Tagged: rule 606

Retail Reality

Do retail investors matter?

Depends what you mean. They’re important and valuable as investors. I once headed investor relations for a company with thousands of retail holders. I was president of an IR services firm that focused on retail-targeting strategies.

But when people ask me if retail investors have a chance in the market, my answer is monosyllabic: No. Scottrade, the online brokerage, runs ads featuring clients claiming that “I don’t trade like everyone else. I trade like me.” That seems to suggest retail traders can craft unique schemes that stand apart. While it’s theoretically conceivable for a retail order to price the market under rules requiring “market” orders to meet at the best national offer to sell, in practice it’s remote. Retail orders are passengers on market trains.

I’ll explain. Scottrade says in its order-routing filings that 100% of its trades are non-directed – they don’t specify execution venues. The average Scottrade customer is thus statistically most likely to trade not like you or me or him or her, but like Knight Securities, since that’s where a quarter of Scottrade orders go.

Another chunk from Scottrade lands at Citadel, the high-speed hedge-fund owned platform. Citigroup gets the largest portion but it’s divided between limit orders at Lavaflow, Citi’s fast-trading facility, and market orders at Citigroup’s agency desk (suggesting Citi powers arbitrage).

About 15% of orders shoot through Direct Edge, the high-frequency-trading exchange that’s merging with BATS, another sizzling execution venue. And for options and futures and NYSE stocks, about 7% of Scottrade’s orders route to G1 Securities that until recently was owned by rival E*Trade, which has sold it Susquehanna, a quantitative trader. Yup, folks who hoped to “trade like me” were actually trading like E*Trade. (more…)

We’re late this week due to celebrations around the anniversary of the rebellion from the Crown. We played croquet, appropriately and cheekily British we thought (no offense to our good friends and former overlords across the pond). Croquet has actual rules we learned.

Sunday, Karen and I loaded the bikes and set out with good friend Jeffrey to conquer the passage between two of Colorado’s tall “fourteeners” named Princeton and Harvard. We rode from the Arkansas Valley floor at 8,000 feet up Cottonwood Pass (which sounds like “cotton whupass”) from Buena Vista to the summit at 12,126 feet and a stunning view of the fruited plain.

Choosing a route from point A to point B had me thinking about stock trades (you do this long enough, that’ll happen to you too). Stock trades must have routes. Sometimes it happens automatically. Whether orders for shares in your stock meet their matches internally at Barclays or by dint of timing, routing, pricing and chance at Susquehanna’s dark pool, RiverCross, often is a matter of routing. Even online brokers afford ways to route trades now. (more…)