11.18.2011
By Terry Flanagan

Trust is Key

The relationship between investors and those who execute their trades has become more important than ever in recent weeks.

With the recent scandal surrounding Pipeline Financial Group putting a black eye on the trading community, the dark pool operator will look to regain client trust going forward.

“We will become customer-focused, we have the issue behind us now, we have to look forward, listen to clients and find out what they want,” Jay Biancamano, Pipeline executive chairman, told Markets Media. “We’re having conversations with customers about what it will take to win their trust back.”

Biancamano earlier this week was appointed as executive chairman, replacing the retiring Alfred Berkeley. Biancamano was previously global head of marketplace and corporate strategy at Liquidnet, and prior to that a vice president and director at ITG.

Berkeley and former chief executive officer Fred Federspiel, who resigned last week, were fined by the Securities and Exchange Commission a combined $1.2 million. The SEC accused Pipeline, which has been operating for about seven years, of profiting ahead of orders that clients had placed at the first dark pool, Pipeline ATS. Pipeline’s dark pool had presented itself as a crossing network that matched orders between clients, but in actuality its liquidity was mostly supplied by an affiliate, Milstream Securities, that participated in about 80 percent of all trades.

Pipeline announced Friday that it would be divesting itself of the Milstream subsidiary, per the request of many clients.

“A majority of Pipeline clients have told us they are not comfortable trading in the block market as long as Milstream is given access,” said Biancamano. “Milstream’s subscription to the block market has been terminated, and we will be divesting ourselves of the Milstream operation.”

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