December 27, 2010

To leverage more advanced analytics and compliance tools, Blaylock Robert Van (BRV), a minority-owned brokerage firm based in Oakland, Calif., moved its equity trading to the Fidessa equity trading platform in late June. Previously the firm operated separate order management and execution management systems, reports Russell Ware, EVP and head of global trading platforms at BRV.

While the prior systems were good for single-stock execution, basket trades, which have been growing, required the firm to stage the trades from the OMS to the EMS, Ware explains. "We were able to accept an order from the OMS, and then it had to go to the EMS, which took about a minute and a half," he says. Now BRV is able to complete the process in 30 seconds and manage multiple baskets on one platform without the latency of waiting for data to appear on the other screen, he adds.

"Fidessa eliminates a lot of steps. It's much faster," contends Ware, who also praises the Fidessa platform's compliance reporting features. "It offers us the OMS but EMS [functionality] as well. We're able to have the same functions on the same screens."

Adds Deric Bargarozza, SVP of institutional equities and BRV's head trader in New York, "The prior system didn't give us the ability to take a snapshot of 200 orders. Now when a basket comes in, within 30 seconds we can see the total amount of shares."

Bargarozza also notes Fidessa's compliance capabilities. "As far as reporting is concerned, Fidessa does it all," he insists, pointing out, "The system won't allow you to do certain things unless it's compliant."

Ware declines to specify the firm's previous OMS or EMS, but not their shortcomings. "We had a system that was best-in-class at a price point, ... and it became cumbersome. Some of the features on our original OMS made it difficult for us to handle 500 names," Ware comments, noting that the firm often needs to handle a 2,000-name list. "It became difficult to manage the growth of the business as we added new clients."

According to BRV's president, Derek Standifer, "We felt for the last couple of years that we were not totally as on point as we would like to be with our equity execution capabilities. We started looking at what worked and what didn't work, and what we needed for both execution and compliance issues." The firm commited to the change in late fall 2009, he adds. [In 2007, Standifer merged his firm, Robert Van Securities, an agency broker with an equity trading and proprietary equity research model, with Blaylock, a long-standing minority-owned firm that performed corporate underwriting.]

In addition to high-touch basket trades, BRV also executes low-touch trades via the Fidessa platform. Whether it's sending orders to the floor of the New York Stock Exchange or going to NYSE Arca, "We can get there," says Ware. And since BRV already offers algorithms through some of the bulge-bracket firms, including Credit Suisse, Barclays and Pershing, it now shows up as a button on the Fidessa screen, he points out.

"The field is open to grow the business," Ware says. "For us, the next level is international. That's my intention -- to build that out."

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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 ...