Are You Ready for an Algorithm Management System?

Rob Daly, Sell-Side Technology

I've been toying with a new business plan recently-an online repository for new three-letter acronyms (TLAs) and four-letter extended acronyms (FLEAs). Every time a technologist, marketer or communications person wants to coin a new TLA or FLEA, everyone else could refer to the new database and discover its meaning.

What launched me on this train of thought was a recent conversation with people from Instinet about the launch of the latest version of their Newport 3 execution management system (EMS). Besides the added support of US-listed futures and options trading, the agency broker was has added trading algorithms specifically for the equities options markets.

During the discussion, Instinet officials brought up the concept of algorithm management systems (AMSs) that would help buy-side clients select the best algorithmic trading strategy to achieve their execution goals.

I'm not sure if AMS platforms will wind up being independent platforms that will need to be integrated with the same technology stack as the order management system (OMS) and the EMS or if the algorithm management functionality should be part of the EMS platform. It feels like the same integration argument faced by OMS and EMS platforms today.

However, the introduction of the AMS platforms would automate one of the last roles of a sales trader. Combining an AMS with a buy-side EMS and OMS and exploiting a broker's direct market access (DMA) and smart order routing (SOR) offerings, what is there left for a broker to provide to its low-touch clients? Not much, except for risk management capabilities since regulators have effectively squashed unfiltered sponsored access.

During last year's Best Execution USA conference one of the speakers at the conference commented that brokers will become "execution consultants" in the future rather than maintain the typical brokerage relationship with their clients. If or when AMS platforms are introduced, I'd say the industry has reached that point.


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