WatersTechnology: Murky Road Ahead for Consolidated Tape Plan Administrator in the US

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The role of administrator of the CT Plan—the blueprint for governance of the new market data system for US equities—could improve market data pricing and accessibility for consumers by easing burdensome licensing, billing and audit functions, vendors say. However, details of many crucial considerations for the role—what its duties will be, how exactly the system it will help to govern looks—are still murky, and will only become clear as implementation of the plan and its associated infrastructure rule is rolled out. Obscuring the path ahead even more is ongoing litigation brought by the large exchanges.

“Regardless of how things shake out, you will need an administrator that can handle complexity,” says Manisha Kimmel, chief policy officer at data infrastructure provider MayStreet. Prior to joining the company this past February, she was senior policy advisor for regulatory reporting at the US Securities and Exchange Commission from the start of 2019 through 2020.

In early 2020, the SEC put out two separate but related documents in an effort to modernize the public feeds of National Market System information. The SEC has long believed that the current NMS data processors—the two Securities Information Processors (Sips) that operate under three plans (UTP, CQ and CTA) and send out bid/ask quotes consolidated from trading venues to consumers—are old-fashioned. The idea of modernizing these feeds gained ground during the term of former chairman Jay Clayton and former director of the division of trading and markets Brett Redfearn, and an SEC document from 2020—the infrastructure rule—put forward a new system of rival Sips called “competing consolidators”, which will be run as private businesses in parallel with the current Sips.

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