Data Channel: Thank You, Farewell, But Not Quite Goodbye

Vicki Chan

Change can be good, bad, exciting, costly, or all of the above and more at the same time, but ultimately, change is inevitable. And the time has come for me to make a change, as I say farewell to Inside Market Data.

When I was a little girl, all I dreamed about was growing up to write about market data, low-latency feeds and quantitative analysis. Okay, maybe not, but since I joined IMD in 2008, I’ve enjoyed following the changes in the market data industry—so much so that although I’m leaving IMD, I’m staying in the industry and following it from a different perspective, as I join the marketing team at Markit.

When I first joined IMD, Lehman Brothers had just filed for bankruptcy, and the industry was struggling to adapt to a troubled economic climate, with firms in the US slashing their market data spend by over $1 billion (IMD, Dec. 5, 2008). I’ve watched the industry adapt to this new normal and find new opportunities—or new pricing schemes, depending on who you ask—to come back and grow to become a $25.5 billion industry (IMD, March 1).

Data rates have also grown—and certainly at a much faster rate than data spend—with subscribers to the Options Price Reporting Authority’s feed requiring capacity to handle a mere 2 million messages per second in 2009, compared to a projected 19 million messages per second by 2015, according to OPRA traffic projections released in January.

Meanwhile, firms are still looking for ways to cut costs, so perhaps some will opt for NYSE Technologies’ new NYSE BQT (Best Quote and Trades) feed as an alternative to the Consolidated Tape Association’s consolidated feed of US equities quote and trade data, particularly after a recent fee hike to the CTA and UTP feeds—although SIFMA is looking to file a petition to stop the UTP Tape C fee hike.

In my time at IMD, I’ve followed startups from stealth mode to launch, and, unfortunately, the subsequent demise of several of those same startups, though I see others gaining traction. I must admit to having a soft spot for startups, which challenge how things can and should be done, and have a hunger for disruption.

Speaking of disruption, I joined IMD mere months after Apple first launched its App Store, and now, can anyone imagine a world—or data vendors—without app stores?

Yet as the proverb goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. The duopoly of Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg still dominates, although Bloomberg has made steady gains in market share to overtake Thomson Reuters and become, once again, the largest market data vendor.

However, vendors like FactSet Research Systems and S&P Capital IQ are becoming more mainstream, and are continuing to building out their respective desktops to compete against the likes of Eikon and Bloomberg Next. In the previous issue, IMD reported on FactSet’s new instant messaging platform, and this week, we see S&P Capital IQ getting ready to go live with a suite of credit analysis tools in its core platform.

But I’d like to think I’ve come a long way since my first day at IMD. For example, I now know that a ticker plant needs neither water nor sunlight, but requires its own form of TLC to process and normalize data from a broad range of exchanges and trading venues.

And just when I thought I had finally gotten past giggling over the ITCH, SCRATCH and OUCH protocols, along comes ORATS, wiggling its TOES.

As I wrap up my final task as deputy editor, I want to thank IMD’s readers for sharing their insights, guidance, patience, gossip and trust—all of which I’ll no doubt be calling on again in my new role, and which I hope you’ll all extend to my successor. I expect I’ll see you all again soon. But now, my work here is done.

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