12.05.2011
By Terry Flanagan

Long-Term Buy-Side Shrugs HFT

Market structure has come under fire in recent years but the traditional buy side seems least worried.

The post-2008 financial crisis and subsequent Flash Crash are scars of a trading world continually catapulting into an increasingly electronic marketplace, and with it comes an evolving market structure.

By and large, active traders and investors with a shorter-term investment outlook are most affected by the changes.

“The traditional buy-side’s interest in market structure is less than that of high frequency shops and traders,” an unnamed source told Markets Media. “You see investors that buy and hold for the longer term don’t care as much for shorter term volatility we’ve been experiencing because they don’t really interact with the HFT—only when they enter the market.”

Evolving market structure has kept lobby groups busy, as they’re a liaison between regulators and market participants. Whether such groups properly advocate for the buy-side is up for debate.

“It seems for whatever reason the buy side has one of the weakest voices when it comes to lobbying,” said the source, who noted that for asset managers that truly invest to take “stakes in companies” and favor “good businesses”—market structure comes second.

Lobby budgets at many traditional buy-side firms are also small, according to the source.

“Depending on where these buy side shops see their value proposition coming from, they won’t be that concerned about the HFT. They’re on the longer term, so momentum activity that happens in two, three, four or five days won’t matter. They’ll be some market impact for them but their return forecast is long-term so they could very well be in the same position a year from now as they are now.”

Some market lobby groups include the Investment Company Institute (ICI), the Global Financial Markets Association (GFMA), the Hedge Fund Association (HFA), and the Manage Funds Association (MFA).

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