Tag Archives: marketsmuse

sester-estonia-mnuchin-govt-bonds-1927

Trump, Russia & Estonia Share Common Bond: 1927 Estonian Govt Bond Certificates

MarketsMuse Exclusive: The Trump-Russia-Estonia Government Bond connection, first disclosed three weeks ago by a MarketsMuse investigative report that linked US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin to a cache of rare, $1000 USD denominated 1927 Estonian Govt bond certificates, has a new layer of intrigue. According to Trump White House sources, last week Estonian Finance Minister Sven Sester visited the White House and held a one hour private meeting with Trump’s Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin and Gary Cohn, Trump’s chief economic advisor. The meeting reportedly took place days after April 14, when President Trump ordered White House visitor logs  be kept secret from public disclosure for the first time since Richard Nixon held that office. In view of the current President’s gag order on disclosing names of lobbyists, foreign government agents and all other visitors to the White House, the loose-lipped White House whistle blower’s view of Estonia’s Sester and Trump team members meeting could not be independently confirmed. The topics discussed in this week’s rumored meeting were equally secret.

republic-estonia-1927-bond-certificate-mnuchin
At issue: 1927 Govt of Estonia Debt Certificate
sester-estonia-mnuchin-govt-bonds-1927
Estonia Finance Minister Sester (l), US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin (r)

As first disclosed three weeks ago, a rare collection of US dollar denominated bonds ($1000 face value) issued by the Government of Estonia in 1927  has purportedly wound up in the personal hands of Mnuchin. The bonds represent a portion of a $3.8 million sovereign debt offering that went into default after Russia annexed Estonia in 1940, thirteen years into the term of the issuance’s 40-year maturity, whereby each bond obligation came with a 7% per year interest payment promise.

!n 1991, when Boris Yeltsin was Russia’s leader, Estonia secured its independence from Russia and a new Government of Estonia was formed.  If the 1927 Estonian Govt Bond Certificates are somehow deemed to be legitimate debt obligations today, and whether Russian President Vladimir Putin will offer to pay a repatriation payment tp Estonia on behalf the Russian government, each USD $1000 certificate would now be worth more than $130,000, presuming the interest payment coupons from 1940-1967 remain affixed to the physical certificate. International experts who specialize in defaulted government debt peg the value of the Estonia bonds to be of a historical nature only, as evidenced by a listing of small collection of certificates, which, aside from Mnuchin’s purported stash, are thought to be the last known certificates of the three thousand $1000 face certs issued in 1927. A portion of that 1927 debt offering included eight hundred $500 face value certificates; the last remaining four $500 certificates are also being offered as a collector’s item.

US Treasury Secretary Mnuchin’s early career roles includes a stint as a bond salesman for Goldman Sachs; he later played a role in acquiring subprime mortgage lender IndyMac in 2009 when it was auctioned off by the FDIC. Soon after, Mnuchin moved into the world of feature film production. Cohn, who prior to becoming the Director of Trump’s National Economic Council, led Goldman’s Fixed Income, Currency and Commodities (FICC) division before moving up to the role of the firm’s President and Chief Operating Officer. Continue reading

hooray-high-touch-trade-execution-marketsmuse

Buy-Side Managers Say: Hooray for High-Touch

High-Touch or High-Tech? That is The Question.. Virtually any industry professional will acknowledge the now two-decade evolution of financial markets whereby the electronification of equity, options, currency and even fixed income markets has been the primary catapult for business models wrapped in high-tech trading services, trading software applications and niche offerings advanced by trade execution providers throughout the global financial markets. As a consequence, “button-pushing” has displaced a myriad of traditional “high-touch” broker-dealers whose value-add had been completely dependent on human capital; professional traders who are experts at navigating markets and skilled at sourcing liquidity via networks of embedded relationships throughout the trading market ecosystem. One need only count the number of sell-side traders who have been “put out to the dinosaur pasture” to appreciate the impact of ‘progress.’ But, any industry trading technology wonk who insists they can hear the fat lady singing  “the last nail is about to be placed in the coffin of high-touch trade execution”, a recent survey conducted by Consultancy Aite Groupe suggests that a significant number of buy-side managers greatly prefer high-touch to high-tech. Aite’s study is based on an online survey of 42 buyside firms throughout the second half of last year, with the majority of firms managing assets of more than $50bn.

Below excerpt from latest MarketsMedia.com story “High-Touch Hangs On in Equities” by Shanny Basar frames the story..

Fund managers still prefer high-touch, rather than electronic execution for more than a third of US cash equities and non-US cash equities according to new research.

Consultancy Aite Group said in a report Buy-Side Front-Office Trends: The ABCs of Trading Behavior that it is “mildly surprising” that high-touch execution styles are still preferred by investors for as much as 38% of US cash equities and 41% of non-US cash despite equities having the longest history of electronic trading and the earliest adoption of algorithms.

High-touch typically involves agency execution with discretion, principal/capital commitment and investors requesting a direct quote over the phone from a sales trader or passing an agency order for them to work.

“This may partially be explained by the increasing complexity associated with market fragmentation in the US equities market and the proliferation of dark pools and exchanges, all competing for order flow,” added Aite. “Average trade sizes have shrunk to less than 200 shares per trade, typically a small fraction of total order size. And at the same time, there continues to be challenges with sourcing liquidity for mid- and small-cap stocks.”

“As a result, sales traders remain relevant in assisting with trade facilitation and intermediating an agency block trade between two buyside customers with opposite sides of an equities trade.”

Sales traders are also sometimes asked to intervene in algorithmic orders, although intervention or suspension are both very rare. For example, human intervention may be required if intraday market conditions, such as extreme volatility, affect an algorithm’s performance.

However, the study also found that electronic trading continues to gain its footing across all asset classes at a steady pace across the globe. Therefore investors investors need to continue in invest in upgrading technology to find new sources of alpha, comply with new regulations, cut costs and increase efficiency. “The days of phone-based or plain vanilla chat-enabled trading are numbered,” added Aite.

matt-villarreal-mischler-financial
Matt Villarreal, Mischler Financial Group

 

However many broker-dealers have failed to keep up and have since gone the way of the Ford Pinto,  there is a cadre of always-forward-thinking sell-side desks who refrained from making “all-in high tech” bets, and instead, embraced the proposition of combining the best of both high-touch and high-tech applications. According to Matt Villarreal, the head of global equities for agency-execution firm and boutique broker-dealer Mischler Financial Group, “Most thoughtful fund managers understand that risk-reward analysis applies not only to the underlying investment style or strategy, but also when mapping out execution strategies, and whenever “best execution” is a component that has to be weighed.” Added Villarreal, “Because “best execution” has become a ubiquitous phrase, every manager has their own opinion as to the meaning, often boiling down to “the right price at the right time when considering all of the factors.” The institutional managers we work with truly embrace the value of our combining bespoke, high-touch capabilities that extend across US domestic as well as international stocks, with best-in-class trading technologies in order to achieve their view of true best execution.”

To continue reading the entire story from MarketsMedia.com, click here Continue reading

fintech-top-40-2017-II-Magazine

Institutional Investor 2017 Top 40 Trading Tech Top Guns

And The Winner Is….Institutional Investor Presents 2017 Top 40 Trading Tech Top Guns

Who says trading technology wonks are under-appreciated within the context of recognition by industry followers? Certainly not MarketsMuse fintech curators, and definitely not Institutional Investor Magazine, which brings us their annual ranking of the top trading technologists on the planet.

“The Trading Technology 40 were selected by Institutional Investor editors, taking into account nominations and input from industry experts. The leadership criteria include recent and career accomplishments and contributions to individual companies and to the industry at large; scope and complexity of executive responsibilities; and pure technological innovation.”

The 2017 ranking was compiled under the direction of II Senior Contributing Editor Jeffrey Kutler. Profiles were written by Kutler; Asia Bureau Chief Allen T. Cheng; Staff Writer Jess Delaney; and Senior Writers Frances Denmark, Imogen Rose-Smith, and Julie Segal.

Here’s an excerpt from the just published findings..

Modern financial markets could not function without automation. Traders, counterparties, and transaction-processing infrastructures depend on automation to cope with the avalanches of data that are both generated by the markets and essential to their reliability and integrity. Despite occasional glitches — which have become progressively less frequent and less severe since the disastrous flash crash of May 2010 — it all happens so smoothly that it is easy to take the technology for granted.

That’s a credit to the technologists of the trading world featured in this year’s Trading Technology 40. Whether they work in equities, fixed income, currencies, commodities, or derivatives, the executives listed here are pioneering solutions to countless problems presented by the size and complexity of markets.

Whether your fintech or trading technology company is planning a private placement offering available to a select universe of friends and family, qualified investors or an initial public offering (IPO) via an exchange listing, a prospectus or offering memorandum is required by your investors and industry regulators that govern securities offerings. The experts at Prospectus.com have prepared business plans, offering documents and more for a discrete universe of financial technology start-ups.

To view the winners and their biographies, go straight to II’s article via this link

Continue reading
interactive-brokers-options-market-making-retreat

Interactive Brokers to Retreat From Options Market-Making

(FinanceMagnate)–Electronic trading firm Interactive Brokers Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:IBKR) aka “IB”has announced its plans to put an end to its options market making activities globally.

The operations, which are conducted through the Timber Hill companies, are expected to be phased out over the coming months. The broker will continue carrying out certain trading activities in stocks and related instruments.

In a press release, Thomas Peterffy, Chairman and CEO, explained that “Today retail order-flow is purchased by large order internalizers and joining them would represent a conflict we do not wish to have. On the other hand, providing liquidity to sophisticated, professional synthesizers of short-term fundamental, technical and big data is not a profitable activity”.

Added Peterffy, an immigrant from Hungary who was recently featured in Forbes for having a net worth north of as much as $15bil, “Having initiated the first automated option market making operation in the mid ’80s, which grew into the largest such business on a global scale over the next 25 years, it’s been painful for me to see it deteriorating in the last few years. But we do not have a choice in this matter. Today retail order-flow is purchased by large order internalizers and joining them would represent a conflict we do not wish to have. On the other hand, providing liquidity to sophisticated, professional synthesizers of short-term fundamental, technical and big data is not a profitable activity.

“We must focus on continuing to build our brokerage platform to empower our customers with first rate execution and account management capabilities at very low cost. This remains our mission, to which we must devote our full attention. In retrospect, 40 years of market making gave us the financial resources and the unique expertise to develop our superior brokerage platform for cost and execution sensitive, professional investors and traders, and to give them the edge to successfully compete in the marketplace.”

In addition, Interactive Brokers’ management is conducting a review of the facilities and staffing, with the review set to be completed in the near future. The goal, as the broker put it, is “optimizing the deployment of the Company’s resources”.

If you’ve got a hot tip, a bright idea, or if you’d like to get visibility for your firm through MarketsMuse.com via subliminal content marketing, advertorial, blatant shout-out, spotlight article, etc., please reach out via this link

Along with this shift toward electronic brokerage, Interactive Brokers said it planned to rebalance the composition of currencies in the GLOBAL, a basket of 15 major currencies in which it holds its equity, by increasing the relative weight of the US dollar vs. the other currencies to approximately 70% from the current weight of about 47%. The new composition is set to become effective at the close of business on March 31, 2017, whereas the conversion to the new targeted currency holdings will happen soon after that. Continue reading

biblically-responsible-sin-free-etf-marketsmuse

Will God Bless These Biblically-Responsible, Sin-Free ETFs?

sin-free-etf-gekko-marketsmuseIt didn’t take Michael Douglas aka Gordon Gekko to remind investors that Greed is Good or that Sin Stocks (aka Vice Stocks) have long been the traditional vehicle to benefit from this investing thesis. Those trafficking in Booze, Butts, the other kind of Butts, Betting, and Bullets (as well as companies within Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway portfolio!) are notable components to the leading equity market indices and its easy to pick out a wide swath of companies within  the S&P 500 and Russell 2000 that are selling so-called sinful stuff and performing just fine, thank you. But, even if so-called President Trump made it perfectly clear that crotch-grabbing is permissible for [certain] people, POTUS does eschew smoking and drinking (but not gambling!) and companies whose products or services offend faith-based focused investors are blasphemous to the truly compliant. So what’s a God-fearing or God-loving investor to do? They can go to Global X and embrace The Global X S&P 500® Catholic Values ETF (NASDAQ:CATH) –which has returned nearly 15% since its April 2016 launch (inclusive of dividend) or you can get even more inspired by taking communion with Inspire Investing, the newest exchange-traded fund Issuer that is offering two Sin-Free ETFs.

Northern Lights Distributors LLC, an institutional brokerage firm based in Warren Buffett’s hometown of Omaha, Nebraska is the sponsor behind Hollister, Calif-based Inspire Investing’s just introduced biblically-responsible funds; a small- and medium-size company fund and a large-company fund called Inspire Global Hope Large Cap ETF. The Inspire Global Hope Large Cap ETF, symbol NASDAQ: BLES, and Inspire Small/Mid Cap Impact ETF, which goes by NASDAQ:ISMD, made their trading debuts on Tuesday, as first reported by ETF.com. The Inspire Core Bond Impact ETF is likely to launch in March, completing the trinity. The precise holdings of the funds haven’t been determined yet.

The holdings of these funds are determined by Inspire Investing’s “Inspire Impact Score.” The gauge evaluates securities based on what the firm sees as their “alignment with biblical values and the positive impact the company has on the world through various environmental, social and governance criterion.”

The prospectus for the three ETFs filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission discusses some corporate behaviors or affiliations that would exclude a given security from the funds. The methodology removes any company that has any degree of participation in certain activities:

  • abortion
  • gambling
  • alcohol
  • pornography
  • the LGBT lifestyle
  • rights violations such as association with or doing business in terrorist-sponsoring countries, countries having oppressive systems of government, and countries where there are known human rights violations related to the persecution or severe discrimination against Christians, and poor labor practices

As the Bible says “Give credit where credit is due”, this MarketsMuse curator is obliged to credit Bloomberg LP’s Luke Kawa and NYT Dealbook’s Liz Moyer with the coverage…

If you’ve got a hot tip, a bright idea, or if you’d like to get visibility for your firm through MarketsMuse.com via subliminal content marketing, advertorial, blatant shout-out, spotlight article, etc., please reach out via this link

(DealBook) By LIZ MOYER 01 March 2017 Serving both God and money has long been an aim of fund companies that exclude “sin stocks” of companies dealing in tobacco, guns, gambling and the like in their investments.

Now, two new exchange traded funds offer a conservative evangelical — what is called “biblically responsible” — tilt to that investing approach. The funds explicitly say in their regulatory filing that they will avoid buying shares in companies that have “any degree of participation in activities that do not align with biblical values,” including what they call the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender “lifestyle.”

The approach is squarely at odds with that of nearly all of corporate America, and there is plenty of academic evidence that supports the notion that Vice aka Sin Stocks provide compelling returns, per excerpt below from Forbes April 2015 edition

Academic studies support the argument for vice stocks that underpins the Barrier Fund, finding the group has “less institutional ownership and less analyst coverage than otherwise comparable stocks” and that social norms have “significant price effects.” According to researchers from Princeton University and the University of British Columbia, “sin stocks outperform comparables even after controlling for well-known return predictors.”

In February, Credit Suisse published a study out of the London Business School that found more of the same. The piece, authored by Elroy Dimson, Paul Marsh and Mike Staunton, noted that Sullivan’s vice-focused fund easily outpaced the returns of a Vanguard fund tracking a socially-responsible index of stocks since 2002.

“[M]uch of the evidence that we review suggests that ‘sin’ pays,” the study found, highlighting the key elements that make vice stocks compelling investments. “The rationale for ‘vice’ investing is that these companies have a steady demand for their goods and services regardless of economic conditions, they operate globally, they tend to be high-margin businesses, and they are in industries with high entry barriers.”

Ninety-two percent of the Fortune 500 companies include “sexual orientation” in their nondiscrimination policies and 82 percent include “gender identity.” For the first time, half of Fortune 500 companies offer transgender-inclusive health care benefits, including for surgical procedures.

“There are millions of people, including people of faith, for whom discrimination is not a biblical value,” said Mark Snyder, the director of communications for the Equality Federation, a national advocacy group. “Businesses have been leading the fight for full equality over the last few years. L.G.B.T. people are part of the fabric of our nation. We have families, we go to work, we simply wish to be treated equally.”

The chief executive of the company that introduced the two new funds, Inspire Investing, says he has no problems with companies providing benefits to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees and having nondiscrimination policies. “As Christians, we love our neighbors in the L.G.B.T. community and encourage companies to provide equal employee benefits for all,” said the chief executive, Robert Netzly.

But he added, “A company deciding to spend money and time to pursue a hard-line activist agenda that has nothing to do with their core business is a different issue, and is a waste of investor dollars.”

Issues investing — some call it “socially responsible investing,” which includes the “E.S.G.” (environmental, social and governance) style of investing — has been a hot business in recent years. Major investors like the pension fund behemoth known as Calpers have made it a part of their philosophy, even though the strategy has costs in lost investment opportunity. Last year, for example, Calpers re-endorsed its ban on tobacco stocks, though staff recommended the opposite.

“The minority are a success, and the majority are flops,” said Ben Johnson, the director of E.T.F. research at Morningstar. “It’s spaghetti slinging.”

The new funds would hardly be the first religion-oriented investment products. An earlier group of funds tracking Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist and, more generally, Christian, values came out in 2009 but folded in 2011 with just $2 million, Morningstar said.

There are also the $790 million iShares MSCI KLD 400 Social ETF and the $500 million iShares MSCI USA ESG Select ETF, which look for stocks of companies with good labor policies or sustainable and renewable products. There are also longstanding mutual funds, such as the $927 million Domini Impact Equity fund.

Last year, Global X introduced a fund that adheres to the values of the Roman Catholic Church, and it has taken in $87 million in assets, according to Morningstar. The idea came from conversations with clients that invest on behalf of Catholic groups and foundations, which follow the guidelines set out by the church, he said.

The large-company fund tracks an Inspire-created index of 400 companies it screened to match its investment criteria, which follow conservative Christian values, Mr. Netzly said.

Shares of Berkshire Hathaway, whose chief executive, Warren E. Buffett, has been a major donor to Planned Parenthood, would not make the cut, he said. Nor would Apple, Mr. Netzly said, claiming that pornography can be purchased through iTunes. (An Apple spokesman said pornography is not permitted.)

Companies like Amazon that have publicly supported gay marriage also would not pass muster. “Any company that takes a hard-line approach” to the issue would not pass the test, Mr. Netzly said.

On the other hand, shares of Tesla Motors and Under Armour would.

Continue reading the main story Continue reading

bitcoin-etf-marketsmuse

Bitcoin Price Surge in Advance of SEC Decision to Approve Bitcoin ETF

Speculators betting on the SEC approving the very first Bitcoin ETF listing helped push the price of the digital currency aka crytopcurrency to a record high in advance of a March 11 SEC meeting in which regulators are scheduled to determine whether the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust ETF [proposed ticker NASDAQ:COIN] is fit for every day investors to purchase and trade on public markets.  In over-the-counter trading on Friday, the price of a single bitcoin soared to as high as $1,200 per bitcoin i Europe’s Bitstamp exchange, before easing to about $1,190. Aggregated bitcoin exchange prices pegged the price at closer to $1174. That put the total value of all bitcoins in circulation — or the digital currency’s “market cap”, as it is known — at close to $20 billion, around the same size as Iceland’s economy.

bitcoin-etf-sec-decision-marketsmuseThe bitcoin ETF is the brainchild of Harvard-educated investors Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, the twin brothers who for years claimed to be the genius behind the creation of Facebook (NYSE:FB). The pair first submitted their initial offering prospectus for a bitcoin exchange-traded fund nearly four years ago. They have since modified the offering documents several times in an effort to appease securities regulators. If approved, everyday investors will have simple access to the cryptocurrency on a major exchange for the very first time, which would no doubt legitimize Bitcoin’s existence and according to some, likely push its value much higher.

Two other prospective bitcoin ETF issuers have more recently filed offering prospectuses with the Securities & Exchange Commission. SolidX Partners sought SEC approval last July for its bitcoin ETF, SolidX Bitcoin Trust , which also would be listed on the NYSE. In January, Grayscale Investments filed to list its own Bitcoin Investment Trust on the NYSE.

According to ETF Daily News, “A ten-day rally for the cryptocurrency has narrowed its gap with the precious metal to the smallest on record. Each asset has been touted as an alternative to regular currencies, because of constraints on their supply and the capacity they offer to sidestep governments.”

bitcoin-price-vs-gold-price

First invented in 2008, the price of a bitcoin has performed better than any other currency in every year since 2010 apart from 2014, when it was the worst-performing currency, and has added almost a quarter to its value so far this year.

Per ETF Daily News, many hurdles remain for the ETF to pass regulators’ tests. “The SEC is worried about Bitcoin’s safety, security, volatility, and shareholder protection. “Traditional financial players have largely shunned the web-based “crytpocurrency,” viewing it as too volatile, complicated and risky, and doubting its inherent value. ” On the other hand, some analysts say regulatory approval of a bitcoin ETF would make the currency relatively attractive to the often more cautious institutional investor market.

But despite potentially high returns, low correlations with other currencies and assets, falling volatility and increasing liquidity, there is scant evidence so far that most major players are considering investing in the digital currency.

“Bitcoin is just not liquid enough for us to even think about,” said Paul Lambert, fund manager and head of currency investment at Insight, in London.

“We manage billions and billions of dollars we’d need to be able to go into that market and trade in hundreds of millions of dollars at a time, and my sense is it’s not like that.”

 

marijuana-etf-emerging-agrosphere

Marijuana ETF Issuer Tokes On Listing-Trump SEC Head Could Get Stoned

Let’s guess that more than 65% of ETF traders and investors have been clamoring for a marijuana ETF, but just when it seemed to be on the verge of happening, a bunch of folks sponsoring such an exchange-traded fund got hit with what could be a ‘bad high.’ The ink was barely dry on the prospectus filed with the SEC last week by ETF Managers Group LLC for its  Emerging AgroSphere ETF, the proposed first marijuana industry exchange-traded fund and then, “BAM!”–so-called President Donald Trump tweeted yesterday morning that he has charged so-called US Attorney General Jeff Sessions with cracking down on the marijuana industry.  Trump’s plan to stone stoners was confirmed by White House spokesperson Sean Spicer later Thursday afternoon.

Yes, that ‘s right–the creative folks at ETFMG, the sponsor behind the planned pot-flavored ETF apparently didn’t get the memo that among the “traditionalist policies” that country-club mogul-turned-POTUS seeks to advance includes cracking down on cannabis!

That’s all despite the fact more than two dozen U.S. states have legalized some form of marijuana for medical or recreational use and despite support for legalization of marijuana has risen to nearly 60 percent among U.S. adults, according to the Oct 2016 study by Pew Research Center, and let’s not forget the poll released Thursday Feb 24 by Quinnipiac University which showed 71% of Americans oppose efforts to enforce federal marijuana laws in states where it’s legal.

According to ETF Managers Group LLC, the Emerging AgroSphere ETF would give investors an opportunity to buy a group of companies making prescription drugs using cannabis extracts, selling hemp derivatives and other related stocks. The investment company did not disclose a ticker symbol, its fees or a launch date but said the fund will be listed on NYSE Arca. A spokesman for ETF Managers Group LLC declined to comment.  US AG Jeff Sessions, located sipping bourbon at a downtown DC saloon, refused to comment on the news. Also not commenting on whether the SEC filing will pass muster is recently-appointed SEC Commissioner Jay Clayton,  who until his appointment to join the cadre of other Goldman Sachs- connected top advisors to Trump was a partner at law firm Sullivan & Cromwell and a specialist in public offerings and private placements.

The only White House team member who does not stop commenting on anything is spokesperson Sean Spicer, who stated during a Thursday news briefing “I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement of recreational marijuana and a closer look at medical marijuana as well.”

Despite initial concerns expressed by some within the industry, un-named sources close to the White House have suggested that if they haven’t already, Trump and his inner-circle, including son-in-law Jared Kushner will quickly discover that at least several of Trump’s favorite supporters have close business ties to investors in the cannabis sector, including Trump’s nominee for US Army Secretary and former New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) Chairman Vincent Viola.  The ‘smart money’ with ties to Trump insiders are betting that the recent bluster will have a positive impact on parts of the industry that have been financed by Wall Street top investors, including fintech companies that are entering into the space.

Better known as “Vinny”,  Viola is the Chairman of electronic trading firm Virtu Financial, a $2.5billion market value publicly traded company (NASDAQ: VIRT) Viola, a West Point grad who became a Wall Street billionaire, withdrew his name for consideration soon after being tapped by Trump for the Cabinet-level spot. The walk back was attributed to the financial disclosure process imposed on cabinet-level designates. Viola associates from the NY Merc are investors in Americanex, aka American Cannabis Exchange, a fintech company competing with other upstarts to create a centralized electronic cannabis-trading platform. Americanex, with upwards of $10mil in backing from Wall Street executives, hopes to bring growers, packagers and distributors together in a manner much like that of the world’s leading commodities futures exchange.

““I look at this as an early Nymex,” says Richard Schaeffer, a former chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange. “I look for this to become a very substantial matching engine bringing buyers and sellers together.”

 

Prospectus.com team of capital markets experts and securities lawyers specialize in  preliminary offering prospectus, secondary offering prospectus and full menu of financial offering memorandum document preparation. The firm’s cannabis market domain expertise includes fluency in state rules, regulations, business plan formation and stock exchange listing for medical marijuana and recreational cannabis companies. More information is available via this link

According to a late Thursday poll by MarketsMuse of more than five dozen Wall Street ETF traders, one common theme prevailed: “Trump must be smoking crack if he thinks he can put the genie back in the bottle when it comes to commercializing cannabis.” One ETF market pioneer (who refused to be named for fear of a POTUS twitter attack) suggested “Jay Clayton could get stoned–with big rocks– if he blocks investors from taking stock in an industry that is on track to create thousands of jobs and deliver new found tax revenue that will result from this rapidly emerging multi-billion industry.”

marijuana-etf-emerging-agrosphere Continue reading

paul-azous-borders.org

Finance Industry Vet Behind Non-Profit Borders.Org

Business Plans Without Borders aka Borders.org is a novel non-profit intended to provide wind in the sail for startups launched by immigrants, refugees and under-served inner-city entrepreneurs.  Created by long-time finance industry veteran Paul Azous, the altruistic initiative defies current political in-sensibilities and embraces the simple notion that small businesses are the lifeblood of a vibrant economy.

The spirited debate surrounding immigrants vs. legal immigrants, nationalism vs. populism and let’s not forget the philosophy embraced by White House Svengali Steve Bannon’s  and his leaning to  ‘traditionalism*’, MarketsMuse Curators were inspired to spotlight a news story profiling what is perhaps an easy idea to digest:  it’s all about altruism, or at least that is the thesis being advanced by a long time finance industry consultant who has accrued more domestic and international frequent flier miles than most.

Finance industry veteran Paul Azous, a Seattle-based self-made entrepreneur who is often referred to by polls across the private placement industry for being a  “Top 40 Under 40” has a view that both sides of the aisle should embrace when it comes to putting the wind in the sails of folks who aspire to achieve the American Dream. The thesis that drives the non-profit “Business Plans Without Borders”  is simple: “..if those with passion, focus and entrepreneurial aspirations who want to do good for themselves and their communities lack the compass that can point them to the on ramp are not embraced and given a lift by those who understand the obstacles faced by [legal] immigrants,  refugees and the under-served from within our very own borders, who can we support?!”

Per below news release, Azous and his wife launched the non-profit in Q4 2016 with the goal of providing business plan preparation, mentoring as well as awarding startup grant funding to inner-city entrepreneurs as well as incoming immigrants and refugees who are able to meet merit-based criteria and applicant requests are reviewed by a volunteer Advisory Board comprised of start-up gurus and thought leaders from across various industries. Azous is looking to aggressively add to the advisory network whose members not only review applicants, those advisors are also committing to match grants extended by the non-profit.

SEATTLE, Feb. 15, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Serial entrepreneur and veteran business plan advisor Paul Azous announced that he has recently launched a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting the most vulnerable in society with their business startup needs. The organization, Business Plans Without Borders  assists refugee, immigrant, and inner-city, low income aspiring entrepreneurs with business plan writing assistance in the form of business writing collaboration, the allocation of grants and facilitating networking opportunities with seasoned industry professionals. Aspiring entrepreneurs who qualify for assistance can apply directly via the organization’s website, www.borders.org . Grants are awarded based on merit.

Paul Azous is an 18 year finance industry veteran and Founder/CEO of Prospectus.com, a global consulting firm that assists startups and later stage private and public companies with a broad range of professional services, from business plan and prospectus writing to initial public offering and stock exchange listings.  During the past 15 years, Paul and his firm have guided scores of companies across multiple industries and geographic regions in helping to launch start-up and fast-growth businesses. His primary focus has been on developing business plan summaries, financial and business models, conducting company valuations and assisting with debt or equity offerings. Through a global consultancy framework, Azous has been credited with fast-tracking nearly 5,000 companies in over 50 countries with their business planning and investor documentation needs.

“Creating Borders.org has been a goal of my wife, Tamar and myself for several years, as we’ve always been determined to mentor and back aspiring entrepreneurs who have not had the benefit of a support system,” says Azous. “With Tamar’s background in micro finance and her own “momtrepreneur” experience, coupled with my background, Borders was just a matter of time.”

Entrepreneurs within Border.org’s target demographic typically lack the resources necessary to launch a successful business, even if the business fills a market need. This leaves them unable to raise sufficient funding to adequately develop and market their products or services and consequently, those initiatives are short-lived. Borders.org assists with the most important document that a business owner or entrepreneur must have: the business plan. A business plan enables entrepreneurs to build a roadmap for their company, and is a necessary component to raise capital from qualified investors and/or lending institutions. Borders.org guides entrepreneurs through the strategic business planning process and links them with a wide network of volunteer industry professionals who provide free business startup services, including legal work, accounting, and marketing.

About Borders.org

Business Plans Without Borders aka Borders.org – is a 501(c)(3) non–profit organization. The organization was created to assist low income, refugee and immigrant entrepreneurs with writing and developing their business plans. Borders.org staff works one-on-one with aspiring entrepreneurs, helping them formulate, structure and develop cohesive business models, provides merit-based grants to awardees and networking opportunities with accomplished mentors who can bridge the gap between a strong idea and successful implementation. Continue reading

neil-desena-fintech-senahill-marketsmuse

A Fond Fairwell to Fintech Pioneer Neil DeSena

Those of us who have worked in and/or around the world of electronic trading for more than 15 minutes readily know about REDI, the ubiquitous direct access execution platform for stocks and options that was introduced by Spear Leeds & Kellogg in 1987 to its professional clearing customers, a universe that grew to thousands of professional traders across the globe. For those not old enough to remember Spear Leeds aka SLK, it was one of the financial industry’s largest specialist firms with it biggest boots on the ground on the NYSE and Amex, and for decades, one of the largest clearing agents for stock and options exchange members and upstairs prop traders. SLK was also one of the industry’s most recognized upstairs market-makers until being acquired by Goldman Sachs in 2000 for a whopping $6.5bil. For those in the know, Goldman’s record-setting acquisition was attributed in part to a fellow by the name of Neil DeSena, “a boy from Bayonne” whose name was synonymous with REDI from the day it was first introduced in 1987, to the day the platform came under Goldman Sachs stewardship, to the day in 2016 when REDI was sold by GS for $1bil to Reuters Plc, and for every day in between, including now, when a trader somewhere in the world uses REDI to send a buy or sell order for stocks, options and/or futures into the now global OEMS platform.

History has already shown that the usually prescient Goldman Sachs wanted not only SLK’s prop-trading business and its clearing customers-which delivered hundreds of millions in high-profit revenue , GS also wanted to be at the forefront of electronic trading and SLK provided that. And, it was Neil DeSena who offered that entree. Until his untimely passing last week, barely three months after celebrating his 52nd birthday, Neil DeSena’s name and the brand name REDI remained forever intertwined, despite the fact that Neil had retired from his role as a Goldman Sachs MD several years ago. It was DeSena who was widely-credited for taking the REDI electronic platform from a closed stock and options order routing system for SLK clearing customers to a a billion-dollar, global OEMS platform synonymous for trading stocks and listed equity options. Upon Goldman’s acquisition, Neil became a GS managing director and under their banner, he built REDI into the industry leading global multi-asset trading system, expanding data centers and global networking through Europe and Asia with full interdependency/redundancy, creating a fully 24×7 global institutional trading platform. In 2015, Goldman sold REDI to Reuters for a cool $1bil.

Ironically, Neil DeSena was not an inventor, nor a prodigy software wonk, and not an MIT-educated computer geek or a Harvard MBA. Neil came to the financial industry as most did ‘back in the day’; he was a humble, but eager “boy from Bayonne” who came from a middle-class family and like so many others from the hamlets near the world’s trading centers, he aspired to work on Wall Street’s trading floors. As noted in his bio at SenaHill Partners, the fintech merchant bank Neil co-founded in 2013 with Justin Brownhill after retiring from Goldman, Neil’s first Wall Street job was typical to that of other 23 year olds; he scored an entry-level, back-office clerk (for retail broker Quick & Reilly). After rising through the ranks and learning how to leverage technology and lead people, Neil joined SLK in 1992, where he became the first employee of REDI. To the tens of hundreds that Neil since touched throughout his personal and professional life, ‘the rest is history’, but Neil’s history and the legacy he leaves behind cannot go without mention.

Neil DeSena was a classic innovator and entrepreneur who always maintained a prescient view when it came to the future of marrying technology and financial markets. He was less a student of technology than he was a student of human behavior and the inherent opportunities that technology-based solutions could provide to one of the world’s biggest industries. Better than most, including the legions of Wall Street technology and business development gurus, Neil had an innate and intimate understanding of the the mindset of those who navigated stock and options marts and what they would need to be more efficient and more effective, before those savvy-traders knew themselves. It was Neil’s thought-leadership, his uncanny ability to gain the trust and confidence of those around him, his foresight as to how/where/why technology could be leveraged, and perhaps most of his all, his endearing personality and sense of integrity that served as a benchmark for so many people he encountered.

Never one to rest on his laurels and certainly not like so many from the finance industry who aspire to build wealth for themselves and retire to a life of luxury, when Neil left Goldman Sachs, it took little time to decide “What’s Next?” Joining hands with Justin Brownill, one of the trading tech industry’s most successful entrepreneurs, the two formed SenaHill Partners in 2013 and framed the firm to be one of the very first fintech merchant banks focused on fostering upstart and industry disrupting financial technology firms. Since the firm’s creation barely four years later, more than two dozen finance industry tech pioneers have joined as network advisory board members; each contributing expertise, relationships and insight in their respective areas and helping to review nearly 2500 business plans submitted to SenaHill. The collective of professionals has gained the attention of finance industry and tech industry titans and has put wind behind the sails of dozens of disruptive startups focused on areas from bitcoin and distributed ledger to financial-flavored media platforms.

Irrespective of the degree of success enjoyed by enterprising start-ups that DeSena and Browhill have helped guide, Neil DeSena’s truest success is illustrated less by counting the literally hundreds of people who came to offer kindness and support this past weekend to Neil’s wife Carolyn and his three young children, Madeleine, Neil Anthony, and Jack, but more by the legacy he leaves; Neil always reminded those who were smart enough to listen that “material success is fleeting; honor and integrity are the most important virtues, as it those qualities that we should all be remembered for.” Continue reading

chaos-trump-fiduciary-duty-rule

Trump Team Bungles Fiduciary Duty Rule Edict

Chaos is the active word to best describe the impact of President Trump’s team of executive order writers, evidenced not only by the contentious ‘ban on immigrant visas’, but also when considering the walk back within hours of the President thinking he had signed an executive order to white wash the long-planned Dept of Labor initiative to impose a fiduciary standard on the the financial advisor community, better known as the Fiduciary Duty Rule.

Multiple financial industry news outlets have since reported that financial advisors are not out of the woods, despite the penmanship of the new President

(BrokerDealer.com) :

Were the reports profiling Trump’s ‘executive order’ that repealed the long-planned Dept of Labor implementation of a new fiduciary rule for investment advisors fake news?? Apparently Mr. Trump, along with whoever on his staff is drafting his first 100 days edicts in rapid fire fashion, as well as financial news media wonks and likely a whole bunch of other folks who thought that Trump was trumping the introduction of more regulations on the financial industry were all wrong. According to Michael Kitces of industry publication Bank Investment Consultant, it turns out that  The Fiduciary Rule was NOT Deleted by President Trump – See more at: www.brokerdealer.com

If you’ve got fintech fever, or just a hot tip, a bright story idea profiling global macro, fintech, ETFs, options, or fixed income markets, or if you’d like to get visibility for your firm through MarketsMuse via subliminal content marketing, advertorial, blatant shout-out, spotlight article, etc., please reach out to MarketsMuse Corporate Communication Concierge via this link

(RIAbiz.com)–Trump’s lightning-quick backtrack on executive order relating to DOL rule sows chaos in financial advice industry

The new late-day directive from the president casually strikes the six-month delay on the rule leaving lawyers with mouths agape..

A Trump administration effort to give the financial industry clarity about the fiduciary rule has thrown it into a state of chaos. The executive order sent by the President of the United States to the Department of Labor mandating a review of the fiduciary rule has changed it by either 180 days or 180 degrees — or both.

The main takeaway is the chaos itself around the flip-flop. “This is actually scary,” says Marcia Wagner, partner of The Wagner Law Group, echoing what another ERISA attorney said off the record.  “I’ve been practicing law for 30 years and I’ve never seen anything like this.” See: A veteran securities lawyer takes centenarian stance that the DOL is still ‘suitability’ reworded, when boiling its 1,000-page ‘rule’ down to 16-page ‘guide’

Prospectus.com team of capital markets experts and international securities lawyers specialize in preliminary offering prospectus, secondary offering prospectus and full menu of financial offering memorandum document preparation.

More information re capital raising and related investor offering documentation services via this link

Continue reading

bats-europe-direct-buyside-access

Bats Europe Enables Direct Access for Buy-Side Managers

According to MarketsMuse market structure mavens, if you can say “dis-intermediate” five times in under 5 seconds, or if you can simply spell the word (without looking at this blog post), then “you’ll get the joke” i.e. exchange operator Bats Global Markets (acquired last year by CBOE for $3.2bil) is a disrupt-or. After sell-side firms were given direct access to a new block trading service for the European equity market launched by stock exchange operator Bats Europe in December,  it was just revealed that starting next month, buy-side asset managers will gain direct access to the same block trading platform. The pending roll-out will enable buy-side traders to submit their own Indications of Interest (IOIs) so as to reduce information slippage.

Bats Europe licensed technology from Bids Trading, the largest block trading ATS by volume in the US to launch Bats LIS (Large in Scale) in December. Per reporting from Markets Media….

Dave Howson, chief operating officer at Bats Europe, told Markets Media that average trade size has grown to more than €1m over the past month since sell-side firms were given direct access to Bats LIS. He added: “We have eight to ten brokers regularly utilizing the platform with additional participants joining all the time.”

Buy-side firms have been able to access Bats LIS through a broker but the service is being rolled out so asset managers also have direct access.

Dave Howson, Bats

“Over the next month, buy side will have direct access to submit indications of interest into the Bats LIS platform,” said Howson. “One of the key benefits of the platform is that the buy side control their IOI up until it is matched before turning it over to a designated broker for execution, which means information leakage in minimized.”

Under MiFID II, the new European Union regulations which come into effect in January next year, block trades above a specified minimum size can trade under a large in scale waiver which allows market participants to negotiate trades without the need to make quotes public to meet the pre-trade transparency requirements. The ability to trade large blocks will become even more important as MiFID II also places volume caps on trading in a dark pool without a waiver.

Another MiFID II compliant service for block trading that has been introduced by Bats Europe is the Periodic Auctions book. Launched in October 2015, the Periodic Auctions book is a separate lit book that independently operates intra-day auctions throughout the day. Howson said: “A priority is to change the structure of our Periodic Auction order book to optimise the duration of the auction, which should result in increased order matching.”

If you’ve got fintech fever, or just a hot tip, a bright story idea profiling global macro, fintech, ETFs, options, or fixed income markets, or if you’d like to get visibility for your firm through MarketsMuse via subliminal content marketing, advertorial, blatant shout-out, spotlight article, etc., please reach out to MarketsMuse Corporate Communication Conciege via this link

He continued that another priority in Europe is to increase the volume of trading of exchange-traded funds, which should be boosted by the MiFID II requirements to report ETF trading. Howson added: “The new trade reporting obligation under MiFID II will increase transparency in ETFs so should we expect to see an increase trading of these products on trading venues.”

In June last year Bats launched a new indices business with the introduction of a UK-focused benchmark index series of 18 different indices. In December, Bats added eight indices for the French, German, Italian and Swiss markets bringing the total number of European indices managed by Bats to 26.

“We are currently focused on building European coverage with our indices,” added Howson. “Further down the road we’ll look to create products on the back of the indices, but right now we’re focused on expanding our reach.”

Bats Europe operates a trade reporting facility, BXTR, which will be registered under MiFID II.  BXTR reported more than €4.8trillion in transactions last year.

To continue reading Markets Media coverage, click here
Continue reading

nominees-best-of-ETF-industry

ETF Funds and Folks Nominated for 2016 Best Of by ETF.com

The 2016 BEST ETF funds and People in the ETF industry...Each year, ETF.com and Inside ETFs orchestrate a list of Best Of-the top ETF funds and ETF industry players who have made the greatest positive impact on the industry and investors in exchange-traded funds. The nomination process and voting process is overseen by five of perhaps the most influential thought-leaders in the space. With that, MarketsMuse ETF curators are pleased to offer an advance look at this year’s categories and a selection of category nominees. Winners will be announced March 30 2017.

ETF.com and Inside ETFs are pleased to announce the finalists for the 2016 ETF.com awards. The awards are designed to recognize the people, companies and products that are driving the ETF industry forward and delivering new value to investors.

ETF.com Award winners are selected in a three-part process designed to leverage the insights and opinions of leaders throughout the ETF industry.

Step 1

The awards process began with an open nomination period running from Dec. 5, 2016, through Jan. 4, 2017. Hundreds of nominations from participants in all corners of the ETF space.

INSIDE ETFs 2017
World’s Largest ETF Conference
January 22-25
Diplomat Beach Resort, Hollywood, FL

Following the open nominations process, the ETF.com Awards Nominating Committee—made up of senior leaders at ETF.com, Inside ETFs and FactSet—voted to select up to five finalists in each category. Votes were tallied on a majority basis, and concluded this past weekend. The members of the nominating committee were:

  • Matt Hougan, CEO, Inside ETFs (Chair)
  • Paul Britt, Senior Analyst, FactSet
  • Elisabeth Kashner, Director of ETF Research, FactSet
  • Dave Nadig, CEO, ETF.com
  • Drew Voros, Editor-in-Chief, ETF.com

Winners from these finalists will be selected by a majority vote of the ETF.com Awards Selection Committee, a group of independent ETF experts. Committee members will recuse themselves from voting in any category in which they or their firms appear as finalists. Ties will be decided where possible with head-to-head runoff votes.

Members of the 2016 Awards Selection Committee Include:

  • Kim Arthur, Founding Partner, Main Management
  • Eric Balchunas, ETF Analyst, Bloomberg Intelligence
  • Ben Blaisdell, US Trust
  • Rob Glownia, RiverFront
  • Ben Johnson, Director of Global ETF Research, Morningstar
  • Tom Lydon, Editor, ETF Trends
  • Phil Mackintosh, Managing Director, KCG
  • Jason Nicastro, Senior Research Analyst, LPL Financial
  • Tyler Mordy, President & CIO, Forstrong Global Asset Management
  • Todd Rosenbluth, Director of ETF & Mutual Fund Research, CFRA
  • Jim Wiandt, Founder, ETF.com

Voting will be complete by Jan. 20, 2017, but results will be kept secret until they are announced at the ETF.com U.S. Awards Dinner on March 30, 2017.

If you’ve got fintech fever, or just a hot tip, a bright story idea profiling global macro, fintech, ETFs, options, or fixed income markets, or if you’d like to get visibility for your firm through MarketsMuse via subliminal content marketing, advertorial, blatant shout-out, spotlight article, etc., please reach out to MarketsMuse Corporate Communication Conciege via this link

AND THE NOMINEE CATEGORIES ARE …

Lifetime Achievement Award

Awarded annually to one living individual for outstanding long-term contributions to ETF investor outcomes, whether from a position of media, regulation, product provider, investor or other category. Previous winners are not eligible.

ETF of the Year – 2016

Awarded to the ETF that has done the most to improve investor opportunities and outcomes in 2016, by providing access to interesting areas of the market, lowering costs, delivering new exposures or otherwise creating better results for investors. There is no requirement for this award regarding when this fund was launched.

  • Fidelity Total Bond Fund (FBND): The nomination case for Fidelity’s actively managed total bond fund was simple: It crushed its benchmarks and its peers, outperforming 97% of its peer group in 2016.
  • Goldman Sachs ActiveBeta U.S. Large Cap Equity ETF (GSLC): The cheapest smart-beta ETF on the market, GSLC attracted nominator attention by offering quant-active exposure for just 0.09% in annual fees. Investors rewarded it with more than $1 billion in net flows.
  • iShares iBoxx $ High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (HYG): With more than $3 billion in net inflows, HYG is the poster child for the massive rise in interest in bond ETFs in 2016, particularly among institutional investors.
  • VanEck Vectors Fallen Angel High Yield Bond ETF (ANGL): Nominees loved the simple investment rationale for ANGL … and the fact that it worked wonders. The fund, which buys debt that has recently been downgraded from investment grade to junk, performed beautifully in 2016.
  • Vanguard Total Market Index Fund (VTI): A perennial favorite of the nominating committee, VTI wins plaudits for being a near-perfect ETF, offering broad exposure, excellent tracking, extreme liquidity and a low price.

Best New ETF – 2016

Awarded to the most important ETF launched in 2016.

Note: Importance is measured by the overall contribution to positive investor outcomes. The award may recognize ETFs that open new areas of the market, lower costs, drive risk-adjusted performance or provide innovative exposures not previously available to most investors. Only ETFs with inception dates after Dec. 31, 2015, are eligible.

  • Deutsche X-trackers USD High Yield Corporate Bond ETF (HYLB): HYLB got the nod from nominators who applauded Deutsche Bank for adding fee competition into the ETF space: HYLB is priced at just 0.25% compared with 0.50% for its top peers.
  • Fidelity Dividend ETF for Rising Rates (FDRR): This intriguing new ETF, which selects firms that have strong dividend payments and returns that are correlated with rising rates, was described as “the perfect ETF for today’s market.”
  •  JPMorgan Diversified Alternatives ETF (JPHF): “Finally a big name and well-thought-out entrant to the liquid alts space,” wrote one nomination entry, echoing a popular sentiment about an ETF some have called “the hedge fund killer.”
  • NuShares Enhanced Yield U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF (NUAG): NUAG solves one of the biggest concerns facing investors: what to do with their bond portfolios. It offers a sensible, rules-based tweak to traditional bond exposure, increasing yield without going crazy.
  • SPDR SSGA Gender Diversity Index ETF (SHE): This well-received ETF was the second-fastest growing ETF launched in 2016. It offers, per one nomination, “a unique opportunity to seek a financial return on gender diversity and create change with capital by providing a transparent, relatively low-cost way to invest in companies that have achieved greater levels of gender diversity at the senior management level.”
  • Vanguard International High Dividend Yield ETF (VYMI): VYMI won plaudits for offering broad-based exposure to high-yielding companies at a very reasonable fee of just 0.30%. The fund looks not at historical dividend yield, but at expected future yield, to select components.

Most Innovative New ETF – 2016

Awarded to the most groundbreaking and disruptive ETF launched in 2016. This is an ETF that is pushing the envelope in terms of what kinds of exposures can be packaged into an ETF.

Best New U.S. Equity ETF – 2016

Best New International/Global Equity ETF – 2016

Best New U.S. Fixed-Income ETF – 2016

Best New International/Global Fixed-Income ETF – 2016

Best New Commodity ETF – 2016

Best New Currency ETF – 2016

There were no currency ETFs launched in 2016, so this category will not be awarded this year.

Best New Alternatives ETF – 2016

Best New Asset Allocation ETF – 2016

Best New Smart-Beta or Factor ETF – 2016

Best New Active ETF – 2016

Thematic ETF of the Year – 2016

Awarded to the most important “thematic” ETF of 2016, as measured by its ability to capture important macro plays that can lead to specific portfolio outcomes. There is no requirement for this award regarding when this fund was launched.

  • 3D Printing ETF (PRNT): 3D printing is super cool, and PRNT is the first ETF to focus on that market. It tracks a tiered, equal-weight index of companies involved in the 3D printing industry, including hardware, software, scanners, measurers and 3D printing centers.
  • Spirited Funds/ETFMG Whiskey & Spirits ETF (WSKY): More than just a great ticker, WSKY offers direct exposure to the hottest trend in spirits. With whiskey consumption growing faster than the price of a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle, maybe WSKY is a good bet.
  • PureFunds ISE Cyber Security ETF (HACK): Hacking stole the headlines in 2016, whether it was Yahoo, the DNC or Donald Trump. HACK offers pure-play exposure to the firms that fight the hackers, and you have to think that business is doing well.
  • PureFunds Video Game Tech ETF (GAMR): Video game contests are now attracting bigger audiences than many professional sports leagues. GAMR offers you a way to “play” that theme, holding companies operating in and around video games and virtual reality.
  • SPDR SSGA Gender Diversity Index ETF (SHE): This well-received ETF was the second-fastest-growing ETF launched in 2016. It offers, according to one nomination, “a unique opportunity to seek a financial return on gender diversity and create change with capital by providing a transparent, relatively low-cost way to invest in companies that have achieved greater levels of gender diversity at the senior management level.”
  • Summit Water Infrastructure Multifactor ETF (WTRX): Infrastructure spending is top of mind in the U.S., and climate change seems to be putting a premium on water. WTRX captures the trend by finding global firms with water-related equity exposure, choosing the best of the best based on a series of fundamental factors.

ETF Issuer of the Year – 2016

Most Innovative ETF Issuer of the Year – 2016

Awarded to the ETF provider that has launched the most innovative and groundbreaking group of ETFs in 2016.

New ETF Issuer of the Year – 2016

Awarded to the new ETF issuer that has done the most to improve investor outcomes through product introductions, product performance, fund management, investor support and innovation. Issuer must have launched its first ETF in 2016. ETF.com considers “issuer” to mean the “brand” of the ETF, as classified by FactSet.

Index of the Year – 2016
Awarded to the index that has done the most to provide new ways of considering investment strategies, opportunities or ideas, or which has simply delivered for investors in a meaningful way.

Index Provider of the Year – 2016

Awarded to the index provider that has done the most to improve investor outcomes through index introductions, research, advisor support and more.

ETF Liquidity Provider of the Year – 2016

Awarded to the ETF liquidity provider (including market maker, authorized participant, agency broker, etc.) that has done the most to improve investor outcomes through education, support, services, innovation and outreach.

Best Online Broker for ETF-Focused Investors – 2016

Awarded to the online brokerage offering the best package for ETF-focused investors. This award will consider commission-free trading options, education materials, supporting services and other factors.

Best ETF Offering: Wire House

Awarded to the wire house that offer its reps and advisors the best total offering in the ETF space, including research, data, tools, trading capabilities and education.

Best ETF Offering: Independent Regional Broker-Dealer

Awarded to the independent broker-dealer offering its reps and advisors the best total offering in the ETF space, including research, data, tools, trading capabilities and education.

Best ETF Research Paper – 2016

Awarded to the published paper from 2016 that most increased our understanding of how ETFs and/or index-based investments affect investor outcomes, whether in portfolios, markets or broader economic context.

Best ETF Issuer Website – 2016

Awarded to the most informative and user-friendly website by an ETF issuer.

Best Index Provider Website – 2016

Awarded to the most informative and user-friendly website by an index provider.

Best ETF Issuer Capital Markets Desk – 2016

Awarded to the ETF issuer providing the most useful support to advisors for ETF trading.

  • Deutsche Bank: Nominations noted that Deutsche Bank made great strides in its capital markets desk this year, to become a true leader in the space. One nominator wrote: “Great partner, incorporated feedback, improved processes, handled complex products smoothly, communicated well, innovative, etc.”
  • FlexShares: “Available anywhere, anytime, for analysis, competitive positioning, context or working with a trading desk of another firm,” wrote one nomination, adding that it always “tells it like it is.”
  • Goldman Sachs: “Goldman Sachs’ Capital Markets team, led by Steve Sachs, helps clients navigate the ETF marketplace through product education and by ensuring the highest-quality market for the firm’s ETFs,” wrote one entry. They’ve successfully placed a number of large block trades in the firm’s new ActiveBeta suite.
  • J.P. Morgan: Nominations called out J.P. Morgan’s desk for being ‘extremely helpful,” and also noted that it was “not afraid to tell market makers what to do.” That sounds like the kind of desk you want on your side.
  • SSGA: With a deeply knowledgeable team, nominators called out SSGA’s unique ability to respond to market crises, guide clients, and put things in perspective even in tumultuous times. “A world-class organization from bottom to top,” wrote one nominator.

 

ETF Strategist of the Year – 2016

Awarded to the ETF strategist or model portfolio provider that has done the most to improve investor outcomes in 2016. Automated investment services are eligible for this award, as they provide managed portfolios en masse to investors.

ETF Lawyer of the Year – 2016

Awarded annually to the law firm that has done the most to push the ETF industry forward, including driving new and innovative products through the Securities and Exchange Commission, advocating for the industry and the rights of investors, and improving outcomes for investors.

ETF Advisor of the Year – 2016

Awarded to an individual financial advisor or advisor team that is using ETFs to deliver high-quality portfolios to clients in an innovative way.

  • Chudom Hayes Wealth Management: “Consistently at the forefront of innovation in the industry, this group was one of the first ETF-based portfolio managers,” wrote one nomination paper. Others called out its overall leadership in ETFs within MSSB, where it is “one of the largest users of ETF portfolios.”
  • Edelman Financial Services: Regularly ranked the No. 1 independent advisor in the nation by Barron’s, Edelman is a giant, providing high-quality ETF-focused portfolios to the masses (including, admirably, clients with relatively low assets under management).
  • Stocker Woods Financial: A heartfelt nomination for Mike Woods called out his 20-year service to Carl Stocker, where he rose from a low-level advisor to become president and CEO this year. In the past year, Woods’ ETF book—managed through a relationship with CLS—has grown dramatically (up 198%).
  • Ritholtz Wealth Management: Led by the inimitable Barry Ritholtz and Josh Brown, Ritholtz Wealth offers steady ETF-focused portfolios to a growing client list. Nominations noted the “huge role” the firm plays in the media and its recent decision to reward clients who “don’t monkey around with their portfolios” by lowering fees for clients with good behavior.
  • The Veteran Financial Freedom Initiative: This unique partnership offers free or discounted financial planning and portfolio management to veterans, including ETF-only portfolios. The effort is a partnership between Agile Capital, a veteran-owned firm, and Capital Wealth Planning, which funds and covers the operational cost of the effort as a service to veterans.

Institutional ETF User of the Year – 2016

Awarded to an institutional investor that is using ETFs to deliver high-quality portfolios in an innovative way.

  • Houston Firefighters’ Relief And Retirement Fund: A nomination wrote: “In 2016, the Houston Firefighters’ Relief And Retirement Fund, led by Ajit Singh, became an early adopter and innovative user of numerous ETF-only investment solutions. As an example, Ajit and his team implemented a “Long and Lend” strategy using ETFs to take advantage of lucrative securities lending revenue. HFRRF is also an advocate for factor investing and thus implemented a solution to four diversified multifactor ETFs across various exposures.”
  • Lazard Asset Management: Lazard developed the “Lazard Capital Allocator Series” in 2004, and became an early and leading institutional user of ETFs to provide investors with attractive returns using an innovative investment approach. At a time of continued turmoil in the ETF strategist space, Lazard has been a rock of stability, delivering sensible and solid returns.
  • Rockefeller University: Rockefeller has quietly become a major user of ETFs, leveraging the products for transition management for its $2 billion endowment.
  • Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System: Tennessee was nominated for its sophisticated understanding of ETFs and its quant-driven approach to sector investing using ETFs.
  • USAA: “One of the biggest users of factor ETFs in the world,” wrote one nominator. “USAA has been on the forefront of leveraging ETFs to transform how institutional money managers deliver returns.”

New ETF Ticker of the Year – 2016
Awarded to the ETF with the best new ETF ticker. The ETF must have launched in 2016 to qualify.

  • BUZ: Sprott Buzz Social Media Insights
  • MENU: USCF Restaurant Leaders Fund
  • OLD: The Long-Term Care ETF
  • VNLA: Janus Short Duration Income ETF
  • WSKY: Spirited Funds/ETFMG Whiskey & Spirits ETF

Continue reading

private-placement-bonds-electronic-trading

Fintech, Fixed Income Trading & Fragmentation-Now a Private Placement Bond Platform

Fintech Fixed Income Trading & Fragmentation-What’s Next? A Venue for Private Placement Bonds & MTNs

Despite the seeming oversupply of electronic bond trading initiatives, the convergence of fintech and fixed income trading continues to spawn new electronic trading start-ups, bringing the total industry count to 128 venues.  The latest player, dubbed “Origin Markets”, aims at filling a void in the $1.5 trillion Medium-Term Note space aka private placement bond market. The “still-in-beta mode” initiative is based in the UK and backed by a consortium of global banks led by BNP Paribas, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Societe Generale and Credit Suisse.

origin-markets-electronic-platform-MTN
Raja Palaniappan CEO Origin Markets

Origin’s founder and quarterback is Raja Palaniappan, a former Credit Suisse flow trader and MIT wonk who cut his teeth trading MTNs at various firms during the past 9 years and was most recently a VP responsible for making markets in investment grade and crossover corporate bonds and CDS at Credit Suisse.

A spokesperson for UK-based Origin said its platform “simplifies issuance in the medium-term note private placement market by acting as a central information source.” The business model allows dealers to receive targeted funding levels from issuers on a single platform and allows users to foster new relationships through cloud-based technology and bank-grade security.

“[Issuers] can optimise their funding using the built-in cross-currency pricer, comparing their funding levels to their own and their peers’ levels in the secondary markets,” Origin said.

Joakim Holmstrom, head of funding at Municipality Finance, explained the platform makes the medium term note process more efficient and provides access to a broader pool of dealers. Ben Powell, head of funding for IFC, added that Origin’s platform “simplifies what was once a manual process prone to inefficiency. It allows us to manage our dealer communication in one central place.”

The platform’s full launch is expected later this year and brings the total number of electronic fixed income platforms to 128, according to a recent compilation of platforms by front office trading consultant John Greenan.

Bob Mahdavi, the CTO for private placement bond documentation firm Prospectus.com stated “The MTN market is indisputably one of the largest sectors in terms of number of issues, yet it is populated by thousands of private issues that don’t typically lend themselves to being traded in an electronic venue.” Added Mahdavi, whose firm works with tens of dozens of Issuers, as well as attorneys and boutique investment banks throughout Europe and Asia in preparing debt offering documents, “You can build it, but will they come?”

According to fintech merchant bankers at SenaHill Partners “When considering the still nascent stage impact of electronic venues focused public company investment grade corporate bonds, including the likes of startup Electronifie among others, a platform that can prove truly effective and liquid for MTNs can prove to be a big challenge, albeit the backing of big banks does provide some wind in the sail.”

If you’ve got fintech fever, or just a hot tip, a bright story idea profiling global macro, fintech, ETFs, options, or fixed income markets, or if you’d like to get visibility for your firm through MarketsMuse via subliminal content marketing, advertorial, blatant shout-out, spotlight article, etc., please reach out to MarketsMuse Corporate Communication Conciege via this link

As noted in a 11 Jan story in TheTradeNews and citing the work of Greenan, between November 2016 and January this year alone, 14 new fixed income trading platforms joined the market.

“…The asset class is overcrowded with trading venues as regulation forces the structure of fixed income across instruments away from a centralised model – mostly due to bank balance sheet constraints – towards a decentralised model….Market participants have said the explosion of venues is causing fragmentation and a ‘liquidity drought’ in global bond markets.”

Large buy-side firms and asset managers have the opportunity to act as price makers rather than price takers, according to a quarterly report published by the International Capital Market Association (ICMA) this week.

The report said the bond market has seen a decrease in ratio turnover, despite an increase in market size and overall turnover against a backdrop of bond issuance, as issuers take advantage of low interest rates globally.

Joanna Cound, head of public policy EMEA at Blackrock and a member of the ICMA board, explained this has led to liquidity in fixed income markets suffering, something regulators have taken a greater interest in over the last year.

Fixed income participants are wary the bond market has not improved significantly since the financial crisis, as future stress events could have far-reaching consequences.

To continue reading TheTradeNews story click here

Continue reading

fintech-top-financiers-marketsmuse-image-by-yann-legendre

2016 Top Fintech Financiers According to Institutional Investor

Identifying the top fintech financiers is no easy task these days. It seems like only yesterday when MarketsMuse curators were among the first to advance the phrase “fintech” in the course of profiling startups seeking to disrupt the financial services sect, many of which have been led by sell-side veterans who made their best trades building innovative financial technology applications for bulge bracket banks and institutional brokerage platforms. At the outset of this now mainstream trend towards disruption of legacy financial technology tools and applications, fintech was a label given to trading system firms; now it is a ubiquitous moniker used to categorize a full-blown industry that counts more than 3000 start-ups and fast growing enterprises across the globe.

(feature images courtesy of YANN LEGENDRE)

Fintech is still the term used to to describe fast-moving firms that deliver Web 3.0 trading system and institutional broker tools, but also now includes enterprises that have brought peer-to-peer lending, crypto currency, distributed ledger companies and other offerings that are rapidly changing the way financial industry firms operate, and more important, the behavior of end-users across the globe. Along the way, this evolution has also created a cottage industry of bankers, private equity firms and VCs who share the catchphrase “What’s Next?” and whose respective vision is focused on the “next great thing” within the context of the way we interact when conducting a financial-centric task.

“Many of the Fintech Finance 35 — those ranked by Institutional Investor as the leading financiers and facilitators of the ongoing entrepreneurial explosion in financial technology — have “partner” in their titles. Their firms are structured as partnerships, but all on the list are partners in a practical, day-to-day sense. They are as much strategic advisers and collaborators as they are funders; “partnerships” are what they offer to companies they invest in and usher toward growth and maturity.” Jeffrey Kutler, Institutional Investor Magazine

With that, its no surprise that Institutional Investor Magazine, which for years has been the harbinger of the financial industry’s best-in-class people (e.g. Institutional Investor All America Research Team is the bible used to benchmark equity and fixed income research analysts) has more recently started tracking the top funders and dealmakers from across the fintech ecosystem via II’s Annual Fintech Finance 35. And, hot off the press: II’s 2016 Top Influencers in Fintech Finance! With 35 top guns highlighted, MarketsMuse team arbitrarily picked out one of the profiles from the middle of list of 35 to share with our readers. The folks who have risen from last year’s #19 spot to this year’s #16 spot are the principals of SenaHill Partners, which is arguably one of the fintech industry’s leading pioneers. SenaHill positions itself as part investment bank, part PE investor, part adviser and part incubator.  Below is the excerpt courtesy of II’s Jeffrey Kutler.

justin-brownhill-senahill-marketsmuse-fintech-financiers
Justin Brownhill, SenaHill

Principal investor, strategic adviser, and business accelerator, SenaHill Partners gets a lot of mileage out of just 14 people. “We’re hiring,” managing partner Justin Brownhill says — an auspicious indicator for the New York firm and perhaps for fintech deal flow overall. Founded by Brownhill and co–managing partner Neil DeSena in 2013, SenaHill is staffed by people with extensive banking, brokerage, and operational experience, further leveraged by an adviser network of dozens of industry veterans, who contribute strategic insights and help identify and vet investment candidates. “Two to three generations of knowledge,” hands-on experience and a roll-up-the-sleeves attitude set SenaHill apart, says Brownhill, 45, who was an investor in and executive at Lava Trading, which Citigroup acquired in 2004, and CEO of the Receivables Exchange from 2007 to 2012. “Venture capital in financial technology is a journey, not a me-too business,” says DeSena, 52, who started the REDI institutional trading business in 1992 and ran it until 2006, the last six years as part of Goldman Sachs Group. “ ‘Five years and exit’ isn’t the way it works.” SenaHill’s 22-company portfolio includes investment research and analytics site Market Realist, where Brownhill is a board member; blockchain smart-contracts company Symbiont, where DeSena is a director and former Morgan Stanley capital markets executive Caitlin Long recently became chairman and president; and WealthForge, a private capital–

neil-desena-senahill-fintech-financiers
Neil DeSena, SenaHill

raising platform that placed third in last year’s UBS Future of Finance Challenge (see Hyder Jaffrey, No. 30). Another holding, know-your-customer platform Trunomi, represents “reg tech,” the emerging regulatory-and-compliance category that Brownhill and DeSena are following alongside other fintech themes in capital markets, banking and payments, insurance, wealth management, and infrastructure. “The interest is now top-down,” Brownhill observes, referring to incumbent financial services companies’ openness to investing in or partnering with entrepreneurs. “They are hiring us to connect them with young, emerging technologies.” Says DeSena: “The incumbents need help. Their budgets are big but shrinking.”

Prospectus.com team of capital markets experts and securities lawyers specialize in preliminary offering prospectus, secondary offering prospectus and full menu of financial offering memorandum document preparation. More information via this link

The Fintech Finance 35 will be honored at the iiFintech Awards taking place on December 1. The awards program was designed to bring together the honorees of the Tech 50, Fintech Finance 35, and Trading Technology 40 to explore how financial technology will continue to transform the industry.

This ranking was compiled under the direction of Senior Contributing Editor Jeffrey Kutler. Individual profiles were written by Kutler, Asia Bureau Chief Allen T. Cheng, Senior Writers Frances Denmark and Julie Segal, and Staff Writer Jess Delaney, as well as by former Editor Michael Peltz, Content Editor Anne Szustek, Associate Editor Kaitlin Ugolik, and Assistant Editor Jen Werner.  To read the entire story from II, please click here

 

2016 Top Fintech Financiers According to Institutional Investor
buyside-holdings-etf-product-marketsmuse

Buy-Side Beefs Up Use of ETF Products; They Finally Get The Joke

ETF product use among the Buy-Side is no longer viewed as “just a portfolio re-balance or transition management tool,”  according to a survey of the investment industry’s largest portfolio managers. More PMs than ever are finally ‘getting the joke’ with regard to the value proposition of Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs), according to a recent report by State Street Global. The up-trending holdings of ETF products across the institutional manager community is attributed to a variety of reasons that include better product education, the ongoing search for alpha, the need to reduce single-stock exposure, and according to Europe-based fund managers, ETF products are ideal vehicles to express global macro investment views.

According to recent research from State Street Global, 85% of investment professionals are using exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to gain exposure to individual sectors or industries. More than one-quarter of survey respondents (26%) report that over 20% of their assets under management are allocated to sector/industry ETFs.

This research is based on State Street Global Advisors’ Survey of Investment Professionals’ Sector and Industry Investing Attitudes and Usage, completed in the first quarter of 2016. The study comprised web-based interviews with 419 financial advisors and wealth managers.

While it is hard to compare the two conventionally – the average daily amount of stock trading as measured by Bats Global runs around 7.30 billion shares compared to 1.3 billion for ETFs, the latter reported by SSGA. When compared on a notional dollar basis, ETFs hit $13.1 billion versus $48.5 billion for stocks.

If you’ve got a hot tip, a bright idea, or if you’d like to get visibility for your firm through MarketsMuse via subliminal content marketing, advertorial, blatant shout-out, spotlight article, etc., please reach out via this link

The estimated value of all ETF shares issued exceeded that of shares redeemed by $5.60 billion for the week ended October 26, 2016, the Investment Company Institute recently reported. For ETFs backed by equities, for the week ended November 1 net issuance hit $5.23 billion for the week, compared to estimated net issuance of $2.38 billion in the previous week. Domestic equity ETFs had estimated net issuance of $4.03 billion, and world equity ETFs had estimated net issuance of $1.19 billion.

Nick Good, co-head of the Global SPDR business at State Street Global Advisors, told Markets Media that the research pointed a rosy picture for ETFs going forward. He said the survey found that the use of sector and industry ETFs is highest among private wealth managers, with 92 percent reporting they had some exposure to the sector and/or industry funds; followed by independent/regional broker dealer advisors (87 percent), National Broker Dealer advisors (86 percent) and Registered Investment Advisors (80 percent).

“The most important variables these investment professionals consider when choosing a specific sector or industry ETF are liquidity, expense ratio and the fund’s holdings,” he said.

Looking ahead, 45 percent of financial advisors surveyed report they plan to increase usage of ETFs while another 50 percent said they plan to maintain their current allocation of sector and industry ETFs in the future.

Advisors’ top reasons for incorporating sector and industry ETFs into client portfolios include:

Continue reading

buyside-traders-market-making-marketsmuse

What’s Next? Buy-Side Traders Plot To Embrace Market-Making

For exchange-based specialists, prop floor traders and upstairs sell-side market-makers, the notion of buy-side traders putting on the hat of risk-taking market-making is a head scratcher. Sure, there’s a cadre of hedge fund wonks who have interned on a sell-side trading desk, then moved up to Greenwich to grab a slot at one of the many firms run by former trading desk heads who now think they can displace the traditional liquidity providers and do a better job of making markets than their counterparts across the aisle. You know who they are; the ones who get a charge out of bashing their sell-side sales/trader with comments like “Listen, if you can’t fill me right now, I’LL make a two-sided market away from you and prove to you what an idiot you are!”

While sell-side folks scoff at that kind of blasphemy, given the more than two decade process in which electronification has upended equities market structure (and now doing the same to FX, Commodities and UST markets), it shouldn’t surprise anyone that there is growing movement in which buy-side equities traders are plotting to take the model of disintermediation one step further and conjuring up business plans that would have them providing liquidity to the market (via making two-sided markets), instead of their historic role of having a one-sided axe in a particular name.

With that entree, we segue into a fresh-off-the-press column from Shanny Basar at Markets Media “Buy-side Looks to Fill Market-Making Vacuum”….

Nearly half of hedge funds said they would evaluate being market makers in certain securities as banks pull back from some markets, according to a new survey from State Street.

In a report “Let’s Talk Liquidity: Opportunities in a New Market Environment”, State Street surveyed institutional investors on whether market liquidity has deteriorated. Banks have shrunk their balance sheets in response to the increase in capital requirement from regulations such as Basel III, Dodd-Frank and Solvency II and pulled back from some activities. The study had 300 global respondents which included 150 asset owners and 150 asset managers, including 50 hedge funds.

John Bolton, State Street

John Bolton, State Street

John Bolton, global head of thought leadership at State Street, said in a media briefing today that 30% of respondents said the liquidity of their institution’s portfolio had decreased over the past three years, while 28% said it was unchanged. Nearly half, 48%, believe decreased market liquidity is a structural issue and not likely to change.

As a result 49% of respondents believe the role of non-bank institutions as providers of market liquidity will increase, with large pension funds and buy-side firms making prices.

If you’ve got a hot tip, a bright idea, or if you’d like to get visibility for your firm through MarketsMuse via subliminal content marketing, advertorial, blatant shout-out, spotlight article, etc., please reach out via this link

“43% of hedge funds would evaluate being market makers in certain securities,” added Bolton.

Alex Lawson, head of securities finance, Europe, Middle East and Africa at State Street said at the briefing that in addition to new entrants in market making, the decrease in liquidity will lead to an increase in electronic trading and peer-to-peer connectivity so participants can directly meet their financing needs without the need for intermediaries.

Lawson added: “Regulations have changed the capacity in the market and there are new entrants who have capacity such as Canadian banks and non-banks.”

For example, State Street launched an enhanced custody offering in the US seven years ago and in EMEA three years ago as an alternative to traditional prime brokerage financing as the custodian generates large amounts of internal cash. Clients can borrow and finance securities directly with State Street within a segregated custody account.

Lawson continued that the International Securities Lending conference in June included a panel in which two asset owners, including a sovereign wealth fund, and two hedge funds discussed how they were changing their use of the securities lending market and becoming less reliant on banks.

In order to access more liquidity 48% of institutions said they will increase their use of electronic trading platforms and nearly six in 10 believe the electrification of over-the-counter markets will accelerate over the next three years.

“The industry needs to add capacity so we believe in allowing clients to connect in many ways as possible,” added Lawson. “That could include agency lending, across an electronic platform or through facilitating direct relationships.”

The International Securities Lending Association said in its latest half-yearly market report that there have been significant changes in how institutional investors have been using repo and securities lending markets in the past two years.

To continue reading, click here

What’s Next? Buy-Side Traders Plot To Embrace Market-Making

ust-hft-axe-rutter-marketsmuse

Bond Boy Rutter Adds Tackling UST HFT to List of Axes

Nobody can accuse veteran government bond market broker and fintech poster boy David Rutter of being single-minded. The former Prebon Yamane exec, who later migrated to inter-dealer broker ICAP where he became of head of electronic trading, then did a stint as CEO of fixed income and FX platform BrokerTec, and who more recently has positioned himself as a blockchain empressario via his role as co-founder and head of R3, the industry consortium dedicated to normalizing the use of distributed ledger technology across the financial ecosystem remains determined to set the standard for how UST’s and related futures contracts are electronically traded.  His latest axe is to cut down on the noise and disruption created by high-frequency trading (HFT) tools used by so-called predators that have ‘undermined’ how government bonds are traded in the OTC marketplace.

(Bloomberg) via reporting by Eliza Ronalds-Hannon : David Rutter, the former head of the biggest electronic venue for Treasuries, says his startup will launch a new trading platform called LiquidityEdge Select this week. According to Rutter, a big draw is that it will enable clients to shut off bids and offers from firms they suspect are using hair-trigger algorithms to trade against their orders. He’s enlisted Cantor Fitzgerald to backstop the transactions and signed up about 90 clients, including most of the Treasury market’s 23 primary dealers and several high-speed trading firms.

rutter-hft-ust
David Rutter, Liquidity Edge LLC

“There’s a lot of pent-up demand to fix the inherent disadvantages” on some of the existing venues, Rutter said from his midtown Manhattan office. Going up against certain kinds of speed traders can be “a huge frustration.”

Success is far from guaranteed and there’s considerable debate over whether high-frequency traders, or HFTs, actually do more harm than good. But one thing is undeniable: technological advances and post-crisis bank regulations designed to limit risk-taking are transforming the inner workings of U.S. government debt trading. What’s resulted is a sense of disorder among the more traditional players in the world’s most important bond market.

“The game is changing every day,” said Tom di Galoma, the managing director of government trading and strategy at Seaport Global Holdings. On electronic platforms, the rise of HFTs “concerns anybody else who trades on them.”

If you’ve got a hot tip, a bright idea, or if you’d like to get visibility for your firm through MarketsMuse via subliminal content marketing, advertorial, blatant shout-out, spotlight article, etc., please reach out via this link

Liquidity Woes

Regardless of who or what is responsible, there are signs U.S. government bonds have gotten harder to trade, even as Treasury Department officials say the $13.7 trillion market is sound and the ability to transact remains robust.

An average of $491 billion of Treasuries have changed hands each day in the past year, down from $600 billion in 2011, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. The ability to trade without moving prices has also deteriorated, with another measure indicating Treasuries are now 50 percent more sensitive to price fluctuations than they were five years ago.

At the same time, the market itself has become more prone to sudden shocks, with the Oct. 15, 2014, “flash crash” in Treasury yields the most prominent example. While regulators still haven’t figured out what triggered it, they concluded that automated trading firms made the wild ride that much worse.

All these changes have come as regulations imposed in the aftermath of the financial crisis prompted Wall Street banks to retreat from dealing. Computerized firms have swept in to fill the void.

Electronic platforms like ICAP Plc’s BrokerTec and Nasdaq Inc.’s eSpeed now account for almost half the volume in the Treasury market. Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, and its affiliates also provide trading in Treasuries.

‘Phantom Liquidity’

On the main venues that cater to dealers, eight of the 10 biggest firms by volume last year were non-bank proprietary trading firms, according to Greenwich Associates, a financial services consulting firm. Their influence has led HFT critics to blame computerized traders for providing “phantom liquidity.”

That occurs when those firms use their speed to suddenly change the amount they are willing to buy (or sell) once they detect incoming orders. And it can be costly for slower-footed investors who enter the market thinking there’s a certain amount they can trade, only to have it disappear. In some cases, predatory firms use sophisticated algorithms to decipher a counterparty’s intentions and race ahead of its orders.

The problem was underscored by the Bank for International Settlements, which concluded in a January paper that such strategies have the potential to depress bond-market liquidity. According to Greenwich, less than half the trading activity on inter-dealer platforms last year consisted of “true market making,” which the research firm defined as the willingness of firms to buy and sell a specific security on demand.

“A lot of the intermediaries that had balance sheets to absorb risk and trade, they’re gone,” said Ed Al-Hussainy, senior global interest-rate analyst at Columbia Threadneedle Investments, which oversees $460 billion.

Value Proposition

That’s where Rutter comes in. LiquidityEdge is the first of at least four companies that are planning to start trading platforms by year-end.

LiquidityEdge Select differs from traditional electronic platforms in a few distinct ways. First, clients can pre-select counterparties and trade with them using anonymous user IDs, rather than sending an order into a central market that everyone can see. That maintains confidentiality and enables clients to receive bids and offers only from parties they want. Second, the system allows customers to exclude any streams at any time.

Rutter says this kind of self-policing gives non-bank traders a greater incentive to provide firm orders, while weeding out predatory firms that try to game the system.

LiquidityEdge will also use Cantor Fitzgerald as a central clearing counterparty, settling trades via the Fixed Income Clearing Corp. That means trades are guaranteed even if one party fails to deliver on either payment or bonds. The lack of a such an arrangement precipitated the demise of Direct Match, a Treasuries trading startup that shut down in August.

Diminishing Returns

To be sure, a proliferation of trading platforms could potentially harm liquidity more than help it.

New venues may poach clients from the incumbents — BrokerTec, Rutter’s former employer, and eSpeed — but that may just lead to shallower liquidity across more venues and result in a Treasury market that’s more fractured than it is now. LiquidityEdge Select will be the firm’s second trading venue for Treasuries. It will sit alongside the firm’s one-year-old bilateral platform, LiquidityEdge Direct.

“Is it a case of, the more liquidity pools the merrier?” said Anthony Perrotta, global head of research and consulting at Tabb Group, which specializes in market-structure research. “Some would say yes. At the same time, people’s bandwidth is only so great.”

The Treasury market’s two incumbents, BrokerTec and eSpeed, already have plans to launch competing trading venues later this year.

To continue reading the Bloomberg story, click here

insurance-co-pms-etf

Insurance Co PMs Getting The Memo: ETF Products Make More Sense

Insurance Co PMs are increasingly getting  “the memo” : Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) Make Sense..

(Pensions & Investments) Exchange-traded funds have permeated almost every corner of the financial markets, but insurance companies have primarily kept their distance. That may be changing.

Though several U.S. insurers have navigated the $2.4 trillion ETF marketplace through variable-annuity products, integration into general accounts has been more recent, many observers say.

According to S&P Dow Jones Indices, insurers have only scratched the surface in their use of ETFs. Analyzing National Association of Insurance Commissioners data through 2015, S&P found that property and casualty, life and health insurers only reported an aggregate $15 billion invested in ETFs for general accounts, but the growth of ETF assets has outpaced overall growth of general account assets, which approached $6 trillion at the end of 2015, according to SNL Financial.

Since 2006, the amount of ETFs held by Insurance Co PMs has increased 146% and grown 14.5% per year, whereas total assets in general accounts have increased 26% in the same period, according to S&P. And, as with many measures of institutional investment in ETFs, year-end holdings are not necessarily indicative of ongoing ETF usage in more temporary functions such as transitions and liquidity management.

S&P projects ETF asset values for insurers to double in five years, in line with Greenwich Associates’ annual institutional ETF survey which indicated 71% of insurers surveyed in 2015 expected to increase their allocation to ETFs.

“It’s clear that the largest ETF providers — BlackRock (BLK), State Street and Vanguard — have been working more closely with the insurance companies,” said Todd Rosenbluth, director of ETF and mutual fund research at S&P Global Market Intelligence, New York. “But it’s also a size aspect. Smaller insurers with fewer resources have been more willing to use index ETFs compared to larger insurers paying for active management and investment due diligence.”

“Compared to financial advisers and pension managers, insurance general account managers have more assets and greater risk aversion,” added Mr. Rosenbluth. “The ETF education model is different.”

If you’ve got a hot tip, a bright idea, or if you’d like to get visibility for your firm through MarketsMuse via subliminal content marketing, advertorial, blatant shout-out, spotlight article, etc., please reach out via this link

More recently those “educational” conversations are including the growing asset base and efficacy of fixed-income ETFs, said Steve Mickle, a director of institutional sales and trading with WallachBeth Capital LLC in San Francisco. He said that insurers have become the agency brokerage firm’s fastest growing clientele. “They see the size and liquidity of some of the earliest and most foundational fixed-income ETFs as utility products, ones that work for parking cash or interim benchmarking,” said Mr. Mickle.

According to WallachBeth, 132 fixed-income ETFs have been assessed by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners for risk-based capital treatment that could potentially be more favorable than common stock (as ETFs are traditionally reported).

“The NAIC designation is an added feature,” said Bill Best, managing director at VanEck in New York, “but some of the largest insurers are still working through the products and mechanics of ETFs.”

Josh Penzner, managing director at BlackRock Inc. (BLK), has observed insurers testing the waters of fixed-income ETFs, particularly to manage cash liquidity and investment exposures as a placeholder before purchasing bonds that have been “and will continue to be” the core of insurance general account portfolios.

To continue reading, click here

MarketsMuse blog post title Insurance Co PMs are increasingly getting  “the memo” : Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) Make Sense..