In a follow-up to my recent post on Aggregation & Spreads: The Race to Zero, I’d like to drill down on the best practices that we use to help brokers distinguish between true retail flow and institutional or proprietary trading flow.
How can they tell which is which, and what can they do to ensure they are receiving the appropriate liquidity for each?
May volumes were very similar to April totals, but still far below the highs reached in February and March. Although volumes were in line with April, profits were far lower. Losses in oil suppressed profitability in the early weeks of May as the majority of retail clients held their long positions into the rally at the start of the month. Movements in indices later in May helped salvage respectable, though below average, overall profits for the month.
In the last year we have seen a dramatic fall in interest from our clients and prospects, particularly retail brokers, in “True Prime of Prime” offerings , i.e. where a broker uses a Prime of Prime (PoP) purely as a credit intermediary and has ‘direct’ relationships with Tier1 Liquidity Providers (LPs).
Following IS Prime’s recent announcement about our partnership with Pelican Trading to integrate their social copy-trading technology into our trading platforms, it’s worth exploring some of the potential issues that copy trading can raise for both retail brokers and Liquidity Providers (LPs), and how IS Prime helps address those issues.
April saw broker volumes fall off significantly from the near-record numbers recorded in February and March. Profits, though down as well, were respectable as a result primarily of mid-month moves in oil markets that saw prices fall briefly into negative territory. Profits were also buoyed by movements in gold and US indices. Oil prices will likely be in focus again in May as we approach the expiration of this month’s futures contract.
The recent rise in market volatility has left all brokers susceptible to being taken advantage of by predatory traders but this is particularly true for startups and smaller brokers. While the opportunities for traders to attempt to exploit brokers have always existed, current market conditions have exacerbated the risk with strategies ranging from weekend gap loading to depth of book and spread arbitrage.
Volume totals in March matched the strong numbers from February, though daily figures trailed off late in the month. Daily profit figures also softened in the second half of the month, but monthly totals exceeded February as volatility in a broad range of markets brought strong early month results. After the turbulent market movements in February and March, volatility will likely continue while markets try to discover their true bottom.
Recently, there have been some new offerings coming on to the market offering retail brokers direct access to liquidity. The implication is that by accessing the primary market “directly”, the broker will get better trading terms.
This is actually not the case, and it shows a fundamental lack of understanding on the part of the technology companies who are providing the offering, and even more surprisingly, the “Prime of Primes” who are “clearing"it.
3 March 2020 – London headquartered IS Prime is the 15th fastest growing financial services company in Europe, according to the Financial Times’ list of Europe’s 1000 fastest growing companies, published on FT.com on 2 March 2020.
February was an excellent month for brokers as Covid-19 coronavirus fears brought volatility to a wide range of markets. Volumes were up substantially from January, with some brokers reaching record monthly totals.
Profits were also robust, driven primarily by late month declines in stock indices and gold. With the uncertainty surrounding coronavirus continuing, the volatility may persist well into March, if not longer.
2020 is off to a strong start as volumes and profits rebounded from a pedestrian month of December.
Early month profits were driven primarily by Gold, and the month finished strong on late month movements in the Euro. Indices also produced profits throughout the month as reactions to the spread of the coronavirus added volatility to equity markets.
When the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) introduced its new trading rules in 2018, retail brokers had to rethink their strategies due to the more demanding regulatory environment and the corresponding squeeze in profits. In particular, following the Product Intervention Measures, brokers have been looking beyond Europe in order to diversify their client base and maintain volumes.
Liquidity is one of, if not the most important parts of a broker’s business and is one of its key differentiators - without the right pricing in the right products delivered in the right way it is extremely difficult for brokers to survive in this increasingly competitive environment. As a result, the proper assessment and selection of an FX Liquidity Provider is something that brokers should undertake very carefully.
At IS Risk Analytics, we oversee over 1 Trillion USD in notional volume on a monthly basis. This includes startup brokers, established powerhouses and everything in between.Within our client books we see all of the tricks malicious “retail traders” use to take advantage of brokers. This includes cross broker arbitrage, malicious Expert Advisors (EAs), spraying the market, spoofing, the list goes on.
When I sat on a panel at the FX Week conference in London alongside representatives from industry peers, we were all asked “how does the cost of your service compare to the cost of a Tier 1 PB?” The response of our peers was unanimous and astonishing, all of them stating that their service will be “a little more expensive” than a Tier 1 PB.
Today we were delighted to learn that IS Prime has been voted by readers of Profit and Loss as the Best FX Prime of Prime Services Provider, in their 2019 Readers’ Choice Awards, otherwise known as the FoXys.
Imagine the situation… you are sitting on the trading desk reviewing activity for the day and you come across a pocket of traders who were able to arbitrage your feed systematically. It has been a few hours since the transactions took place. The traders have already transferred the profits to linked accounts which have since withdrawn the funds. Now you must explain how this happened to your Head of Risk and CEO, who will undoubtedly not be pleased to hear the news.