header background

LMAX Exchange in the Press

All the latest LMAX Exchange news coverage

header background

White paper offers new blueprint for TCA in global FX market

  • Paper calls for industry-wide consultation and collaboration to agree consistent TCA analysis
  • LMAX Exchange research argues existing TCA methods are broken – failing to reflect major differences between firm and last look liquidity
  • The financial consequences of trading with last look can be up to $48.86/million

London, 15 May 2017 – LMAX Exchange today publishes research that seeks to transform how the global FX market understands the cost of trading and quality of execution. The paper aims to begin a period of FX industry engagement, debate and agreement to better market structures that benefit all participants.

The analysis reveals significant differences in trading on firm vs last look liquidity, and proposes a new combination of metrics to conduct Transaction Cost Analysis (TCA). The white paper is launched against a backdrop of increased pressure on institutions to report trading activity costs and ensure transparency in execution as part of both MiFID II regulation and as part of the upcoming FX Global Code of Conduct.

The white paper argues that existing TCA methods have been calibrated around last look liquidity and fail to take into account key advantages of trading on firm liquidity, including the ability to protect valuable trade information pre-execution; the potential to gain value from price improvement and avoid the cost of last look hold time; and the flexibility to optimise trading strategies by adjusting price discretion to control fill ratios.

The research was conducted by analysing data from an independent Third Party Aggregator (TPA), containing 7 million orders sent to seven LPs (both firm and last look) in 2016. It found there are clear financial consequences to trading on different liquidity pools. Specifically:

  • The cost of trading was higher on last look liquidity, by between $2.25-$48.86/million;
  • Firm liquidity allows traders to gain value from price improvement, transparently passed on to them;
  • Firm liquidity enables traders to avoid the cost of last look hold time, estimated at $25/million at 100ms for a rejected order, with 60% of costs incurred in the first 10ms.

By examining the underlying processes of both firm and last look liquidity, the white paper proposes a set of metrics to effectively compare the different liquidity pools, something it argues existing TCA methodologies fail to do.

Five key metrics are identified as important to achieve that comparison: fill ratio, price variation, hold time, market impact and bid-offer spread. The first three form the core of the publication, while market impact is also analysed. Key findings on the metrics include:

  • Fill ratio is not directly comparable between last look and firm liquidity, as different processes are measured;
  • Price improvement is important and should be included in the base metrics set alongside slippage as combined price variation;
  • Last look hold time, or discretionary latency, is an important hidden cost of trading that needs to be measured;
  • Market impact is not usually measured, but is crucial to consider when interpreting execution quality.

As the FX Global Code of Conduct is finalised, this research points towards the need to complement that work with a TCA methodology that better reflects the differences between trading on last look and firm liquidity, and which in turn can help traders to make more informed choices on execution and liquidity.

There will be further research and publications from LMAX Exchange over the coming months that continue to interrogate further developments in this critical area for FX trading.

David Mercer, CEO of LMAX Exchange, comments:

“We hear a lot about the importance of transparency in FX trading, but at present there is too much complexity and confusion when it comes to assessing the true cost of trading. In essence, the current system is broken and fails to properly assess the true costs.

Traders are being asked to navigate a maze of differing standards and benchmarks. They need clarity and it is our responsibility as an industry to provide it. This research seeks to help meet that need: offering the foundations for what we hope will become a commonly agreed methodology for conducting Transaction Cost Analysis.

To be effective, TCA must recognise and reflect the clear differences between trading on last look and firm liquidity. The metrics commonly applied at present do a disservice to the quantifiable advantages of trading on firm liquidity, which need to be better understood as last look increasingly comes into question as a market practice.

Ultimately, better TCA should be about helping the industry move towards a position where traders are in control of their trading costs and can set their liquidity strategy accordingly, which benefits true market makers in turn. While there may be disagreements within the industry over the veracity of specific trading practices, we should all be able to agree that traders need better tools to understand the true cost of trading and value of liquidity.

Our intention with this white paper is to contribute to an industry-wide debate on how to conduct TCA in a way that benefits the customer, provides a fair comparison for liquidity providers, and creates genuine transparency: one that enables choice and aids quality decision making.

We are conscious of the “well they would say that” observation, irrespective of the lengths we have gone to internally to conduct an unbiased and fair assessment.

We believe in market structure, so this research should be understood as an invitation to all market participants to engage with us, test the validity of our findings and work together in developing the next generation of FX TCA methodology for the ultimate benefit of the wider market.”

The white paper is available to download here: www.lmax.com/TCAwhitepaper

Download as a PDF

Media Contacts

For further information, please contact:

Seven Hills:
Tom Nutt T: +44 (0) 20 7199 6191 E: [email protected]

LMAX Exchange:
Barbara Pozdorovkina T: +44 (0) 20 3192 2510 E: [email protected]

About LMAX Exchange

LMAX Exchange Group is a dynamic, visionary and award-winning financial technology company. Recognised as one of the UK’s fastest growing technology firms, LMAX Exchange is leading the transformation of the global FX industry to transparent, fair, precise and consistent execution. Operating one global marketplace for trading FX, metals, indices and commodities, LMAX Exchange delivers open access, transparency and a level playing field to all market participants.

LMAX Exchange Group offers all clients the ability to trade on LMAX Exchange central limit order book, driven by streaming no ‘last look’ limit-order liquidity from top tier banks and non-bank financial institutions. Servicing funds, banks, brokerages, asset managers and proprietary trading firms, LMAX Exchange offers an anonymous, regulated, rules-based trading environment, order execution in strict price/time priority, and access to real-time streaming market and trade data, enabling all market participants to control execution quality and total trading costs.

Offering a comprehensive range of instruments and ultra-low latency execution, LMAX Exchange operates a global FX exchange infrastructure with matching engines in London, New York and Tokyo.

LMAX Exchange - a unique vision for global FX.

Financial technology awards:

2017 Best FX Trading Venue - (ECN/MTF) – Fund Technology and WSL Awards more

LMAX Exchange has been awarded The Fund Technology and WSL Awards “Best FX Trading Venue - ECN/MTF”. The award honours excellence among providers to the institutional trading industry. close

2016 Best Trading & Execution Technology – HFM US Technology Awards more

The HFM US Technology awards recognise hedge fund technology providers that have demonstrated exceptional customer service and innovative product development in the past 12 months. close

2013 Best Overall Testing Project – The European Software Testing Awards more

The European Software Testing Awards (TESTA) recognise excellence and innovation in the software testing and quality assurance across a variety of industries. close

2011 Best Trading System – Financial Sector Technology Awards more

The FST Awards recognise excellence and innovation in the field of information technology within the UK and EMEA financial services sector.close

2011 Innovative Programming Framework – Oracle Duke's Choice Awards more

Oracle’s Duke's Choice Awards celebrate extreme innovation in the world of Java technology and are granted to the most innovative projects using the Java platform. close

FX industry awards:

2018, 2017, 2013 Best Execution Venue – Forex Magnates Awards more

LMAX Exchange has been awarded the Forex Magnates Awards “Best Execution Venue”. The awards are granted to the top firms in their categories and announced at the annual London summit. close

2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 Best FX Trading Venue - (ECN/MTF) – WSL Awards more

LMAX Exchange has been awarded The WSL Awards “Best FX Trading Venue - ECN/MTF” for four consecutive years. The awards honour excellence among providers to the institutional trading industry. close

2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 Best Margin Sector Platform – Profit & Loss Readers' Choice Awards more

LMAX Exchange has been awarded The Profit & Loss Readers’ Choice Awards “Best Margin Sector Platform” for five consecutive years. These awards are voted on by the readers and recognise excellence within the foreign exchange industry throughout the previous year. close

2014 Best Infrastructure/Technology Initiative – WSL Institutional Trading Awardsmore

LMAX Exchange has been awarded The Wall Street Letter Institutional Trading Awards “Best Infrastructure/Technology Initiative” in 2014. WSL awards honour excellence among providers to the institutional trading industry. close

Business growth awards:

2016, 2015 Winner – Deloitte UK Technology Fast 50 more

Deloitte UK Technology Fast 50 is a ranking of the 50 fastest-growing technology companies in the UK, based on percentage growth of fiscal year revenues over the last four years. close

2016, 2015 Winner – Deloitte EMEA Technology Fast 500 more

The Deloitte EMEA Technology Fast 500 pre-eminent technology awards program is a ranking of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa's fastest-growing technology companies based on percentage revenue growth over three years. close

2015, 2014, 2013 Fastest Growing Tech Company in the UK – The Sunday Times Tech Track 100 more

LMAX Exchange has been recognised amongst the UK’s fastest growing technology firms for three consecutive years. Tech Track 100, compiled by Fast Track annually and published by the Sunday Times each September, lists Britain’s 100 fastest-growing private tech companies based on sales growth over the last three years. close

2015 Recognised as a Tech City Future Fifty company – Tech City UK Future Fiftymore

LMAX Exchange is part of the Future Fifty programme, focused on accelerating the success of high-growth tech businesses. close

LMAX Exchange Group is the holding company of LMAX Limited and LMAX Broker Limited.

LMAX Exchange is a trading name of LMAX Limited, which operates a multilateral trading facility, authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (firm reference number 509778) and is a company registered in England and Wales (number 6505809).

LMAX Global is a trading name of LMAX Broker Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (firm reference number 783200) and is a company registered in England and Wales (number 10819525).