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Tim Quast
Traders Magazine Online News

We're All HFTs Now

In this guest commentary, author Tim Quast looks back at the history of HFT and how the market has evolved to where many firms now fit the definition of high-frequency trader.

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December 1, 2003

The Buyside Under Investigation

By Gregory Bresiger

Big fund customers may be obtaining peeks at what some of their competitors are buying. And this disclosure may be giving them an unfair advantage.

That's what Securities and Exchange Commission officials suggested in testimony to Congress, based on an agency survey of some 88 fund groups. Regulators have promised further investigation.

Stephen Cutler, SEC director of the enforcement division, said that some funds appear to be making "inappropriate selective disclosure of fund portfolios." Cutler said that about a third of the funds surveyed used these disclosure practices.

"More than 30 percent of responding funds appear to have disclosed portfolio information in circumstances that may have provided certain fund shareholders the ability to make advantageous decisions to place orders for fund shares, and that warrant follow up investigation," according to Cutler.

"For example, funds frequently stated that portfolio information was provided to consultants without further descriptions of who these consultants were and for what reasons portfolio information was given to them," he added. A buyside trader at a major fund company told Traders Magazine that the SEC, "must push to stop these practices or we will lose confidence in the fairness of markets." SEC officials said that portfolio information is routinely provided to custodians, plan administrators and other financial pros. But it is provided, Cutler said, with the understanding that it will not be used for investment gains.