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The US SEC chief reveals the plan to revise stock trading on Wall Street

Gary Gensler, Chairman of the Board of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), testifies at a supervisory hearing of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Committee on the SEC on Capitol Hill, Washington, USA, September 14, 2021. REUTERS / Evelyn Hockstein

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WASHINGTON / NEW YORK, June 8 (Reuters) – The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday proposed rule changes to change how Wall Street handles stock trading after the meme stock mania last year raised questions about whether mom-and-pop investors got the best price.

The plan, unveiled by US Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler, will require trading firms to compete directly to execute trades from retail investors to increase competition.

The Wall Street Watchdog plans to investigate the controversial order flow payment practice (PFOF), in which some brokers, such as TD Ameritrade, Robinhood Markets and E * Trade, are paid by wholesale market makers for orders.

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“I asked staff to take a holistic view across markets of how we could update our rules and drive greater efficiency in our stock markets, especially for retail investors,” Gensler told an industry audience on Wednesday.

He said the new SEC rules would require market makers to disclose more data about the fees these firms earn and the timing of trading for the benefit of investors.

Gensler’s announcement, the biggest upheaval in US stock market rules in over a decade, is likely to lead to formal proposals this fall. The public can then weigh in on them before an SEC vote to adopt them.

The intended changes will fundamentally change the wholesalers’ business model. They can also affect brokers’ ability to offer commission-free trading to retail investors. Reuters first flagged the reforms in March. read more

PFOF came under regulatory scrutiny last year when an army of retail investors went on the buying spree of “meme shares” such as GameStop and AMC, and pressured hedge funds that had shorted the shares. Many investors bought stocks using commission-free brokers like Robinhood.

The new rules will strengthen order-by-order competition, including through potential “open and transparent” auctions, aimed at giving investors better prices. They will include an agency-specific definition of so-called best execution for stocks and other securities to ensure that broker-dealers and investors benefit from more details about the procedural standards brokers must meet when handling and executing client orders.

They would require brokerage dealers and market centers to disclose more data about order execution quality for the benefit of investors, including a monthly summary of price improvements and other statistics, Gensler said.

The rules will also seek to shrink the minimum price increase or so-called tick size in order to better adapt to off-exchange activity and harmonize the tick size to ensure that all trading takes place in the minimum growth.


The proposed rule changes will include an SEC definition of “best execution” requirements that will force retail brokers to send clients’ orders to auctions, operated by exchanges or off-exchange trading venues, which will allow market participants to compete to trade against orders, he said. the sources.

At the moment, retail brokers can send customer orders directly to a wholesale broker to be executed, as long as the broker matches or improves the best price available on US stock exchanges. Large market players usually improve the best price by a fraction of a cent. Gensler has criticized this model for restricting competition for retail orders.

The rules will require retail brokers to send PFOF sales orders to the wholesaler that offers the best offer, instead of the one that pays the most.

This will fundamentally change the business model of wholesalers, who can make more money by executing orders from private investors internally than they do on public exchanges, where they may find themselves trading with other sophisticated trading firms or institutional investors.

Gensler told Reuters in March that he wants to ensure that brokers execute orders at the best possible price for investors – the highest price for when an investor sells, or the lowest price if they buy.

“It’s great to see the SEC taking a holistic approach to this problem – it’s not a simple answer, we need changes in different parts of the market,” said Dave Lauer, CEO of the financial platform Urvin Finance.

“We need an order-by-order standard for best execution and open competition for order flow to provide the best results for retail investors. This will force greater competition, and may help end the off-exchange oligopoly that has controlled that market for too long, “he added.

Spokesmen for investors want to increase the stock market’s competitiveness in order to improve the reliability of the national price reference, known as the national best bid and offer (NBBO).

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Reporting by Katanga Johnson in Washington and John McCrank in New York Editing by Matthew Lewis and Carmel Crimmins

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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