Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) and TORA have jointly launched Thunder, a front-to-back office buy-side trading platform that combines the broker’s equity execution and prime brokerage services with TORA’s trading technology.
Through Thunder, traders will have access to all of BAML’s electronic tools including its algo suite, stock loan locate functionality, the ability to automatically upload positions to their prime brokerage accounts and comprehensive transaction cost analysis reporting functionalities.
Kim Man Li, BAML’s head of product development for Asia Pacific equity execution services in Hong Kong, said, “This is a very strategically aligned relationship. TORA has a wealth of experience and history in the Asian markets for running an execution management system and order management system.
“As our core business is in brokerage and execution services, while TORA’s is in building sophisticated order and execution management systems, we believe this is a good union that will deliver positive wins for both parties.”
TORA has connectivity to more than 700 global and regional brokers across 50 markets in Asia, the Americas and Europe and over 10 off-exchange liquidity venues. Five percent of trading volume on the Tokyo Stock Exchange is processed through TORA.
This is the first partnership of its kind in Asia for both BAML and TORA, which will work together to create distribution opportunities amongst buy-side clients.
Robert Dykes, TORA’s CEO, added, “BAML has one of the broadest exchange connections in Asia. They have a very deep product offering in a lot of different verticals and are especially strong in execution and prime brokerage which makes BAML a natural partner for TORA.
“The focus for TORA is the buy-side and how we can improve the buy-side’s trading workflow, decision making ability, access points, liquidity options and execution. This drives our ability to offer the best-of-breed trading solutions to the buy-side.”
The BAML/TORA partnership and development of Thunder originated in Asia, although the firms have longer term plans to roll it out in other markets. Thunder is specifically designed to address the challenges of the rapidly evolving Asian market structure, as seen by reduced tick sizes and the introduction of competition from alternative trading venues in Japan and Australia.
“This partnership demonstrates BAML’s commitment to its clients across Asia and beyond,” said Gene Reilly, BAML’s head of Asia Pacific cash equity trading and execution services. “It is part of our overall strategy to fully integrate execution into our prime brokerage business, providing our clients a seamless, full-suite of services.”
Kim added, “There’s no reason for us to limit this to Asia, although we are focused in the first phase within Asia. It is complementary to the tools that we have and it provides clients with an advanced delivery mechanism to reach us.”
Gabriel Butler, BAML’s director of execution sales Asia, global markets, noted, “With the rapid structural changes that are happening in Asia, the region is to some extent following in the footsteps of US and Europe. But being an Asia-based platform means that Thunder is at the forefront of anything that happens in Asia. If you’re a trader in Asia, you’d like your technology provider to be focused on Asia so that you’re able to access the markets in the best possible way as developments unfold. Your technology will be able to adapt to the market changes faster. That’s one of the nice things about having this partnership spring out of Asia.”
Dykes added, “There are not a lot of great platforms in Asia that provide the buy-side with complete connectivity and access to all the markets across Asia. A lot of vendors in this space are US or European platforms, and Asia is a by-product. Given our level of focus on Asian market structure and all the things that affect trading in Asia, we can deliver unique solutions much more quickly.”