SST Awards 2018: Best Sell-Side Newcomer—OpenDoor Trading

Susan Estes
Susan Estes

Coming off its win as the most promising startup in 2017, OpenDoor Trading is back in the SST Awards winners’ circle as this year’s best sell-side newcomer. Last year, it was IHS Markit who won the category. 

OpenDoor—a platform that offers access to trading off-the-run Treasurys—was started in 2016. It soft-launched OpenDoor 2.0 on April 25 this year, 12 months after it went live on its first version. OpenDoor co-founder, president and CEO, Susan Estes, says the firm has gone through significant change in the year since it won the best newcomer award, taking into account feedback from its clients. “It was the result of what we learned over the course of the previous year,” Estes says. “When you launch something new that changes market structure, even if it’s for a small portion of the market, there’s a steep learning curve. We have benefitted from very strong partners that we’ve had on both the buy side and the sell side.”

She adds that the company prides itself on being agile and able to deliver on client demands. 

One of the challenges the company has faced over the past year, Estes says, was connectivity to order management systems (OMSs) and finding workarounds to it, leading it to partner with leading OMS providers for connectivity as well internal solutions. The company also sought to improve the look and feel of its trading platform and provide more information including midday yields and other reference points so that traders can access information of value to them.

Estes says that since the rollout of the latest version of OpenDoor in April, the platform has already processed more than 3,200 orders with a total order volume of around 51 billion—a quarter of all orders the platform saw during the whole of 2017. “What OpenDoor is doing is solving a problem within the treasury market. If that problem didn’t exist and there were better ways to solve it, rolling out 2.0 wouldn’t have improved anything,” Estes says. “We thought our value proposition was that traders can trade anonymously in midmarket prices, but what we’ve heard consistently is that the value is the anonymity, so we focused on anonymity and have proven that we can transform this small portion of the market and allow larger accounts on board.”

Going forward, OpenDoor will be working with a partner to provide transaction-cost analysis to clients as a result of increased demand stemming from the revised Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (Mifid II). 

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