Healthy Markets Association Releases Report - US Equity Market Data: How Conflicts of Interest Overwhelm an Outdated Regulatory Model and Market Participants

Today, the Healthy Markets Association announced the release of its newest report, US Equity Market Data: How Conflicts of Interest Overwhelm an Outdated Regulatory Model and Market Participants.

The 80-page Report provides a comprehensive review of the regulatory framework, uses, and costs for both public and private US equity market data.

Amongst other findings, the Healthy Markets Report found that: 

  • the exchanges that oversee the government-mandated public market data process are competing directly with that public data by selling their own data and connectivity offerings;
  • market participants rely on both the public and private market data to stay competitive and fulfill their regulatory obligations;
  • the non-competitive forces for market data and connectivity create significant upward pressures on prices, wherein both public and private data and connectivity prices have skyrocketed in recent years (e.g., a market participant who wanted the fastest connections with the most relevant trading information for BATS, NYSE, and Nasdaq has seen its costs rise from $72,150 per month on June 1, 2012 to $182,775 per month on June 1, 2017);
  • despite admitting that exchanges’ tape revenues and private data and connectivity products are material to their businesses, none of the major exchanges clearly discloses the sizes of these revenues; and
  • the vast majority of exchanges’ data and connectivity changes and fee hikes are implemented with effectively no regulatory scrutiny.

Based on these and other findings detailed in the Report, Healthy Markets offers 14 recommendations that regulators could take to improve the regulation and oversight of market data, including that they should: 

  • require justification of data, connectivity, and fee changes for both public and private feeds, and thoroughly review all such changes for fairness, reasonableness and potential discriminatory impacts and undue burdens on market participants;
  • expressly acknowledge the governmental function of the SIP data feeds, and so require exchanges to return all revenues in excess of expenses incurred to operate and maintain the SIP data processing;
  • revise NMS Plan governance to include voting representation from investment advisers and broker-dealers;
  • eliminate “one vote per exchange registration” and replace with “one vote per exchange group”;
  • simplify pricing models within the SIP to eliminate the need to count end users, accounts or terminals, and eliminate the distinctions between professionals and non-professionals;
  • establish clear parameters for market data audits by exchanges or their representatives;
  • increase the transparency of public market data revenue collection and costs so that the public is aware of both on a quarterly basis;
  • improve the relative value of the SIP feeds by expanding the information to include order depth of book information;
  • minimize the time discrepancies between when market participants may receive information from the private data feeds and the SIP feeds;
  • clarify that rule filing requirements apply to all data derived from an exchange’s role in the national market system and marketed to anyone, including a data vendor, whether by the exchange or an affiliate and that standards for market date filings apply;
  • require all exchanges to provide detailed financial information regarding their public data fees, their revenues and expenses related to public and private data, as well as connectivity or other related products and services;
  • increase the transparency and disclosure of enhancements to SIP resiliency;
  • mandate monthly public reporting of latency across SIP plans and how that compares to the private market data products offered by the exchanges; and
  • if competing SIPs are permitted, establish protections to mitigate conflicts of interest and abuses that may be created by differences between the SIPs.

“The exchanges essentially set the rules for what’s covered by the public data feeds, and at what cost,” said Christopher Nagy, Director of Healthy Markets. “But the exchanges also sell data and connectivity services that directly compete with the public market data and they make millions from both the public and the private offerings.”

“The outdated regulatory regime combines with unchecked conflicts of interest to simply overwhelm both regulators and market participants,” said Tyler Gellasch, Executive Director of the Healthy Markets Association. “The current market data system is little more than a government-sanctioned, private tax on all market participants to the benefit of a handful of exchanges. Increasing transparency and reducing the conflicts of interest would would reduce costs and improve the markets.”

The Healthy Markets’ Market Data Report follows on the heels of a recent report from the U.S. Treasury Department that specifically called the market data markets “non-competitive” and urged numerous reforms.

Healthy Markets Association Announces Expansion and Launch of the Healthy Markets Research Institute's Market Analytics Platform

Today, the Healthy Markets Association, an investor-focused not-for-profit coalition focused on improving the capital markets, announced the addition of three new members, as well as the launch of its groundbreaking Market Analytics Platform. The platform, which is a project of the Healthy Markets Research Institute (HMRI), is expected to be operational in Q2 2017.
Healthy Markets’ newest Members, OppenheimerFunds, a leading global asset manager, Clearpool, and MayStreet further bolster its growing Buyside and Working Group ranks. Healthy Markets, which launched in 2015 with just 5 Founding Members, now includes 17 Buyside and Working Group Members.

“We are excited to participate as a working group member of Healthy Markets,” said Joe Wald of Clearpool. “At Clearpool, we are committed to the advancement of transparent and equitable markets for institutional investors and the sell-side brokers they trust to deliver best execution. Through this collaboration we hope to influence practical reforms to resolve challenges in market microstructure.”

“In today’s increasingly complex markets, Healthy Markets is working with institutional investors and their trusted service providers to protect the retirements, endowments, and college savings of millions of Americans,” said Tyler Gellasch, Executive Director of Healthy Markets. “We’re thrilled that Oppenheimer, Clearpool, and MayStreet are joining us in this important effort, and their customers should be as well.”

At the same time, Healthy Markets also announced its forthcoming launch of the Market Analytics Platform, a project of the Healthy Markets Research Institute. The Market Analytics Platform will provide a unique resource for academics, market participants, and regulators to study market structure. It seeks to address several fundamental problems in market structure research: conflicted sources of proprietary data, problems making sense of petabyte-scale datasets and the lack of reproducibility in current research.

The Market Analytics Platform is being developed with leading technology and data providers, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and MayStreet, who are providing development support, data, and operational assistance. The Healthy Markets Research Institute is expected to launch in Q2 2017 with over a petabyte of historical data, including years of top-of-book and full depth-of-book equity data and full depth-of-book futures data.

“Investors often can’t get the information they need to protect themselves, and it could take years before regulators fill the void, so we’re going to help,” said Tyler Gellasch, Executive Director of the Healthy Markets Association. “Our hope is to provide the data and tools so that the buyside, academics, and other market participants have the opportunity to see how the markets are—or aren’t—working.”

“Objective facts and repeatable analysis are important, and that’s what the HMRI Market Analytics Platform is going to bring into the market structure debates.” said Dave Lauer, Chairman and Director of Research, who is overseeing the project. “Electronic markets offer unprecedented opportunity for study and research, but lack an unconflicted source of data.”

"Given all rhetoric surrounding contemporary market structure we're excited to be contributing to a platform that supports the objective study of the many complex issues affecting all market participants," said Patrick Flannery, of MayStreet.

"Healthy Markets is doing a great public service by making it easier for academics to obtain the data needed to conduct policy-relevant research," said Robert Battalio, Professor of Finance at Notre Dame.

With 17 Buyside and Working Group Members, as well as several key partners, Healthy Markets is looking to continue its incredible success from 2016, and continue its work to improve our capital markets.
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About Healthy Markets
Healthy Markets is an investor-focused not-for-profit coalition looking to educate market participants and promote data-driven reforms to market structure challenges. Our members, who range from a few billion to hundreds of billions of dollars in AUM, have come together behind one basic principle: Informed investors and policymakers are essential for healthy capital markets.
Healthy Markets can be found online at healthymarkets.org
Twitter: @healthymkts

Healthy Markets Releases Order Routing Questionnaire

In recent years, Congressional hearings, best-selling books, press reports, and regulatory investigations have shined a spotlight on brokers’ order routing practices. As a result, investors are increasingly questioning and seeking to better understand how their orders are routed and executed. At the same time, regulators are looking to empower investors with more information, including through proposals to revise order handling disclosures and disclosures by alternative trading systems (ATSs).

While rules requiring better disclosures have been proposed, final rules may still be years away. In the meantime, firms looking to protect themselves are increasingly utilizing questionnaires with brokers and execution venues. Many firms have found that Questionnaires should be part of a comprehensive set of policies, procedures, and practices designed to help the investor or firm sending orders make smarter decisions.

Last September, we released the Healthy Markets ATS Questionnaire to help firms assess their ATSs.  In March, we released our 2016 ATS Risk Assessment.  Now, we’re starting to help firms assess their brokers.

This comprehensive Order Routing Questionnaire, developed by the Healthy Markets Association, is intended to help. It includes:

  • Nearly 20  questions about the broker generally, such as the products traded by the firm or whether it provides sponsored access to customers;

  • Over 20 questions about the broker’s technology, such as how frequently its systems collapse and how it communicates changes to customers;

  • More than 10  questions about the broker’s order routing strategies generally, such as the types of strategies it offers, whether it uses conditional orders, and how it uses minimum quantity functionalities;

  • More than 50 questions about algorithmic order routing strategies, including how specific strategies, such as VWAP or Close strategies work;

  • More than 10  questions regarding how the broker monitors venues of execution, including whether it measures venue toxicity;

  • Nearly 100  questions on a broker’s conflicts of interest and potential information leakage, including the broker’s own trading activities and relationships with third parties; and

  • A detailed chart with statistics about how the firm routes and executes orders generally, as well as for the requesting firm.

All told, the Healthy Markets Order Routing Questionnaire goes well beyond the existing publicly-available data to provide everything that investors really want. While all questions and areas covered may not be important to all investors, we expect many investors and brokers to look to this as a resource to developing their own questionnaires.

The Healthy Markets Order Routing Questionnaire is the latest product of our Order Routing Transparency Initiative.  The Order Routing Transparency Initiative, which is supported by our Working Group, is a multi-pronged effort to enhance order routing disclosure practices. These efforts include:

  • Development and publication of the Healthy Markets Order Routing Questionnaire to help investors make more informed broker selection decisions.

  • Development of Order Routing Disclosure best practices and working with individual firms to improve disclosure practices.

  • Development and publication of unique reports related to key issues impacting broker order routing practices.

  • Offering suggestions to regulators and the public, including through regulatory comment letters.

For any questions or comments, or to learn more about Healthy Markets, please feel free to follow up with Tyler Gellasch at ty@healthymarkets.org.

Healthy Markets Releases Comprehensive ATS Risk Assessment

NEW YORK, NY (PRWEB) JUNE 09, 2016

Healthy Markets Association today announces the release of its groundbreaking 2016 ATS Risk Assessment covering 18 of the leading US equity alternative trading systems (ATSs). Collectively, these ATSs comprise 88% of ATS trading. This 173 page Report, which is the first of its kind, answers key questions for investors and routing brokers about how leading ATSs operate and the risks they pose.        

In the Report, Healthy Markets examined four key risk categories: 

  •     Conflicts of interest risks;
  •     Information leakage and counterparty risks;
  •     Technology risks; and
  •     Enforcement risks.

Firms were scored in each category, and rated as posing low, medium, or high risk. Some ATSs that declined to provide information to Healthy Markets were scored as having provided insufficient information. ATSs were then assigned Overall scores based on the scores of each category using the same grading system.

In addition to these risk comparisons, Healthy Markets’ report also provides quantitative comparisons of different ATSs across several measures of interest to investors and routing brokers, such as percentage of trades executed at the midpoint. Lastly, the report takes deep dives into the operations and risks of each of the 18 ATSs examined.

Information used to complete this Report was obtained from public sources, such as ATS websites, FAQs, Forms ATS, and regulators’ websites. It also includes ATSs’ responses to Healthy Markets’ ATS Questionnaire, which includes dozens of detailed technical questions about items ranging from information-leaking order types to smart-order routing preferences.

“Investors and routing brokers are increasingly focused on understanding and assessing the risks posed by the venues on which they trade, and this Report is designed to help them do that,” said Tyler Gellasch, Executive Director of Healthy Markets. “We found some significant differences between ATSs, which we think may impact investors’ decisions on where to trade.”

“In March, we released the ATS Transparency Index™ to help identify areas where they may need to ask more questions from their trading venues,” said Healthy Markets Chairman, Dave Lauer. “The 2016 ATS Risk Assessment goes quite a bit further in that it tells investors how these venues work, compares them to their peers, and highlights areas of risk.”

While the full Report is only available to Healthy Markets’ Buyside Members, excerpts of it, including an overall summary, are available to the public on the Association’s website.

Healthy Markets is an investor-focused not-for-profit coalition looking to educate market participants and promote data-driven reforms to market structure challenges. Our members, who range from a few billion to hundreds of billions of dollars in AUM, have come together behind one basic principle: Informed investors and policymakers are essential for healthy capital markets.

Healthy Markets publishes its latest edition of its groundbreaking Alternative Trading System, ATS Transparency Index

NEW YORK, NY (PRWEB) MARCH 10, 2016

On Thursday, Healthy Markets released its latest edition of its groundbreaking Alternative Trading System, ATS Transparency Index™. The ATS Transparency Index™, which is available freely to the public, was developed to help investors and routing brokers make sure they have a good understanding several aspects of an ATS, including: 

  •     What information is disclosed
  •     its conflicts of interest,
  •     order and execution characteristics
  •     ownership details

While the ATS Transparency Index™ provides a comprehensive overview of ATSs’ disclosures in several key areas, it does not pass judgement on the substance of the disclosures. Rather, it simply identifies whether critical information is disclosed. Healthy Markets prepares the index based upon publicly available information, and responses to our surveys of ATSs, which is performed using the Healthy Markets ATS Questionnaire.

“The ATS Transparency Index helps identify which ATSs are giving investors and routing brokers the disclosure information they need to make the most informed decisions, and which ones aren’t,” said Tyler Gellasch, Executive Director. “While some ATSs are still as just as dark as ever, we’ve found that the overall level of transparency has increased significantly, which is great news for investors.”

Link to release: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2016/03/prweb13255990.htm

Prominent Law Professors James Cox and J. Robert Brown Join Board of Healthy Markets Assocation

Healthy Markets Association today announced that Professors James Cox and J. Robert Brown, Jr. have joined its Board of Directors. Professors Cox and Brown, who are joining the Association as disinterested directors, will be providing strategic guidance and subject matter expertise to the Board and the executive team.

The addition of Cox and Brown comes at a crucial time for Healthy Markets, as it looks to build its membership and develop its core initiatives, focusing on ATS Transparency, Metrics and Accreditation, and the Healthy Markets Research Institute.

“Professors Cox and Brown are leading voices on securities regulation and governance, and we’re thrilled to welcome them to our team,” said Dave Lauer, Chairman of Healthy Markets. “We expect them each to help us continue the dramatic growth and impact of Healthy Markets.”

“The U.S. enjoys the deepest and most trustworthy securities markets in the world. They are not only a national treasure but essential to the vitality of the U.S. economy,” said Professor Cox. “I am delighted to be part of Healthy Markets’ commitment and multi-pronged initiatives to preserve and strengthen the quality of U.S. securities markets.”

“With respect to the US securities markets, I know of few matters that are more important than a fair and efficient structure that encourages investor participation,” said Professor Brown. “The focus at Healthy Markets on transparency and market data will help influence the direction of reform and ensure that this remains the case. I very much look forward to participating in this effort.”

About Professor James D. Cox
James D. Cox is Brainerd Currie Professor of Law at Duke University School of Law. Professor Cox earned his B.S. from Arizona State University and law degrees at University of California, Hastings College of the Law (J.D.) and Harvard Law School (LL.M.). In 2001, he received an Honorary Doctorate of Mercature from the University of South Denmark. In addition to his texts Financial Information, Accounting and the Law, Corporations (with Hazen & O’Neal), Business Organizations Cases and Materials (with Eisenberg), and Securities Regulations: Cases and Materials (with Hillman & Langevoort), Professor Cox has published extensively in the areas of market regulation and corporate governance, as well as having testified before the U.S. House and Senate on insider trading, class actions, and market reform issues. He served as a member of the corporate law drafting committees in California (1977-80) and North Carolina (1984-1993) and a member of the ABA Committee on Corporate Laws. He has also served as a consultant to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and more recently, conducted training programs for securities regulators in Bosnia, China and Thailand. His professional memberships include the American Law Institute, the PCAOB Standing Advisory Group, NYSE Legal Advisory Committee, the NASD Legal Advisory Board, and the Fulbright Law Discipline Review Committee.

About Professor J. Robert Brown, Jr. 
J. Robert Brown, Jr. is a Professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, the Director of the Corporate & Commercial Law Program at the law school, and serves as the Secretary to the SEC’s Investor Advisory Committee. He has written extensively on corporate and securities law subjects, including a textbook on Corporate Governance and a book on corporate disclosure (The Regulation of Corporate Disclosure). Several of his articles that have been cited by the US Supreme Court (including one in Basic v. Levinson, the seminal case on materiality under the antifraud provisions). Professor Brown has advised foreign governments on corporate and securities law reform, serves as an arbitrator for FINRA, and has been the primary drafter on a number of amicus briefs on behalf of law faculty in cases before the US Supreme Court, including Merck, Matrixx and Omnicare. Among his outside activities, Professor Brown is the chairman of the board of directors of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless.

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2016/01/prweb13150351.htm

Healthy Markets Association to Release New Report Into 'Dark Pools' with Senator Mark Warner

On September 15, 2015, at 9:45 a.m., the Healthy Markets Association will hold a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. to officially launch the organization, announce its Founding Members and discuss Healthy Markets' new report, The Dark Side of the Pools: What Investors Should Learn From Regulators' Actions. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), a capital markets expert and Ranking Member of the US Senate's Securities, Insurance, and Investment Subcommittee, will be providing remarks.

WHO: Healthy Markets Association and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA)

WHEN: September 15, 2015

TIME: 9:45 am

WHERE: Zenger Room
National Press Club
529 14th Street, NW13th Floor
Washington, D.C.

WHAT: Healthy Markets Association release of new report into "Dark Pools"

From the "Flash Crash" to "Flash Boys" to Congressional hearings, the world has been learning in recent years that stocks and other financial instruments are being traded at nearly the speed of light. One of the great advancements in recent decades has been the rise of so-called "dark pools." Large institutional investors seeking to minimize market impact and information leakage have increasingly turned to dark pools to get their large trades done at the best price.

Unfortunately, the rapid technological revolution in our markets and the slow evolution of regulations, have left investors exposed to unprecedented abuses—including in dark pools. This Report outlines how some dark pools have abused investors in the past, and outlines concrete steps investors and regulators can take to better protect investors.

Healthy Markets Association Hires Tyler Gellasch to be Executive Director

NEW YORK – July 15, 2015 – Healthy Markets Association today announced that Tyler “Ty” Gellasch, has joined as its Executive Director. Ty, will be responsible for overseeing the Association’s daily operations, membership services, and strategy based out of New York.

Prior to joining Healthy Markets, Ty spent over six years in senior positions in the U.S. Senate and the Securities and Exchange Commission.  In the Senate, Ty served as Senior Counsel to the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations as well as Counsel to Senator Carl Levin.  While there, Ty assisted in drafting both the Dodd-Frank Act and the JOBS Act, and was involved in numerous hearings and investigations regarding the capital markets. At the SEC, Ty served as Counsel to Commissioner Kara M. Stein, whom he advised on all matters before the Commission.

“During his years in Congress and at the SEC, Ty played a key role in shaping our modern capital markets, said Dave Lauer, co-founder and Chairman of Healthy Markets. “With his experience, expertise, and relationships, he’ll provide an immediate impact for our members.”

Prior to his government service, Ty was a securities regulatory lawyer with top law firms in New York City and Washington, DC.  Ty completed his undergraduate studies at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.  He received his Master’s degree in Economics from Duke University Graduate School, and his law degree from Duke University School of Law, in Durham, North Carolina. 

“I’m excited to be joining the incredible Healthy Markets team, and looking forward to helping our members address their capital markets challenges,” said Gellasch.

About Healthy Markets

Healthy Markets is a not-for-profit association of institutional investors working together with non-buyside firms to promote data-driven reforms to market structure challenges. Our members, who range from a few billion to hundreds of billions of dollars in AUM, have come together behind one basic principle: Informed investors and policymakers are essential for healthy capital markets.

Healthy Markets can be found online at healthymarkets.org.

Twitter: @healthymkts