Neo & Partners Global offers entrepreneurial traders a space to grow

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SINGAPORE: At first glance, the reception area of Neo & Partners Global’s (NPG) office at One Raffles Place looks no different from that of other offices in the building. But step through a door behind the reception and you will find co- working spaces and individual rooms fitted out with Bloomberg terminals and numerous computer screens.

Eric Neo, founder and CEO of NPG, tells Enterprise that the company’s facility is designed as a high-tech office for traders. The 6,000 sq ft office accommodates nine trading institutions with its 52 trading desks. “NPG was started to encourage collaboration and knowledge exchange among traders and enter prises,” he says.

Launched in January 2014, NPG was started with a paid-up capital of $2.5 million, comprising Neo’s own savings, as well as investment from his family. “We are a serious player in the industry, so we invested a lot in the techno logical infrastructure,” he says. According to him, premium servers and ultra-low latency network systems are keys to establishing a trading atrium such as NPG’s.

This infrastructure enables NPG to offer services from data connection to trading platforms. “It is a plugand- play system that is both multiasset and broker-neutral. This means traders can offer their clients a choice of [the] asset class they wish to trade in,” he adds.

To be sure, there are a number of similar outfits in Singapore. However, Neo points out these are limited as they do not allow buy-side traders to use the broking services of third parties. At the same time, trading is moving across all asset classes in Singapore. “Commodity trading firms never thought of hedging their FX (foreign exchange) exposure. Now, there’s a trend where commodity trading firms and equity firms are moving to multi-asset class trading,” he says.

Prior to starting the business, Neo was senior vice-president of commodities, deriva tives and securities at FlexTrade Systems. During his tenure, he entered China’s derivatives market with a futures trading system deployed at Haitong Future Co.

He started the Trading Atrium after identifying a niche in algorithm trading. “Local trading is a comfort zone. What we are looking to do at NPG is empower traders who have the entrepreneurial spirit to trade in other asset classes and markets,” he observes. The company is targeting high-growth, private international financial firms and trading professionals as they step up their participation in the local securities and derivatives markets.

The platform currently covers all aspects of the trading ecosystem and asset classes such as equities, futures, foreign currencies and options. “What is unique about our facility is that we provide asset managers and traders with rapid or ultra-low latency access to the Singapore Exchange and other major global exchanges through customised automated trading applications,” he says.

Meanwhile, Neo is also trying to foster a community of traders with the Trading Atrium. “Our facility is designed such that there will be mutual exchange of insights and know ledge among the traders. The sum of its parts is greater than the whole and we have an environment that is conducive to collaboration and to creating opportunities among clients and partners,” he notes. For traders who want privacy though, NPG also leases out rooms and provides lockers.

He highlights that the Trading Atrium is an alternative to assembling a trading office from scratch and savings are gained from companies sharing connections to major exchanges. These connections make up a significant portion of the costs involved, he says. He estimates that the price of a fully equipped trading desk with a single-data connection is around $3,000.

In June, NPG announced that it is preparing for full support to low latency direct market access, including exchange co-location to The Stock Exchange of Thailand and the Thailand Futures Exchange from Singapore. It is collabo rating with Thailand’s Country Group Securities to introduce this trading offering.

“NPG was set up to complement the work of the buy- and sell-side exchanges and to grow with them in a win-win manner. Ultimately, our combined efforts should strengthen Singapore’s position as a premier international trading hub,” says Neo.

This article appeared in the Enterprise of Issue 687 (July 27) of The Edge Singapore.