Forefront Communications

Traders Magazine: Retooling the NMS/SIP Market Data Universe

Alexandra Hamer

Alexandra Hamer

The SEC’s initiative to revamp the National Market System (NMS) data collection and distribution framework is both welcome and overdue (see SEC press release 2020-34). The time has come for firm action, to bring market data collection, distribution and pricing up to speed with today’s technology and practices on both Wall Street and Main Street.

It’s been forty-plus years since the NMS universe was codified into law. To catch up with the market and technological changes that have occurred over that time, significant changes are needed. Last week, Brett Redfearn, the SEC’s director of Trading and Markets, voiced enthusiasm for a single plan that opens up governance, broadens content in feeds, and supports competition among consolidators.

Our work at MayStreet has revealed a set of keen, persistent insights into how the potential new NMS regulations and the supporting security information processor (SIP) infrastructure ought to look like.

To carry us into the next decade while ensuring a level playing field that’s fair and technically smart—regardless of who builds it—the new NMS/SIP universe on day-one should minimally include:

  • Retainment of current requirements for raw data submission – At the outset, Self regulatory organizations (SROs) should be able to send data to the SIPs using the same proprietary methods they use today. Retaining these avoids a multi-year re-engineering effort. Eventually, SROs would transition to accessing the same inputs as the current SIP.
  • Service indirection – Users should be allowed to request IP/ports for a given service. A primary goal of indirection should be to let services evolve faster with less client impact. The services could wrap different levels of functionality, such as existing SIP and depth, including future functionality such as distributed SIP, snapshots and conflation.
  • Output requirements – A simple binary encoding is needed for the SIP output, similar to existing protocols—possibly offering a binary emulation for ease of transition. On day-one, the output should include the current content along with per-symbol status messages, imbalances/auctions and some amount (three levels?) of book depth. The protocol should be level-based (not order-by-order), making the process more resilient and easier to consume.
  • Monitoring and performance reporting – To ensure competitiveness, the newly-configured SIPs must meet a set of minimum operating standards. All SIPs must be required to provide detailed, publicly available statistics on message loss, throughput bandwidth and latency. This would prevent SIP consumers from cherry-picking bad SIPs in order to lower execution standards.
  • Pricing model and administration – A clear pricing model, clean on-boarding procedures as well as streamlined administration processes should all be mandated. All admin processes should be web-based. Audit rights should also be significantly reduced.

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