I have some very basic questions. I trade futures and options on futures on CME and have been using IB as my broker. I have had a decent performance for a while (Sharpe of 2.8 etc.), but transaction costs is a critical element of my strategy, and reducing that can help my realized performance more. I have been happy with IB, but exploring ideas to see how to reduce my transactions further. My focus in on commodities. I have a few hypothetical questions. Right now I am trading 1k-5k contracts per month, but suppose my volumes increase to 10k-20k per month. I have been thinking ... (1) One option is to get a CME IOM membership to reduce my exchange fees and continue using IB (reduce the exchange fees). Happy and familiar with IB (2) Second option is to get a CME IOM membership, but execute directly on CME Direct, and then use a clearing broker (FCM) to clear the trade (and thus reduce both the execution and exchange fees, and only pay clearing costs to a broker). I know that in the institutional world many FCMs like Newedge, BAML support clearing-only services ("clearing broker"), where one can execute elsewhere with an "execution broker" and then "give up" to Newedge and BAML etc. I usually prefer code my own algo in Python and execute on IB using Python's IbPy toolbox (based on IB Gateway). Thus my EMS is my own codes in Python. This may be a silly basic questions: (i) if I take an exchange membership like CME IOM, and trade on CME Direct, then is that the same as I becoming my own "execution broker" ? (ii) When I read about other traders using CQG QTrader or TT or Fidessa etc., in combination with say ADM, or AMP, or other FCMs, in such cases is CQG or TT or Fidessa essentially providing the "execution" services, while ADM, or AMP, or FCStone, or other FCMs' fees are charging for the "clearing" services?