The Rise of Buy & Build FX E-trading Solutions

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Delivering Functionality in Response to Convergence of Market Structure

This report, produced by GreySpark Partners in collaboration with capital markets technology vendor Itiviti ULLINK, presents a report examining the design and utilisation of trading technology solutions in the flow FX marketplace in 2018. Specifically, the report explores the development of those FX e-trading solutions from the perspective of investment bank buyers of the technology and the desire among many banks for the products to increasingly offer cross-asset class trading capabilities.

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The flow FX market – comprising spot as well as vanilla OTC and listed FX futures and forwards – was historically structured as a multi-tiered market with a strong focus on a dealer-to-client trading venue market supported by the dealer-to-dealer platforms used by investment banks for hedging and risk management. Consequently, currencies liquidity within this two-tier structure was fragmented, and traditional asset managers and institutional investors interacted with only a small number of trusted broker-dealers.

Equities derivatives markets – which historically revolved around a single exchange for the trading of a given instrument and in all liquidity for that instrument was concentrated – fragmented since the introduction of Reg NMS in the US in 2006 and the EU’s MiFID I in 2007. In 2018, equities derivatives liquidity is spread across a range of venues and matching methodologies, including some structured as multi-tiered, D2C markets.

As a result of these shifts in the structure of both markets, convergence between the two is occurring, and market participants are adopting new behaviours and trading solutions tools – the functionality of which are often refined in the other asset class before being adapted for the new context – such that the key criteria for flow FX and equities derivatives market-makers as to what the core, functional components of the solutions must allow them to achieve are also converging.

Recognising the similarities between the markets, broker-dealers are beginning to consolidate their disparate FX and equities trading desks. This consolidation both calls for and is supported by changes in the technology landscape; technology vendors increasingly offer multi-asset trading solutions, which broker-dealers purchase to refresh their historical technology stacks and, ultimately, to reduce technology cost overheads.

This report examines how combined FX and equities desks now have a unique opportunity to utilise a range of trading technology toolkits that are capable of servicing the needs of both asset classes while also accommodating their remaining, marginal differences.

Published on: 31 Mar, 2018

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