The most brutal rivals on Wall Street are putting their swords down for a good cause

The rivalries between the biggest US stock exchanges make the Coke-Pepsi divide look trivial. 

On social media and in public filings with regulators, these companies brutally attack their rivals and their business models. This reporter has witnessed first hand the degree to which folks at the four main US exchanges will go to throw serious shade at one another. 

But this weekend Nasdaq, the NYSE, IEX, CBOE and its subsidiary Bats will put aside their differences for a good cause: autism research. On Saturday, the exchanges are sending teams to participate in the third annual Wall Street Rides FAR, a biking charity race that raises money for the Autism Science Foundation. 

Autism affects 1 in every 68 children, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We go after each other because market structure matters and we all want the best model to win, but some causes are big enough for us to put aside our differences,” said Bryan Harkins, head of US Equities and Global FX at CBOE, the Chicago-based exchange group. He started the charity event with his wife three years ago. 

The ride, which takes place in Westchester County, NY offers “a choice of three distances and challenge levels, from a 4-mile family ride to a 62-mile, hilly metric century, you’ll be supported…by our volunteer crew.”

And the exchanges are all very excited about it. (=In the spirit of their coming together, we’ll give them all a say here: 

“It’s great to participate in an event that brings together the trading community in support of such a worthy cause,” said Ivan Brown, head of options at the NYSE.

Here’s Nasdaq’s Tal Cohen, SVP and head of Nasdaq’s equities markets:

 “We have seven staffers participating and it’s important we stay involved with FAR in the future, to help build on the great work Bryan started and continues to manage.”

 “In this industry, we compete intensely every day, but it’s great to see everyone putting those competitive differences aside for such a great cause,” said Rob Salman, an IEX employee. 

Not always so nice

That’s all a much different tone than what underpins their usual conversations about each other. 

Recently Nasdaq and NYSE got into a spat over how much business they were winning from each other for the world to see on Twitter. Take a look:

Here’s IEX president Brad Katsuyama criticising a new market for small-cap companies by the New York Stock Exchange:

“NYSE American is nothing like IEX — paying an unprecedented rebate doubles down on their hypocrisy, and is a desperate distraction to protect how they really make money: selling speed advantages on their two main exchanges.”

CBOE President responded harshly to Katsuyama’s desire to ban rebates, which basically are incentives for market makers, saying “this notion of banning rebates — it lacks understanding of how our market works.

The niceties will be fun while they last. 

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