Forefront Communications

Forefront Week in Review: May 5, 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.

We were glad to spend some time in Boston earlier this week, where client OpenFin staged its first-ever event in the Bay State: “Collaboration & Community: The Key to Success.” The agenda included speakers from fellow client Luminex, as well as Barclays and FactSet, all of whom demonstrated how their firms are leveraging OpenFin to create new efficiencies and drive digital transformation. It was great to see so many familiar faces from around the industry in a new setting, and we hope to see even more next time.

Looking at the headlines, Commerzbank wasted no time proving it has moved on from stalled M&A talks with Deutsche Bank, kicking off the week by leading a $9 million funding round for FICC analytics firm Mosaic Smart Data. The vendor was the first firm to graduate from JP Morgan’s In-Residence program, securing an initial investment from the banking giant in 2017. Other top stories included Citadel poaching a top quant from Morgan Stanley and FINRA’s new plan to boost broker oversight.

This week’s Week in Review features stories by Anthony Malakian of Waters Technology, Frank Chaparro of The Block and Dakin Campbell and Alex Morrell of Business Insider, 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

The Chicago Brokerage Chasing Clients Wall Street Left Behind
Bloomberg News | Catherine Ngai & Cristiane Lucchesi

R.J. O’Brien & Associates is adding staff in offices from Houston to London, in a bid to expand its energy offerings even as major players retreat from commodities amid lackluster profits and increased oversight. The Chicago-based firm, one of the oldest and largest independent futures brokerages and clearing firms in the United States, is leaning on Joe Raia to grow its energy portfolio. The former head of global commodity futures sales at Goldman Sachs has already hired a couple of people for the energy team, composed of roughly 20 people across New York, Houston, London and Dubai. More hiring is to come, Raia said, without providing numbers.

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Exchange, ATS and Clearing News

NYSE President Sees Tech as Key to Big Board’s Next Evolution
Waters Technology | Anthony Malakian

After 226 years of existence, Stacey Cunningham became the first woman to head NYSE in 2018. You probably already know this. However, this is 2019 and Cunningham’s thoughts are not focused on these things that are now in the rear-view mirror. Instead, she leads an exchange in transition. For a decade, the famed trading floor has become decidedly less human and more electronic. It’s also one that has been under attack of late. Change is, indeed, constant—perhaps especially for centuries-old institutions.

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Vendor News

Vela, Enyx Partner on FPGA Technology
Markets Media | Staff

Vela, a leading independent provider of trading and market access technology for global multi-asset electronic trading, and Enyx, a leading developer and provider of ultra-low latency technologies and solutions for the financial industry, today announced a partnership to provide Vela clients with access to Enyx’s FPGA-based technology, initially focused on ultra-low latency market data solutions.

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Buy Side News

Citadel Has Poached a Top Executive from Morgan Stanley in One of Wall Street’s Fiercest Hiring Battleground
Business Insider | Alex Morrell & Dakin Campbell

Hedge-fund giant Citadel has poached a top executive from Morgan Stanley in one of the fiercest talent battlegrounds on Wall Street. Glen Popick, the head of fixed-income strats and a nearly two-decade veteran at Morgan Stanley, has left the investment bank for a role as the head of FICC technology at the more than $30 billion hedge fund, according to people familiar with the matter. At Morgan Stanley, Popick led a large team of quants that develop algorithms and models to help price derivatives, manage risk, and execute trading strategies.

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M&A/Investment News

Commerzbank Leads $9 Million Investment in FICC Analytics Firm
The TRADE News | Hayley McDowell

FICC analytics specialist Mosaic Smart Data has gained a $9 million investment led by Commerzbank’s venture capital fund, CommerzVentures. CommerzVentures co-led the funding round alongside Octopus Ventures. US investment bank JP Morgan also participated in the fundraising, increasing its initial stake in Mosaic Smart Data after opting to invest in the firm in March. JP Morgan signed a multi-year deal with Mosaic in October 2017 to implement its technology across its fixed income and rates sales and trading business. The vendor was the first firm to graduate JP Morgan’s  In-Residence programme.

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Regulatory & Legal News

Wall St. Watchdog Proposes Plan to Boost Oversight of Firms with Tainted Brokers
Reuters News | Suzanne Barlyn

Wall Street’s industry-funded watchdog on Thursday proposed a rule to boost oversight of securities brokerages with a “significant history of misconduct” that could require them to set aside funds that cannot be withdrawn without the regulator’s consent, among other measures. The proposal, published in a FINRA notice, also lays out a process for labeling a brokerage as “restricted,” which would trigger the new requirements.

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Blockchain & Crypto News

New Tech and Younger Faces: DRW’s Cumberland Looks Different, Its Counter-Parties Say
The Block | Frank Chaparro

DRW’s Cumberland might be unrecognizable to some of its counter-parties as it takes a more modern approach to trading, and as its old-guard execs depart the company. The firm, which is led by trading giant Don Wilson, was one of the first well-known high-frequency trading shops to dive into the over-the-counter trading market for crypto. In 2014, it launched Cumberland Mining, which later rebranded to Cumberland. Recently three members of its senior management have either left the firm or announced their upcoming departure.

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Forefront Client News

Geopolitical Risk Data Moves from Foreign Intelligence to Fund Management
Waters Technology | Anthony Malakian & Wei-Shen Wong

James “Jim” Shinn, a professor at Princeton University, understands that almost every government around the world has real blind spots when it came to anticipating collective-action events, such as protests, labor strikes and insurrections. He also knows that the availability of unstructured data surrounding these events is growing exponentially. His firm Predata is one such startup looking to fill in this gap, as are the likes of RavenPack, Causality Link, Dataminr and Heckyl, among others.

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Tourmaline Partners Adds to Senior Leadership in Australia, Addressing Continued Growth in the Asia-Pacific Region for its Outsourced Trading Business
Globe Newswire | Staff

Tourmaline Partners, LLC, one of the world’s leading outsourced trading solutions firms, today announced the hires of two senior professionals, spurred by continued growth in Australia and Asia. Matt McShane has joined as Director of Operations for Asia, while Simon Twiss has joined as Director of Pan-Asia Trading. While demand for outsourced trading solutions has grown across the spectrum of buy-side entities, Tourmaline has seen a particular interest from superannuation funds as the move toward internalizing portfolio management evolves.

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OpenFin Launches Fintech Startup Campaign
Markets Media | Staff

OpenFin, the operating system (OS) of finance, today announced it is now offering early stage Fintech and startup businesses the Enterprise Edition of OpenFin OS at a reduced rate. Levelling the playing field, this initiative will enable early-stage businesses to build their applications on OpenFin’s OS alongside the industry’s biggest players, accelerating innovation and collaboration, the delivery and ultimately adoption of new desktop applications.

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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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