With competition heating up in the direct-access space, SunGard Trading Systems/BRASS (booth #s 2411 and 2609) is unveiling a new front-end interface called U2 from which broker/dealers and buy-side institutions can launch smart-order routing to multiple trading destinations.
With a nod to the Irish rock band, U2 is being written in Microsoft C# (pronounced, C sharp) and is based on the Microsoft .NET platform.U2 may eventually replace UMA - Universal Market Access - the trade-order-management vendor's existing market-access platform, which is developed in Unix and uses a Motif front-end.
"This allows for rapid development and light-weight performance in technology. From a speed and reliability standpoint, it gets tremendous marks," says Richard Chmiel, SunGard/BRASS's executive vice president, product management and marketing. U2 incorporates more advanced workflow and "looks more intuitive for new users to embrace the technology," he says.
In shifting from Unix to Microsoft, Brass is responding to customer demands for newer technologies. "We're satisfying a market need," says Chmiel. "Firms want to take advantage of the latest PC technology," he adds.
According to a recent TowerGroup report, SunGard will upgrade the front-end of UMA to C# in 2003 "to compete more aggressively with Lava Trading's Color Book." SunGard is moving away from "X-emulation opening to a UNIX back end in order to increase speed and time to market and reduce the network load," notes the consultancy's Senior Analyst Miranda Mizen.
Currently, the top three vendors in the direct-market-access space are Lava Trading, SunGard's UMA and Sonic Trading. "All three applications aggregate and consolidate data, offer intelligent routing and give connectivity to multiple execution venues," states Mizen. Meanwhile, STS/BRASS is experimenting with a number of front-end technologies beyond the direct-access area and it will show the fruits of its labors at the SIA Tech Show.
Tom King, president and chief operating officer for STS/BRASS, says the firm is taking advantage of a number of front-end technologies to deploy new products and initiatives. At SIA, the vendor will demonstrate PlayMaker, an indications-of-interest (IOI) service developed in Java and an allocation subsystem, dubbed MatchMaker, written in eXtensible Mark-up language (XML).
So, why didn't SunGard choose Java or XML for U2?
After doing a significant amount of due diligence, King says, "We felt very comfortable with the platform and that it's going to perform for us and give us the advantages in the marketplace that some of the older technologies can't afford us."
He notes that SunGard worked with Microsoft in the deployment and also conferred with other SunGard units that had implemented Microsoft systems.
King says the company "felt that C# and .NET were appropriate for the market-access platform and plans to extend that out to BRASS as well." In the future, the firms will be able to launch smart agents from within BRASS, much like they can currently in the U2 product, says King. "And you'll have the option of doing it in either place and depending on the trader's preference, they'll use the functionality in the U2 platform or within BRASS," he says.
As the number of execution venues proliferates and broker/dealers restructure their trading desks to control costs, systems like U2 integrated into BRASS may play a role. Smart agents allow for automatic order routing or taking out the Street's bid and offer, says Chmiel.
For example, firms can set up parameters in BRASS for any order that's 1,000 shares and go right out to the Street, says Chmiel. In a Nasdaq 100 stock, where there is not much value in having a market maker manually work the order, "The smart agent is constantly reading the market and sending the order to the best venue at that split second. For these high-volume stocks, it's flying all over the place, so it's a big job to keep track of that," says Chmiel. From BRASS, they can work the market, or route to SuperMontage or to a specific ECN, he says. Ivy is Editor-at-Large for Advanced Trading and Wall Street & Technology. Ivy is responsible for writing in-depth feature articles, daily blogs and news articles with a focus on automated trading in the capital markets. As an industry expert, Ivy has reported on a myriad ... View Full Bio