06.22.2016
By Rob Daly

Data Helps Salvage Value From ‘Bad’ Dark Pools

Despite some perception to the contrary, there is no such thing as a ‘bad’ dark pool.

That’s the perspective of agency broker CLSA Americas, which believes that to be the case at least so long as trade-routing decisions are informed by empirical data.

“I’m not really a fan of any individual saying ‘I think this is a good dark pool and this is a bad pool. We won’t go here, but we will go there’,” said Ruth Finkenstadt, head of electronic trading at CLSA Americas. “I prefer a model based on broad and neutral access to venues that then uses the data and the quantitative logic of the algos along with regular review and oversight in order to make the best decisions about order placement and routing.”

Finkenstadt, who the CLSA Americas brought in approximately five years ago to build its electronic trading business from scratch, sees a regular manual review of venue statistics and capture rates as critical to get the most of a firm’s order routing tables.

“There’s manual oversight, but you’re also leveraging the capability that you get from the data,” she said. “You need both the data and the quantitative logic built into the platform in combination with regular oversight in order to make the best decisions around your routing logic.”

Even dark liquidity pools that are known for their toxic liquidity might be the right destination depending on a trade’s specific goal.

“If the objective of your trade is pure liquidity seeking, it is very different than if the objective is to not leave a footprint and to be very concerned with information leakage,” Finkenstadt explained. “In some circumstances, really all you care about is optimizing your liquidity capture and in other circumstances, you care more about information leakage and protecting your orders with price and minimum quantity protection in the venues that you may go out to.”

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