Technology has fueled the growth of global trading over the past decade, fostering dreams of a single universal marketplace. Yet, investors who have diversified their portfolios across borders and product lines might not always know how their orders are handled on a multiplicity of exchanges and market centers around the globe.

Rules and trading technologies differ significantly not only from one country to the other, but often from one exchange to the other. Rules change frequently too, as exchanges continue to evolve from members-owned monopoly utilities into competitive execution businesses.

Bulbrokers, which provides direct access to over 90 exchanges and market centers around the world, has incorporated these various exchange rules in its SMART-routing technology to ensure that customers obtain true best execution, no matter what product they trade or where they trade it.

The business of the exchanges is in flux, due to heightened competition and the consolidation trend inherent to a utility-type sector. A number of exchanges have already demutualized and turned themselves into for-profit corporations, some of which are publicly traded. Other markets are merging to better compete in a low-margin business where innovations require substantial investments.

U.S. exchanges face important regulatory challenges as well, with the Securities and Exchange Commission mulling crucial reforms to modernize U.S. capital markets in the 21st century.

The proposed Regulation NMS would acknowledge the advance of electronic trading and likely force the remaining floor-based securities exchanges to alter their model in order to remain competitive. In anticipation of the changes, the New York Stock Exchange has already submitted a proposal for a new hybrid model.

An even bigger challenge may come from the SEC concept release on self-regulatory organizations. It questions the “advisability of implementing enhancements to the current SRO system or pursuing an alternative regulatory model,” which could lead to a single independent regulator with no business ties to the exchanges. Without a regulatory franchise, exchanges would be businesses fighting for customers.

Bulbrokers has followed how trading began and is still evolving on the major venues that its Universal platform accesses via broadband to trade equities, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), options, futures, foreign exchange and bonds. With Universal, Bulbrokers provides a gateway to global markets and multiple products from a single account in a single currency.