According to research consultancy Greenwich Associates, US institutions made two notable changes to their domestic equity trading practices last year:
- Institutions reversed a long-term trend in US equity markets by cutting back on the amount of trading volume executed electronically and increasing the share of their trading business executed via traditional ‘high-touch’ trades facilitated by broker sales traders.
- Institutions increased the share of their overall brokerage commission payments used to compensate providers of research and advisory services.
The reason for these shifts is a surprise decline in trading activity that reduced the amount of commissions paid by institutions to brokers on trades of US stocks. Brokerage commissions paid on trades on US equities by the 525 US institutions covered by Greenwich Associates in its most recent US Equities Study decreased 12% from 1Q10 to 1Q11 to an estimated US$11.55bn. This decline was unexpected: institutions entered last year expecting the commission pool to grow by about 15%.
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