A Case for At-Trade Risk Management
JPM accepted a fine for $800,000 because they “failed to establish, document, and maintain a system of risk management controls and supervisory procedures, including written supervisory procedures and an adequate system of follow-up and review, reasonably designed to manage the financial, regulatory, and other risks of its market access business.”[i]
The regulatory fine points out a number of problems. These include:
- Inadequate pre-trade controls.
- Complex order routing through multiple trading systems
- Ability for the traders to override pre-trade risk controls through the use of “Soft-blocks” instead of hard controls
- Pre-trade controls that were set to benefit the trader and not to protect the firm or the markets.
- Pre-trade controls that were “generally set too-high to be effective.”[ii]
- Order message controls “employed soft-block alerts for order or message activity, rather than any hard-blocks, that could be overridden, and the levels set for the alerts were too high to identify potentially unintended messaging activity.”[iii]
Edge Financial Technologies has recognized the pattern of issues related to this fine. We have seen it multiple times. Consider the following:
- Want speedy execution to avoid market slippage.
- Want multiple trading systems (backup, additional functionality, algos, etc.)
- Have market experience that must operate in real time
- Produce the revenue that drives the firm
Risk & Compliance:
- Are a cost center
- Review activity after the fact and have the luxury of hindsight
- Are required to have oversight
IT & ISVs
- Take direction primarily from the profit centers
When the developers who are putting in the pre-trade risk systems gather requirements they are often encouraged, to “meet the minimum” risk requirements and compliance because execution slippage is expensive. Over time all trading systems change. The changes may be settings, or may be new features, or additional functionality. Regardless of the change, pressure on the “minimum” requirements builds and sooner or later a fault appears.
Our belief is that this is what occurred at JPMS. We doubt anyone initially designed the order routing technology to have these faults. The pressure of new integrations, parameter changes, new markets all build to introduce a fault line in the order processing systems.
A systematic risk management program should address the pressures on the system by implementing a new level of oversight using At-Trade risk management technology
What is At-Trade Risk Management?
At-Trade risk management oversees the trading activity in near real time across all exchanges, accounts, traders, and technology with the capability to alert and take manual or automated action that is appropriate to the situation.
The action should be appropriate and not increase the risk to the trading accounts or the trading firm.
At-Trade became possible when software vendors, like Trading Technologies[iv], CQG[v], and others began introducing streaming drop copies of all order transactions along with application programming interfaces to interact with account and trader pre-trade setups. The CME[vi] and ICE[vii] have provided streaming drop copies and exchange level pre-trade controls. Other exchanges are following their lead.
The Benefits of At-Trade Risk Management
The implementation of a documented system with appropriate processes of At-Trade Risk Management proves that there are valid supervisory procedures.
While changes to the order processing systems occur, there will be a secondary system that will not be affected by the pressures associated with change. No matter how many changes occur, the order traffic remains. The drop copies of all traffic still flow into the At-Trade Risk Management System.
Escalating actions can be setup to allow a system of alerts, warnings, and actions that appropriately deal with order flow and messaging issues.
Learn more about the Edge Financial Technologies at
Rules Cited By The Regulator
[i] BATS BZX EXCHANGE, INC. Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent No. 20120348296-04 Re. J.P. Morgan Securities LLC Respondant http://cdn.batstrading.com/resources/regulation/disciplinary/2012/BEST-EDGX-20120348296-05-AWC.pdf