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Prime Broker vs Executing Broker in Trading

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Prime Broker vs Executing Broker in Trading

Prime Broker vs Executing Broker in Trading

Vantage Updated Updated Thu, 2022 July 7 02:29

There are a few different types of brokers in the financial markets. Retail traders typically don’t come in contact with prime brokers, as prime brokers are typically used by institutional traders to buy and sell securities.

Another type of broker is an executing broker. Executing brokers are responsible for completing trades on behalf of their clients. Retail traders typically come in contact with executing brokers rather than prime brokers.

Key Points

  • Prime brokers cater to institutional clients like hedge funds, offering a suite of services including liquidity sourcing and transaction settlement, while executing brokers focus on completing trades on behalf of clients, often used by retail traders.
  • Prime brokerage services include market access, credit relationships, collateral holding, and completing transaction settlements for institutional clients, aiming to centralise the various trading activities under one roof.
  • Executing brokers, often operating under prime brokers, ensure swift transaction completion at competitive costs, and are remunerated through commissions and bid-ask spreads.

What is a Prime Broker

A prime broker is not an executing broker, but rather a specialised service provider for institutional traders, such as hedge funds, who need to carry out major transactions. A prime brokerage is a bundled group of services offered by investment banks and other large financial institutions to hedge funds and other investment clients. 

Prime Brokerage offers a suite of services to hedge funds and institutional traders to complete major transactions. A prime brokerage allows a client to source liquidity from a variety of executing brokers while maintaining a credit relationship, placing collateral, and settling transactions. Prime brokerage services are provided by most of the largest financial services firms, including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and Credit Suisse.[1] 

  1. Typical Participants

    • Although the development of prime brokerages largely coincided with the growth of the hedge fund industry, the modern prime brokers have a diverse client base, including hedge funds, CTAs, small banks, asset managers, endowment funds, foundations, partnerships, private family offices, and pension funds.[2] 
  2. Core Services of A Prime Broker

    • A prime broker aims to provide a one-stop service – it provides market liquidity pools, maintains credit relationships through margin financing and securities lending, holds collaterals, and completes transaction settlements for the institutional clients. These services allow institutional clients to borrow securities and cash to trade on a netted basis and obtain an absolute return.[3]
  3. Benefits of Using A Prime Broker

    • Traditionally, the strongest benefit of a prime broker is improving efficiency. This means that when the prime broker is informed of the transaction by both the client and executing dealer, the prime broker (and not the client) becomes the party to the transaction with the executing dealer.
    • However, with new financial technology, many prime brokers have now begun to provide trade execution via electronic communication networks (ECN) and electronic broking platforms. These platforms allow for algorithmic trading – trading through an API that provides access to executable prices via a two-way message interface between the market and a client’s internal trading infrastructure.
    • This means that not only the prime broker is the party of the transaction with the executing dealer, but the identity of the client is also completely withheld.[4]

Executing Brokers

Executing brokers are often housed under a prime broker who offers a one-stop-shop service for large active traders.

The function of the executing broker is to locate the securities for a buy order or to locate a buyer for the sell order. This intermediary service is essential because a transaction must be done with speed and at a low cost for the client.

The executing broker is compensated through a combination of commissions and the bid-ask spread. The executing broker will also pass the trade to be executed by the clearing group of the prime brokerage.

Executing Brokers and Retail Traders

As the name suggests, an executing broker is a broker or dealer that processes a buy or sell order on behalf of a client. As a result, orders initiated by retail traders are eventually processed by executing brokers.

Today, retail traders typically use online trading platforms that have built-in risk parameters, thanks to the Know Your Client (KYC) process. The electronic platforms will screen for violations of the risk parameters based on KYC, and if an order is accepted, it is processed by the executing broker who has the duty of “best execution”, meaning offering the most favorable terms of execution.[5,6] 

Relationships Between Prime Brokers and Executing Brokers

A prime broker’s client conducts trade with an executing dealer in the name of its prime broker. When the prime broker is informed of the transaction by both the client and the executing broker, the prime broker becomes the party to the transaction with the executing dealer.

The prime broker and the executing broker confirm and settle the trade, while the prime broker settles with the client on a net basis. The fee for using the services of the prime broker is determined by the agreement with the client and is typically based on the transaction volume.

In the provision of services, a prime broker is a general practitioner. An executing broker, on the other hand, is a specialist.

Prime brokers provide an entire suite of services, beyond simply trade execution that executing brokers would provide. Executing brokers specialize in the execution of specific asset types, such as CFDs on equities, futures, forex bonds, etc. Some also specialize in specialized assets, have special execution algorithms, or have high-frequency trading (HFT) infrastructure available for client use.

Prime brokers and executing brokers form market infrastructures that allow for the efficient functioning of the financial markets, and the institutional traders will often use both in their trading. This is because, given the size and depth of the financial markets, no broker has an exhaustive list of all of the potential counterparties suitable for a client’s transaction. The more access a client has to a variety of brokers, the more access he/she has to the liquidity from different sources. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, prime brokers and executing brokers are essential to the seamless functioning of the financial markets. They play a crucial role in connecting buyers and sellers, providing liquidity and quick trade execution, as well as efficient and dependable order routing and clearing.  

With the help of execution brokers, commercial banks, and clearing brokers, large transactions can be completed with ease, allowing trade orders to be executed within a matter of milliseconds. A prime broker offers a comprehensive suite of services, including market liquidity pools, margin lending, and stock loan, while an executing broker executes trades on a client’s behalf. 

Having a brokerage account with a prime broker enables institutional traders to access a variety of executing brokers while maintaining a credit relationship and completing settlements. The prime broker and the executing broker work in collaboration with the clearing corporation to ensure the smooth functioning of the financial markets. 

In summary, prime brokers and executing brokers, along with clearing corporations, play a critical role in the functioning of the financial markets, and traders should choose the right broker dealers that best suit their needs. 

Reference

  1. “Prime Brokerage 101 – Forbes” https://www.forbes.com/sites/timothyspangler/2013/04/02/prime-brokerage-101/?sh=7ffddaf459f8 Accessed 6 Apr. 2022.
  2. “Forex Exchange Prime Brokerage Product Overview and Best Practice Recommendation – Federal Reserve Bank of New York” https://www.newyorkfed.org/medialibrary/microsites/fxc/files/annualreports/ar2005/fxar05PB.pdf Accessed 6 Apr. 2022.
  3. “The Role of a Prime Broker – Investopia”https://www.investopedia.com/articles/professionals/110415/role-prime-broker.asp Access 6 Apr. 2022.
  4. “Forex Exchange Prime Brokerage Product Overview and Best Practice Recommendation – Federal Reserve Bank of New York” https://www.newyorkfed.org/medialibrary/microsites/fxc/files/annualreports/ar2005/fxar05PB.pdf Accessed 6 Apr. 2022.
  5. “Executing Broker – Investopia”https://www.investopedia.com/terms/e/executingbroker.asp Access 7 Apr. 2022.
  6. “Trade Execution – SEC.gov.” 16 Jan. 2013, https://www.sec.gov/reportspubs/investor-publications/investorpubstradexechtm.html. Accessed 15 Jun. 2022.
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