Liquidnet Trims Staff Amid Volume Drought

Block trading venue Liquidnet, cut its workforce by 35, according to sources. The layoffs included sales traders and technology specialists.

The recent equities trading slowdown was why, a source told Traders Magazine. He added the cuts represented about 15 percent of Liquidnet’s workforce.

"On Thursday of last week they let people go," a brokerage exec said. "It affected people from all parts of the firm from what I hear."

A call to the company was not returned at press time.

A trading desk head in New York confirmed the brokerage exec’s report.

"The cuts were across the board. IT, sales and trading, techs – gone," the desk executive said. "And I think this is the tip of the iceberg."

If trading volume remains low, he added, more firms would likely cut staff to bolster balance sheets and maintain profits made this year. Attrition is the easiest and likely the only way to combat the equity trading slowdown, he said.

"The Street needs to cut back staffing given the volume we’re seeing," the trading exec said. "What else are you going to do? This is the only thing to do."

In June, Steve Greenblatt, head of issuer services and equity capital markets, and Scott Harrison, global head of product, departed Liquidnet.  The company said they were pursuing new opportunities.

The downsizing was related to the recent troubles the dark pool had with the Securities and Exchange Commission, another trading source said.

Earlier this summer, the SEC was investigating how the block trading venue handled and protected order client trading information

"There was some lingering fallout from the investigation," the source said.

But low trading volume has also hurt the firm, he added.

According to Liquidnet, it has since redressed the issues brought up by the SEC. It said the the venue no longer discloses certain information about clients or their orders.