Function Of The Week

If I remember back to my heady days as a trader, I was the unfortunate point-person on the desk tasked with cooperating with the Compliance team and scrutinizing any unusual patterns in our transactional data., This meant periodically reviewing a sub-set of client orders generated by a TCA exception report due to their variation in slippage from the client strategy benchmark, and then validating the disparity. It was a manual, labour-intensive process often involving trades from weeks or months in the past that typically had to be investigated at the individual execution fill level. For a relatively busy trading desk. it was incredibly difficult to recollect why strategies were changed and specific trading decisions made for many of our discretionary orders. Even less so without tangible evidence or quantitative reasoning.

Today, this type of compliance process is becoming increasingly automated and more sophisticated, but the challenges remain for traders. The onus is on them to rationalize and prove out their trading behaviour. The ability to demonstrate ‘Best Execution’ is multifaceted and currently relies heavily on standard post-trade TCA reports. Yet, many do not provide quantitative historical recorded evidence that validates and supports decision making and course correction in-trade. The OTAS Intraday Lingo application does.

By displaying visual and written exception analysis, Intraday Lingo helps traders easily articulate and support why certain trading decisions were made with respect to prevailing market conditions at specific times during the life of an order. Principally, Intraday Lingo demonstrates four core competencies-

  1. Automates control & process efficiencies,
  2. Proves how trade execution was in the best interest of client orders,
  3. Validates trader behaviour,
  4. Provides full audit history of course correction and market conditions.

Lets look at a recent example:

Hargreaves Lansdown experienced several exceptional market condition events on the 6th July. These event alerts are catalogued in a textual timeline and are also annotated on the return chart. The alerts (visible through the OTAS Alerts app) provided a potential ‘call to action’ for the trader and are recorded by Intraday Lingo as the catalyst for implementing a change in strategy.

  1. Extreme Liquidity – Outsized build in lit market bid/offer liquidity. Opportunity to spread cross using liquidity seeking algos.
  2. Low Return – Idiosyncratic price return. Recalculate participation rate based on order direction.
  3. Wide Spread – Potential liquidity issues. Consider block trading/dark aggregators (such as Liquidnet) for sourcing liquidity and spread capture.

The ability to present such evidence is a must-have for traders under today’s regulatory environment and when populated with order fill data* provides a very powerful, post-trade, compliance friendly tool.

*On product roadmap

One of the biggest challenges facing busy buy-side and sell-side trading desks is the ability to effectively manage large quantities of orders in real-time. Standard pre-trade processes involve ‘bucketing’ orders within the EMS and typically prioritizing by size (in terms of percentage of historic ADV or total notional value) or other variables like expected market risk and trade impact. Orders exposing higher values for these factors would be considered ‘high touch‘ orders, segregated and worked manually by the trader.

But what about the not-so-large trades or highly ‘liquid stocks,’ the type of flow that gets sent straight through the pipe into regular benchmarking algos? Should these orders be treated with any less importance than their larger counterparts just because of their rank in the trade hierarchy? A rhetorical question of course, and under the implementation of upcoming regulatory changes, trading desks need to demonstrate their ability to process and diligently execute their entire pad in accordance with best execution policies. This requires sophisticated monitoring, and it’s where technology steps in.

At OTAS, we understand that traders with consistently large order pads cannot realistically manually manage all their flow every day. The key is the ability to identify the trades where they can add real value, rather than focus where they cannot.

Intraday Screener solves this problem by helping traders optimise their order pad in real time. ‘Outlier’ orders are identified using the stock behaviour that the trader deems most important to their trading style; such as extreme price movements, capturing irregular traded volumes and liquidity, or monitoring price spreads. Importantly, the analysis is systematically applied across the whole order pad, meaning once the trader has applied specific scenario analysis, he/she can manage the exceptions from the smallest low touch ticket to the largest multi-day ticket on the pad.

To simplify the optimization of order pads, Intraday Screener provides ‘hot buttons‘ at the top of the application, which combine multiple stock characteristics and allow traders to change views to monitor specific trading conditions to support decision making and strategy.

Basic compares the intra-day price return (+/-) and traded volume. Stocks in the top right quadrant, for example, exhibit positive idiosyncratic price performance on higher than expected volume, which may make them easier to trade, but subject to mean reversion. A trader may want to take a closer look at an order in this security. The Basic combination of factors help traders manage orders that are reacting to new information in the market, such as trending with volume, or that are being affected by the heavy footprint of others and may mean revert when those orders finish.

**London Stock Exchange a visual outlier trading higher on large volume

Volatility Risk‘ compares the liquidity of orders on the pad with the spread between best bids and offers. Traders use this analysis to identify high impact or potentially hard to trade orders. Conversely, a stock with exceptional liquidity and low spread should be easier to trade.

**Ashtead Group experiencing poor trading conditions with below average liquidity and exceptionally wide spread.

‘HFT Signals’ compares the volume and liquidity fractions, which we define as fifteen-minute moving averages of the relative strength of buyers and sellers, in terms of posted liquidity and traded volume. A stock in the top left-hand quadrant, for example, has seen more shares traded on the bid (sellers crossing the spread) but is displaying more posted bid liquidity than offer. As with all intraday exceptions, the potential for mean reversion in this stock should be front and centre of a trader’s mind (because the HFTs are thinking the same thing).

 ‘Custom’, as the name suggests, allows the trader to determine the factors that show on the chart axes and determine the size and colour of the bubbles.

Intraday Screener is a powerful trade-monitoring tool shaped to the factors that matter most to you and your trading strategy. In an ever-increasingly automated market, Intraday Screener ensures that you never miss an anomaly on your order pad, freeing you up to trade more efficiently.

Under new MIFID II proposals the responsibilities bestowed on an individual executing trader will be under increased internal and external scrutiny. For their part, they will now be expected to be a source of alpha and value-add in the investment process whilst also providing direct accountability for the best execution of every order on the firms pad under their supervision.

In the third blog of our Preparing for MIFID II series, we showcase how OTAS’ intelligent In-Trade technology is enabling traders to become more efficient through the life of a trade, by being active by exception. This means using advanced artificial intelligence techniques to monitor idiosyncrasies in live stock behaviour and informing traders so that they are able to reassess and reselect the best strategy for their orders in reaction to changes in real-time market information. Put simply, traders can now take real ownership of their trade blotter, optimizing their flow to the orders where they can have most impact and by providing transparent, recordable visual evidence for the basis of their decision making.

Our Microstructure charts use quantitative modelling to predict the expected daily forecasts for a range of stock trading metrics including price return(absolute and vs basket,) volumes, liquidity and spread. If during the course of an order any of these live stock conditions trade in extreme of these forecasts(through impact caused by the trader or general market) it is considered a potentially actionable signal for the trader and a visual Alert is fired. Further important price sensitive information is also relayed via the Alerts including outsized Dark/OTC volume, live company Insider transactions and Peer Event reporting.
Extensive market intelligence tools including total volume and closing auction forecasts, venue breakdown analysis(Dark & Lit), V.A.P and latest News are also provided within the Microstructure stack.

Key Benefits of Microstructure & Alerts:

  • Systematically monitor trade blotters of any size, using an exception based approach.
  • Course correction of orders in response to realtime Alerts
  • Alert metric(s) selectable by client preference including trigger threshold/sensitivity.
  • Microstructure and Alerts recorded to provide visualization evidence of traders decision process.
  • Extensive volume analysis across Lit & Dark markets

Order Blotter Alerts sample                                                Alerts recorded through Order life cycle

Additionally, our In-Trade Performance function allows traders to monitor live order performance against specific client execution instructions or a range of strategy benchmarks. It also allows them to perform real-time analysis of the direct impact of their trading decisions on execution price(slippage) and participation rate.

A large majority of our EMS partners now have OTAS In-Trade components directly embedded into their trading platforms, meaning their clients are already benefiting from fully integrated, optimizable execution processes. These are just three of a whole suite of bespoke real-time trading applications we have created to help Global Trading desks provide a systematic approach and facilitate ‘sufficient steps’ under the guidelines and framework of MIFID II.

Contact us now to explore the current apps available within your EMS and how we can assist your current execution policy or technology mandate at

***OTAS has been nominated for the Intelligent Trading Technology Awards 2017 under the Best Trading Analytics Platform category. Please vote for us using the following link . Voting is open through April 21, 2017. Winners will be announced at the Intelligent Trading Summit on June 8.***


Under MIFID2, executing traders will be accountable for every aspect of a client order and for ensuring that a firm’s best execution policies are implemented. Ultimately, this means demonstrating the ability to record a consistent, compliance-approved process of why each decision was made.
OTAS helps traders achieve this via a simple 2-step process using the Trade Schedule and Intraday Lingo applications. Traders can copy, store and send the analysis from both apps to satisfy the desk, compliance and clients.

In our previous Function of the Week, we demonstrated how traders can optimize an entire order pad and distribute high and low touch orders based on exceptional trading characteristics and workflow scenarios. This week we concentrate on the individual orders that comprise an order pad, focusing on the initial stage of the execution process,  Strategy selection and Implementation.

The Trade Schedule component offers traders proprietary pre-trade order analysis using quantitative forecasts of stock risk(volatility), impact cost and total expected trade costs for their order size across a range of benchmark strategies. This includes our own Optimal schedule and provides justifiable decision making evidence for strategy selection and best execution processes. Each order schedule can be optionally tailored to an individual clients needs by presenting revised cost calculations based on the clients level of risk aversion.

Once a strategy is selected and implemented it is then dynamically monitored in real-time, continually calculating suggested participation rates to account for changing market conditions and execution fill data throughout the life of the trade.

Key Benefits of OTAS Trade Schedule:

  • Demonstrating ‘best possible results’ on an on-going, consistent, systematic basis.
  • Variable cost output forecasts based on individual client risk appetite/trading style.
  • Justification of pricing decisions for OTC risk trades.
  • Dynamic in-trade monitoring of schedule suitability(decision support for adjusting participation)
  • Multi stage analysis of order execution process

Example: Schedule forecasts to Buy 200k Siemens

A large majority of our EMS partners now have the OTAS Schedule component along with risk, impact and total cost forecast columns directly embedded into their trading platforms, meaning their clients are already benefiting from fully integrated, optimizable execution processes.

Example : Blotter view optimized by ‘riskiest’ orders

Trade Schedule analysis is just one of a suite of bespoke real-time trading applications we have created to help Global Trading desks provide a systematic approach and facilitate ‘sufficient steps’ under the guidelines and framework of MIFID II.

Contact us now to explore the current apps available within your EMS and how we can assist your current execution policy or technology mandate at

The OTAS Intraday Screener app offers a fully configurable heatmap tool providing traders ‘at a glance‘ direction of where outliers sit on the pad, allowing them to immediately focus their attention on where it is most needed.
Embedded within a trading EMS it provides a recognizable systematic approach to order pad optimization, where each scenario analysis a trader wishes to perform is monitored in real-time, highlighting actionable opportunities and exceptions from the norm.

Each axis and chart annotation can be user-configured to suit distinct trading workflows, such as…..

Irregular Price & Volume Order Optimization

Screen an order pad for ‘action’ stocks where asymmetric behaviour in daily price performance and traded volume presents exception outliers for manual trader intervention.

  • Manage ‘high touch’ flow broken out by idiosyncratic daily share price performance from the open(x-axis)
  • Combine with disproportionate volume(y-axis) conditions to focus on highly liquid or harder to trade orders, vis-á-vis passive/aggressive strategy decision
  • Example Screenshot: Standard Life, Informa & St James Place all under-performing on well above average volume with WPP significantly outperforming.

In-Trade Liquidity Screening:

Optimise High Touch vs Low Touch flow, spread crossing and liquidity opportunities

  • Minute by minute lit market liquidity profiling relative to historic normalised ranges(x-axis.) Identify orders with above average liquidity and live trading opportunities Example: Shire, Diageo & Worldpay or conversely adjust to low liquidity trading indicators.
  • Current indicative price spread levels(y-axis) relative to normal. Exceptionally wide spread = execution cost impact from spread crossing, plus low liquidity  Example: Convatec.

Adjusting to Price Momentum changes:

Identify idiosyncratic returns from normal expected ranges.
Actively manage flow and adjust aggression based on rolling absolute and basket relative returns.

  • Highlight orders with abnormal positive or negative price behaviour from the market open(y-axis) and combine with short term momentum compared to peers(x-axis.) Also assess traded volume for trend analysis and intraday mean reversion potential.
  • Examples: Sainsburys Extreme basket relative under-performance over last hour on lower than normal volume = potential Mean Reversion 
  • Capita – Significantly low absolute return from open, excessively high trade volume, negative one hour basket relative return = probable Trend Continuation 
  • Schroders & Merlin– Unusually low absolute return from open, excessively high trade volume, strong positive one hour relative performance = potential Trend Reversal or Continuation

Intraday Screener is just one of a suite of bespoke real-time trading applications we have created to help Global Trading desks provide a systematic approach and facilitate ‘sufficient steps’ under the guidlines and framework of MIFID II.

Contact us now to explore the current apps available within your EMS and how we can help your current technology mandate at

Often traders are asked to provide ‘colour’ or identify reasons why stocks are behaving idiosyncratically during a trading session and what the possible catalysts are. Newsflow is clearly one of the key elements behind daily performance but that doesn’t always offer a full quantifiable picture of intra-day flows or other potential investor sentiment driven reasons.

The combined analysis provided by OTAS Alerts, Microstructure and Core Summary offer users much more granularity and content than just simple commentary of corporate news headlines, as is demonstrated in Vodafone Group today.

The Alerts Overlay function on the Return chart above provides a sequenced timeline of events and abnormal behaviour in a stock’s microstructure.
Significantly for Vodafone, two exceptionally low Return alerts fired in red this morning highlighting large under-performance on both an absolute(R) and basket relative(B) basis. Our model indicates Vodafone shares do not typically encounter moves like this intraday and are highly irregular. Statistical outliers in performance such as these can be used to trade more effectively by identifying potential areas of support or inflection.

The most likely reason for the underperformance can be explained by the other alert flag on the return chart. At 8.07am an exceptionally large Dark/Offbook trade printed in 10.55m shares, it was OTC printed through BATS/CHI-X Offbook reporting exchange. The subsequent absolute and basket relative share price performance gives a simple indication on the direction of the trade and the impact of the risk unwind.

The clues to the motivation behind the trade may well lie in the Core Summary detail. For example, this will quickly inform users of the most recent newsflow and any upcoming Events. Vodafone provides a Sales Release in 2 days





The Liquidity tab embedded within our real-time Microstructure application provides traders with a range of key volume forecasts for the current trading session including estimates on important high ‘natural’ liquidity events like the closing auction. The forecasts update dynamically with reference to historic volume and current live market conditions and provide:-

  • Pre-trade volume fragmentation analysis for modelling P.O.V and VWAP strategies
  • Closing auction volume estimates for risk unwind to avoid carrying unwanted positions overnight
  • Assessing liquidity, impact and feasibility of Market on Close orders.

The current Day Total forecast volume can be immediately compared to the recent 30 day historic mean average in the Microstructure charts and accompanying legend to establish whether the stock is expected to trade heavy or light relative to normal.

Traders using the OTAS Schedule component are also offered forecast participation rates over a range of short term trading periods in view of completing an order ahead of its optimal schedule. The key benefits here are:-

  • Provides statistical evidence of potential impact on ‘must be completed’ order execution instructions.
  • Allows traders to visualise the best strategy approach and evaluate participation rate from the time the order is received.
  • Calculates your total order size as a percentage of remaining forecast volume still to trade on the day.

The OTAS Microstructure stack offers a range of charts which breakdown the intraday characteristics of stock trading, allowing you to visualise potential inflection points and changes in trend which may ultimately affect price behaviour and return. Whilst our Alerts immediately inform you of any extreme outliers across metrics such as return(vs basket,) liquidity and spread our volume analysis provides users granular insight into trade weight and direction bias making it easy to identify subtle changes in order flows.

Two charts which demonstrate this quite succinctly are the Volume(Realised –Mean) and Traded Volume Shares.


In the example above we can see that from the market open today’s realised traded volume(Chart 2) is significantly ahead of what is typically expected and remains high for the next few hours. To establish who the aggressors were over this time period we can refer to the traded volume shares(Chart 1.)
Here it is observed that sellers were in the ascendancy as the bid volume(blue line) is markedly higher than the offer(pink line) indicating a keenness by them to cross the spread and hit bids.

As the traded volume begins to normalise the directional tilt converges as bid volume slows and offer volume picks up suggesting that the sellers are slowing participation(or coming to the end of their order) and that buyers are increasing their aggression. This could represent a support level for the shares and/or a potential inflection point.

Interpretation of changing volume trend behaviour allows traders to assess the potential impact on price and react accordingly.

One of the most highly valued and frequently used measures by our clients within the OTAS suite is the Insider Transactions analysis. Delivered through multiple OTAS applications, users can assess the potential impact on a share by a single well timed trade, placed by a company director or major shareholder.

Live Insider Transactions via the Alerts feed
The introduction of live Insider trade notifications in our Alerts app allows users to view transactions for an order-pad, portfolio or watchlist as they happen in real-time, meaning they need never miss a potentially significant price sensitive trade. Proof of this was evidenced in the trading session immediately after the BREXIT vote when we noted an unprecedented number of senior management in UK Top 100 companies buying their own stock. 

The Insider alerts feed can be custom filtered to identify just significant discretionary transactions or include all trade types, such as exercise of employee stock options and share awards. Our star rating attached to each insider immediately reveals the prescience of the transactor.

        Live Alerts App.                                                  Alert Customisation Filter

Insider Transactions in the Core Summary
Once a new Insider transaction is received from our provider, it will display in the Alerts panel(as above) and will be available in the Core Summary detail table the following minute.  The Insiders Stamp will populate with new Buy/Sell flags shortly after and will be visible for the next month.


Insider transactions get registered on the accompanying chart and can be filtered to show Priority discretionary transactions or All trade types just like the live Alerts panel. We keep a history of every trade going back as far as 2006, these can be viewed by clicking the ‘Max’ zoom button. To single out an individuals previous trading history over the selected time-frame….simply click on their name and the chart will filter accordingly.

More and more investment professionals are able to benefit from OTAS’ unique portfolio and trading analytics as we continue to expand our distribution breadth through channel partnerships with integrated front-end OMS & EMS providers and Financial Analysis solution vendors. Our global reach to both Buy and Sell Side clients is now more accessible than ever before.

We have created bespoke solutions with some of the leading trading infrastructure players providing tight integration with their key client-used components.


Our suite of applications are also embedded within Thomson Reuters EIKON product, the collaboration of which has created an analytically differentiated and highly economic alternative to legacy desktop competitors who endeavour to replicate an OTAS-style offering.


See first hand how Eikon users benefit from integrated Core portfolio analytics via this short online video here

Curious to find out if OTAS analytics are available on your desktop via an existing provider ? Get in touch at….chances are we are already talking to them !