Forefront Communications

Forefront Week in Review: April 28, 2019


Sam Belden

Sam Belden

Welcome back to the Forefront Week in Review, where we take another look at top recent stories from the action-packed world of trading and market structure.

Before we get to the headlines, we’d like to extend our congratulations to all winners and nominees at the Markets Media Markets Choice Awards, held on Thursday at Tribeca 360 in New York. It was great to be there among old friends and new acquaintances alike, and we’re grateful to be part of any occasion that recognizes the best and brightest in our industry. Special congratulations to client Dash Financial Technologies, which won the award for Best Options Trading Broker, as well as to Bryan Harkins, Executive Vice-President at Cboe and Co-Founder of the Wall Street Rides FAR charity bike ride, who received an award for his philanthropy.

Looking at the headlines, Goldman Sachs saw a few key departures from its electronic trading business, Scotland inched closer to having its first stock exchange in nearly a half-century, and Coinbase continued its pivot away from courting institutional investors.

This week’s Week in Review features stories by Alexander Osipovich of the Wall Street Journal, Samuel Agini of Financial News and Frank Chaparro of The Block, among others. Keep scrolling for more, and don’t forget to subscribe to the Forefront Fintech Digest if you’re not on our list already.

Broker News

Goldman Sachs Electronic Trading Business Has Seen Some New Departures
eFinancialCareers | Sarah Butcher

After last year’s series of staff exits from Goldman Sachs’ New York electronic trading business, there has been a series of new disappearances this year. Insiders say Jason Ahearn, a managing director who had been with the bank for over 22 years and who was promoted to managing director in 2015, has left. It’s not clear whether he did so voluntarily. Two more junior staff are understood to have exited too. They are Matthew Stephens and Anass Afilial, both of whom joined in 2014.

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Exchange, ATS and Clearing News

Scotland Moves Closer to First Stock Exchange in 50 Years
Financial News | Samuel Agini

Plans to launch the first stock exchange in Scotland for nearly 50 years are gathering pace, with the appointment of a chair expected imminently and deals struck with clearing and settlement providers. Tomás Carruthers, an Edinburgh-based entrepreneur, hopes the new exchange will go live as soon as the second half of the year, when it will help smaller companies raise capital to support development and make a difference in their communities. Companies valued at £50m could be an early priority, according to a person familiar with the scheme, known as Project Heather.

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Vendor News

FlexTrade Bolsters Sell-Side OMS Sales Team with Two New Hires
The TRADE News | Hayley McDowell

Execution and order management systems specialist FlexTrade has made two new appointments within its sales team as its looks to increase its sell-side business in Europe. Lak Loi and Vahid Shirani have joined FlexTrade as co-heads of sell-side order management system (OMS) business development for EMEA, based in the firm’s London office. Both Loi and Shirani have been tasked with expanding FlexTrade’s sell-side OMS client base in the region.

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Buy Side News

Billionaire Steven Schonfeld Poaches a Top Quant from Glenn Dubin’s Engineers Gate to Run a New Fund
Business Insider | Bradley Saacks

Ricky Shi is going from working for one billionaire to another. Shi, the head of supported portfolio managers and a quant trader at Glenn Dubin’s Engineers Gate, has been tapped by Steven Schonfeld to run a new quant fund under Schonfeld Strategic Advisors’ umbrella, sources tell Business Insider. Shi joined Engineers Gate, which was founded by Dubin in 2014, as one of the firm’s first employees, according to his LinkedIn profile, working as a quant trader and analyst at first. Dubin, who made his fortune off Highbridge Capital which he co-founded with Henry Swieca and eventually sold to JPMorgan.

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M&A/Investment News

UBS and Deutsche Bank Asset Managers in ‘Serious’ Merger Talks
Financial Times | Arash Massoudi, Peter Smith, Olaf Storbeck & Stephen Morris

The asset management arms of Deutsche Bank and UBS are in serious talks to merge, according to people close to the discussions, in a deal that would create a new European champion in the investment industry. The discussions about a deal have been taking place “for a couple of months”, one of the people said. If completed, the merged asset manager would leapfrog France’s Axa and the UK’s Legal & General and create a rival to France’s Amundi, Europe’s largest money manager with just over €1.4tn under management.

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Regulatory & Legal News

NY Attorney General Sues Bitfinex and Tether to Unearth “Fraud Being Carried Out” by the Firms
The Block | Frank Chaparro

The New York State Attorney General (NYSAG) is suing Bitfinex, the cryptocurrency exchange, and affiliated firm Tether, the company behind the stablecoin of the same name. The 23-page document, dated April 24, states that the NY AG’s office has reason to believe several New York and US-based traders transact on the firm’s platform. In 2018, Bitfinex said it would not longer offer trading to such clients. It said the OAG has an investigation underway to expose “ongoing fraud being carried out by Bitfinex and Tether,” requesting all documentation tied to Bitfinex users in the state of New York.

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Blockchain & Crypto News

Big Bitcoin Exchange Ends Bid to Lure High-Speed Traders
Wall Street Journal | Alexander Osipovich

Coinbase is ending an ambitious effort to win over high-frequency traders, the latest sign that bitcoin companies are having trouble attracting mainstream financial players. As part of the move, Coinbase laid off about 30 people in its Chicago office who had been working to improve the company’s technology to cater to speedy traders, Coinbase President and Chief Operating Officer Asiff Hirji said in an interview. The employees had been hired from local firms like futures exchange giant CME Group and high-speed trader Jump Trading, he said.

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Forefront Client News

Buyside Focus: Bespoke Algos: Go With the Flow
Best Execution | Chris Hall

Responding quickly and effectively to client customisation requests is now a base level requirement for today’s execution brokers. According to a Greenwich Associates survey last year, brokers expect almost half of their buyside clients to seek some kind of customisation of order-handling logic during 2019, versus just over a quarter in 2017. “Buyside firms are measuring performance much more precisely and are highly focused on identifying and refining tactics to optimise outcomes, i.e. how and when to split orders across venues,” said James Doherty, head of equity product at Dash Financial Technologies.

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OpenFin Is Unveiling an App Store for Old-School Wall Street Traders in a Bid to Become the iCloud of Banking
Business Insider | Dakin Campbell

Trading on Wall Street may soon feel like toggling between apps on an iPhone. That’s the vision of Mazy Dar, the CEO of OpenFin, which helps banks and asset managers build desktop applications. Dar has been working for years to bring an Apple-like operating system to financial desktops — creating an environment where apps can deploy safely, work closely together and update quickly, all within the confines of hyper-sensitive compliance regimes. OpenFin will now provide tools to clients who want to create their own app store — unique dashboards that can be curated to offer employees a mix of homegrown apps and relevant third-party apps.

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An Operating System for Capital Markets – Mazy Dar, OpenFin
John Lothian News | Spencer Doar

When Mazy Dar worked for a firm in the credit default swap trading space, he became familiar with the challenges posed by application deployment in financial services. It was his experience then that made him realize capital markets could take a page from mobile phone app stores. In this video, Dar talks about the core issues he addresses and thinks about as CEO of OpenFin, a company that built an operating system for finance that is used by more than 1,500 buy- and sell-side firms to rapidly deploy applications.

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HPR Launches ‘CRM-X’ for Global Enterprise Trading Risk Management
Traders Magazine | John D’Antona

HPR (Hyannis Port Research), provider of advanced capital markets infrastructure (CMI) technologies, today announced the launch of CRM-X, the newest version of its Central Risk Manager. CRM-X provides a real-time, pan-regional view of risk that encompasses all equities markets globally, solving one of the most significant challenges faced by global banks and trading firms, who typically manage operations via regional silos. Anthony Amicangioli, Founder and CEO of HPR, said: “A unified, global, pre-, at- and post-trade risk management system has long been an aspirational goal of the industry’s most sophisticated brokers and trading entities.”

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STA Offers Complimentary DC Conference Registration Packages
Traders Magazine | John D’Antona

The Security Traders Association is going the extra mile to help displaced workers. In recognition of the changing trading workplace and extended time that securities workers might be out of work, Jim Toes and the STA are offering up to ten Complimentary Conference Registration Packages for its Annual Market Structure Conference, Oct. 2-4, 2019 at the JW Marriott Washington DC. According to the STA, the new initiative is geared towards individuals who are in between jobs and actively pursuing a new opportunity within the securities industry.

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How Blockchain Can Help to Avoid a Repeat of the Subprime Mortgage Crisis in the Auto Industry
Automotive Digest | John Liu (Chief Product Officer, Fusion Foundation)

The used car industry has long been plagued by widespread data discrepancies and operational inefficiencies. Following Fusion Foundation’s February announcement that it was selected by the Automotive eXchange Platform (AXP) to serve as AXP’s blockchain backbone, the Fusion/AXP partnership continues to make inroads bringing the benefits of blockchain to help reduce fraud and improve data processing in the U.S. second-hand car industry.

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That’s all for this week. Don’t forget to subscribe to the Forefront Trading Digest for more headlines like these.

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