Horizon Software In Asia
Horizon Software is a 12-year old Paris based Independent Software Provider (ISV) focused on market making and high frequency trading. Four years ago they opened their Asia headquarters here in Hong Kong and have quietly been expanding in Asia ever since. I had a chance to visit that office recently to take a look at Horizon Market Maker, the flagship product. The demo was attended by Francois-Xavier Detourniere the regional Director and Michelle Wong, Sales and Marketing Manager.
At first glance the trading terminal appeared like any other market making platform. You had the panel with your underlying, your pricing panel with all the Greeks, your active orders panel and of course your trades and PnL panels. They also had a panel to see whether or not your connection was still up. Very useful to a firm with a market making obligation at the exchange.
Market Maker offers a service oriented architecture placing all the grunt work and heavy calculations on the server. The front end called Horizon Trader is a java based thick client that acts more like a GUI to the server than a client-server flow through. When you buy their license you get both the client and server applications. While you might not like to host or manage a server you do get piece-of-mind in that you are not sharing a server with your broker’s other clients which could cause performance or security issues. You might think that a server-centric application would come with a hefty price tag but I was quite surprised at how low the price point was (you’ll have to ask them). Of course, you will need to acquire a server. They recommend Intel-based running Linux, Solaris or NT in that order. You will also need a database license that comes with any high performance trading platform and you do have the luxury of choosing between the top 3 (I don’t know if they support KX Systems kdb+).
There are many functions in this module-based platform such as quoting, electronic eye and auto-hedging. One of the features that I liked was the combo builder function. From your trading screen you simply ctrl-click the products you want to add into your combo. Once you are finished selecting the “Combo Panel” popped up and populated accordingly allowing you to quickly change the quantity and side of the combo legs. Much quicker and easier for the less technical or patient trader when compared to say Orc Software’s Combo Picker.
The risk piece of the platform was developed with a post trade perspective allowing the risk managers various portfolio snapshots to be created such as by month, underlying, expiration, trader and desk to name just a few. Unfortunately, they didn’t have a nice 3D Risk surface found in some of the other platforms but in todays risk sensitive environment a useful tool nonetheless.
They currently offer access to the Honk Kong exchange (they have tapped into the lucrative warrant market making space), Korea Exchange, Singapore Exchange, Osaka and Tokyo Stock Exchange through various relationships in Asia. In the pipeline, connectivity to Bursa Malaysia and Taiwan are on the horizon.
While I only spent an hour with them I could see that I was only scratching the surface of the potential of this product. An interesting product, price point and the reputation of the French in financial mathematics make a demo time well spent.