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December 1, 2002

An OMS Survives Another Day

By Peter Chapman

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  • An OMS Survives Another Day

Robertson's Tech Team Surfaces at NYFIX

Robertson Stephens may be gone, but its order management system lives on.

The trading technology team from the collapsed brokerage has regrouped as Renaissance Trading Technologies LLC to market an OMS originally built for Robbie Stephen's Nasdaq desk. To ease its entry into the notoriously demanding Nasdaq space, Renaissance has aligned itself with listed order management kingpin NYFIX.

Robertson's desk only had use of the newly branded Renaissance system for two months. Still, its developers are confident the system is ready for plug and play at other shops.

The name to beat is BRASS. SunGard Trading System's BRASS is the oldest OMS on the market and is entrenched in most trading rooms.

As with politics, it's never easy to dislodge the incumbent, but several trading houses are requesting Renaissance demos, say the vendor's principals. BRASS trader complaints are legion. Still, some have detected improved service since SunGard acquired the original vendor ASC in 1999.

Renaissance is at least the seventh OMS vendor in the past three years to try and penetrate the Nasdaq market. Besides Renaissance, three vendors are currently thought to have products strong enough to grab share from BRASS: royalblue, Bloomberg and Nasdaq Tools.

NYFIX, SunGard's twin on the listed side, has been eyeing the Nasdaq market for years. This summer, when Fleet Bank shuttered its Robbie Stephens unit, NYFIX quickly abandoned its own development efforts. It then bought the intellectual property rights and all source code to Robertson's OMS.

NYFIX dumped the assets into Renaissance, taking an 18 percent stake in the vendor with an option to acquire the whole firm at a later date. The remaining 82 percent of Renaissance is owned by the vendor's employees.

NYFIX plans to leverage its stranglehold on the listed market to elbow its way into the Nasdaq game. In a joint marketing effort with Renaissance, it is pushing Platinum, a package that combines its own FIXTrader with Renaissance. The likeliest initial prospects for Platinum are expected to be existing FIXTrader users.

The strategy is similar to that of SunGard, which has built out BRASS for the listed market in its push to infiltrate NYFIX's space.

Renaissance Technology will also market Renaissance on its own, chiefly to large broker dealers with proprietary systems. Because of the tremendous amount of effort required to maintain a Nasdaq system, Renaissance execs believe many large brokerages may decide to scrap their homemade versions for a vendor solution.

Listed OMS

At the helm of Renaissance is Robertson Stephens' former chief information officer Ed Brandman. Brandman spent four years at the brokerage, where he built a listed OMS and the new Nasdaq system. Prior to Robertson, he was with J.P. Morgan Securities. There he built that broker's listed OMS.

At Renaissance, Brandman works with the same group of some 15 technologists that he did at J.P. Morgan and Robertson. That includes his No. 2, Ken DeGigilio, Renaissance's chief technology officer.