Optimizing Trading Outcomes: The Imperative for Internal SOR and L2 Data Integration

Optimizing Trading Outcomes: The Imperative for Internal SOR and L2 Data Integration

In the sophisticated, rapid-paced world of financial trading, strategic advantage is closely linked to the ability to make well-informed, timely decisions. One critical component in achieving optimal trading outcomes is the deployment of an internal Smart Order Router (SOR) supplemented with Level 2 (L2) market data. This combination proves to be a formidable force against the limitations posed by Level 1 (L1) based order routing systems. Let’s delve into the pivotal role of an internal SOR and the significance of incorporating L2 data.

The Importance of Internal Smart Order Routing (SOR)

An internal SOR plays a quintessential role in a professional trading platform, primarily focusing on achieving the best possible order execution by intelligently routing orders to optimal venues based on real-time market conditions. Below are the essential advantages:

1. Optimal Execution:

Internal SOR can analyze and leverage multiple trading venues and liquidity pools, ensuring orders are executed at the most favorable prices, minimizing market impact, and slippage.

2. Cost Efficiency:

By accessing the best available prices across multiple venues, internal SORs significantly reduce overall transaction costs, allowing platforms to benefit from price discrepancies through arbitrage.

3. Enhanced Liquidity Access:

Internal SORs can aggregate liquidity from different sources, increasing order fulfillment chances and providing access to hidden liquidity, which potentially leads to better execution prices.

4. Customization and Flexibility:

An internal SOR offers customization to align with a platform’s trading strategies and goals and allows for quicker adaptations to changes in market conditions or trading requirements.

The Limitations of L1-based SOR

L1-based order routing systems operate with access to only the best bid and offer prices along with the last traded price and volume, which poses several limitations:

1. Limited Market Depth Insight:

L1 data does not provide insight into the entire order book or market depth, potentially impacting execution quality and trading performance due to suboptimal order routing decisions.

2. Inability to Assess Market Liquidity:

Without information on orders at different price levels, traders might face higher slippage, especially for large orders, due to the inability to gauge available liquidity beyond the top of the book.

3. Reduced Precision in Execution Strategy:

The limited view of L1 data hinders the implementation of more sophisticated and adaptive routing algorithms, reducing the ability to minimize market impact and achieve better execution prices.

Why L2-based SOR is Crucial

L2 market data provides a more comprehensive view of market depth and liquidity, showcasing both buy and sell orders in the market. The integration of L2 data in SORs offers several compelling advantages:

1. Improved Execution:

Access to L2 market data enables SORs to better understand market liquidity and execute orders at more favorable prices, enhancing the overall execution quality.

2. Enhanced Decision Making:

L2 data allows the SOR to analyze market depth and liquidity at different price levels, facilitating more accurate and efficient decision-making processes for order placement in fast-moving or thin markets.

3. Optimal Venue Selection:

With L2 market data, the SOR can evaluate the availability of liquidity and the depth of the order book across various trading venues, allowing it to route orders to the most optimal venue based on the prevailing market conditions.

4. Market Impact Analysis:

The SOR can analyze the depth of the order book to assess the potential market impact of placing large orders, allowing for the implementation of optimal execution strategies such as order slicing and dark pool routing.


The incorporation of an internal SOR, especially one based on L2 market data, is a decisive step towards optimizing trading outcomes. While it can be complex and resource-intensive to develop, the benefits in terms of enhanced execution quality, reduced costs, increased liquidity access, and improved risk management make it a worthwhile investment for professional and institutional trading platforms seeking to maintain a competitive edge in today’s dynamic trading environment.

A Comparative Study of Trading Platforms & Their Features:

As we highlight the importance of internal SOR and L2 market data, it’s pivotal to examine how various trading platforms, both professional and semi-professional, stack against each other based on these parameters:

Professional Trading Platforms:

1. Takion:

  • Internal SOR: Known for advanced internal SOR capabilities designed for professional traders, facilitating optimal execution across numerous venues.
  • L2 Market Data: Offers comprehensive L2 market data to assist professional traders in making informed trading decisions based on market depth and liquidity.

2. Lightspeed Trading:

  • Internal SOR: Likely to have internal SOR to provide best execution across various liquidity sources.
  • L2 Market Data: Provides detailed L2 market data, allowing traders to analyze market depth and liquidity for effective order execution.

3. Sterling Trader Pro:

  • Internal SOR: Offers sophisticated SOR capabilities for professional traders to secure optimal execution.
  • L2 Market Data: Provides extensive L2 market data to facilitate informed decision-making and market analysis.

4. Laser Trading:

  • Internal SOR: Known for advanced SOR features ensuring optimal order execution across multiple venues.
  • L2 Market Data: Offers L2 market data to provide in-depth market insights and aid in detailed market analysis.

5. Fusion DMA:

  • Internal SOR: Equipped with robust internal SOR capabilities to provide optimal execution for professional traders across multiple liquidity sources.
  • L2 Market Data: Provides comprehensive L2 market data for enhanced market insight and informed trading decisions.

6. DAS Trader Pro:

  • Internal SOR: Provides advanced SOR features for best execution across various liquidity venues.
  • L2 Market Data: Offers extensive L2 market data for a comprehensive view of market depth and liquidity.

Semi-Professional Trading Platforms:

7. Interactive Brokers’ Trader Workstation (TWS):

  • Internal SOR: Offers robust SOR for optimal order execution across multiple liquidity venues.
  • L2 Market Data: Offers subscriptions to L2 market data for insights into market depth.

8. Thinkorswim by TD Ameritrade:

  • Internal SOR: Optimized SOR capabilities for retail traders.
  • L2 Market Data: Provides L2 market data to offer insights into market depth and order flow.

9. E*TRADE Pro:

  • Internal SOR: Equipped with functionalities for effective order routing and execution.
  • L2 Market Data: L2 market data is available for analyzing market liquidity and depth.

Deep Dive Conclusion:

Each platform caters to unique trader needs, and the distinction in features becomes particularly essential in a competitive trading environment. The provision of a well-optimized internal SOR and in-depth L2 market data can play a decisive role in trading outcomes. As such, traders, brokerage firms, and institutions must carefully evaluate platform offerings in the context of their trading strategies and operational goals.

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At itAdviser, we aim to deliver insightful, up-to-date information and advice on the latest advancements and best practices in the IT and financial trading sector. Stay tuned for more articles on cutting-edge technologies and strategies in the trading domain.

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