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May 7, 2014

Exclusive: SEC probing brokerages over handling of retail orders – sources

“The Securities and Exchange Commission has sent out subpoenas and demands for records to brokerage companies as part of a probe into how retail customers’ orders are routed, executed and filled, according to several people familiar with the matter.

“The SEC’s enforcement division is investigating whether retail customers are receiving the best price and the most efficient execution for their trades, these people said. The regulator is also asking about the payments that some retail brokers receive from exchanges and trading firms in exchange for directing customer orders to those platforms.

“It’s unclear which firms received the requests, though the people familiar with the matter said they were distributed widely. Some of the biggest retail brokerage companies are Charles Schwab Corp., TD Ameritrade Holding, Fidelity Investments’ Fidelity Brokerage Services and E*Trade Financial Corp, which can get paid $100 million a year or more for selling their orders.

“The SEC’s investigation comes as public debate has intensified over rules governing payment-for-order flow and other market structure issues that may favor high-frequency traders over retail investors, spurred in part by Michael Lewis’s “Flash Boys,” a book that explores the rise and potential abuses of computer-driven high-speed trading.”


Read full Reuters article here

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