An electronic trading veteran has a new role at MarketAxess disrupting a market going through a ‘once in a lifetime’ evolution

  • Chris Concannon has left his role as president of Cboe Global Markets for MarketAxess, one of the largest electronic trading platform for US bonds.
  • Concannon will serve as president and chief operating officer effective January 22.
  • The industry veteran brings his experience in electronic trading to a market that still largely trades over the phone.

Chris Concannon loves a good challenge.

The former president and chief operating officer of Cboe Global Markets will soon get it, as he aims to help disrupt a market with little transparency where most trades are still conducted over the telephone. On Monday it was announced that Concannon had left his role at the exchange operator for a new role helming MarketAxess, the largest electronic trading platform for US bonds.

Concannon, who was CEO of Bats Global Markets until it was acquired by Cboe in 2017, is a veteran of electronic trading, having also spent time at Nasdaq, trading platform Instinet and market maker Virtu.

His experience in electronic trading will prove vital — research from Greenwich Associates in 2018 estimated only 26% of trading in US high-grade and high-yield bonds was done electronically.

Still, that’s a 7% uptick from the previous year, showing the industry is ripe for change.

“I am someone that loves watching large asset classes go through evolutionary changes,” Concannon told Business Insider in an interview. “I just see MarketAxess sitting at the center of this evolutionary change happening within the global bond market. It is a shift from a manual, dealer-driven market to a much more automated electronic market.”

Concannon, who will start at MarketAxess on January 22, is at the right place to lead that change, as the trading platform holds significant market share. In data compiled by Greenwich Associates in third quarter of 2018, MarketAxess handled 85% of electronic trading done on US high-grade and high-yield bonds.

And while he brings a wealth of knowledge from his time on the equities side, he admitted it’s not an exact comparison. Concannon pointed to the size of the fixed income market, and how it continues to grow thanks to the debt loads corporations and governments around the world have taken on.

“The fixed income market is the mother of all markets. … I have only graduated out of equities into fixed income,” Concannon said. “It is just this unbelievably large asset class that is going through an evolution that will happen once in a lifetime. To participate in that evolution is just what excites me the most about this opportunity.”

Meanwhile at Cboe, Chris Isaacson, who had served as the chief information officer, has been promoted to COO. Ed Tilly, Cboe’s CEO and chairman, will take on Concannon’s title of president. While Isaacson will manage day-to-day operations, Tilly will take over the business lines Concannon oversaw.

“Bittersweet to see Chris go, but our day-to-day operations will be unchanged,” Isaacson told Business Insider. “The path we set for 2019 and beyond is really not impacted.”

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