Automated or algorithmic trading, some of which takes place at very high frequencies, is increasingly common in certain financial markets. These markets, such as spot foreign exchange, equities and some derivatives markets, are sometimes called fast markets.
Principal trading firms (PTFs) are smaller, non-bank firms that trade on electronic platforms using automated trading strategies. They are prevalent participants in fast markets, and are substantial short-term liquidity providers.
Most PTFs rely on banks for clearing services. Supervisory and market intelligence, as well as UK trade repository derivatives data, suggests that a small number of banks currently provide these services to PTFs, leading to a concentration of ‘nodes’ of clearing services.
Chart A shows the concentration of clearing provision to PTFs (in purple) in the FTSE 100 futures clearing network. PTFs account for around 53% of gross trading volume in this market.