Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Fragmentation is not a dirty word

In the run up to the implementation of MiFID there was considerable 'umming' and 'aahing' about the impact the relaxation of the 'concentration rule' would have on the proliferation of trading venues and what that would mean in terms of fragmenting liquidity in Europe.

Those that were keen to see the status quo preserved in terms of liquidity residing largely with the national exchanges, painted a confusing picture of multiple trading venues springing up and the challenges of having to connect to all of these venues in order to demonstrate best execution.

Well it seems that debate has been quashed and smart order routing systems are helping "re-aggregate" liquidity.

"Fragmentation is good," said George Andreadis, head of AES, liquidity strategy, Europe, Credit Suisse at Finexpo in London. He then went on to cite a long list of reasons as to why it was good; less cost, lower latency trading, and attracting more liquidity into this space.

While Chi-X Europe may have been the only game in town, with its smarter, faster, cheaper model, Andreadis highlighted a whole host of planned MTFs looming on the horizon, including SmartPool, scheduled to launch in Q2 2008, Project Turquoise, and US "dark liquidity pools" such as BATS Trading and Pipeline, which are contemplating whether to launch this side of the pond.

It appears to be a very crowded and fragmented trading landscape emerging in Europe, mirroring what has already occurred in the US. Yet, Andreadis said that smart order routing technologies made it easier to determine where liquidity resided in 'dark pools'.

His mantra seemed to be that dark liquidity pools and MTFs were here to stay and that traders looking to demonstrate best execution ignored them at their peril. But the key to success in a market where liquidity is fragmented is the smartness of your order routing systems. "There is dumb order routing, smart order routing and very smart order routing," joked Andreadis.

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