April 3, 2014 / 8:43 PM / 5 years ago

TD Bank CEO wants U.S. to curb high frequency trading

(Reuters) - Toronto-Dominion Bank Chief Executive Ed Clark said on Thursday he believes high frequency trading (HFT) gives an unfair advantage to some market participants and wants curbs by U.S. regulators.

Toronto-Dominion Bank President and Chief Executive Officer Ed Clark speaks during the company's annual general meeting in Ottawa April 4, 2013. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

HFT, in which sophisticated computer programs are used to send high volumes of orders to make markets or capitalize on price imbalances, has been criticized by some for giving HFT firms an unfair advantage over traditional traders.

“I’m not a fan of high frequency trading,” Clark told reporters in Calgary after the bank’s annual general meeting. TD is Canada’s second-largest bank by market capitalization, with a large domestic franchise, as well as 1,300 branches in the United States.

“I don’t believe that one group of people should be advantaged in the marketplace. I think what you’re trying to do is run a market where everyone is on a equal footing,” he added.

HFT makes up more than half of the market volume in the United States but is believed to account for a smaller portion of the Canadian market.

Proponents of high frequency trading say the practice adds liquidity to marketplaces and tightens spreads between bid and ask prices.

Clark said he would like to see regulators level the playing field but said U.S. regulators must act for any changes in Canada to be effective.

“Canada’s problem is that if the U.S. doesn’t deal with this issue, it’s very hard for Canada to deal with the issue, because the trades will simply go south into the United States,” he said.

“But I think it would be a good thing if the United States dealt with the issue.”

HFT has recently gained mainstream attention with the publication of the book “Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt,” by Michael Lewis, which posits the U.S. stock market is rigged in favor of high-speed firms.

Robert Greifeld, CEO of Nasdaq OMX Group, said last week that U.S. regulators are unlikely to put rules in place that would harm high frequency trading as doing so would make trading more difficult and expensive for all investors.

Reporting by Cameron French; Editing by Richard Chang

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