Zero-fee trading helps Citadel Securities cash in on retail boom

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www.ft.com/content/4a439398-88ab-442a-9927-e743a3ff609b

Citadel Securities and its majority owner Ken Griffin are among the big winners from a boom in retail investing, cashing in on the zero-fee trading that has lured huge numbers of first-time investors to the US stock market.

Chicago-based Citadel Securities accounts for 40 of every 100 shares traded by individual investors in the US, making it the number one retail market maker, according to Piper Sandler. The company is a big buyer of customer trades from the leading US retail brokerages such as Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade, which have slashed commissions to zero to keep up with fast-growing challengers such as Robinhood.

Citadel Securities pays tens of millions of dollars for this order flow but makes money by automatically taking the other side of the order, then returning to the market to flip the trade. It pockets the difference between the price to buy and sell, known as the spread.

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