Liquidity and best execution don't come easy in options trading, not least because there are 14 U.S. equity options exchanges to navigate. As of early this year, Dash Financial, introduced in 2011 by CEO Peter Maragos and co-founder and chief marketing officer David Karat, was handling about 6.5 percent of daily options volume a measure of the technology-focused brokerage's success in attracting institutional traders to its neutral, transparent, agency-execution model.
The power of Dash's technology became visible, literally, in January 2016 when the New Yorkbased firm launched Dash360, a colorful dashboard incorporating the latest data visualization techniques and "empowering the buy side to discern how their orders behave in real time," Maragos said at the time. Dash followed that up in June with Drop360, enhancing its "transparency suite" for analysis and insight into order-routing and execution behavior, costs, and performance. The platform isn't confined to options: "Equities is a big growth area for us; we bring the same philosophy to it," says Maragos, 40, who before starting Dash was CEO of trading systems developer SDS Financial Technologies.
On January 4, Dash announced that it is merging with LiquidPoint, the options trading and technology business of Convergex, to create the biggest agency brokerage in options execution, with a 13 percent market share. The deal was engineered by private equity firm GTCR, which owned a controlling interest in Convergex. With the closing of the transaction on March 1, GTCR has a majority stake in the renamed Dash Financial Technologies, with Maragos serving as CEO and LiquidPoint's Ben Londergan as president. Maragos notes that there is little overlap, and considerable potential for synergy, in combining Dash with LiquidPoint. The latter has more sell-side penetration, an exchange technology business, and a compliance offering that Maragos believes will be an interesting "regtech" play by allowing firms to quickly calculate regulatory capital requirements. "Together we are uniquely positioned to offer the widest range of solutions to help the buy side, sell side, and exchanges navigate the ever-evolving market structure and regulatory environment," Maragos says.
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