Discussion in 'Trading Software' started by sabotage, Nov 23, 2005.
Has anyone used Aqtor for futures or options quoting? If yes, what are your impressions about it?
Great stuff for equity options, does not really work for futures and futures options.
Sorry this is so long, but:
Iâve spent quite a bit of time with this product, though not as a trader. I have worked for two firms as a techie and have supported Aqtor directly and with considerable assistance from Actantâs support staff. Despite this experience, I must qualify the following by saying that Iâm certainly not the most knowledgeable person with regard to Aqtor. Also, things change, and rather rapidly: what I say here may no longer apply. Itâs been about 3 weeks since I was working with it.
Aqtor from Actant is probably the best OTF (off-the-shelf) options quoting platform for single user/workstation, independent or at least autonomous traders (this might not be the best thing for a highly centralized trading operation). The app runs on a single piece of hardware, itâs fairly efficient, it has a well-designed interface, it runs reasonably well over Citrix (i.e. itâs easy to distribute) and itâs the only quoting application, with the exception of ORC Liquidator (which as itâs own issues apparently), with a legitimate, robust scripting/programmatic automation facility.
There are some caveats here, however. Aqtor runs on a single workstation. Iâve worked with other systems that are highly distributed and therefore have more inherent flexibility (and complexity) in their design. For instance, at the CBOE, a single instance of Aqtor can make one connection to Hybrid via the exchangeâs proprietary CMI interface (CBOE Member InterfaceâCORBA, robust and verbose, though at times this latter quality can be problematic). This means there is a 1-to-1 association between Aqtors and badges: one Aqtor can log in with one badge and a badge can log in from only one Aqtor (the latter restriction per the exchangeâs interface requirement). Other apps may be architected (ORC?) in such a way that this is not a limitation (i.e you can have quotes coming from more than one instance of quoting software and more than one physical person/trader going out the door to the CBOE on one badge). I donât know if this is a limitation at other exchanges (Itâs not at the PCX, the ISE allows multiple instance logins).
Depending on implementation, Aqtor has an upper limit to the number of âaverageâ (whatever that means) stocks it can run. With the hardware the CBOE provides (dual 3 GHz Xeon, 1-2 GB of RAM), this means somewhere in the neighborhood of 35-45 stocks. The actual number depends on a lot of factors, a discussion of which is beyond this post. One single stock like GOOG can kill the app even if you are only running a reasonable number of symbols already, but Actant has made some upgrades (versions 3.57.1832.64 and above, I believe) that address these problems (screen/GUI refresh on data updates, primarily). With this limitation and the above, there is an upper limit to the number of stocks that you can trade on the CBOE at a time using Aqtor with a given badge. If you want to trade more than that, you need another seat and account (as an RMM, or eDPM, etc.) I know guys that are trading more than 70 stocks on the CBOE with multiple badges. There are guys on the PCX trading several times that with several Aqtors (PCX will let you log into the exchange system with more than one instance.)
Part of this upper limit issue, and performance issues with Aqtor, are the result of using the Aqtor Portfolio Server (an unfortunately troubled application that is the cause of most of the day-to-day problems with Aqtor). Basically, this app manages positions and sends them to Aqtor. Though this sounds relatively simple, for the purpose of P&L calculations, every individual trade record is maintained for the life of a given portfolio. This, and the fact that the app uses a much less than ideal RDBMS for this kind of circumstance (SQL Anywhere), causes Aqtor to slow down considerably. Running Aqtor without the Portfolio Server improves performance and enables you to trade more symbols. It also makes Aqtor somewhat more reliable.
Aqtorâs interface is pretty slick; a lot of traders like it, as do I. Itâs highly customizable and very information dense. Despite this, itâs also very demanding of desktop real estate and itâs very right-click intensive (a lot of context menus). Thereâs also a fairly steep learning curve with it and some of the application behavior may not be fully documented and may not be intuitive (Iâm thinking of the facilities used to roll the date ahead and to calculate decay according to a customized schedule here). All of these limitations can be overcome, however. It just takes time, trial and error.
Dantes indicated that it does not work for futures and futures options. This was more true previously than it is now, but heâs correct in saying that there were issues here. I recall that there were some futures pricing anomalies due to a theoretically incorrect consideration of interest rates and dividends/distributions; Iâve also heard users note that Aqtor can produce erroneous R/C values particularly for high delta options. This may have been inaccurate information or these issues may have been resolved. I havenât heard of any problems like these in the last year and a half. At the very least, it is possible to compensate for them in practice: nearly all of the traders I worked with preferred using Aqtor for pricing and risk over other alternatives. Aqtor has made it possible to price using a future as the underlying. There currently are traders in the DIA and DJX pit using Aqtor; some guys in the MNX are using it as well. There are a number of firms using it to quote One Chicago. I believe there are guys using it at the CBOT and the Merc. I'm not certain what products you can trade with Aqtor there.
If you have questions or are interested in a demo, Iâd suggest calling their Chicago helpdesk #: 312.577.0300 and ask. Niall Blehein or Tim OâMeara should be able to help. These two guys and Mike Walsh are very good starting points. Bear in mind that, though these guys do everything they can to service clients, they are unfortunately overworked.
Iâd be curious as to what youâd want to do with it. I suspect that its appropriateness would be highly dependent on the intended purpose. If you are primarily looking to take as opposed to make markets, you might be better served (or accommodated just as well) with an alternative like MicroHedge with a suitable plug-in such as ScriptedEdge.
We have a custom here with regard to spam. Its sort of like winning a lottery. What we do is we find out where you live and then send a couple of "associates" over to your home. They have a short "conversation" with you, and then if it is appropriate, they take you for an even shorter ride out in the country where you are awarded your "prize". Do you enjoy nature? I hope so.
What I suggest, is that you stay right where you are. We should have your computer location nailed down by now, and of course you will want to be there to collect your prize. If you have a camera, by all means make sure it has film. Your folks will certainly want to have a photo of the "awards ceremony" for their family album.
By the way, thanks so much for the detailed information about your wonderful product. We just can't get enough of that kind of thing here at ET. Personally, I find it impossible to resist that kind of clever sales pitch and on Monday I will be among the first to ask where I can sign up.
Wonderful to make your "acq-aintance".
By the way "Davey", we are so impressed with the comments of your friends (Sabotage and Dantes) that we are going to "arrange" for them to receive prizes as well. After all, how could you provide your information without their help. Good work guys, we have special prizes for you as well. Dress warm everyone.
Which markets will you quote? if for instance ISE then you have their in-house product "Torque" which is extremely fast. (note: this is a stand alone product.
Daveyk, thanks for you exhaustive feedback. So it seems that the system is quite popular. Good to know good to know. Thanks for pointing to some of its flaws. I have to give it a thought. And Deltadelta - I have to look into that Torque tool. Is it some sort of add-in? Cuz I heard lately that speed with new versions is under par
No, Torque is a stand-alone product and it is actually made by the Swedish Orc Software on behalf of ISE. (my info is approx. 1 year old, maybe ISE has bought this.)
With regards to calculation speed - ie. getting a lot of correct calculated quotes to the market fast I do not think there is anything faster.
Many of the autoquoters experience problems if you calculate with dividends, but Torque handles this quite well.
I know it is difficult to test this under market conditions, so I suggest you try to negotiate a short leasing period if you can especially if you are a PMM at ISE.
Great scripting capabilities. Better then any other I've seen.
I find it to be a complete piece of crap.
I don't know one professional who likes it.
Support sucks, the program is buggy and slow, and it is expensive to boot.
Steve & Jlm
Which of the products are you talking about, Actant or Torque ?
Separate names with a comma.