money whenever they trade and invest. This is an unprecedented opportunity for investors that unites unrivaled innovation with pioneering client service – while enhancing the capital raising opportunities for listed companies.”Stacey Cunningham, president of the New York Stock Exchange said, “The NYSE and our partners embody the synthesis of technology and human judgment, leading to the best possible outcome for investors and issuers.”

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For the full press release, click here

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Class Action Lawsuit Aims at TD; Broker Rebates from Exchanges & HFT Firms Under Fire

Broker Rebates From Exchanges and HFT Firms May Be Securities Fraud, Says Federal Judge

Broker Rebates, Payment-for-Order-Flow (“PFOF”) and “Pay-to-Play” have become synonymous with new world order in which exchanges, dark-pool operators and high-frequency trading (“HFT”) firms, (the so-called “flashboys”) dominate the world of stock trading. While many Wall Street geniuses will argue “the genie is out of the bottle”, it doesn’t mean this practice is right-minded, no less legal-and it hasn’t stopped naysayers from arguing that customers’ best interests are clearly not part of the equation. A Federal judge in Nebraska seems to agree, based on his ruling last week that allows a class action lawsuit aimed at TD Ameritrade in connection with their receiving payment-for-order-flow rebates from high-frequency trading (“HFT”) (and not even sharing those rebates with customers!) to proceed. The plaintiff argument is that TD has violated best execution guidelines. Should anyone be shocked?! After all, the topic of payment-for-order-flow and barely-disclosed rebates paid to brokerages by exchanges and electronic market-making firms in consideration for routing orders to them has been a topic of spirited debate for more than several years.

payment-for-order-flow-rebatesHere’s the excerpt from WSJ reporting by Cezary Podkul:

Mom-and-pop investors who think their brokers are prioritizing high-frequency traders over them may soon have a chance to try to prove their case in court.

A federal judge in Nebraska this month ruled a class-action lawsuit could proceed against TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. AMTD -1.09% , one of the nation’s largest discount brokerages. In his ruling, the judge cited “serious and credible allegations of securities fraud” stemming from the company’s order routing practices.

Plaintiffs allege the discount brokerage prioritized its profits over their best interest on stock transactions

The TD Ameritrade customers who brought the suit alleged the company, which provides investing and trading services for 11 million client accounts, prioritized its profits over their best interests. They claim it did so by accepting incentives from stock exchanges and large electronic trading firms to route customer orders to them without ensuring the customers would get the best prices available – an obligation that along with related factors is known as “best execution.”

A spokeswoman for TD Ameritrade said the company disagrees with the judge and will appeal his ruling.

Judge Joseph Bataillon’s ruling, delivered Sept. 14 in federal court in Omaha, Neb., marks the first time a court has allowed customers to pursue a class-action lawsuit on the grounds a retail brokerage breached its duty to provide best execution, according to the ruling and the plaintiffs’ attorneys.

The decision comes at a time of growing focus on how brokerages handle customer orders. In its Oct. 2017 blueprint for streamlining financial regulations, the U.S. Treasury Department said it is concerned payments to brokerages “may create misaligned incentives” for brokers and their customers. It urged the Securities and Exchange Commission to boost regulation of such payments and require more disclosure.

In March, the SEC proposed a study that would impose temporary restrictions on stock exchanges’ fee and rebate payments and measure the impact on order routing behavior and trade execution quality. On Wednesday, an SEC commissioner called on the agency to move ahead with the study and faulted it for not doing more to ensure transparency and fairness in the stock market.

Keep reading, the story is only going to get better, but not necessarily for brokers. Then again, the current SEC leadership is likely to put their own dog in the game, given their views toward re-defining the concept of fiduciary within the context of broker-dealer guidelines.

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Here’s the link to the WSJ coverage

 

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NYSE Floor Broker Lauren Simmons Breaking Records & Glass Ceilings

MarketsMuse Curators extend our thanks for the excerpt below, courtesy of Aug 1 feature story by Philly Inquirer Reporter, Erin Arvedlund. Follow Erin on Twitter via   @erinarvedlund  or email  EArvedlund@phillynews.com

NYSE Floor Broker Lauren Simmons is breaking records and glass ceilings. She’s the youngest female and only the second African American woman to ever work at the NYSE in its 226-year history. On December 5, 2017, she signed her name alongside that of John D. Rockefeller in the constitution of the NYSE.

She’s what most traders aren’t — a millennial, a woman, and a minority.

At 23, Lauren Simmons is the youngest and only current full-time female trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

Simmons, a native of Marietta, Ga., graduated from Kennesaw State University with a degree in genetics and a minor in statistics, all of which helped her impress Gordon Charlop, partner at Rosenblatt Securities and a floor trader for twenty-five years. As a NYSE floor governor, he hired her to work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange as an equity trader last year.

“He liked my stats background, and as a trader, you have to make quick decisions,” Simmons told the crowd. Rosenblatt is a specialist boutique brokerage firm that trades mostly exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, she said

While much of Wall Street trading is now automated and computerized, the NYSE is one of the last remaining trading floors with humans, she added.

“My orders from clients might move prices, and I can go to one of the market-makers in a stock in-person and ask them what the market’s looking like. Technology can’t do that.”

To continue reading the full story by financial industry veteran journalist Erin Arvedlund, please click here. Follow Erin on Twitter via   @erinarvedlund |  EArvedlund@phillynews.com

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This 23-year-old is the only full-time female trader at the New York Stock Exchange from CNBC.

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ETF View: What’s Next: Telecom-Media Merge Into XLC

Extra! Extra! XLC is the new ETF that ties telecom and media constituents into one exchange-traded fund! For those with a view towards latest and greatest ETF products, eyes and ears are on the Communications Services Select SPDR Fund (NYSEARCA: XLC) — “it tracks the Communication Services Select Sector Index and “seeks to provide precise exposure to companies from the media, retailing, and software & services industries in the U.S.”

etc-xlcWow. That’s a bucket full of precision when considering the constituents of XLC include among others, Facebook (NYSE:FB), Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOGL), Activision (NASDAQ: ATVI), Verizon (NYSE: VZ), Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA), Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) The good news is that ETF maestro Andrew McCormond, Managing Director ETF Solutions for WallachBeth Capital distills the appeal of XLC, the latest innovative exchange-traded fund and one that might be the FANG-style ETF for portfolio managers who have yet to find a one-stop product that meets their portfolio allocation needs.

New ETF merges tech and media from CNBC.

If you’ve got a hot insider tip, a bright idea, or if you’d like to get visibility for your brand through MarketsMuse via subliminal content marketing, advertorial, blatant shout-out, spotlight article, news release etc., please reach out to our Senior Editor via cmo@marketsmuse.com.

If you’re on a path to raise capital for a new hedge fund, a fintech initiative or a blockchain-startup, the first step is packaging your pitch and presenting the opportunity within a properly-prepared Prospectus. The go-to firm to assist you? Prospectus.com LLC. Straightforward, Smart and Bespoke Services.

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Former NYSE Prez Farley Launches Fintech SPAC IPO

Tom Farley, the former top gun at the NYSE, has long advocated the benefits of raising capital via the construct of Special Purpose Acquisition Company aka “SPAC”, aka “Blank Check company.” Now he’s become the CEO poster boy for SPACs with the formal IPO and NYSE listing of Fintech SPAC Far Point Acquisition Corp., a financial technology-themed acquisition company, which is backed by activist investor and fintech aficiondo Dan Loeb.

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Tom Farley, Far Point Acquisition Corp

42-yearold Farley, a Georgetown University alum and former ICE senior executive and the second youngest person to serve as NYSE President when taking on that role in 2012, will serve as CEO of the ‘fintech buyout’ company. Farley is arguably one of the industry’s most fintech-fluent folks, given his role in helping to transform NYSE into a financial industry trading technology centerpiece.

Farley’s long-held view towards the future is evidenced by the fact  NYSE’s two most dominant designated market-makers aka “DMM” firms, GTS Securities and Virtu Financial are companies that are synonymous with the phrase fintech. Both firms started their journeys as prop trading firms specializing in ‘high-frequency-trading’ and their more recently attained NYSE ‘specialist’ roles are powered by next generation in-house algorithmic trading and artificial intelligence tool kits. GTS Founder Ari Rubenstein, whose NYSE DMM is responsible for maintaining fair and orderly markets in 1200+ companies and who also oversees one of the industry’s most robust, multi-asset liquidity-providing prop trading platforms, is also a founding member of industry trade group Modern Markets Initiative (MMI) 

Back to SPACs- For those who may have missed the multiple memos coming out of the biggest investment banks, the blank check company construct provides a means to create a publicly-traded ‘shell company’, whose use of proceeds is intended to acquire a private company (or companies) and seamlessly “jump the shark” by rolling the private company into the publicly-listed company without bearing the burden of the time and cost that is synonymous with taking a company public via the traditional IPO process.

First introduced in the early 1970’s, blank check companies were soon derided by securities regulators after a string of capital raises by companies that had notoriously little corporate governance, enabled unsupervised CEOs to empty corporate coffers for personal gain, leaving investors with nothing. In the early 1990’s, the construct was re-invented by small-cap investment bank GKN Securities’ founders David Nussbaum, Roger Gladstone and Robert Gladstone, who have been credited with introducing the SPAC construct (along with securing a trademark for SPAC), which is chock full of checks and balances. The GKN leadership team’s early success in floating ‘blank check’ companies led to their creating a new firm, EarlyBirdCapital which has become the thought-leader in SPAC offerings, as the SPAC template has since been emulated by the financial industry’s leading investment banks and endorsed by major exchanges across the globe.

In the past 10 years alone, tens of dozens of capital raises via the SPAC construct have delivered billions of dollars of dry powder for designated acquisition companies that have since effected tens of billions of dollars worth of ‘quick IPOs’ for companies in nearly every industry sector, including the cannabis industry,

Fintech industry veteran and startup industry consultant Jay Berkman, who coincidentally helped GKN introduce their first SPACs to institutional investors back in 1993, and now serves on the advisory boards of fintech merchant bank SenaHill Partners and investor document consultancy Prospectus.com LLC said, “Far Point Acquisition may not be the first Fintech SPAC, but its launch clearly reinforces a compelling approach to raising capital for the purpose of bringing established private companies into the publicly-traded ecosystem.”

Via video clip below, former NYSE top gun Tom Farley expresses his views on the SPAC construct and the fintech sector, and provides a glimpse at the prospective target acquisitions that Farley will be aiming for.

If you’ve got a hot insider tip, a bright idea, or if you’d like to get visibility for your brand through MarketsMuse via subliminal content marketing, advertorial, blatant shout-out, spotlight article, news release etc., please reach out to our Senior Editor via cmo@marketsmuse.com.

Former NYSE president announces IPO for ‘blank check company’ from CNBC.

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Boston Options Exchange to Launch Securities Token Mart

Securities Token Offering to Displace Initial Token Offering Fad; BOX in JV with digital broker-dealer tZero to Create Securities Token Exchange platform

(Redistributed with permission from BrokerDealer.com; story from Traders Magazine)-Well, Matilda, the Boston Options Exchange (BOX) is plotting to create the first regulated exchange to list and traffic in securities tokens as a means to legitimatize crypto-centric assets via a just-announced joint venture with Patrick Byrne’s digital-themed broker-dealer tZero. For those who haven’t gotten the memo, Securities Token Offerings aka STOs are the next generation approach to the now de-fangled initial coin offering (ICO) construct–which have been lambasted by securities regulators in nearly every corner of the globe.

Now that crypto cool kids are finally getting the memo: “These are Securities!” ,  the proposed first fully regulated Securities Token Exchange is coming to the US-via the Boston Options Exchange.

tZERO, the digital-themed broker-dealer created by Patrick Byrne and BOX Digital Markets LLC (BOX Digital)-a subsidiary of Boston Options Exchange, announced it has formed a joint venture to launch the industry’s first regulated security token exchange.

Lisa Fall, BOX Digital Exchange
Lisa Fall, Box Digital

On May 18, 2018, the two companies entered into a letter of intent to form an exchange to list and publicly trade security tokens for companies that issue, or convert existing stock to, security tokens. The proposed joint venture would be equally owned by tZERO and BOX Digital, with each having equal representation on the Board of Directors, together with one mutually agreed upon independent director. Lisa Fall, who currently serves as CEO of BOX Digital and as president of BOX Options Exchange LLC, would be the CEO of the joint venture.

“tZERO has proven to be a pioneer in the development and practical use of blockchain technologies for capital markets for a number of years,” said Ms. Fall. “tZERO’s track record and accomplishments in this innovative area, coupled with BOX’s expertise in operating a highly efficient and transparent equity options marketplace, made partnering together an easy decision and we look forward to building a world-class platform for listing and trading security tokens.”

tZERO plans to contribute cash and license tZERO’s blockchain technology for operation of the security token market. BOX Digital will contribute expertise and personnel toward obtaining regulatory approval and operation of the security token market. Approval of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission will be sought following execution of definitive documentation. Creation of the joint venture is subject to definitive documentation and customary conditions.

“Our partnership with BOX Digital Markets is a significant milestone that will create the first SEC-regulated exchange designed to efficiently trade crypto securities. Lisa Fall’s leadership, reputation and deep experience in the regulated securities exchange industry will be a major asset in achieving this objective,” said Saum Noursalehi, newly appointed CEO of tZERO. “Together, we will continue to work with the SEC as we develop a first-of-its-kind platform that will integrate blockchain capital markets into the current U.S. National Market System.”

According to electronic trading market veteran Jay Berkman, an Advisory Board member of fintech merchant bank SenaHill Partners and COO of investor documentation firm Prospectus.com LLC, “Now that pragmatic securities industry thought-leaders have figured out how to package crypto assets within the construct of a security so as to conform to the US regulatory regime, nobody can dispute the fact the genie is out of the bottle .  Added Berkman, “Securities Token Offerings (“STOs”) is a much more palatable approach, making way for a new mantra, “ICOs are dead, long live STOs”, until of course, another shoe drops.”

If you’ve got a hot insider tip, a bright idea, or if you’d like to get visibility for your brand through MarketsMuse via subliminal content marketing, advertorial, blatant shout-out, spotlight article, news release etc., please reach out to our Senior Editor via cmo@marketsmuse.com.

For the full story from John D’Antona Jr. of Traders Magazine, click here

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Crypto Cool Kids Getting The Joke-Aim at Bank Licensing

What’s Next? CryptoCurrency Bank License; Crypto Cool Kids New Goal: Stay Inside Regulatory Goal Posts

Coinbase Inc. and another cryptocurrency firm talked to U.S. regulators about the possibility of obtaining banking licenses, a move that would allow the startups to broaden the types of products they offer.

Coinbase, which operates the largest U.S. cryptocurrency exchange, met with officials at the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in early 2018, according to a person familiar with the matter. Meanwhile, ivyKoin, a payments startup, in recent weeks sat down with officials at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., this person said. IvyKoin President Gary Fan confirmed the meeting.

The discussions included other topics, such as the firm’s business models, this person said. The companies might not seek a bank charter, which would significantly ramp up regulatory scrutiny. Whether they do so will depend on whether they decide the benefits of becoming a bank outweigh the costs.

A federal banking charter would let the firms swap a hodgepodge of state regulators for one primary federal one. The companies would also gain the option of directly offering customers federally insured bank accounts and other services, rather than partnering with existing banks.

A Coinbase spokeswoman declined to comment on the meeting. She said the firm is “committed to working closely with state and federal regulators to ensure we are properly licensed for the products and services we offer.” An OCC spokesman declined to comment.

IvyKoin pitches itself as a payments platform for government-issued currencies and cryptocurrencies that uses “know your customer” technology to detect money laundering. In the near term, ivyKoin is working with banks rather than trying to become one, but it asked regulators about a banking license to understand what might be necessary if it decided to apply, Mr. Fan said.

At the meeting, they “talked about our business model, what we hope to accomplish, next steps for us, key risks and how we can help banks manage that,” he said. “Our experience was really positive and [regulators] actually encouraged the discussion.”

Evan Fisher prospectus.com
Evan Fisher, Prospectus.com

“The past 18 months has seen an explosion of interest in ICOs, too many of which are unconstrained and outside the goal posts of what makes sense,” said Prospectus.com’s Evan Fisher, a former sell side investment banking veteran now consulting fintech firms on ICO best practices. “And, having the proper documentation in place for both investors and regulators is the most important part of any successful fund raise.”

Fisher is experienced in helping startups frame their value proposition properly and stresses founders need to ensure that when regulators do start to take a closer look at ICOs and cryptocurrencies, that all the necessary documentation is on file and easily obtainable.

Keep reading via WSJ

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Goldman Sachs Goes Crypto; Opens Bitcoin Trade Desk

Goldman Sachs, the venerable investment bank and trading house, has been called lots of things, including “Squid.” But nobody on Wall Street can dispute the fact that $GS is uniquely innovative and perhaps, a firm that can smell the trail of money better than its peers and explains why Goldman is opening a bitcoin trade desk. While JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon has repeatedly said bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are at worst, the foundation to a Ponzi scheme, and at best, a passing fad, Goldman’s CEO Lloyd Blankfein has a different, more open-minded view. As evidenced by last week’s announcement, Goldman is opening a digital asset trade desk to accommodate a growing spectrum of hedge funds, endowments and foundations that already own digital assets or intend to deploy funds to the alt currency asset class. The new digital asset desk will be led by a fellow named Justin Schmidt, an MIT quant jock who previously worked at several quantitative investment management firms, including a hedge fund connected to The Schoenfeld Group.

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Jason Schmidt, Goldman Sachs Crypto Trader

As reported by NYT reporter Nathan Popper, “…While Goldman will not initially be buying and selling actual Bitcoins, a team at the bank is looking at going in that direction if it can get regulatory approval and figure out how to deal with the additional risks associated with holding the virtual currency….Rana Yared, one of the Goldman executives overseeing the creation of the trading operation, said the bank was clear-eyed about what it was getting itself into…”

Ms. Yared said the bank had received inquiries from hedge funds, as well as endowments and foundations that received virtual currency donations from newly minted Bitcoin millionaires and didn’t know how to handle them. The ultimate decision to begin trading Bitcoin contracts went through Goldman’s board of directors.

Whether your company is a fintech startup planning a private placement offering, a crypto concern with a custom token offering that is seeking to raise capital from qualified or accredited investors via an Initial Coin Offering (ICO), a Securities Token Offering (STO)or if you are fast growth firm setting the stage for an initial public offering (IPO), a properly prepared offering prospectus or offering memorandum is required by your investors and industry regulators that govern securities offerings. Issuers seeking expert, yet affordable investor document solutions rely on experts at Prospectus.com.

Goldman has already been doing more than most banks in the area, clearing trades for customers who want to buy and sell Bitcoin futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board Options Exchange.

In the next few weeks — the exact start date has not been set — Goldman will begin using its own money to trade Bitcoin futures contracts on behalf of clients. It will also create its own, more flexible version of a future, known as a non-deliverable forward, which it will offer to clients.

To read the full NYT story, click here.

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SEC Subpoena Smackdown: ICO Issuers & Enablers Get Pinned

An SEC subpoena is not exactly what any Issuer (or stock promoter) puts on the top of their birthday wish list. And, for crypto cool kids who are either already a member of the ICO Issuers Club, or who have applied to become part of the dapper dapp crowd that is floating digital coin or digital token offerings, its time to make sure that you have set aside real cash (or crypto-currency) for defense counsel fluent in engaging with the SEC.

According to multiple news outlets, the top US securities regulator has launched a series of cluster bombs in the form of SEC subpoena aimed at ICO Issuers and respective enablers. Included in the SEC’s ‘outreach” are  ‘consultants, advisors, promoters, and other actors who have played a role in helping blocktech start-up companies raise what industry experts believe to be billions of dollars through initial coin offerings. Of that figure, forensic investigators believe at least $200 million raised by several dozen ICO companies during the past year  has “gone south.”

As noted by investor document preparation firm Prospectus.com, “According to multiple news outlets, in recent weeks the SEC has sent subpoenas to dozens of blocktech companies and individuals who are involved in cryptocurrency, including crypto crowd thought-leader Patrick Byrne, the founder of Overstock.com and his company’s cryptocurrency-focused subsidiary, tZero. When Overstock announced in early November they would be launching an ICO, the company’s shares skyrocketed from the the mid $20’s to nearly $90 per share in a manner of days. When it was revealed this week that Overstock (NASDAQ:OSTK) was one of multiple companies that have received SEC subpoenas, its share price plunged 20% in two days.

“ICO Issuers are compelled to understand the term “Caveat Venditor”, lest they be moved to the top of the SEC’s ICO Subpoenas list.”

The targets of the initial coin offering crackdown subpoenas include potential SEC enforcement actions against companies that have launched ICOs, the cryptocurrency equivalent of IPOs, as well as their lawyers and advisers. The subpoenas reportedly include requests for information on how ICO sales and pre-sales are structured, according to anonymous sources to WSJ. The SEC is also requesting the identities of the investors who bought digital tokens, The New York Times found. The SEC declined to comment.

caveat-venditor-ico-issuersPeter Berkman, a Florida-based securities attorney and US Federal Bar Association member who also advises investor document preparation firm Prospectus.com, stated “Nobody should be ‘shocked’ that regulators are stepping up their scrutiny of ICOs given that many have the characteristics straight out of “Boiler Room 4.0.” There’s a cadre of bad actors and so-called promoters who are preying on the naivete of start-up entrepreneurs as well as the greed profile of unsophisticated investors,” stated Berkman.

There are steps that ICO issuers can take to stay inside the regulatory goal posts, or at very least, under the radar given that SEC rules for ICOs remain in the ‘forming stage. Attorney Berkman advocates ICO Issuers should be compelled to understand the term “Caveat Venditor”, unless they want to be moved to the top of the SEC’s ICO Subpoenas list. Prospectus.com thought-leaders were arguably early to opine that among other ICO compliance guidelines to follow, accredited investor guidelines should be embraced by ICO issuers. The firm has provided multiple crypto cool kids and start-up entrepreneurs with a best practice approach to raising capital in the course of advancing  digital token and digital coin offerings.

To continue reading via blog post at Prospectus.com, click here

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