HFT firms step into the spotlight

HFT no longer a fringe player

East meets west, a gathering of the five families, Luke dining with Darth Vader - pick your metaphor. At a recent ICI Global Trading and Market Structure conference in London, one panel had buy-side heads of trading flanked not by sell-side executives eager for their business, but by representatives from two of Europe's largest high-frequency trading firms, IMC and Getco.

If that sounds like a dogs sleeping with cats scenario, the panelists also agreed on some key issues, reports efinancialnews. In the words of Dale Brooksbank, head of trading at State Street Global Advisors, "If HFT were to be regulated away, that would be incredibly negative for the industry".

The numbers prove it. According to research by Tabb Group last month, 60 percent of European buy-side head traders no longer have an issue with HFT.

Remco Lenterman, chairman of the European Principal Traders Association and a director at Amsterdam-based IMC, said that, "We have moved on from whether HFT is good or bad to more dialogue about the activity and the market structure within which it operates. The debate around HFT has definitely moved more into the public domain over the past year, which we think has helped to bring more balance to the issues being discussed."

Sam Tyfield, a partner at law firm Katten Muchin Rosenman and a former chief operating officer at HFT firm Automat, said that, "There is a very definite feeling of the industry being in limbo. No one knows where the regulations will end up."

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