The 2014 Trading Technology 40: Nicholas Themelis


Nicholas Themelis
Chief Information Officer
MarketAxess Holdings
Last year: 25

As tight liquidity has beset the bond market in recent years, trading platform operator MarketAxess Holdings has been as bold as any organization in trying to address the problem technologically. Last April it announced an agreement to aggregate liquidity with its biggest client, BlackRock, which had previously sought to build a trading community for firms using its Aladdin investment and risk management system (see Richard Prager, No. 6). Another initiative occupying CIO Nicholas Themelis is Open Trading, which connects more than 85 global, regional and specialist dealers and 1,000-plus institutional investors in an all-to-all marketplace on the MarketAxess platform. “We’re looking beyond the traditional client-to-dealer RFQ [request for quote] protocol,” explains Themelis, 50, who has been CIO at MarketAxess since 2005 and previously was CIO for North America and global head of fixed income at Barclays Capital. “We’re supplementing the dealer liquidity with buy-side liquidity. That’s revolutionary.” Asset managers can set up watch lists and alerts for certain bonds on Open Trading, and both dealers and investors can respond to inquiries from other investors and dealers — “and the best price wins,” Themelis adds. With the company’s Market Lists protocol, 70 percent of high-grade-bond inquiries are now being sent anonymously to the open order book, he notes. In the third quarter of 2013, when MarketAxess boosted earnings 32 percent year-over-year, to $61 million, the New York–based firm handled a record 14.9 percent of the U.S. high-grade market, and in September it was one of the first applicants granted temporary approval for a swaps execution facility by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. In December, MarketAxess launched a central limit order book for single-name credit default swaps, with Barclays as primary market maker.

See also Themelis’ profile in the 2013 Trading Technology 40.

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