For Stuart Theakston, Head of Quantitative Research and Automated Trading, GLC Ltd, of the biggest misconceptions are that high-frequency traders are some-how ‘taking advantage’ of other investors; this is entirely bogus, he says. “They are actually getting paid, in a very competitive market, to provide a service to other investors (that service is immediate liquidity).”
Mr. Theakston, one of the leading high-frequency traders featured in Edgar Perez’s The Speed Traders: An Insider’s Look at the New High-Frequency Trading Phenomenon That is Transforming the Investing World (http://www.thespeedtraders.com), manages all research and development for the quantitative models and trading systems. He started with GLC Ltd. in 2008 heading the high-frequency trading desk. Prior to GLC Ltd., Mr. Theakston founded a quantitative proprietary trading business deploying equity long/short strategies. Mr. Theakston has also worked at Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank, with responsibility for delivering quantitative trading tools and high performance execution products to hedge fund clients and internal trading desks.
He continues: “As usual, the media and the public fail to understand that this is a competitive situation where abnormal risk adjusted returns are being competed away by a large number of market participants. The media fail to understand this in pretty much every context, as the ‘greedy company taking advantage of innocent consumers’ story is all too common. They also fail to understand the amount of intellectual and technology infrastructure required to engage in high-frequency trading and so think high-frequency traders
are getting a ‘free lunch’. In actual fact, they are just eating each other’s lunches in an ultra competitive frenzy that ends with a large number of them being unable to cover their fixed costs and going out of business, leaving a few very competitive outfits making only normal profits. This is how competitive markets are supposed to work, and is what institutional/retail investors should want.”