Brokers, exchanges and technology firms are always changing and evolving. The reality of a tough regulatory, trading and economic environment is pushing firms to diversify and adjust their business models.
Sometimes, however, those changes can fall into the category of disruptive. Such may be the case with Ninja Trading Brokerage, a new introducing broker that is the result of Denver-based NinjaTrader’s acquisition of Chicago-based Mirus Futures.
What makes the deal interesting is that NinjaTrader has done well to spread its software in a unique and collaborative way with the retail futures community since its launch in 2003. It has a staff of 40 in Denver and Europe, and about 400 “developers” who have built and contributed their own widgets to the NinjaTrader platform, which also works with other ISV platforms such as CQG and others. This has helped grow the NinjaTrader user-base to about 40,000.
And now, Raymond Deux, founder of NinjaTrader, has big plans to turn the IB model on its head. Deux said he is angling to eliminate the sometimes complicated and confusing pricing models that are offered to retail customers with an “all in commission structure” of $3.38 per round turn for lifetime licensed NinjaTrader subscribers and $3.78, and $4.22 for lower subscription plans.
Deux, of course, is drawing on the existing Ninja software user base to build and expand his IB business. And that is where the IB and FCM space is going, he says. The long-time practice of offering multiple trading software platforms has given customers choice, but when virtually every IB and FCM offers the same slate of choices, they are failing to differentiate themselves. In Ninja’s case, they get a one-two punch in revenues from NinjaTrader subscribers and from commissions.
Deux has already fielded calls from irate introducing brokers and competitors who say his commissions are artificially low and unfair. But he says his business model is not only scalable but is already profitable.
“The IBs don’t offer a lot of value to customers and there is a lot of fat in the industry,” he says.
Deux said his firm has helped automate some key clearing functions for his clearing firm, which saves the clearing firm and Ninja cash too. And he adds that much more back-office automation could be developed and implemented to make the process even more efficient and inexpensive.
He is also developing and incorporating more functionality into NinjaTrader Brokerage to allow for mobile trading, and better use of cloud technologies that may help with account management functions.
And if Deux’s forecast is correct that the futures industry will endure more IB and FCM consolidation, NinjaTrader Brokerage may be the one grabbing market share.