Innovations in OTC block equities: A new venue called Squawker
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10 October 2012David Easthope
Squawker is a new venue based out of London for trading of OTC stocks (among other listed products like ETFs and warrants) focusing on the approximately 10-15% of equities that trade OTC in Europe according to AFME. Squawker (the title is based on the old squawk box) is not yet launched but what is most interesting is that it is focusing on an area that tends to be overlooked amidst all the focus on algorithmic trading/HFT where average trade sizes tend to be small and continue to decrease. Squawker focuses on institutional-size blocks between the sell-side and allows for IOI orders and FIX messaging plus private negotiation with minimum size. It is regulated under the FSA. The most interesting aspect is the ability to support the workflow of human interaction through electronic means- through instant messaging or chat technology which allows for exchange of details, negotiation, and matching. It is always a positive to see firms focusing on established markets (equities) in which technology is pervasive and numerous models thrive and support the market, but where there is a gap in the market (in this case block trades) and where greater efficiency can be created and liquidity can become easier to find by lowering search costs (i.e. electronic vs. voice).