Every day, about 10% of all orders sent to the U.S. stock market first pass through black boxes created by a 50-person technology company, Hyannis Port Research Inc. in Needham, Mass.
HPR, whose boxes do risk checks on the trade orders, is little known outside Wall Street technology departments. But it is at the center of a high-stakes contest among big banks to keep their trading arms relevant and profitable.
Wall Street stock trading has faced pressure from all sides in recent years. Clients are paying smaller fees to trade, driven by increased automation and a broad shift toward passive investing strategies that require fewer high-margin services such as research, which used to juice banks’ trading returns.
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