With new trading venues catering to institutional investors ready to enter the fray, market participants say that more fragmentation is not necessarily the solution to cure market imbalances.
‘Fragmentation of the markets is not a good thing for long-term investors,” Manoj Narang, chief executive and founder of Tradeworx, a hedge fund and technology firm, told Markets Media. “Regulators need to look at ways to defragment the market. The more different venues there are, the more traders who are technologically sophisticated are at an advantage.”
Narang asserts that market fragmentation hurts, rather than helps, longer term investors because the technology utilized by institutions is not as sophisticated and advanced as those used by high-frequency trading firms. They are less able to effectively wade through the plethora of lit and dark venues in the markets.
“Having more trading venues just complicates matters,” Dennis Dick, a proprietary trader with Bright Trading, a prop trading firm, told Markets Media. “We keep adding more and more layers, adding exchanges and adding dark pools, to try to find a solution, but really the solution is to break it down and start simplifying it all.”
Noted John Houlahan, Chief Operating Officer of OMEX Systems, a broker-neutral order routing and risk management platform that provides direct market access to major equities and options exchanges as well as so-called “dark pools” for broker dealers and buyside firms, “We seem to spend as much time adding routes to new exchanges and ECNs as we do building order and risk management applications. I’ve been in this business for 20 years, and I find myself scratching my head when discovering yet another new “liquidity center”, but with a different ‘spin’ compared to already-existing exchanges.
There are currently 13 equities exchanges in the U.S., along with nine options exchanges. Many of the exchanges are operated under the same corporate umbrella, with NYSE Euronext and Nasdaq OMX each operating three equities markets and two options markets apiece. This is an addition to the 40-50 dark pools operated by independent firms and broker-dealers.
“Do we really need 13 exchanges and 50 dark pools and 200 internalizing broker-dealers,” said Dick. “I know the Securities and Exchange Commission had good intentions with Reg NMS but now we’ve gone too far the other way. We need to start simplifying. The solution is not to add more dark pools.” Continue reading