Citi has introduced automated trading access and algorithms for Malaysia, which it says allows global investors to place electronic orders to Bursa Malaysia.

The service is not, strictly speaking, direct market access (DMA) because Citi does not have a seat on the stock exchange. But it routes orders through local brokerage AM Securities. "The look and feel is pretty much like DMA," says Grace Lin, head of electronic execution at Citi in Hong Kong, although she adds the service is simply termed automated trading. Citi does have a banking branch network in Malaysia.

Citi is not the only global broker to provide DMA-like services to investors in Malaysia without a seat on the local exchange; UBS does too. The other global player with Malaysia trading access is Credit Suisse, which has a seat on Bursa Malaysia.

Lin says the service was rolled out to meet client requests for Malaysia trading algorithms. This demand reflects in part efforts at Bursa Malaysia to upgrade its IT platform and put the exchange at the forefront of trading in Asia. It is keen to see more brokers and investors bring liquidity to the domestic market.

Citi is introducing the same suite of algos that it has long provided in markets such as Singapore. Lin says some of these are designed to perform in less liquid environments and expects all of these strategies will become available for Malaysia. Citi also provides electronic execution in Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, India and Australia.