What do you see as the major trend for 2017?
For the past few years, participants across the capital markets have been working to get a better handle on their revenues and costs across counterparties. Part of this is just smart fiscal management, but a variety of external factors like general business model pressures, increased compliance and technology costs, a contraction of trading volumes have certainly accelerated the trend. The result has been open and honest conversations between brokers, vendors, and the buy side about which services are being provided, their costs, and who will pay for them. And that’s a good thing: Opaque, bundled pricing models are in no one’s best interest.
Consequently, although it can be difficult to determine since their vendors are often paid indirectly through several different mechanisms, the buy side is increasingly getting a handle on the true total cost of ownership (TCO) of their trading technology stack. In many cases, that knowledge has been eye-opening, to say the least, with a slew of ancillary fees that their brokers have historically paid for, such as connectivity, BCP, market data, and etc.- coming to light.
We see this trend continuing to accelerate in 2017, with pending regulatory changes like MiFID II potentially pushing this past a tipping point in 2017. Several leading investment management firms have begun talking about which services will be paid for via the client commission pool and that will be considered a cost of doing business and paid for via their own accounts. If more buy-side firms start moving these charges to their own accounts, we see this cost focus becoming one of the most significant trends of the year.