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February 3, 2014

Changing on the Fly

Rebirthed KCG Holdings is integrating Knight Capital's and GETCO's electronic trading groups and products and integrating them into a single trading platform.

By John D'Antona Jr.

KCG is putting the pieces back together. And not missing a trade along the way.

Like the mythical phoenix, KCG Holdings has risen from the ashes of Knight Capital and Getco. The rebirthed firm is taking the two separate market makers' electronic trading groups, technologies, algorithms and order routing technology and integrating them into a single trading platform, said Charles Susi, head of product development for the firm's client execution services group, in an interview with Traders.

Charles Susi

 

Susi's mission is to route the firm's tremendous retail and institutional order flow into its electronic trading product platform. As if that were not enough, he's revamping the firm's algorithms and order routing technology and adding staff along the way. To coin a hockey phrase, KCG is changing on the fly.

"We are now a fully cross-asset, execution specialist firm," Susi said. "We offer full service to our clients; from high-touch trading to fully-electronic algorithmic strategies."

Susi explained that both Knight Capital and Getco had algorithmic trading businesses-Knight Direct and GES. He has been working on the integration of the two platforms; everything from product development to management and technology is being joined together. Getco had the algo and order routing technology, while Knight had the liquidity, so putting the two together was his mandate.

"KCG can benefit from the best of both worlds," Susi said. "The group was double in size when I got here, and the goal was to stay stable and make changes that were nondisruptive to our clients."

Susi is no stranger to electronic trading, algorithms or smart order routing. He joined KCG last August. His charge is to focus on strategy, design and implementation of new products. It's a new and senior role. Susi reports to Greg Tusar and Albert Maasland, co-heads of global execution services at KCG.

Susi acknowledged there was and still is some overlap among the two firms' products and strategies and said there will be integration. KCG is already using some of Getco's order routing and placement logic, smart order routing technology and co-located infrastructure as part of its algo platform.

"We're not only connecting systems together, but will also ultimately be building a next-generation infrastructure within that single platform," he said.

However, clients who trade with KCG will still find a ready stable of algorithms, ranging from VWAP and TWAP to more aggressive liquidity-seeking strategies. KCG's current algo offering, which doubled in size after the Knight/Getco merger, also includes algos that focus on small-cap securities and those that trade in the dark pools. It is in the latter, Susi told Traders, that the firm is spending a lot of time tweaking current offerings. And the best is yet to come.

"There is a lot of opportunity for us to create new products and custom build algos for our clients," Susi said. "We're going to continue to keep rolling things out quarter- by- quarter."

 

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