Chris Jenkins, managing director for Asia-Pacific at Tora Trading Services, has been elected as co-chair of an Asia-Pacific regional committee for Fix, the protocol or 'language' that is standard within the electronic trading world.

There's little controversy around Fix as the underlying protocol for trade and pre-trade messages. What makes the role interesting is that promoting Fix is really about promoting electronic trading.

This is particularly important with regard to the region's stock exchanges, many of which have yet to adopt standards for cross-border electronic trading, including Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing.

Such standards allow direct market access (DMA), as well as the use by investors of dark pools, crossing networks and algorithms. Traders don't deal with or care about Fix, but Fix is the language that informs the electronic trading industry, a community of investment managers, broker/dealers, exchanges and electronic communication networks.

"The battle is not about Fix, but about getting people to trade electronically," Jenkins says.

Automation enhances speed, reduces commission costs, eliminates the errors of manual processing, and gives buy-side traders more flexibility and avenues to find liquidity. But some investors, notably domestic institutions, as well as many of the region's exchanges haven't adopted such measures, because of start-up system costs or simply inertia. The past two years has seen a surge towards electronic trading in Asia but volumes have plummeted in 2009. (See the March edition of AsianInvestor for an in-depth look at trading trends.)

Jenkins joins George Molina, senior vice-president and director of Asia trading at Franklin Templeton, as co-head of the regional Fix steering group. He replaces John Fildes, regional CEO at Instinet, who is now co-chair of the global steering committee for Fix.

Jenkins has been at Tora for over two years, prior to which he worked at Swift in Hong Kong; at Macgregor, a US-based order-management system vendor, in London; and at Axa Investment Managers in London.