Weighing up best-ex and best innovation

Competition amongst exchanges was a defining theme in MiFID I, but when it comes to best execution and trading venue fee structures, MiFID II might reverse some of that. MiFID II acknowledges that exchanges compete on fee structures and even establishes some basic rules (see RTS 10). But by tightening the bolts on best execution obligations, the new regulations can present conflicting... Read More

ESMA sheds light on dark trading caps

ESMA today published its first Q&A on MiFIR transparency topics which focuses on the double volume caps (DVCs) in equity markets and clarifies how markets can transition to the new DVC regime. The document outlines how to calculate the market share of non-transparent trading for instruments only coming in scope under MiFID II (think ETFs, for example). ESMA will make the assumption... Read More

The long and the short of it

MiFID II requires trading venues to store personally identifiable information (each potentially 50 characters long) relating to the traders, investment managers and clients of the orders they receive. While it might be very convenient for surveillance to have order book data married up with personal data, this requirement is not only an additional burden to system load but also... Read More

Tumbling down the rabbit hole

With much of the MiFID II Level 2 text close to being finalised, the markets continue to dive even deeper into the details and home in on Level 3 material, such as the Q&As and ESMA guidelines. One such detail lies in the phrase “traded on a trading venue” which is used in MiFIR to define instrument scope for topics such as pre- and post-trade transparency, systematic... Read More

True innovation?

The recent slew of exchange announcements introducing new dark trading facilities in response to MiFID II would appear to suggest that the regulation has triggered a whole raft of innovations. But is that what’s really happening here? Euronext tells us it is planning to introduce a new liquidity discovery service building on its existing iceberg orders. Looking at the detail,... Read More

Light relief for dark pools – but for how long?

The dark pool debate has raged across the globe for some time now and, in every jurisdiction, it’s more often than not accompanied by a smattering of assumptions on almost everything and certain knowledge of almost nothing. Fair enough, in the absence of hard facts, the term dark pool doesn’t really instil a great deal of trust from the outside world. But this lack of... Read More

MiFID II’s catch-22

Under MiFID II trading venues are required to provide one of two options in order to support members’ testing efforts (RTS 7, Article 10). So exchanges can choose to offer either a realistic testing environment or a testing symbol. As testing can be terribly complicated, different views and opinions about which is better are to be heard across the market. On the one hand,... Read More

A brief history of on/off-exchange

Hailed by legislators as the new framework to close loopholes, MiFID II will see OTC trading face new restrictions, most importantly in the form of the Systematic Internaliser (SI) and the new trading obligations. As the fog slowly lifts, it’s becoming apparent that these new restrictions could impact market structure in surprising ways. A more detailed analysis shows that... Read More

SMP checks in the balance

Self-match prevention (SMP) is offered by many exchanges – CME, ICE, Turquoise and BATS among them – and by the more advanced order management systems. In most cases, employing an SMP check is voluntary for trading firms; that is important because not every prevented self-match is also a prevented (illegal) wash trade. Some regulatory jurisdictions require intent as... Read More

And the MiFID II award for early guidance goes to…

Amidst the on-going rumblings about delays to MiFID II, and the budget and planning uncertainty this has created, it’s good to see that market participants continue to press on with implementation. MiFID II includes many new obligations for venues and, for investment firms, knowing what the exchanges will do fills a significant piece of the puzzle in their overall plan. Despite... Read More

A second chance for the SI?

Looking back at MiFID I, the Systematic Internaliser (SI) didn’t really take off, resulting in a meagre 1-2% market share in the FTSE 100 today. Many EU countries had different models to execute or internalise order flow, leaving the SI model on the shelf like a dented can of beans. Under MiFID II, Brussels will take a stricter approach by introducing quantitative SI thresholds... Read More

All together now…

A common approach will be key to minimising the fallout of MiFID II implementation, particularly around the extra data required for record keeping and transaction reporting and for algo identification. I’m hopeful that the ‘final’ Technical Standards due next month will have at least dropped requirements to include static data. Do we really need multiple systems storing... Read More

Best ex transparency moves to the next level

The draft technical standards for MiFID II require exchanges to publish quarterly execution quality reports (RTS 6). Sell-side firms are expected to digest these and update their best execution policies accordingly. Additionally, sell-sides must publish their own execution quality reports annually (RTS 7), which obviously should be digested by the buy-side. While sceptics might... Read More

Fitting RFQs under MiFID II

With the extension of the MiFID II scope into non-equity asset classes and the tightening of transparency rules, firms relying on requests for quotes (RFQs) have to figure out how this fits under the new regime. Under MiFID I the regulator defined the market models that a trading venue can operate. With MiFID II this list has grown and now includes RFQs. Whether this venue-sponsored... Read More

MiFID II data disaggregation – be careful what you wish for!

Under MiFID II pre- and post-trade data is required to be made available in an unbundled fashion – ultimately the regulator is aiming to drive down data costs. So where trading venues sell their pre- and post-trade data in the same ‘package’ they will be required to also make it available separately at a reasonable cost. Setting aside the cost discussion, the whole... Read More

MiFID II set to cast its net worldwide

The current MiFID II draft suggests that trading venues have to fulfil the transaction reporting for non-EEA exchange members. While it is understandable that regulators want to ensure complete records of all trading activity within Europe, the operational burden could be far-reaching. Currently, exchanges rely largely on trading interfaces to collect information from their members,... Read More

Flagging on the road to transparency

With its aim of increasing transparency around execution quality, under the current draft technical standards MiFID II will require investment firms to provide an annual execution quality report that states, for the top five execution venues, the share of passive and aggressive orders executed by the broker. In many cases the exchange provides a passive/aggressive flag on the trade... Read More

Left in the dark

Currently, it doesn’t really matter whether dark trades are executed under the reference price waiver (RP), large in scale waiver (LIS) or a negotiated trade waiver (NT). However, under MiFID II, the waiver flavour will make a significant difference. Whilst RP and parts of NT will become subject to the clunky double volume cap, LIS will not, so we may expect to see an increase... Read More

Change is the only constant

The unbundling of payment for research is a top concern for the industry. There seems to be general acceptance that, one way or another, Europe is set on the soft dollar research market becoming a hard dollar one by January 2017. Despite calls for more clarity and the recent publication of the FCA discussion paper on the regime, opinion remains divided as to how the use of CSAs... Read More

On a quest for answers in Paris

Travelling to Paris today for tomorrow’s open hearing on MiFID II, the two issues I’ll be mulling over on the Eurostar will be record keeping for trading venues and transaction reporting. Both could potentially trigger significant changes in front and middle office workflows for many trading firms. At the core of my concerns lies the requirement for trading venues to... Read More

One step forward, one step back

Market making, at its core, is a simple exchange where the market maker gives immediate liquidity and takes the bid/ask spread in return. This is set to become much more complicated in MiFID II as ESMA is mandated to introduce market making obligations. Under ESMA’s latest draft investment firms using algorithmic trading for market making for at least 30% of the available trading... Read More

Return of the concentration rule

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… It is a period of calm, with primary exchanges enjoying relatively little competition thanks to concentration rules enforced in many EU countries requiring all equity business to be conducted on exchange. The arrival of a new disruptor, in the form of MiFID I, is about to turn their lives upside down forever. The blanket ban on concentration... Read More

Refocusing on auctions

BATS Chi-X Europe recently announced plans to introduce opening and closing auctions for ETFs, while the LSE plans to introduce an intraday auction for all SETS equities. Although these moves differ in instrument scope, they seem to have a common aim. The buy-side has long complained about the increasing difficulties of executing large block trades. With the new double volume caps... Read More

Hedging swaps with futures: a thing of the past?

As the industry continues to speculate on the trajectory of the swaps market, what’s in store for the final package trade exemption expiring on November 15, 2014, when packages consisting of swaps against futures (so-called ‘invoice spreads’) must be traded on a SEF? The problem with invoice spreads is that the futures component (typically treasury note futures)... Read More

Any port in a storm?

With the European Parliament’s formal adoption of MiFID II in yesterday’s plenary session, the next fundamental industry overhaul is on the horizon. Away from all the noise around HFT, I’ve been looking at the new trading obligation for investment firms that requires them to undertake all trades in shares on a regulated market or MTF, or as a systematic internaliser... Read More

What role for OTFs?

Last week the CFTC published another no-action letter with respect to trading swaps on a European MTF. At the heart of the discussion is the question of whether European MTFs can be considered as equivalent to US SEFs. Given that a number of banks within the scope of Dodd-Frank also need to trade swaps within Europe, this is an important issue. In Europe, the discussion around swaps... Read More

Keeping SEF doors open

The CFTC has come out strongly in defence of the open, impartial nature of SEFs, as envisioned by Dodd-Frank. In a letter issued last Thursday it warns SEFs not to use “enablement mechanisms” to control access to their markets, or to control which participants interact with one another on their platforms. It also warns against engaging in “prohibited discriminatory... Read More

A lose-lose situation?

There are currently 15 SEF applications lodged with the US CTFC at various stages of registration. With experience in other asset classes showing that while many new entrants may emerge only a few will succeed, many in the industry are wondering which of these new SEFs will make it beyond their first birthday. Even for those that do survive there’s no guarantee of a profitable... Read More

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