The share of US investors reporting they trade a portion of their overall swaps trading volume electronically jumped from 23 per cent in 2013 to 41 per cent in 2014.
Another 20 per cent in 2014 said they plan to start trading electronically in the next 12 months, according to a report from Greenwich Associates, which the changes in the US swaps market since the start of mandatory trading on SEFs.
The top two platforms for investors trading interest-rate swaps electronically – Tradeweb and Bloomberg – remain the same today as they were before SEF rules came into effect with data also showing the majority of investors continue to prefer trading via name give up request for quote (RFQ), which is most similar to the old way of phone trading as is possible under the CFTC’s rules.
“For now, the complexity of the rules is what has kept many on the sidelines despite the growing benefits of trading on SEFs,” says Kevin McPartland, head of research for market structure and technology at Greenwich Associates. “Even so, the new market structure has only just started to take shape with many opportunities still on the table for incumbent, interdealer broker and new entrant SEFs.”
Greenwich Associates believes there are five factors that will determine the success of SEFs as liquidity consolidates over time.
1. Liquidity: Higher SEF volumes do not always correlate with higher liquidity. While it doesn’t guarantee better liquidity, a unique set of liquidity providers can also make a SEF standout.
2. Distribution: The harder it is for investors to gain access to trade on a given platform, the less likely it is for that platform to ultimately be successful. As such, incumbents like Tradeweb and Bloomberg have an advantage over new entrants.
3. Unique functionality: Unique functionality like compression tools, the ability to handle package trades or innovative order types may prove enough for nascent SEFs to attract the liquidity needed to gain wide distribution over time.
4. Pricing: High costs can be a barrier to success, and the report presents a breakdown of the cost structure for each of the major competing SEFs.
5. Service: In an increasingly electronic yet complex world, an investor’s ability to pick up the phone and speak quickly with someone, who is knowledgeable about both the system and the market, is critical.