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Why you’ll never be ready for MiFID II

I attended Institutional Investor’s excellent Trader Forum in Barcelona last week. Basically it brings together the senior executives from the buy-side, the sell-side, venues and technology firms to debate and make sense of our industry. Naturally much of the conversation revolved around the new conditional dark pool venues, periodic auctions and Systematic Internalisers that are emerging. A number of questions came up repeatedly, such as “How many of these things will there be? How much liquidity will pass through them? Will it be toxic or not and what will be the best way to interact across all of them? The sad but true answer is that basically, as a collective industry, right now we just don’t have a Scooby. More to the point, it will be well into next year before any meaningful (and quantitative) data is going to be available that can help shape participants’ behaviour.

So what are we going to do in the meantime, especially when it comes to demonstrating best ex? Well it’s going to be about either connecting to everything, trying to pick the winner in each category, or possibly waiting until the picture becomes clear. All three strategies are wrong at one level or another, but that’s the problem with market change – the impact gets overestimated in the short term but underestimated in the long run. The only thing that is certain is that markets are going to be very different and that nobody really can be “ready” for these changes or their knock-on effects both here in Europe and around the world.

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