For Tradeworx’s Manoj Narang, High-Frequency Traders are Among the Most Responsible and Risk-Averse Players in the Market

Posted on July 25, 2011. Filed under: Financial Crisis, Flash Crash, Practitioners, Technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

For Manoj Narang, Chief Executive Officer of Tradeworx, one glaring misconception is that high-frequency trading generates massive profits for Wall Street. First of all, he says, Wall Street has very little to do with high-frequency trading, and second, the profits are actually very modest. He adds: “People have the misconception that high-frequency trading practitioners have a kind of ‘cowboy mentality’ and that the markets are like the Wild West as a result. Nothing could be further from the truth. high-frequency trading are among the most responsible and risk-averse players in the market. They have never been implicated in any sort of wild risk-taking behavior, which is quite a contrast from the Wall Street traders who nearly brought the global economy to total collapse in 2008.”

Manoj Narang, CEO, Tradeworx

Manoj Narang, CEO, Tradeworx

Mr. Narang, one of the leading high-frequency traders featured in Edgar Perez’s The Speed Traders: An Insider’s Look at the New High-Frequency Trading Phenomenon That is Transforming the Investing World, founded Tradeworx in 1999 with the goal to democratize the role of advanced technology in the financial markets. Tradeworx also operates a quantitative hedge fund business that currently manages hundreds of millions of dollars in assets, as well as an in-house proprietary trading business focused on high-frequency trading strategies. Tradeworx trades U.S. equities and will eventually expand to all other electronic markets. As most high-frequency trading firms, Tradeworx doesn’t accept external capital, because the capital requirements are very low. The main use of outside capital in the world of high-frequency trading is to fund R&D and operations, not to actually trade the capital.

Mr. Narang finally adds: “high-frequency trading provides a valuable service to the market, and earns a relatively tiny profit in return. Let’s consider this, when an individual investor executes a 200-share order in their online brokerage account, the investor pays a broker five cents per share to execute the trade. The broker does not risk any of its own capital to do this; all he does is route the order to the exchange or to a market-maker. The player on the other end who actually provides a fill for the trade is a high-frequency trader. The high-frequency trader not only risks his own capital to provide the required liquidity, but in exchange, only receives about 1/50th of the compensation that the broker, who takes no risk whatsoever, makes on the very same trade. If people have a grievance with the financial establishment, they should ask their broker why they need to earn fifty times the amount that the liquidity provider earns, despite the fact that they are not even risking any capital on the trade!”

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