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Axess All Prints: Real-time trade-level transparency for EU & UK markets

  • March 28, 2022

MarketAxess reveals how it has enhanced its original EU & UK trade tape, Axess All, to deliver a new level of transparency for clients and dealers, print by print.

Christophe Roupie, Head of EMEA & APAC, and Paulo Costa, Head of Data for EMEA & APAC, give us an inside view of Axess All Prints, a new 24/5 data service developed to deliver better trade-level pricing information to both buy- and sell-side traders.

Why has MarketAxess launched Axess All Prints?

Paulo Costa: Axess All has always been a very valuable data source for our clients, particularly in periods of market stress. For some time, it has been the closest thing in the market to an EU & UK fixed income trade tape. But it has had its limitations. Until recently, it has been what I would describe as plain vanilla: for any bond that trades a minimum of three times, it would publish the last traded price with a thirty-minute delay. Everything was published in aggregate. You wouldn’t see an individual trade print. The volume was capped and in aggregate as well.

So, Axess All Prints is a big step beyond that, moving away from the aggregate to a print-by-print, trade-by-trade view. That is a huge leap in transparency.

Christophe Roupie: With Axess All Prints we take Axess All to another level. It has been developed to be much more real-time, much more in line with increased regulatory expectations, much more in tune with the level of granularity required by our clients and dealers.

It also takes on board what the market has been telling us; namely that this type of data product also needs to take into account volume – as an input criteria to what is published, but, importantly, not as published data – to avoid creating any asymmetrical risk premium for the market.

Paulo Costa: To just explain the differences between Axess All and the new Prints service in more detail – which is important because we are also continuing to make enhancements to Axess All. Axess All today covers approximately 7,000 unique bonds per day. Prints in its first phase publishes just over 4,200 bonds per day. But the uniqueness isn’t the ISIN count, it’s the number of actual trades. For the sectors that we are publishing, there are about 15,000 trades per day that we are publishing information on.

Axess All Prints does not publish volume and is a 24-hour service. Axess All today operates on core European hours only – although I should note that we’re publishing a release next month that will align that to 24-hour operation as well. And finally, we’re also adding some directional information around the published last price in Axess All, allowing users to identify whether the transaction was dealer to client, dealer to dealer or inter-dealer trading.

So how would you characterise the new advantages it offers to your clients?

Christophe Roupie: In an ideal world as a trader, you want to be able to both predict where the next trade price is going to be, and then to quickly validate that the prediction is real and actionable. The advantage with Axess All Prints is in the granularity and immediacy of the data – that is, you can use the real-time pricing to create the predictive pre-trade level, and then once you use that information and transact in the market, you create the next real-time trade print, feeding back into the data set and further enhancing the accuracy of the next pre-trade price. To this point, the market has been missing that the accuracy of any prediction of the price point significantly improves with the evidence of the price being implemented.

Can you give us detail on the limits and coverage of the service?

Paulo Costa: Axess All Prints covers 11 different products / sectors today, including US IG and US HY, EU Euro and USD Eurobonds, EGBs, USTs and UK government bonds. It has the most extensive product coverage of any fixed income data service of this kind but does not today cover the entire fixed income universe. The extent to which we extend it over time is very much dependent on the feedback we get from the dealers and clients who are currently piloting the service.

On a bond-by-bond basis within real time, we are publishing the last traded price. We do not publish any volume data in the service but, as noted by Christophe, we use the volume as a criteria for what is published. That is, we have volume data protecting some of the information, meaning we have introduced some caps.

For example, anything larger than US$1 million in US high yield, US agency, EU SAS we won’t publish. For investment grade (IG) and rates that cap is US$5 million. Trades below those sizes are published in real time. Dealers are asking for this because it gives the granularity they need, but in a controlled manner.

What do people need on the other side to consume the information?

Paulo Costa: The data is delivered via application programming interface (API). We’re currently in pilot phase with a number of clients and dealers who will be consuming the data on that basis. Later this year we will deliver a GUI-based version for those who prefer to view the data on screen rather than consume the feed.

The pilot phase followed approximately a year of consultation and exploration with a wider range of dealers – very important to us as they are the primary contributors to the data. With them, we developed a range of criteria governing how the service is delivered and across what universe. An important part of the Axess All model has always been “give to get” – that is, those who take the service also contribute their data into it. That is no different here.

Christophe Roupie: It’s important also to note that the buy side has also been heavily involved and included. We have had clients assessing the data and its usefulness in the application of their trading strategies, ensuring a continuous feedback and improvement loop through the production stages of building the service. We’re very happy, then, that what we’ve built is fit for purpose.

This is, of course, very topical given the discussions around a new CTP. How does the launch fit into your wider data strategy at MarketAxess?

Christophe Roupie: The CTP discussion is, at its heart, a discussion about transparency and creating a level playing field for all market participants. We’ve always understood that, from the very point of our founding. We’ve always promoted price transparency, alongside greater execution efficiency and choice, because it leads to better trading outcomes, and a more efficient and competitive market.

We have a depth and breadth of corporate and government bond data that is second to none. Our strategy is to find new ways to enhance how that data is delivered to dealers and clients, and to develop new analytics tools to help them better use it in through their investment and execution strategies. That includes for pre-trade pricing, liquidity assessment, risk modelling and portfolio construction, automated trade execution, performance measurement and much, much more. We like to say “the best data wins” – our job is to help all our clients and dealers to win, and to do so in ways that enhance the structure and efficiency of our market.

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