A Robot Now Runs AllianceBernstein’s Fixed Income Trading


14-11-18 11:13:00,

Three things are certain: death, taxes, and that the already thin gap between human trader and algo is narrowing ever further.

AllianceBernstein’s new virtual assistant can now suggest to fixed income portfolio managers what the best bonds may be to purchase using parameters such as pricing, liquidity and risk, according to Bloomberg. The machine has numerous advantages to humans: “she” can scan millions of data points and identify potential trades in seconds. Plus she never needs to take a cigarette or a bathroom break.

The new virtual assistant, dubbed Skynet 2.0 “Abbie 2.0”, specializes in identifying bonds that human portfolio managers have missed. She can also help spot human errors and communicate with similar bots like herself at other firms to arrange trades, making humans redundant. This is the second iteration of AllianceBernstein‘s electronic assistant which debuted in January of this year, but could only build orders for bonds following precise input from humans.

Sourcing bonds that are easy to trade is done by Abbie 2.0 reaching out to another AB system called ALFA, which stands for Automated Liquidity Filtering and Analytics. The AFLA system gathers bids and asks from dealers and electronic trading venues to work out the best possible trades.

For now, humans are still required: Jeff Skoglund, chief operating officer of fixed income at AB told Bloomberg that “humans and machines will need to work closer than ever to find liquidity, trade faster and handle risks. Our hope is that we grow and use people in ways that are more efficient and better leverage their skills.”

What he really means is that his hope is to fire as many expensive traders and PMs as possible to fatten the company’s profit margins. Which is why the virtual assistant already helps support a majority, or more than 60% of AllianceBernstein‘s fixed income trades. The “upgrades” that are coming for the new assistant will help it include high-yielding investment grade bonds, before expanding to other more complex markets in the coming months. AB says that they will still rely on humans to make the final decisions on trades. For now.

While the original version of the assistant had to be told how much a portfolio manager wanted of a specific bond,

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