Spire Europe, the UK-based arm of high frequency trading giant Tower Research Capital, has been building its London operation even as rival firms prepare to move jobs to Amsterdam after Brexit.
The HFT increased headcount by 15% last year, in a “significant ramp up” of both traders and support staff, it said in its 2016 results released today on Companies House. It hired eight traders, and nine people in other functions to take its UK employee numbers to 103. This hiring spree has continued into 2017 – the FCA register shows 33 people in regulated roles, up from 19 at the beginning of the year.
These are not huge numbers, but compared to other HFT firms in London, Spire is a giant. Sun Trading, which cut headcount by 8% last year after a $1.5m loss, has 26 people in London. XR Trading, which has been expanding in the UK, has just 12 employees.
Recent hires at Spire include Romain Redslob, a delta one equity trader at Societe Generale, who joined in August.
While its rivals have pared back pay, Spire is still offering the sort of big packages most people associate with HFTs. It paid £51.7m to its employees last year, or an average payment of £502k ($681.9k). Sun Trading paid an average of £189k ($256.7k), while XR Trading paid £213.3k ($289.7k). Spire did reduce compensation, however, from an average of £588.7k in 2015.
HFTs rely on volatility and most have reported losses over the past year as markets remain an ocean of calm. Spire, however, said that it made a £7.2m profit in its international operations on the back of £140.2m in trading revenues, down from £10.4m in 2015.
Spire said that it was considering “various scenarios” about what to do with its international operation after the UK’s vote to leave the EU, that will be “considered further during the course of 2017, and possibly into 2018”. Tower Research Capital already has an operation in Amsterdam – albeit with just two employees – so could join the likes of Tradeweb, MarketAxcess and Radix Trading in expanding its operations in the Dutch capital.
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