As 2016 comes to a close, read this letter from our Co-President Kevin Ott.
Dear Friends –
By now many of you have received letters from friends and family across the country, bringing news and updates from 2016, and may have even shared your own. Consider this our holiday retrospective – a letter to you looking back on the highlights that have impacted Lightspeed as well as the market more broadly. This final week in 2016 is a perfect opportunity to look back and reflect on what has certainly been a roller coaster year.
And, of course, don’t hesitate to reach out and start a conversation with us about anything from low cost trading to where you should look to find the best day trading solutions. These are topics that get us excited!
We kicked off 2016 with a rollout of a new version of our flagship trading application, Lightspeed Trader. Most of these new features on Lightspeed Trader came about as a result of direct feedback we got from you, our customers. We welcome this feedback and find it essential to providing the tools you need to be successful! These upgrades included greater charting functionality, enhanced market data processing, optimized threading, and an upgraded infrastructure.
In continuing our first quarter theme of client improvements, we rolled out a redesigned client reporting center. Featuring easy drag and drop functionality and a brand new interface, we made it possible for our customers to set up their home screen in whatever way they preferred. We also made it easier to access the account reports that matter.
The first quarter wrapped up with Lightspeed being recognized within the industry for our focus on active stock and option traders. Stockbrokers.com ranked Lightspeed #1 for Active Trading. We also finished Best in Class with 4.5 stars for Commissions and Fees. Barron’s 2016 Online Broker Rankings named us Best Broker for Frequent Traders for the seventh year in a row! While superior customer service and quality technology solutions are our primary focus over ratings and rankings, we certainly appreciate the recognition.
The second quarter brought us summer weather and Brexit with its extreme market volatility. Despite the chaos, Lightspeed’s systems handled it without so much as a hiccup. Stability is a priority for us, and Brexit gave us an opportunity to challenge our infrastructure. It’s not uncommon to hear about other firms faltering during high volume periods. However, at Lightspeed we have shown that during periods of large, unexpected quote volumes, you can continue to trade. We know that a single day can make or break a trader and provide you with world class technology that can handle the unexpected.
This past fall saw us getting ready for the Tick Pilot Program, a new SEC test in which select small cap stocks would begin trading in five-cent increments instead of one-cent increments for the next two years. Our staff spends considerable time keeping up with changing regulations, and we worked hard to educate our customers about the implications of this new pilot program.
Also this fall Investors Exchange (IEX) became an exchange and we became a member. The firm, profiled in Michael Lewis’s 2014 book “Flash Boys”, set to create a unique alternative from the traditional exchange model. Their mission is to operate a market that works for investors by balancing the interests of traditional investors, brokers, and the market venue. Lightspeed has long been on the forefront of change in the trading industry, and providing our customers the choice to route to this unique new firm was something we happily provided.
Based in Chicago, I cannot write without mentioning one of the biggest stories in over 100 years. In November the Chicago Cubs broke a 108-year drought and (finally) won the world series! Many in our Chicago office rejoiced, while those in our New York office were left just scratching their heads.
And then the election. What to say? For now, the Washington establishment is still picking itself up off the floor, but Wall Street didn’t seem terribly fazed. In fact, despite some initial volatility, US markets have done quite well. While the final word has hardly been written about what all this actually means for traders, you can be sure we have some interesting months ahead of us.
Another of Lightspeed’s major client releases occurred this fall when we integrated data from a hot data analysis firm, TipRanks. Our clients have been asking for more research capabilities and idea generation. We answered by providing access to an engine of data normally only available to those institutions with considerable budgets to process large amounts of data.
And lastly, two weeks ago the Fed finally raised interest rates for only the second time in 10 years. This would indicate its growing confidence in the state of the US economy and that the hardships of the Great Recession are behind us for now. We’ll watch closely as additional increases are predicted to occur.
It’s been an incredible year marked by growth, change, and surprises. As we look ahead to 2017, there are many unknowns. How will the policies and decisions of the Trump administration impact market movement? Will the Fed increase interest rates as predicted? Regardless of speculation, what we do know is that we are excited for what we’ve got cooking for next year and are looking forward to continuing to provided the products and services necessary to help our clients be successful.
As always we wish you a wonderful holiday season and a successful New Year!
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