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The IOI Beat

Traders Magazine, July 2008

Michael Scotti

This issue of Traders Magazine centers on indications of interest and their various forms. At one time, IOIs were almost primitive. An IOI was a broadcasted message from the broker to the buyside, who'd respond via the phone. That was the old high-touch game that used a sales trader as the gateway to block trading. Although traditional IOIs are still important, the rise of electronic trading has changed-some might say diminished-the role of the sales trader in cash equities. This month's cover story outlines the sales trader's evolution. Many traders who've survived the downsizing trend since 2001 have found new homes at brokerage firms that pay them based on their production. Staffer James Ramage reports that the ranks of sales traders are down about 20 percent in the last year, but the real success story has been the rise of the independent firms offering variable compensation. They've hired experienced sales traders who have been able to capitalize on a combination of their skills and long-established relationships. It is a compelling story.

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