FAQ

General
Risk Analysis Solutions
Volatility Analysis Solutions
Infrastructure/API Solutions
Background

General

How do you charge for the system?
We charge a fixed monthly rate for the service. The amount varies by the components of the system included in your package, type of deployment, and number of users.

Risk Analysis Solutions

What kind of pricing model do you use to calculate options greeks and implied volatilities?
We use a binomial model with discrete dividends.

Can I risk manage multiple accounts, portfolios, and strategies?
Yes. We offer multiple aggregation methods to give you flexibility, including tagging positions with custom strategies, sectors, account mappings, etc.

Do you have historical data for options vols and greeks in my porfolio? Can I use this to track my trading and performance over time?
Yes. We save the entire contents of your portfolio into a client specific archive that contains risk, pnl attribution and everything that is available in the system. We also capture the implied vols and greeks for all options trades done for edge management and historical analysis. We have tools in the front end that make this simple to do. The data can be exported to Excel for custom studies.

Can you do scenario analysis of my portfolio?
Yes. We support shocking underlyer prices, vols and time. We handle exercise and assignments across expirations correctly, and do time weighted slides that are fully vol surface aware. Our slides support Betas, correctly handle definitional negative Beta names such as reverse ETFs and VIX, and also allow slides to be done using Standard Deviations (SDs) that are calculated using Implied Volatility per name.

Can you tell me in real-time if i exceed my risk limits or my haircut exceeds a threshold?
Yes. You can configure screens and alerts for this in the system.

Can you calculate my risk using my own dividends, betas, vols, etc?
Yes. You can provide your own overrides to these parameters or use the system defaults which are maintained by FT.

Is my position confidential?
Absolutely. All customer risk data is segregated onto custom, dedicated server instances per client.

Volatility Analysis Solutions

How can I model additional non-earnings catalysts?
Our Earnings Calculator is designed for this. You can have a custom one day move for as many additional catalysts as you like— e.g. macro events, same store sales, etc.

Can I use the VolScan to search the entire optionable universe in real time? What is the scanner?
Yes. You can scan the entire market of more than 550k listed options in real time, and can have multiple simultaneous scans targeting your own custom strategies. The Vol Scan allows you to define a custom universe of names, target your own custom volatility surfaces, and then filter and rank the entire optionable universe in real-time for the best trade ideas based on your inputs and assumptions.

I have my own volatility model. Can that be imported into the system for usage for screening, scanning and risk?
Yes. You can import an unlimited amount of custom volatility models, and many models can be built entirely using our tools with no programming or external resources.

What tools do you have for me to build my volatility surfaces for scanning and screening?
You can construct your volatility surfaces in Excel using our Excel data integration tools and directly import into the system. Or, you can use our surface visualizing and editing tools to construct your surfaces. Volatility surfaces can be loaded in bulk or tweaked on a case by case basis.

How comprehensive is your Volatility Analytics data? How can I access it?
We have historical implied and realized volatility data going back to 1998, and six years worth of intraday summarized surface data. We also have historical earnings dates that are correctly matched to the trading day of the announcements. Our system is able to combine the realtime implied and realized volatilities with the deep history to build hundreds of value-added metrics that are accessible in our desktop applications, directly in Excel, or via direct programmatic access.

Can I rank or Z-Score a list of stocks based on their historical relationship relative to a benchmark such as an index or ETF?
Yes. We allow ranking and Z Scoring a user defined basket of names relative to any index or ETF. This can be be done against the time series of many metrics such as implied atm volatility, skew, kurtosis, realized volatility and many others.

Can I see trading activity in real time for the names I am interested in so I can see unusual volume, react to volatility changes quickly, etc?
Yes. We have several very powerful tools for monitoring volume and trade activity in the market. Some aggregate and show high level activity such as “this stock or group of stocks has traded outsized volume in front month with a large (or small) implied vol change”. Others assess same strike vol changes across a large list of names that all meet your filtering criteria, or show every single print in the market with its corresponding implied vol, vol change on the day and relative volume traded. All of these tools can also compare traded implied volatility to your custom vol surfaces so you can see the edge per line or per trade.

Can I see the fit volatility surface of a stock along with my custom volatility surface?
Yes. Our skew editor will display a smoothed, parameterized implied fit volatility surface along with your bid/ask/mid custom volatility surface. Tools for fitting to the market, copying market shape with your own ATM levels and others give your workflow the efficiency of bulk automated operations. They also offer fine grained control combined with visualization for instances in which you need to micromanage a surface.

Can I establish my own volatility surfaces and look for ideas using them?
You can have an unlimited amount of custom volatility surfaces and drive an unlimited amount of strategies, scans, filtered and ranked reports, etc. You can also use your custom volatility surfaces to manage the edge of the positions in your portfolio.

Can I easily segregate a list of symbols for quick identification in the tools?
Yes. You can establish an unlimited number of watchlists of stocks in the system. You can then assign these watchlists to the tools for filtering, or you can color code symbols so you can quickly pick them out.

Infrastructure/API Solutions

Which clearing firms / prime brokers do you support?
We have existing relationships with most major clearing firms and prime brokers. We will support any clearing firm, prime broker, OMS or proprietary inventory management system.

Which execution providers do you support?
We currently have direct front-end linkage to WEX and ITG for rapid click-trading, but can receive FIX drops of trades from all execution providers. We can integrate with any other EMS that has a front-end API and are happy to do so based on our customers’ needs.

Can you handle multiple clearing firms / prime brokers/ execution brokers?
Yes. We can handle any deployment scenario. We have several clients running with multi-prime and multi-FIX drop sessions. We do all of the work necessary to set up this deployment.

Can I use FT systems if I have no IT or development resources?
Yes. Many of our clients are traders and portfolio managers that interface directly with FT and have limited or no IT resources. Of course, we are always happy to work with the IT teams of clients that have them.

I have a development team. Can my team access FT’s data and leverage the API for custom functionality or integration? Can the GUI be customized as well?
Yes. There are numerous mechanisms available for accessing the data in the system and customizing the GUI. We’re always happy to discuss this aspect of the system with clients to meet their needs.

I love Excel. What type of Excel support is available in the system?
You can load many of our data items directly into Excel using our data integration plugin. We also have a very robust Excel-based volatility modeling solution that allows you to build models accessing historical and realtime analytics.

Background

How long has FT been building the system? Why haven’t I heard of you?
We have been building the system since 2003 and it has been built as a commercial product since day one. Until recently, we’ve been promoting the product primarily by word of mouth while continuing to expand the feature set. Now that our system is feature complete and we have enough critical mass, we are focusing on marketing.

What securities does FT cover?
We have full coverage of all US listed equity and ETF options, listed and non-listed warrants, index options, futures and futures options. We will be adding support for international securities in the coming months.

What if I’m interested in something not presently covered?
Let us know and we can likely find a solution. We set our priorities based on customer needs, and are happy to change timelines to suit your business requirements.

I am only following about 100 stocks. Can FT help me? I am a very proactive (or reactive) trader. Is this system more of a market making system?
Our system has been designed for a variety of trading styles and strategies. Whether you’re interested in 50 underlyers, or the entire optionable universe, or anything in between, there is value in the system. The same holds true for proactive versus reactive trading styles. We can handle both and any combination thereof.

How large is the team that builds and maintains the systems?
We have 10 support and development members plus separate teams managing infrastructure 24/7. Each of our team members has at least 10 years of experience in trading and technology.

Do you do any off-shore development?
No. All of our development is done in the U.S.

What technology is FT built upon?
Our low latency data is running on hardware accelerated Linux based systems. Our application layer is implemented using Windows, C# and SQL Server.

Do any of the principals at FT still trade? Is any part of the firm owned by traders?
No, we do not trade, not even PA. We are too busy servicing our clients and evolving the platform. The firm is entirely owned by its two founding partners,  Michael Izhaky and David Wimsatt.

Is FT a registered broker dealer?
Not at this time.

Have you been approved to be paid as a research product?
Yes, we have. If this is preferred, we can work with you on this.

Do you have documentation and do you offer training on the system?
Yes. There is full documentation for the system. We also have live training for new clients as well as ongoing training and support for existing clients. We really want our clients to get the most out of the system by tailoring it to their workflow and trading styles. We make training and application support a high priority.

How long does it take to get up and running on the system?
Getting the system activated can be done in less than an hour. Connectivity to clearing firm and execution providers can take a few days depending on the circumstances. This is entirely determined by the speed of your clearing firm or executing brokers. Many users start with the volatility analytics and a static snapshot of their positions, which can be set up immediately, so they can use the system while waiting for the trade and position feeds to be finalized.

What if options aren’t our primary focus, but we do want to leverage the system?
We believe there is still a lot of value here in such situations. We have advisory partners that can leverage the system for you and present the information exactly how you want to see it. See the Solutions section of this website for more information.

Do I need special hardware or network connections?
Typically you don’t need anything special. You will want to allocate a bit of screen real estate to the system since we have so many different screens and tools to leverage. Some client deployments utilize a dedicated network connection, but this totally depends on the circumstances and client requirements.

Is there any risk of others knowing what I am doing?
No. Each client is only given access to their own information. We do not aggregate client specific information on the server side either. Visibility of your client data can be selectively controlled per user even within the same customer firm.

Can I access the system from anywhere, even at home or when I am traveling?
Yes. You can connect to our system in many ways, including using smart phones and tablets.