Trading Technology: Moving from Faster to Better

Trading Technology: Moving from Faster, to Better
By Robert Young

The stock market has recently demonstrated a lot of interest in technology stocks, including the so-called "dot-com" e-commerce stocks. These firms' price multiples have reflected the market's enthusiasm for the innovative new mechanisms they offer the buyer and seller of goods and services. But what about the stock markets' mechanisms for buying and selling the stocks themselves? These have remained largely the same for decades.

It is clearly time for a change. And, just as it has with the Internet, technology is making this a quantum change, not an incremental change.

Look back to the technology sector--and not just the e-commerce stocks. There are enabling technologies emerging, of particular interest to exchanges with the vision to restructure rather than simply re-pave their markets. Massively-parallel computers, capable of instantly evaluating billions of match possibilities, can now affordably allow every buyer and seller, regardless of size, to find their optimal outcome in one 'virtual' market. Network and security technology has become both fast and certifiably confidential. Trader's PCs capable of clearly and fully displaying their multi-faceted trading strategies are common throughout the industry. Distributed object technology now allows easy interconnection of trading intent from the varied systems of liquidity-enhancers. All these are available and operating today. And there are more.

The key to the future is using new technologies differently, making markets work better, not just faster. Using technologies to facilitate, reward and protect the commitment of the full strategy to the market, and using technologies to remove market impact.

An 'impact-less' market facility, structured to safely and optimally satisfy the buyer or seller's full strategy, will attract investors' full liquidity--in such a market, strategy becomes liquidity. A market that integrates all trading intent will decrease volatility and improve prices for everyone. A facility that does it all will clearly thrive, while re-defining the nature of trading. It's a quantum leap in trading capabilities, one which will finally transform exchanges. In the coming months, several leading markets will begin to introduce initiatives which will tap into these new technologies to pursue these improvements. The stage is finally set for a "dot-com" revolution in trading.

Robert Young is managing director, OptiMark Technologies Inc., in Toronto.

Transcontinental Media G.P.