IEX may become the Vanguard of stock exchanges

IEX, the stock exchange established to level the playing field between individual investors and high-frequency traders, and made famous by Michael Lewis’s recent book, Flash Boys, is moving to challenge some of the biggest stock exchanges for market dominance. IEX, like Vanguard, is owned by investors, and therefore motivated to serve investors. The following Wall Street Journal article details recent plans by IEX. More about IEX, including a short video explaining how individual investors are being hurt by high-frequency-trading and how IEX protects investors, can be found at: By BRADLEY HOPE, SCOTT PATTERSON and TELIS DEMOS Updated May 23, 2014 2:03 p.m. ET IEX Group Inc., the upstart firm that gained fame by positioning itself as an antidote to high-frequency trading, has had discussions with investors about raising money to help it become a full-fledged exchange, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The company has yet to complete the amount of new capital to be raised, but it is expected to value IEX at between $200 million and $300 million, the people said. It has met with venture-capital funds, private-equity groups and asset managers about potentially investing in IEX. The funds would provide a war chest for New York-based IEX as it prepares to apply with the Securities and Exchange Commission to become a stock exchange and weighs other expansions, such as opening a venue in Europe. IEX’s bid for exchange status could be a “game changer” because it would become the first stock-trading venue that is owned solely by investors, said Albert Kyle, a professor of finance at the University of Maryland who has consulted for the government on market issues. “The big deal would be having an exchange owned by the customers,” he said. “The motives of the exchange would be different than what we have now, and that could have benefits for investors.” Dark Pools Defined In the dark about dark pool trading? Lam Thuy Vo shines a light on the trading platforms. IEX operates a so-called dark pool, which is a private stock-trading venue where “buy” and “sell” orders aren’t displayed. Dark pools were originally developed to help big investors trade with greater anonymity. IEX takes that concept a step further, claiming to protect investors from predatory traders who use high-speed computer systems to jump ahead of orders from large institutions. To rid its dark pool of the problem, IEX slows down all orders by a fraction of a second. Brad Katsuyama, president and chief executive of IEX, was featured prominently in the book “Flash Boys” by author Michael Lewis. The book chronicles the creation of IEX after Mr. Katsuyama began to suspect that high-speed traders were taking advantage of investors who traded at slower speeds. Mr. Lewis told CBS Corp.’s “60 Minutes” television program that the markets were “rigged” in favor of stock exchanges, high-frequency traders and big banks. The losers, he said, were everyday investors and large institutions such as mutual funds and pension funds. His book has energized a debate about market fairness and the role that high-speed, computerized traders play. In the past several months, regulators and enforcement agencies have disclosed continuing investigations into trading practices. High-frequency trading firms have denied taking advantage of everyday investors, countering that they provide a valuable service to the market by adding liquidity.

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