EUREX EPTA Webinar Brings Together Industry Experts to Assess Rapid Pace of Innovation in Bond and Fixed Income Markets 

EUREX EPTA Webinar Brings Together Industry Experts to Assess Rapid Pace of Innovation in Bond and Fixed Income Markets 

More democratic access, truly bespoke trading, and new asset classes about to emerge.

This was the picture painted for the future of Europe’s capital markets on a FIA EPTA-Eurex Group co-hosted webinar on December 2. The landscape is being transformed as a consequence of fundamental shifts in liquidity provision, the rise of automated trading, and a thirst for innovation.

And these changes have already disrupted the traditional buy-side/sell-side relationship and seen asset managers moving from liquidity takers to liquidity makers.  

The webinar was centred on the impact of Covid on liquidity provision in Europe’s capital markets, the structural shifts which are taking root and the implications for future market development.

It featured Robert Miller, Executive Consultant with Vanguard Asset Management, Mike Kuehnel CFO of Flow Traders,  Piebe Teeboom, Secretary General of FIA EPTA, and Jonas Ullman, COO ofEUREX. It follows a new research report written by Redlap Consulting and commissioned by FIA EPTA – which represents Europe’s market-making community – detailing alternative liquidity providers’ growing role and their embrace by the buy-side.

Contrary to what most expected at the time, panelists agreed the pandemic had actually opened the gates to a new wave of innovation. This was made possible by the adoption of electronic trading, an innate advantage for independent market makers who have seen their reach multiply. With capital markets drying up during the pandemic’s peak, these alternative liquidity providers earned themselves the buy-side’s trust by jumping in to keep the wheels of the finance going.

As a result, many capital allocators are now seeking to change their liquidity formation practices. Redlap’s survey shows 53% have already done so, a deep shift for an industry with entrenched habits. The rise of electronic trading and ETFs,  providing more price data for corporate bonds and price discovery, have helped cement these changes even as pandemic turmoil withdrew.

The webinar, which addressed last year’s liquidity turmoil, lessons learnt from the crisis, and the future of liquidity formation, became most animated when discussing ongoing technological innovations. 

Market participants shifting to electronic execution are harnessing a transparency not seen before. This is enabling all participants (retail and institutional) to understand what liquidity is available, where it resides, and how to engage with it. Innovation in alternative asset classes is contributing to the buy-side ownership of the order routing processes becoming truly agnostic. The future of liquidity formation will also include advances in pricing mechanisms – the traditional role of inventory vs liquidity premium/discounts – along with a growing use of ETFs in Fixed Income.

Further driven by a parallel rise in retail involvement, these developments are altering the market eco-structure. 

 The diversification of liquidity providers will continue to increase democratic access, leading up-and-coming challengers to improve offerings and prices. Panelists hoped these developments would change regulators’ approach from a more reactive approach to being one of a pro-active architect, enabling innovation and choice for end-investors.

Panelists reminded the audience that all have a role to play in engaging with regulators, ‘’to build the foundations of a forward-looking market architecture’’. Importantly, there is a need to demonstrate the industry’s positive impact in the lives of everyday European citizens who rely on firms for their pensions.   

The final portion of the talk was dedicated to the hopes panelists had for the future of capital markets. Opinions ranged from  embracing asset classes not yet in use to ever more transparent data for the buy-side. Some posited reduced frictions for capital mobility will increase retail participation, and illiquid assets today will become increasingly liquid through tokenization.

However, all agreed it was necessary to partner with policymakers and regulators to keep laws in line with the rapid pace of market innovation.  As summarized by one speaker: ‘’What I dream for the future is of a European capital market that truly achieves better outcomes for society and for the end investor. We are working towards a fully integrated single market for financial instruments and a shared consolidated tape.’’ Looking back ten years from now, panelists asserted 2020 – 2021 would be seen as pivotal years for liquidity provision, and as catalysts for renewed innovation in finance. 

 

Turning The Tables On Liquidity Provision – Download The Report

Turning The Tables On Liquidity Provision – Download The Report

Europe’s trading landscape is being fundamentally reshaped as asset managers transform from ‘liquidity takers’ to ‘liquidity makers’. Our new report Turning the Tables on Liquidity Provision lays bare the changes taking place in the UK and EU’s capital markets as the after-effects of the pandemic continue to be felt.

In particular, equity and fixed-income markets are at the point of a radical shake-up as the buyside settles into the liquidity driving seat. And the impact has prompted calls for the current regulatory rulebook to be overhauled to keep pace with the changes, or risk falling behind.

The new report is written by capital markets research specialists Redlap Consulting and is the second in a three-part series on key trends in European markets, focusing on buy-side liquidity needs.

“The pandemic has created an opportunity for a new eco-system to emerge. Asset managers are now increasing control over their order flow across both equities and, crucially, fixed income markets.

“It’s a real game-changer as the fixed income markets were the last bastion of sell-side liquidity provision. We’re witnessing a sea-change in the way the markets will operate in the future.”

– Report Author Rebecca Healey

The report reveals asset managers are increasingly turning to automated trading to execute their orders. And because of increased innovation in trade initiation, creation, and execution, they’re able to engage with more liquidity providers, including independent market makers.

These new systems help to solve traditional impediments in bond markets which prevented the buy-side from engaging with a more diverse and broader set of counterparties due to the infrequency with which bonds trade and the risk of incurring any information leakage. Now, the ability to automate trading intentions as well as order flow provides the buy-side with the ability to maximise potential engagement yet still protect information about the trade and prevent undue price movements.

Another key finding is that asset managers require better post-trade data to select the most appropriate counterparty to trade. Crucially, respondents want to better understand whether their order flow has provided or taken liquidity – which determines who they select as a trading counterparty.

Piebe Teeboom, Secretary General of FIA EPTA, the European industry body for market making firms, which commissioned the report.

“The trends identified in this report are significant as they signal a clear shift in the balance of liquidity provision in European markets. It’s a fundamental realignment which policy-makers should consider as they update the regulatory rulebooks in both the EU and UK.”

– Piebe Teeboom, Secretary General of FIA EPTA

Based on interviews with global heads of trading at 30 EU and UK based asset management firms with over $35 trillion of assets under management, the report found:

 

    • Nine out of ten respondents (87%) want to maximise their liquidity access with market making firms;
    • Seven out of ten respondents (70%) said data and technology continue to increase in importance in deciding where and how to trade;
    • Two-thirds of respondents (67%) said transparency is a key factor in the selection process of liquidity partners.

“Between 60-70% of our order flow was done on a bilateral basis historically. In the past six months that ratio has flipped. We are changing how we trade and who we partner with as a result.”

– The Head of Trading, Mid-Sized European Asset Manager
‘Liquidity in the Time of Covid’ – Download the report

‘Liquidity in the Time of Covid’ – Download the report

Covid-19 continues to redefine the trading landscape in Europe. Changes in liquidity formation already in play due to the increased use of automated trading and rise of passive investing were accelerated
as traders rushed to make changes to investment strategies due to the pandemic. Remote working, greater reliance on cloud technology and the high volatility early in the pandemic created new additional challenges which is resulting in the industry rethinking trading partners and access points to liquidity.

The study is written by independent financial services research group Redlap Consulting. It was commissioned by FIA EPTA, which represents Europe’s leading market making firms, to drive greater understanding of what independent market making firms do, and their contribution to both financial markets and the wider economy.

Redlap Consulting conducted interviews with 30 Global Heads of Trading at asset managers with $35.6 trillion (€30.36trn, £25.9trn) in assets.

Report author Rebecca Healey, founder of Redlap Consulting, said:

“Covid-19 continues to redefine the trading landscape as the pandemic lifted the veil on the role market-makers can play in liquidity formation. Liquidity challenges in bond markets early in the pandemic created a vacuum forcing the buy-side, to find new trading partners and access points to liquidity – and market making firms stepped up to fill the void. Now as asset managers continue to partner more directly with these firms, they have been able to benefit from a wider, more diverse pool of counterparties in how and where they can execute investment strategies; while liquidity providers have the opportunity to re-position themselves and build new partnerships.”

The FIA European Principal Traders Association (FIA EPTA) represents Europe’s leading Principal Trading Firms. Its 30 members are independent market makers and providers of liquidity and risk transfer for end-investors across Europe. It works constructively with policymakers, regulators and other market stakeholders to ensure efficient, resilient, high-quality financial markets. To find out more visit fia.org/epta

The report is the first of three being produced to mark FIA EPTA’s 10th anniversary which is being marked by a new campaign to drive greater understanding of what independent market making firms do, and their contribution to both financial markets and the wider economy.