01.10.2023

BMLL Appoints ‘Statesman’ Rob Laible for US Expansion

01.10.2023
Shanny Basar
BMLL Appoints ‘Statesman’ Rob Laible for US Expansion

Paul Humphrey, chief executive of BMLL, said he wanted to hire a statesman to lead expansion in the US for the firm which provides harmonized, historical Level 3 data and analytics.

Humphrey told Markets Media: “Even customers who don’t know BMLL, and what we do, will have heard of Rob Laible.”

Paul Humphrey, BMLL

BMLL offers banks, brokers, asset managers, hedge funds, and global exchange groups access to granular Level 3, T+1 order book data and advanced analytics across equities, futures and exchange-traded funds. This aims to help users accelerate research, optimize trading strategies and generate alpha.

Laible will be head of Americas, with plans to open a New York area-based office. He has more than 30 years experience of running global institutional businesses across sales and trading, technology, compliance, risk and operations.

Most recently Laible was global head of equities at Liquidnet, responsible for the global institutional equities business, and had previously served in a variety of roles at the firm including chief operating officer, and global head of execution & quantitative services overseeing the development of a suite of algos.  Before Liquidnet, Laible had worked at firms including Macquarie Securities, Nomura, Lehman Brothers and ITG.

Laible told Markets Media: “I have always aligned myself around quantitative trading. In the very beginning of my career, I was on the ground when ITG was being formed and we partnered with Barra to create technology to allow portfolio managers to cross blocks of stock.”

He continued that BMLL represents an opportunity to get back to his roots and that he likes being in an entrepreneurial environment with people that are building businesses and creating innovative technologies.

Humphrey said: “Rob has had a credible senior career directly in the area where we are most applicable and he brings experience that makes our entire team better, not just in the US.”

US prospects

The chief executive said US expansion has very much been part of BMLL’s investment thesis since the last funding round. In October 2022 the firm raised a $26 million Series B investment led by Nasdaq Ventures, FactSet and IQ Capital’s Growth Fund.

“We are already servicing customers in the US and we know there is demand, but I still believe customer interaction is a contact sport, so we very much wanted a credible team on the ground,” added Humphrey.

Humphrey described the American market as sophisticated and highlighted that, unlike Europe, has had a consolidated tape for years, meaning that traders are used to looking deep into the market for signals.

“Providers need five years of data before these guys even talk to you, so we have built that out to seven years, and we are poised for growth,” said Humphrey.

For the US markets BMLL offers more than seven years of full-depth US order book data allowing US customers, and European funds trading US stocks, access to harmonized, historic Level 3 data for insights, algo design and backtesting.

Laible said he was aware of BMLL before he first started talking to the firm. Data is an area where firms have to deploy a lot of people to gather it, clean it, and put it in the right format so that it can be used to create alpha. Therefore, BMLL can help them redeploy resources and Laible thinks the value proposition will be understood pretty quickly.

“This is a unique product,” said Laible, “The real differentiator is the harmonization and consistency of Level 3 data and that we can provide an off-the-shelf quant sandbox.”

In addition, BMLL’s offering is in Python and in the cloud, so it is highly scalable and efficient. As a result, BMLL is giving access to the kind of power that was previously only available to the biggest firms or exchanges that had a large internal budget to build.

There is a large opportunity in the US due to the number of quantitative hedge funds, according to Laible.

Rob Laible, BMLL

“There are many managers involved in the futures markets, particularly around Chicago, and 14-plus exchanges that are continuing to get built out, who all want to know their market share and how effective their market makers are, and this is something we can get directly involved with today,” he added. “London has done a great job in terms of getting into the US remotely, but there is a lot more to do in the US by having boots on the ground to forge tighter relationships and understand the needs of clients, which can then be fed back into the product development cycle.”

By the end of this year in the US, Laible would like to have a well established, highly regarded team of professionals that is 100% engaged with the different segments and in a position to help clients become more effective and efficient.

Growth

BMLL said it has grown significantly over the last two years and added Tier 1 clients including investment banks, buy-side firms, academics and regulators and exchanges, who are themselves investing in their data capabilities.

Humphrey added: ”We buy raw T+1 data from the exchanges and sell them engineered products, so we have a fantastic relationship with them that is growing exponentially. We very much see them as partners across the board.”

The firm has also expanded from equities into futures and, as well as closing the funding round in the fourth quarter of last year, it launched a data visualization product – BMLL Vantage

”We want to be the conduit to democratizing access to Level 3 Data and analytics, which traditionally was the preserve of only the most sophisticated firms,” said Humphrey.

Consultancy Coalition Greenwich said in a report, Top Market Structure Trends to Watch in 2023, that there will be an increase in outsourcing. This will cover more just trading, as few brokers and asset managers have the time and resources needed to design, build and maintain their own algo technology stacks. Fewer still will have those resources in the future.

As a result, vital ancillary functions of quant researchers, algo developers and strategists, FIX specialists, market data technicians, data scientists, software engineers, and others are already beginning their own evolution from in-house to outsourced and Coalition Greenwich expects this trend will continue.

Humphrey added: “The addition of Rob, and the team that he goes on to build, will improve the experience and knowledge at BMLL for all our customers globally, not just in the US, so we are tremendously excited.”

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