A LIST OF TOP MARKET MAKERS
In this article, we focus on market makers in stock markets. If you are interested in crypto markets, we have prepared a separate list:
What is a market maker?
Market Maker is an entity that operates on the financial market and offers constant liquidity, i.e., readiness to buy or sell a specific financial instrument at any time. The market maker is obliged to constantly quote buy and sell orders (or bid and ask quotes) for a given instrument. Thanks to this, investors can trade, even when there are no natural buyers or sellers on the market. And the lower the spread between the bid and ask quotes, the lower is the additional cost for other investors to trade. Market makers play a unique role in the exchange ecosystem. Market makers derive profits from the difference between the price, at which they buy a financial instrument and the price at which they sell it (spread).
We’ve analyzed the industry and created a list of the top stock market makers in the world. Below is a brief overview of the biggest players in this field.
Table of contents
Top market makers review
It is one of the well-known proprietary trading firms headquartered in Amsterdam, Netherlands, but it has offices in different parts of the world.
The company relies on its high-frequency and quantitative trading strategies to provide liquidity in securities markets. The company was established in 2004 and initially focused on working with ETPs (Exchange Traded Products). However, later Flow Traders expanded their business activities, and now the company also offers liquidity in fixed income, foreign exchange (FX), commodities, and digital assets.
At the moment, Flow Traders works with 2,000 institutional counterparties from different countries and continents. Among them are hedge funds, banks, pension funds, insurance companies, and others. As of 2021, the company continuously quoted nearly 8,000 ETPs worldwide.
Flow traders employs over 700 people.
Being founded in 2002, Citadel Securities is one of the largest market-making firms in the world. Its headquarters are located in Miami, US, and it leads its activities in more than 50 countries.
It is a designated market maker on the NYSE (New York Stock Exchange) and provides principal liquidity in the stocks of a great number of companies known worldwide. The company makes markets on more than 100 trading venues and trades on the top 15 equity exchanges representing 88% of the global market cap.
According to the company’s website, 22% of the US equity market volume is executed via the Citadel Securities platform.
Citadel Securities employs over 1600 people.
This Chicago-based firm was established in 1992 by an options trader at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Don Wilson.
Today the company claims its capacities allow for conducting 1,000 trades per second (which is in the standard range for algorithmic trading systems). On average, DRW executes 1 million trades per day.
After years of successful work in traditional markets, the company has expanded its activities to emerging ones like crypto assets. Now DRW provides liquidity to ETFs, fixed income, commodities, currencies, and crypto markets.
DRW employs over 1600 people.
Jane Street is a global liquidity provider and trading firm with offices in New York, Hong Kong, London, Amsterdam, and Singapore.
The company started its business journey by trading American and international ETFs in 1999. Since then, it has grown significantly. At the moment, JaneStreet prices and trades 5,000+ ETFs worldwide. Moreover, it has entered bonds, options, equities, and crypto markets.
The company continuously conducts trading on more than 200 electronic exchanges and venues worldwide. Jane Street has also launched its proprietary platforms: JCX (digital assets single dealer platform), JX, JX-EU (equity single dealer platforms), and Wholesale Market Maker (US equities wholesale market-making platform).
Jane Street employs over 1800 people.
It is a market-making firm with one of the longest histories in the world. It was founded in 1986 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
The company started its way as a market maker on the European Options Exchange which is now known as Euronext. Later, Optiver became a member of the European Principal Traders Association (FIA EPTA), FIA Japan, and FIA Principal Trading Group (PTG) in the US. In 2022, it was reported that Optiver is now also a trading member on the Viena Stock Exchange.
The company is actively expanding its activities in different regions. As of 2022, it was an official liquidity provider on more than 15 exchanges and trading platforms in the US. It is the number 1 market maker in Hong Kong Index and Single Stock Options. And it has over 6000 counterparties in the European region.
Optiver employs over 1800 people.
SIG (Susquehanna International Group)
Being founded in 1987, SIG is one of the major proprietary trading firms in the world. The headquarters are located in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, US, while the total number of offices worldwide is 14 as of 2022.
The number of employees has exceeded the mark of 1,900. SIG works with all listed asset classes and financial products, including Bitcoin.
Susquehanna International Group employes over 2700 people.
Hudson River Trading (HRT)
This quantitative trading firm was established in 2002 and is based in New York, US. Now it has offices in 6 countries and trades in 200+ markets worldwide.
HRT employs over 900 people.
Tower Research was founded in 1998 and is one of the oldest automated trading firms. The company has its headquarters in New York, US, and offices in Europe and Asia.
Tower Research builds tech tools and implements automated and quantitative strategies across various asset classes.
Tower Research employs over 1100 people.
IG MARKETS LTD
This London-based online trading provider was established in 1974. Today it offers trading in 19,000 investment markets, including but not limited to stocks, indices, and forex.
The number of staff in IG Markets is over 1,900.
It is a financial services tech firm with an SEC-registered broker-dealer. The company works in several areas, including market making and proprietary trading, and provides its services to customers in the US. It is a FINRA, SIPC, NYSE Arca, and Nasdaq ISE member.
IMC Financial Markets (IMC)
It is a global proprietary firm and market maker that works worldwide.
The company was founded in 1989. Now it has five offices worldwide and more than 1600 employees. IMC is active on over 100 trading venues and provides liquidity to over 200,000 assets. It works with numerous financial instruments, including but not limited to bonds, equities, commodities, and currencies. Among the most well-known exchanges where IMC offers the liquidity, it’s worth mentioning CME, NYSE Arca, CBOE, and NASDAQ.
This proprietary trading group that provides market-making and valuation arbitrage services was founded in 1994 and is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Today its team includes more than 300 specialists. As a market maker, Wolverine Trading ensures liquidity for a wide range of listed derivatives and securities, such as equities, equity indexes, futures, ETFs, and cash bonds.
It’s also worth mentioning that a group of prominent financial companies, including traditional and investment banks, have departments that provide market-making services. Let us mention a few:
Morgan Stanley is one of the financial companies that are well-known all over the world. Since its establishment in 1935, it has been actively expanding its services. Today Morgan Stanley unites 60,000 employees and works with global institutions, hedge funds, and numerous companies of all types and sizes. Market-making services are also among the company’s offers. According to publicly available information, Morgan Stanley is a market maker in Nasdaq, Nasdaq Options, Nasdaq GEMX, Cboe, and Nyse Arca.
Deutsche Bank is a multinational investment bank and financial services founded in 1870. Today it offers a wide range of banking and financial services to private and institutional clients, and one of its activities is market making. The market-making efforts of Deutsche Bank are regularly honored with international awards. For example, in 2022, for the second consecutive year, Deutsche Bank’s market-making and emerging market (EM) offerings were recognized with the Best EM Trading Platform prize at the FX Markets Asia Awards.
Nomura’s Global Markets team works with financial institutions, businesses, governmental authorities, and hedge funds worldwide. The team functions as a market maker in equity and fixed income securities.
The company has its ETF Market Making Team, an authorized participant for many ETF issuers across Europe and Asia.
Among others, Société Générale functions as a market maker for HSBC, VanEck, BNP Paribas, JPMorgan Asset Management, and WisdomTree Europe.
Who are the biggest market makers?
This is a hard question from the revenue or profit perspective, as most of these companies are private and do not publish financial statements. We can only try to answer this question from the employee count perspective, although this is probably not the best proxy for the size of operations in the era of automation in this industry. But from the headcount perspective, the biggest market makers are SIG (Susquehanna International Group), Oliver, Jane Street, Citadel Securities, DRW, IG Markets, and IMC. Although investment banks are large institutions, we estimate that their market making departments are not of the size of these specialized companies.
Learn also about our feeless crypto market making service.
Author: Michal Rozanski, updated on 2 March 2023