Boutique Broker-Dealers Grab Equities Orders Away from Bulge Bracket


Regional and Boutique Broker-Dealers are in land grab mode for institutional execution business as the ‘six-pack’ aka bulge bracket firms find themselves continuously paring back staff and reducing services due to the costs associated with each part of their business pods. The small and mid-size “agency-only” equities execution firms are increasingly gaining share, yet at the same time, institutional brokerage commission schemes for equities execution remains in a downward spiral. The exception, according to a recent study by Greenwich Associates, is “the boutique firms that provide a combination of high-touch service along with high-tech execution tools will stand out among those vying for business from the investment manager community.”


Larry Peruzzi, Mischler Financial Group

According to Larry Peruzzi, Managing Director and Head of International Equities for agency-only firm Mischler Financial Group, “The feedback we continue to hear from buy-side traders is consistent with the latest Greenwich Associates survey; investment managers want premium high-touch coverage from boutique BDs that can also provide best-in-class order routing and trade execution technologies.” Added Peruzzi, “Large investment managers are still looking to a broker’s research capabilities in the course of adding to a broker-rotation schedule, but the unbundling movement has made independent equities research, including those that have ‘buy-sell-hold’ recommendations, a commodity item that can be obtained away from those captive investment manager-executing broker relationships.”

(Traders Magazine Aug 2 2016)– As ‘bulge bracket’ brokers are faced with ever tightening budgets and focusing more on their larger institution accounts, the mid- and small-size brokers are poised to snatch up those clients left without an executing broker.

The bulge firms, after years of shrinking commissions amid a unique confluence decreased trading volumes, increased technology spend and a heavier regulatory compliance burden have shed staff and cut costs to the bare bone. Thus, having to make due with smaller trading desks and providing a modicum of service expected from the top tier banks, other brokers have been able to step in and grab underserved customers. And more importantly, the commissions that come along with providing both execution and research services.

“We’re definitely seeing this trend right before our eyes here,” said Doug Rivelli, co-head of US equity sales and trading at Auerbach Grayson. “As the trend of unbundling commissions has taken hold on a global scale, the traditional trading desk has had to become more focused on execution quality and broker trading services and firms like us have been able to capture market share.”

This phenomenon was reported also by market consultancy Greenwich Associates, who reported this week that mid-sized/regional brokers’ share of commission payments from institutional U.S. equity trades is increasing.

According to Greenwich, a s recently as 2007, the nine leading bulge-bracket brokers captured 78% of commissions paid by institutional investors on trades of U.S. equities. This year, they are claiming only 60%–down a full two percentage points from 2015. Much of the lost share has flowed to mid-sized/regional dealers, which as a group now take home 28% of U.S. equity commissions, up from just 11% in 2007.

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MiFID II Expected to Smack Intl Equities Traders


(TradersMagazine) A new report from Greenwich Associates, European Equity Trading and the Consequences of Regulation reveals that European buyside traders and portfolio managers believe MiFID II provisions could increase trade execution costs and reduce market liquidity—particularly in small cap stocks.

More than 3.4 billion Euro in commission payments earned by brokerage firms on institutional trades of European equities in the year ending Q2 2015 was about evenly divided. An estimated 53 percent pay for research and advisory services and 47 percent take the form of payments for trade execution services, according to Greenwich Associates.

“The debate over MiFID II has sparked intense speculation about the future of the European equity research business. Much less attention has been paid to the potentially profound impacts of the regulatory proposals on the European cash equity trading business,” according to a press statement. provides the global financial industry’s most comprehensive database of broker-dealers operating in more than thirty countries across the free world

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Unbundling and EU BrokerDealer Commissions: A $3bil Hickey

As brokerdealers in Europe brace for the Jan 2017 implementation of new MiFID II regulations, the topic of unbundling research and how broker-dealers can continue to capitalize on proprietary research made available to institutional clients is leading many to believe that investment banks in the EU could be looking at a per annum $3bil hickey.

As reported by TradersMagazine, with coverage provided by senior staffer John D’Antona, “That’s a lot of scratch in a global equities market that is still struggling to regain its commission-based profitability since 2007.” Below is an excerpt from TM’s most recent reporting.. is the global financial industry’s leading source of broker-dealer information and hosts a database of brokerdealers across more than 30 countries throughout the free world.

According to a new report from equity market consultancy Greenwich Associates, whatever the Euro regulators decide to do regarding their upcoming decisions on the issue of “unbundling” will determine the fate of approximately 1.7 billion euros in European equity brokerage commission payments used by institutional investors. Believing that regulators may restrict or even prohibit the use of commissions to pay for research, investors are preparing to internalize some research functions and expect to increase the amount of “hard currency” payments to sell-side providers.

In its latest report, “Payment for Research; The Calm Before the Storm,” the consultancy reported that if regulators prohibit buyside traders from including as part of their trading commissions paid to a broker an amount targeted to pay for research or “unbundling” could force some brokers or other research providers to stop providing research to institutional investors. In turn, this could open opportunities for conflict-free, independent research providers.

According to Neil Azous of global macro think tank Rareview Macro LLC and the publisher of “Sight Beyond Sight“, a daily global macro-themed analysis and trade idea provider, “European institutional investment managers are presumably looking to alternative sources of high quality research in advance of the new regs, and this could provide a fresh reset to the way in which content is provided and who provides it.

Greenwich Associates reported that institutional investors paid brokers $3.4 billion in commissions on trades of European equities during the 12 months ended Q2 2015. Roughly 52% of that amount-or 1.7 billion euros was directed to pay brokers and third-party research providers as compensation for research.

While 1.7 billion euros is a considerable sum, it is nonetheless far below peak levels and many brokers now do not see cash equity research on its own as a profitable endeavor, Greenwich rote. Also, the consultancy noted that many sellside brokers have already begun to anticipate unbundling and a drop in commission by either downsizing or making research and distribution teams less important than other functions on the desk.

“Should regulatory changes drive down institutions’ overall expenditures for research, even a modest reduction likely will have a substantial impact on the availability of research,” said John Colon, managing director of Greenwich Associates market structure and technology practice, and author of the new report.
Colon added that U.K. respondents were much more likely than their counterparts in continental Europe to expect an increase in hard currency payments. Institutional investors were mixed in their opinions of whether new rules would lead to a decrease in their use of research from global investment banks.
Impact of 2017 Implementation.

Regulators are expected to publish MiFID II-delegated acts relating to payment for research this month. This will give investment managers and brokers greater clarity on the direction of regulation, but will also kick off a scramble to address myriad issues and put in place compliance processes by MiFID II’s January 2017 implementation deadline.

Colon said that current broker vote processes and commission sharing arrangements bring structure to valuing and paying for research and provide investment managers with a high level of access and flexibility, while protecting the interests of their clients.

“Compared to the current broker-vote driven process of allocating payments, administrative burdens on investment managers will be huge,” he added. “We believe that the new rules as currently discussed may cause institutional investors to cut down on the number of research providers they use simple as means of limiting administrative burden and costs.”