Spire Europe brings electronic trading expert on board

Spire Europe, which is part of US research firm Tower Research Capital, appointed Natasha Bonner-Fomes as a non-executive director on September 6, according to a new filing by the London-based company at the UK’s Companies House.

Bonner-Fomes has over the previous decade held senior electronic trading roles at Marex Spectron, Deutsche Bank and Lehman Brothers, and was also a senior manager in the financial services advisory team at consultancy EY. She has worked as a consultant since early 2014.

Alan McGroarty, Spire’s chief executive, confirmed the appointment, saying: “We are extremely happy to have Natasha join the board of Spire Europe, and she brings with her a wealth of experience to help us navigate an ever more complex regulatory and trading environment.”

Bonner-Fomes is Spire’s first independent director, and the appointment is a further sign that the increasing size and influence of HFT firms are seeing them adopt practices more typical of banks and other organisations, ranging from capital rules to governance.

Sam Tyfield, a partner at law firm Vedder Price and HFT specialist, said the Financial Conduct Authority was speaking to firms to ensure they have independent oversight.

He said: “Senior staff can wear too many hats at the same time, giving the FCA concern that no one is holding those staff members to account.”

Spire, which was founded in 2008 and employs around 90 people, is one of a specialised group of firms that uses its own capital to trade across markets using sophisticated technology as opposed to human traders.

To give a scale of its size, Spire was the sixth-largest firm on Nasdaq‘s Nordic markets in August, trading shares worth €5.2 billion, according to data from the exchange. Nasdaq is one of the few exchanges to reveal such information.

The figure puts Spire ahead of bulge-bracket banks including Bank of America Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan, UBS and Goldman Sachs by trading volume.

The appointment also comes as HFT firms face tougher rules under the revised Markets in Financial Instruments Directive, or Mifid II, which will come into effect in January 2018. Germany imposed new rules on HFTs in 2013, but Mifid II will go further, including a requirement for firms to be authorised by regulators, as well as formal obligations on firms that act as market-makers.

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