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BFCSA: ASIC out to catch high frequency traders and uses trader suppliers software

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ASIC is about to employ a surveillance system to put the finger on high frequency traders.

ASIC’s secret weapon

Published 22 August 2013 12:05

Australia’s new market surveillance system, designed to catch high frequency traders who flout the rules, has been built by a firm which sells software and services to the same people the regulator is looking to catch.  The new $47.3 million system will be rolled out to allay fears that Australian investors could be the target of nefarious trading activity, after reports of unusual trading activity had risen.  The new system, which the Australian Investments and Securities Commission refers to internally as Project Fast, has been designed by Irish-based developers First Derivatives.  First Derivatives says that its services and products are for firms “seeking to reduce their time-to-market” and to make sure that “orders are executed at the most optimal venue”.  Clients of First Derivatives include “proprietary traders, hedge funds, investment banks [and] risk traders” – as well as traders of “FX, equities, fixed income, commodities”.


The poacher-turned-gamekeeper approach being employed by ASIC is not without precedent. In 2012, the US Securities and Exchange Commission employed high frequency trading outfit Tradeworx to help with its market surveillance efforts.  Perhaps more disturbingly for US investors Tradeworx, which describes itself as a “financial technology company”, is in the high frequency trading game itself.  Through a subsidiary, Tradeworx operates both an equity market neutral hedge fund and a high frequency proprietary trading business.  Australia’s new system is being run in parallel to the existing SMARTS surveillance system as part of a test and will replace SMARTS entirely before the end of the year.  In its half-yearly market supervision report, ASIC said that the number of trade surveillance alerts generated by unusual trading activity had risen from 19,430 to 20,938 since last year.  Earlier this month, ASIC released new rules around the use of crossing systems known as ‘dark pools’ which will require the operators such as Commsec, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs and UBS to warn investors if they are at risk of interacting with high frequency traders

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  • doyla66
    doyla66 Tuesday, 15 April 2014

    This no different to that mole on secondment in ASIC that pushed the policy to free up those god-awful online calculators.
    As always, ASIC puts the fox in charge of the hen house then they bleat they have done nothing wrong. Pfft.

  • doyla66
    doyla66 Wednesday, 16 April 2014

    ASIC need to come clean and change their mission statement to you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours!

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