The growth of electronic trading has altered the securities markets to such a degree that if a stock trader from a Wall Street firm fell asleep in 1998 and woke up today, he or she would have to relearn their job from the ground up. And one of the first things they would need to grasp would be the extreme volumes and bone-shaking velocity that define today’s financial markets.

Trading stocks (equities), bonds (fixed income) and foreign currencies (FX) has become a new lightning-speed world, one that gets a bit faster every day. Every month it seems there are fewer traders in exciting blazers waving their hands around on the floor of the stock exchange (much to the dismay of financial television presenters), while at the same time the total number of quotes sent electronically per second grows by leaps and bounds. There are far more transactions, and sometimes less profits: the introduction of decimalization - stocks being priced in cents, rather than 1/4, 1/8 or 1/16 parts of a dollar - is one factor that has led to a decrease in the margins for many brokers.

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