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UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

Form 10-K

(Mark One)

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2023

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the transition period from to

Commission File Number 001-34091

MARKETAXESS HOLDINGS INC.

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

Delaware

52-2230784

(State of incorporation)

(IRS Employer Identification No.)

 

 

55 Hudson Yards, New York, New York

10001

(Address of principal executive offices)

(Zip Code)

(212) 813-6000

(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)

SECURITIES REGISTERED PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(b) OF THE ACT:

Title of each class

 

Trading

Symbol

 

Name of each exchange on which registered

Common Stock, $0.003 par value

 

MKTX

 

NASDAQ Global Select Market

SECURITIES REGISTERED PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(g) OF THE ACT:

None

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes ☑ No ☐

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Act. Yes ☐ No

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes ☑ No ☐

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes ☑ No ☐

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See definition of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

Large accelerated filer

Accelerated filer

Non-accelerated filer

Smaller reporting company

 

 

 

 

Emerging growth company

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ☐

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.

If securities are registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act, indicate by check mark whether the financial statements of the registrant included in the filing reflect the correction of an error to previously issued financial statements.

Indicate by check mark whether any of those error corrections are restatements that required a recovery analysis of incentive-based compensation received by any of the registrant’s executive officers during the relevant recovery period pursuant to §240.10D-1(b). ☐

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes No ☑

The aggregate market value of the shares of common stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant as of June 30, 2023 (the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter) was approximately $7.4 billion computed by reference to the last reported sale price on the NASDAQ Global Select Market on that date. For purposes of this calculation, affiliates are considered to be executive officers, directors and holders of 10% or more of the outstanding common stock of the registrant on that date. The registrant had 37,677,426 shares of common stock, 9,241,225 of which were held by affiliates, outstanding on that date.

As of February 20, 2024, the aggregate number of shares of the registrant’s common stock outstanding was 37,867,743.

 

DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

Portions of the registrant’s definitive proxy statement for the 2024 Annual Meeting of Stockholders are incorporated by reference into Items 10, 11, 12, 13 and 14 of Part III of this Form 10-K.


MARKETAXESS HOLDINGS INC.

2023 FORM 10-K ANNUAL REPORT

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

 

 

 

 

PART I

 

 

Page

Item 1:

 

Business

3

Item 1A:

 

Risk Factors

21

Item 1B:

 

Unresolved Staff Comments

39

Item 1C:

 

Cybersecurity

39

Item 2:

 

Properties

41

Item 3:

 

Legal Proceedings

41

Item 4:

 

Mine Safety Disclosures

41

 

 

 

 

PART II

 

 

 

Item 5:

 

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

42

Item 6:

 

[Reserved]

44

Item 7:

 

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

45

Item 7A:

 

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risk

59

Item 8:

 

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

61

Item 9:

 

Changes in and Disagreements with Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

97

Item 9A:

 

Controls and Procedures

97

Item 9B:

 

Other Information

97

Item 9C:

 

Disclosure Regarding Foreign Jurisdictions that Prevent Inspections

97

 

 

 

 

PART III

 

 

 

Item 10:

 

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

98

Item 11:

 

Executive Compensation

98

Item 12:

 

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

98

Item 13:

 

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions and Director Independence

98

Item 14:

 

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

98

 

 

 

 

PART IV

 

 

 

Item 15:

 

Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedules

99

Item 16:

 

Form 10-K Summary

104

 

2


 

PART I

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements

This report contains certain “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements may be identified by words such as “expects,” “intends,” “anticipates,” “plans,” “believes,” “seeks,” “estimates,” “will,” or words of similar meaning and include, but are not limited to, statements regarding the outlook for our future business and financial performance and our strategy. Forward-looking statements are based on management’s current expectations and assumptions, which are subject to inherent uncertainties, risks and changes in circumstances that are difficult to predict. It is routine for our internal projections and expectations to change as the year or each quarter in the year progresses, and therefore it should be clearly understood that the internal projections and beliefs upon which we base our expectations may change prior to the end of each quarter or the year. Although these expectations may change, we are under no obligation to revise or update any forward-looking statements contained in this report. Actual future events or results may differ, perhaps materially, from those contained in the projections or forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause or contribute to such differences include those discussed below and elsewhere in this report, particularly in Item 1A. “Risk Factors.”

Item 1. Business.

Overview

MarketAxess Holdings Inc. (the “Company” or “MarketAxess”) operates leading electronic trading platforms delivering greater trading efficiency, a diversified pool of liquidity and significant cost savings to our clients across the global fixed-income markets. Over 2,000 institutional investor and broker-dealer firms use our patented trading technology to efficiently trade U.S. high-grade bonds, U.S. high-yield bonds, emerging market debt, Eurobonds, municipal bonds, U.S. government bonds and other fixed-income securities. Our award-winning Open Trading® marketplace is widely regarded as the preferred all-to-all trading solution in the global credit markets, creating a unique liquidity pool for a broad range of credit market participants. We leverage our diverse set of trading protocols, automated and algorithmic trading solutions, intelligent data and index products and a range of post-trade services to provide an end-to-end trading solution to our robust network of platform participants.

We provide automated and algorithmic trading solutions that we believe, when combined with our integrated and actionable data offerings, help our clients make faster, better-informed decisions on when and how to trade on our platforms. In 2023, we introduced MarketAxess X-Pro (“X-Pro”), our newest trading platform, to more seamlessly combine our trading protocols with our proprietary data and pre-trade analytics. We expect that our recent acquisition of Pragma LLC and Pragma Financial Systems LLC (collectively, “Pragma”), a quantitative trading technology provider specializing in algorithmic and analytical trading services, will accelerate our development of artificial intelligence (“AI”) driven execution algorithms across all of our key product areas.

We operate in a large and growing market that provides us with a significant opportunity for future growth, due, in part, to the relatively low levels of electronic trading in many of our largest current product areas. We offer all-to-all trading (“Open Trading”) for most of our products in order to capitalize on this addressable market by increasing the number of potential trading counterparties and providing our clients with a menu of solutions at each step in the trading process. We believe that Open Trading drives meaningful price improvement for our clients and reduces risk in fixed-income markets by creating a global, diversified pool of liquidity whereby our institutional investor, dealer and alternative liquidity provider clients can all interact on an anonymous basis. Institutional investors can also send trading inquiries directly to their traditional broker-dealer counterparties on a disclosed basis (“disclosed RFQ”), while simultaneously accessing additional counterparties through our anonymous Open Trading solutions.

We also provide a number of integrated and actionable data offerings, including CP+™ and Axess All®, to assist clients with real-time pricing and trading decisions and transaction cost analysis. We offer a range of post-trade services, including straight-through processing, post-trade matching, trade publication, regulatory transaction reporting and market and reference data across fixed-income and other products. In 2023, 88.1% of our revenues were derived from commissions for transactions executed on our platforms. We also derive revenues from information services, post-trade services and technology services. Our expenses consist of employee compensation and benefits, depreciation and amortization, technology and communication expenses, professional and consulting fees, occupancy, marketing and advertising, clearing costs and general and administrative expenses.

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Our History

MarketAxess has been an innovative leader in electronic trading since its founding in 2000. Throughout our history, our primary goals have remained the same: improve trading efficiency and deliver meaningful transaction price improvement for our clients. Prior to our founding, our institutional investor clients were able to trade bonds by telephone with a limited set of broker-dealers with which they had institutional relationships. By 2007, our platforms enabled institutional investors to trade electronically with over thirty broker-dealers. During the global financial crisis of 2007-2008, we significantly expanded the number of non-primary and regional dealers providing liquidity on our platforms, as many dealers were forced to reduce their balance sheets for market making. Today, we are an S&P 500 company that, through our Open Trading protocols, provides an expanded liquidity pool for over 1,700 global market participants to trade a wide variety of fixed-income securities with each other.

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Our Competitive Strengths

We believe that we are well positioned to strengthen our market position in electronic trading in our existing products and to extend our presence into new products and services by capitalizing on our competitive strengths, including:

Expansive Liquidity Pool Comprised of Leading Broker-Dealers and Institutional Investors

Our electronic trading platforms provide access to the liquidity generated by the participation of our institutional investor and broker-dealer clients, including substantially all of the leading broker-dealers in global fixed-income trading. We believe these broker-dealers represent the principal source of secondary market liquidity for credit and rates products. We believe that our broker-dealer clients are incentivized to use our platforms due to the ability to efficiently transact with valuable client order flow and the ability to use our Open Trading protocols to help manage their risk, source liquidity and facilitate transactions on behalf of their clients.

Our total credit trading volume has increased from approximately $2.0 trillion in 2019 to $3.1 trillion in 2023 and our estimated market share of U.S. high-grade and high-yield corporate bond volumes in 2023 was 20.4% and 17.1%, respectively. Approximately 90.9% of credit volume on our platforms during 2023 was executed by institutional clients with the remaining 9.1% of credit volume conducted between dealers.

Open Trading is a Differentiator that Expands the Liquidity Pool and Drives Price Improvement for Broker-Dealers and Institutional Investors

Global liquidity has remained a persistent concern for market participants as regulators raised bank capital requirements and adopted other measures that prompted many dealers to reduce market-making activities even as the buy-side’s bond holdings have grown rapidly. In this environment, Open Trading, our fully electronic, all-to-all trading functionality, has emerged as a solution to this liquidity problem. Open Trading participants have broader and more diverse liquidity options compared to the traditional model of bilateral trading with a limited set of dealer counterparties. The expanded pool of liquidity providers includes investment managers, global dealers, regional dealers and specialist market making and proprietary trading firms.

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During 2023, over 1,700 firms participated in Open Trading, which improved the ability of both dealers and institutional investors to find natural and opportunistic matches, move orders more efficiently and achieve significant increases in execution quality and price improvement.

We believe our Open Trading protocols enhance our institutional investor clients’ ability to obtain a competitive price by allowing all of our Open Trading participants to interact with each other, thereby increasing the potential sources of liquidity available for each participant, as well as the likelihood of receiving a competitive price response. We estimate that Open Trading generated $701.9 million of price improvement for our clients in 2023, consisting of an estimated $471.5 million of liquidity taker price improvement (defined as the difference between the winning price and the best disclosed dealer cover price) and an estimated $230.4 million of liquidity provider price improvement (defined as the difference between the winning price and then current CP+ bid or offer level, offer if the provider is buying, bid if provider is selling) at the time of the inquiry. This Open Trading price improvement is in addition to the potential cost savings institutional investors can achieve by simultaneously requesting bids or offers from our broker-dealer clients via our traditional disclosed RFQ protocol. In addition, dealers use Open Trading as a source of liquidity to efficiently transfer risk and achieve enhanced bond inventory turnover, which may limit their credit exposure.

Advanced End-to-End Technology

Our electronic trading platforms are based on a secure and scalable architecture that makes broad use of distributed computing to achieve speed and reliability. Our technology provides clients with end-to-end and customizable connectivity to fixed-income markets. In designing X-Pro, our newest platform, we enhanced the trading experience by providing traders with a flexible user experience, intuitive workflows and easy access to our proprietary data and pre-trade analytics. To further support more efficient trade execution, we also offer several automated and algorithmic trading solutions, which allow clients to set eligibility criteria for their orders that our platforms will use to determine whether or not to execute a trade in accordance with the pre-defined parameters. For example, we introduced our Adaptive Auto-X automated and algorithmic trading solution for fixed-income in 2023, which provides our clients with a suite of AI-driven algorithms that integrate all our trading protocols. We believe that these automated and algorithmic trading solutions reduce trading inefficiencies and human errors while allowing traders to focus on higher-value trades.

In addition to services directly related to the execution of trades, we also offer our clients several other pre- and post-trade services. In the pre-trade period, our platforms assist participants with price discovery by providing them with dealer pricing and real-time and historical trade data. Following the execution of a trade, our platforms support all of the essential tools and functionalities to enable our participants to achieve straight through processing (“STP”) for trade settlement and to measure transaction costs to evidence best execution.

The Company is focused on investing in our resiliency, scalability and risk management systems. We also prioritize continuing product delivery on current technologies, delivering approximately 1,000 unique new business and technical features to our clients during the year ended December 31, 2023.

Growing, Comprehensive International Offering and Client Base

Our platforms provide global fixed-income market participants with trading functionality across Eurobond and emerging markets credit and rates markets, connecting clients in over 90 countries to local and global dealers. MarketAxess has over 1,000 active client firms located outside the U.S. that access our platforms through our regulated venues in Europe, Asia and Latin America. Our Open Trading functionality allows international clients to access cross-border liquidity more efficiently with few regulatory hurdles.

The MarketAxess emerging markets trading platform also offers the most comprehensive offering for local currency bond trading across the Latin America, Central & Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, and Asia-Pacific (“APAC”) regions. Our platforms provide clients with the ability to trade emerging market local currency debt denominated in 28 local currencies with over 130 broker-dealers.

Next Generation Data and Analytical Tools Supporting the Increasing Automation of Trading Workflows

Our data and analytical tools enhance the value proposition of our trading platforms and improve the trading experience of our clients. We support our clients’ trading functions by offering value-added analytics that rely on machine-learning, automation and algorithms that are designed to improve the trading decisions and workflows of our clients. Our data and analytical tools are designed to help clients make better trading decisions, benefiting our current clients and attracting new market participants to our network. For example, we believe that our automation solutions enable more efficient execution of smaller trades, and allow traders to instead focus their attention on larger, and often higher-value, trades.

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Our Strategy

Our objective is to provide the leading global electronic trading platforms for fixed-income securities, allowing broker-dealers and institutional investors to connect, trade and achieve cost savings more easily and efficiently, while offering a broad array of information, trading and technology services to market participants across an end-to-end trading solution. The key elements of our strategy are:

Increase Penetration in Credit Markets

We believe that we have a large opportunity remaining to capture additional market share in the credit product markets in which we have already established a leadership position. For example, the estimated Composite Corporate Bond average daily volume (“ADV”) on our platforms for the year ended December 31, 2023 for our combined U.S. high-grade, U.S. high-yield, emerging markets and Eurobonds product areas (collectively, “Composite Corporate Bond”) was approximately $9.8 billion, representing just 19.3% of the estimated addressable market of approximately $51.1 billion. The traditional methods of bilateral trading, including the telephone or electronic messaging, continue to be one of our principal competitors in the credit markets in which we have established a leadership position. We continue to focus on capturing additional market share across our core credit markets. In 2023, we introduced X-Pro, our new trading platform, to clients in the United States. We believe that the modernized design of X-Pro will help increase our market share in our core markets. X-Pro also includes enhanced functionality for portfolio trading, which has represented a larger proportion of trading volumes in recent periods.

Continue Expansion into New Product Areas

By leveraging our Open Trading functionality and capitalizing on our experience of building market share in markets like U.S high-grade and U.S. high-yield bonds, we plan to increase our product footprint in newer product areas, including emerging market local currency bonds, municipal bonds, U.S. government bonds and European government bonds. Each of these markets has unique trading protocols, market structures and settlement solutions that require a lengthy ramp-up period, but which will provide diverse revenue sources if we can obtain significant market share. For example, in 2021, we acquired MuniBrokers LLC (“MuniBrokers”), a central electronic trading venue serving municipal bond inter-dealer brokers and dealers, in order to expand our existing municipal bond trading solution. The acquisition connects our leading trading technology with the liquidity of one of the industry’s largest electronic inter-dealer marketplaces, creating a compelling and diverse liquidity solution that we believe will ultimately deliver an improved execution experience. In addition, with the acquisition of Pragma in 2023, we have expanded our automated and algorithmic trading solutions to new asset classes, including equities and foreign exchange.

Expand Trading Protocols and Leverage the Open Trading Network

We believe that we are the only fixed-income electronic trading platform that embraces all-to-all trading in each of our product areas. Open Trading exponentially increases the number of potential trading counterparties by allowing both our broker-dealer clients and institutional investor clients to interact in an all-to-all trading environment of over 1,700 firms. Our clients executed approximately $955.6 billion in credit trading volume using Open Trading during 2023, representing 35.2% of total eligible credit trading volume on our platforms, and realized approximately $701.9 million in estimated price improvement through this unique liquidity solution in 2023. We believe that the combination of Open Trading and our vast client network provides the basis for MarketAxess to enhance liquidity and improve market resiliency in global fixed-income markets. In 2023, we introduced Open Trading for emerging market local currency bonds, including for the local currency markets of Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary and South Africa.

Continue to Invest in and Grow our Business through Geographic Diversification

We are continuing to expand and diversify our business internationally. Our revenues from international clients have grown from 16.9% of total revenue in 2019 to 20.8% of total revenues for the year ended December 31, 2023. As of December 31, 2023, our institutional investor and broker-dealer clients are based in over 90 countries with over 1,000 total active international client firms and approximately 5,800 total active international traders. We offer cross-regional electronic trading services in U.S fixed-income markets for international clients, as well as in Eurobonds and emerging market debt. By offering liquidity in both hard-currency and local currency emerging market debt, we have created an efficient emerging market trading ecosystem for our institutional investor and broker-dealer clients. In the last five years, we have seen significant growth in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (“EMEA”), Latin America and APAC regions. The ADV in the EMEA, Latin America and APAC regions on the MarketAxess platforms has grown from $2.5 billion in 2019 to $4.2 billion in 2023. We believe we can increase our penetration and revenue opportunities in international markets by continuing to invest in creating client relationships abroad.

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Pursue Select Acquisitions and Strategic Alliances

We continually evaluate opportunities to supplement our internal growth by entering into strategic alliances, or acquiring businesses or technologies, that we believe will enable us to enter new markets, provide new client segments, new products or services, or otherwise expand our market share in the fixed-income markets that we operate in today. We believe that one of the key drivers of our success to date has been the ability to grow our product offerings. For example, in 2021, we acquired MuniBrokers, a central electronic venue serving municipal bond inter-dealer brokers and dealers, in order to expand our existing municipal bond trading solution. In 2022, we made a significant minority investment in RFQ-hub, a bilateral multi-asset and multi-dealer RFQ platform. In 2023, we acquired Pragma, expanding our automated and algorithmic trading solutions to equities and foreign exchange. In addition, we expect the acquisition of Pragma to accelerate development of execution algorithms and data-driven analytics across all of our fixed-income product areas.

The Fixed-Income Products Available on our Platform

We operate in a large and growing market, which consists of credit and rates fixed-income products. According to the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (“SIFMA”), as of September 30, 2023, the most recent date available, there were approximately $10.6 trillion in principal amount of fixed-income securities outstanding in the U.S. corporate bond market, which reflects a five-year compound annual growth rate of 4.5%. In addition, according to SIFMA, as of December 31, 2023, there were approximately $26.4 trillion in principal amount of fixed-income securities outstanding in the U.S. government bond market, which reflects a five-year compound annual growth rate of 11.1%.

Our proprietary technology allows institutional investor and broker-dealer clients to access this market by trading both credit and rates products on our platforms.

Our credit products consist of the following areas:

U.S. high-grade bonds, which refers to U.S. corporate debt rated BBB- or better by Standard & Poor’s (“S&P”) or Baa3 or better by Moody’s Investor Service (“Moody’s”);
U.S. high-yield bonds, which refers to U.S. corporate debt rated lower than BBB- by S&P or Baa3 by Moody’s;
Emerging market debt, which we define as U.S. dollar, Euro or local currency denominated bonds issued by sovereign entities or corporations domiciled in a developing country, typically located in Latin America, Asia, or Central and Eastern Europe;
Eurobonds, which we define generally to consist of bonds intended to be distributed to European investors, primarily bonds issued by European corporations, excluding bonds that are issued by corporations domiciled in an emerging markets country and excluding most government bonds that trade in Europe;
Municipal bonds, which are debt securities issued by states, cities, counties and other governmental entities in the U.S. to fund day-to-day obligations and to finance a wide variety of public projects, such as highways or water systems, and typically offer interest payments that are exempt from federal income taxation and may be exempt from state income and other taxes; and
Other credit products, including leveraged loans, which are senior secured commercial facilities provided by a syndicate of lenders for below investment-grade companies (credit rating below BBB- or Baa3).

Our rates products consist of the following areas:

U.S. government bonds, which are government instruments issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury;
Agency bonds, which are securities issued by a federal government department or by a government-sponsored enterprise, including the Federal National Mortgage Association and Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation; and
Other government bonds, including European government bonds, which are bonds issued by governments of countries in the European Union (“E.U.”) and non-E.U. European countries, as well as bonds issued by other supranational organizations, agencies and sovereigns, including the European Commission.

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The six largest product areas available on our platform for the year ended December 31, 2023 were U.S. high-grade, U.S. high-yield, emerging market debt, Eurobonds, municipal bonds and U.S. government bonds. In the chart below, we show MarketAxess' ADV and the amount of new issuance of such product areas for the years ended December 31, 2023 and 2022, except where indicated:

 

MarketAxess ADV(1)

 

Amount of New Issuance

 

2023

 

 

2022

 

 

% Change

 

 

 

2023

 

 

2022

 

 

% Change

 

 

 

(In billions)

U.S. high-grade(2)

$

5.9

 

 

$

5.5

 

 

 

6.8

 

%

 

$

1,207.0

 

 

$

1,215.7

 

 

 

(0.7

)

%

U.S. high-yield(2)

 

1.6

 

 

 

1.7

 

 

 

(6.3

)

 

 

 

175.2

 

 

 

106.5

 

 

 

64.5

 

 

Emerging market debt(3)

 

2.9

 

 

 

2.8

 

 

 

3.5

 

 

 

 

245.0

 

 

 

219.0

 

 

 

11.9

 

 

Eurobonds(2)

 

1.8

 

 

 

1.5

 

 

 

21.2

 

 

 

 

567.7

 

 

 

460.0

 

 

 

23.4

 

 

Municipal bonds(4)

 

0.4

 

 

 

0.4

 

 

 

16.1

 

 

 

 

380.5

 

 

 

386.6

 

 

 

(1.6

)

 

U.S. government bonds(4)

 

18.3

 

 

 

21.5

 

 

 

(15.0

)

 

 

 

22,699.6

 

 

 

16,730.9

 

 

 

35.7

 

 

——––——––——––——––——––——––——–——

(1)

There were 249 U.S. trading days in each of 2023 and 2022, based on the SIFMA holiday recommendation calendar and 251 and 250 United Kingdom (“U.K”) trading days in each of 2023 and 2022, respectively, based primarily on the U.K. bank holiday schedule.

(2)

For U.S. high-grade, U.S. high-yield and Eurobonds, the amount of new issuance is according to J.P. Morgan Markets.

(3)

For emerging markets debt, the amount of new issuance is according to J.P. Morgan Markets. The amount of new issuance excludes debt issued by emerging market sovereigns, which are included in our definition of emerging markets debt.

(4)

For municipal bonds and U.S. government bonds, the amount of new issuance is according to SIFMA.

We plan to leverage our Open Trading functionality to continue to capture additional market share across our core credit markets while increasing our footprint in newer product areas. In the chart below, we show estimated market ADV and our estimated market share for the years ended December 31, 2023 and 2022, of U.S. high-grade/high-yield bonds combined, U.S. high-grade bonds, U.S. high-yield bonds, municipal bonds and U.S. government bonds.

 

Market ADV

 

Estimated Market Share

 

2023

 

 

2022

 

 

% Change

 

 

 

2023

 

 

2022

 

 

Bps Change

 

(In billions)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

U.S. high-grade/U.S high-yield
   combined
(1)

$

38.1

 

 

$

35.3

 

 

 

7.9

 

%

 

 

19.6

 

%

 

20.4

 

%

 

(80

)

Bps

U.S. high-grade(1)

 

28.7

 

 

 

25.7

 

 

 

11.7

 

 

 

 

20.4

 

 

 

21.3

 

 

 

(90

)

 

U.S. high-yield(1)

 

9.3

 

 

 

9.5

 

 

 

(2.1

)

 

 

 

17.1

 

 

 

17.9

 

 

 

(80

)

 

Municipal bonds(2)

 

7.4

 

 

 

8.4

 

 

 

(11.7

)

 

 

 

5.9

 

 

 

4.5

 

 

 

140

 

 

U.S. government bonds(3)

 

653.8

 

 

 

612.8

 

 

 

6.7

 

 

 

 

2.8

 

 

 

3.5

 

 

 

(70

)

 

——––——––——––——––——––——––——–——

(1)

For U.S. high-grade and high-yield, market ADV is as measured by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) Trade Reporting and Compliance Engine (“TRACE”).

(2)

For municipal bonds, 2023 and 2022 market ADV is estimated by excluding estimates for new issuance, commercial paper and variable-rate trading activity from the data reported by the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (the “MSRB”).

(3)

For U.S. government bonds, market ADV is as reported by the Federal Reserve Bank’s Reported Primary Dealer U.S. Treasury Bond Trading Volumes, which was reported on a one-week lag.

Finally, we believe that the current level of electronic trading in our largest product areas is relatively low, creating a long runway for future market share growth. For example, we estimate that the level of electronic trading as a percentage of all means of trading (referred to as “electronic market share”) for U.S. high-grade bonds and U.S. high-yield bonds is approximately 45.0% and 30.0%, respectively. As a comparison, based on third party estimates, the level of electronic market share for U.S. exchange traded cash equities, U.S. equity options and foreign exchange spots are each over 90.0%.

Our End-to-End Trading Solutions

A key principle of our strategy is connecting the most robust network of participants through our end-to-end trading solutions. The diverse trading protocols available on our platforms are complemented by pre-trade intelligent data products and a range of post-trade services. In 2023, 88.1% of our revenues were derived from commissions for transactions executed on our platforms, 6.2% of our revenues were derived from our data products and 5.3% of our revenues were derived from our post-trade services.

Trade Execution Solutions

Through our platforms, our broker-dealer and institutional investor clients have access to a wide range of trading protocols to assist them with achieving best execution. In addition, we are innovating and modernizing our platforms by integrating a suite of automated and algorithmic trading solutions, as well as order and execution workflow solutions, to help clients manage risks, establish guardrails, streamline processes, remain compliant and improve execution quality.

In 2023, we introduced X-Pro to select clients in the United States. We believe that this new platform more seamlessly combines our trading protocols with our proprietary data and pre-trade analytics discussed under “— Integrated and Actionable Data” below. We further believe that it provides enhanced low- and high-touch trading workflows, from automation with Auto-X to portfolio trading. We plan to continue to expand the use of X-Pro by our broker-dealer and institutional investor clients.

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Disclosed Request for Quote

Our traditional disclosed RFQ protocol allows our institutional investor clients to simultaneously request competing, executable bids or offers from our dealer clients and execute trades with the dealer of their choice from among those that choose to respond. We are not a counterparty to any of the disclosed RFQ trades that are executed on our platforms between institutional investor clients and dealer clients; rather, our platforms enable them to meet, agree on a price and then execute and settle the transaction directly with each other. The disclosed RFQ protocol is available for transactions in all our product areas and can be used for:

multiple-dealer inquiries to over 140 dealers;
list trading, which is the ability to request bids and offers on up to 60 bonds at the same time;
portfolio trading, which allows our market participants to transact bond basket trades of up to 2,100 securities in an all-or-none trading protocol with one aggregate price for the portfolio transaction; and
swap trading, which is the ability to request an offer to purchase one bond and a bid to sell another bond.

In 2023, over 60.0% of all credit volume on the MarketAxess platform was executed via a form of our disclosed RFQ protocol.

Open Trading

We offer Open Trading, our all-to-all trading solution, for most of our products and trading protocols. Open Trading complements our disclosed RFQ protocol by increasing the number of potential counterparties through allowing all participants to interact anonymously in an all-to-all trading environment of over 1,700 potential counterparties. We believe the increased liquidity drives meaningful price improvement to our clients and helps reduce liquidity risk in the fixed-income markets in which we participate. Open Trading participants are able to maintain their anonymity from trade initiation all the way through to settlement. Unlike our disclosed RFQ protocol, in connection with our Open Trading protocols, we execute bond transactions between and among institutional investor and broker-dealer clients on a matched principal basis by serving as counterparty to both the buyer and the seller in matching back-to-back trades.

We currently offer Open Trading protocols in U.S. high-grade bonds, U.S. high-yield bonds, Eurobonds, certain emerging market debt, municipal bonds, U.S. government bonds, agency bonds and other government bonds. Following the introduction of Open Trading on our platforms in 2013, we have continued to build upon the technology to develop more features and services. We now offer several Open Trading protocols, including:

Open Trading RFQ, which provides our Open Trading participants with the ability to display requests for bids and offers anonymously to the entire MarketAxess trading community, thereby creating broad visibility of their inquiry among market participants and increasing the likelihood that the request will result in a completed trade. The Open Trading RFQ protocol is typically used simultaneously with a disclosed RFQ, providing the requestor with an increased likelihood of achieving best execution by seeking pricing from a participant’s known dealer trading relationships and the Open Trading marketplace at the same time;
Dealer RFQ, which allows dealers to initiate RFQs to all other dealers or to the entire Open Trading network, is used by our dealer clients to manage risk, source liquidity, and facilitate transactions on behalf of their clients;
Mid-X sessions, a sessions-based mid-point matching tool that allows broker-dealers to trade against the mid-point price established by CP+ at a given time instead of bilaterally negotiating a price, which we believe removes some of the pricing challenges inherent in other trading protocols;
Live Markets, an order book functionality that allows participants to post one or two-way, live, executable quotes for the most active corporate bonds and U.S. government bonds, including newly issued debt, benchmark issues and news-driven securities;
Public Axes™, which is an order book-style price discovery process that gives participants the ability to view and execute trades upon anonymous or disclosed indications of interest from the inventory posted on our platforms; and
Diversity Dealer Initiative, which leverages the liquidity-enhancing features of Open Trading, but also allows institutional investor clients to select minority-, women- and veteran-owned broker-dealers to intermediate the resulting Open Trading transaction.

In 2023, approximately 35.2% of all eligible credit volume on the MarketAxess platform was executed via Open Trading protocols.

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Automated and Algorithmic Trading Solutions

We believe that our automated and algorithmic trading solutions, which allow clients to set eligibility criteria for their orders that our platforms will use to determine whether to execute a trade in accordance with the pre-defined parameters, increase trading efficiency and allow traders to focus on higher-value trades. We expect that bond trading velocity will grow in the years ahead due to the increased adoption of trading automation by both broker-dealer and institutional investor participants.

Some of our fixed-income automation tools include:

Auto-X RFQ, which allows clients to automatically execute a request-for-quote using simple variables such as trade size, price and number of respondents. In 2023, Auto-X RFQ represented 23.1% of total trade count and 9.7% of our credit trading volume. 41.0% of Auto-X RFQ trades in 2023 were “no touch,” meaning such trades were initiated automatically by clients using pre-specified instructions, up from 33.0% in 2022;
Auto-X Responder, which allows clients to automatically respond to requests using either a specified response level or a mid-point price generated by one of our data products;
Adaptive Auto-X, which provides our clients with a suite of AI-driven algorithms that integrate many of our key trading protocols to help the trader decide the size of their order, which MarketAxess protocol to use, which counterparty to trade with and what time of day to trade; and
U.S. Treasury Hedging, which automatically provides a U.S. Treasury hedge for trades in credit products available on our platforms.

In addition, we support a large and growing base of dealer market making algorithms. Dealer market making algorithms enhance the liquidity available on our platforms by increasing the number of competitive responses to each RFQ, thereby increasing a participant’s likelihood of completing a trade at the best price. In 2023, there were 32.5 million dealer algorithmic responses on our platforms, up 37.0% from 2022. In addition, dealers are increasingly using algorithmic responses to execute larger trades. In 2023, 69.2% of client-to-dealer inquiries for a trade of greater than $5.0 million notional value in U.S. high grade bonds received one or more algorithmic responses, up from 57.0% in 2022. In 2023, there were 204 client firms using our automated and algorithmic trading solutions, up 25.9% from 2022.

In 2023, we acquired Pragma, expanding our automated and algorithmic trading solutions offerings to include equities and foreign exchange for institutional clients, banks and broker-dealers, and securities exchanges. The Pragma360 platform provides a customized software-as-a-service algorithmic trading solution with hosted and dedicated trading environments for clients, which is integrated with Panorama, Pragma’s advanced, web-based algorithm management system. Pragma also provides Polaris, a customizable trading platform available to floor brokers of the New York Stock Exchange and their clients.

Order and Execution Workflow Solutions

We provide order and execution workflow solutions designed to meet the specific needs of our institutional investor and broker-dealer clients. For example, LiquidityBridge®, is our execution management system offered to dealers that allows users to manage and facilitate the complex liquidity flows across multiple trading platforms, including the MarketAxess system. LiquidityBridge brings together real-time comparison and execution of bond prices across multiple sectors, allowing users to rapidly react to trading opportunities. In addition, Axess IQ™ is our order and execution workflow solution designed to meet the needs of the wealth management and private banking community by improving liquidity discovery, execution efficiency and alpha generation for firms with large numbers of individual client orders.

Integrated and Actionable Data

Timely and accurate data is particularly important in the fixed-income markets where real-time data has traditionally been scarce and transparency has been limited. We offer the following data products and index solutions:

Data Products

Traders are increasingly using data and machine-learning for pre-trade analytics, automated execution, transaction cost analysis and post-trade solutions. Our data strategy is centered on using our data offerings to support trading activity through our diverse trading protocols and growing our revenues from our commercial data offerings. We believe that our electronic trading platforms allow institutional investors to compile, sort and use information to discover investment opportunities that might have been difficult or impossible to identify using a manual information-gathering process or other electronic services. Our data products are based on the trading activity, completed transactions and trade reporting services that occur on or through our platforms, as well as public sources such as TRACE.

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Our data products include:

CP+, a pricing algorithm that generates near real-time pricing for U.S. high grade, U.S. high yield, Eurobonds, emerging markets and European government bonds based on a variety of data inputs, including feeds from our trading platforms, our post-trade services and TRACE. CP+ is used by clients as a pre-trade reference price to enhance trading outcomes and transaction cost analysis. CP+ can be combined with our auto-execution service, providing clients with an alert if a response is “off market.”
Axess All, the first intra-day trade tape for the European fixed-income market, is sourced from the thousands of daily bond transactions processed by our post-trade services business and includes aggregated volume and pricing for the most actively traded European fixed-income instruments.
Axess All Prints®, which is an enhanced, real-time transacted price service for the most actively traded European fixed-income instruments.
BondTicker®, which provides real-time TRACE data enhanced with MarketAxess trade data and analytical tools in order to provide professional market participants with a comprehensive set of corporate bond price information with associated analytical tools that are not otherwise available.
Relative Liquidity Score, a product that provides a defined measurement of the current liquidity for individual bonds and highlights the relative potential ease that a trader can expect when transacting in such instruments.

Index Solutions

To meet the increasing need for passive fixed-income investment strategies, we have also introduced liquid indices powered by real-time data. In 2022, we introduced the MarketAxess U.S. Investment Grade Corporate Bond 400 Index (the “MKTX 400 Index”), which is an index constructed to measure the performance of 400 U.S. dollar denominated investment grade corporate bonds with higher-than-average liquidity relative to the broader U.S. corporate bond market. The index utilizes Relative Liquidity Scores and CP+ in the construction and evaluation processes. State Street Global Advisors has launched an exchange traded fund that seeks to track the MKTX 400 Index. In addition, in 2022, we also announced a strategic collaboration with MSCI Inc. to create co-branded fixed-income indices incorporating our liquidity data. The first of such indices, the MSCI MarketAxess USD HY Tradable Corporate Bond Index, which uses Relative Liquidity Scores to identify and select the liquid fixed-income securities, launched in November 2022.

Post-Trade Services

We provide post-trade matching and regulatory reporting services for European investment firms and market and reference data across a range of fixed-income products. In response to the requirements of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (“MiFID II”) in Europe, we have developed a comprehensive suite of value-add solutions, including SensAI, pre-trade transparency services, systematic internaliser (“SI”) determination and monitoring, best execution reporting, commodity position reporting, data quality analysis and peer benchmarking.

In the E.U. and U.K., all firms regulated as “investment firms” under MiFID II are required to submit complete and accurate details of qualifying transactions to their national regulator no later than the close of the working day following the date of the transaction. This process is known as transaction reporting. Firms may either report directly to their regulator or use an entity that is licensed as an Approved Reporting Mechanism (“ARM”), such as our subsidiaries in the U.K. and the Netherlands, to validate and submit such reports to their regulator. Our multi-asset class ARM reporting solution allows our clients to report to 23 different European regulators. We have also collaborated with Equilend on a full front-to-back Securities Financing Transactions Regulation (“SFTR”) solution to support mutual clients with their SFTR reporting requirements.

Under the Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation (“MiFIR”), all regulated investment firms in the U.K. and the E.U. are required to comply with pre- and post-trade transparency requirements pursuant to which quotes and trades must be made public subject to a system of waivers and deferrals. Firms are required to utilize an Approved Publication Arrangement (“APA”), such as our APAs in the U.K. and the Netherlands, to comply with the post-trade transparency requirement and many firms utilize a third-party provider to satisfy the pre-trade transparency requirement. The MarketAxess transparency and APA trade reporting solutions are available through our Insight™ platform, offering our clients a pre- and post-trade transparency solution, including APA trade reporting, quote publication, SI determination and instrument liquidity classification.

Post-trade matching enables counterparties to match the economic trade details of a trade and settlement information shortly after execution, reducing the risk of trade errors and fails during settlement. We provide a near real-time post-trade matching and exception management tool which covers a broad range of securities, including fixed-income and equities. By confirming all economic details within minutes of trade execution, we help our clients to mitigate their operational risk, improve STP and efficiency and address the complexities of MiFID II and the Central Securities Depositories Regulation.

MarketAxess has over 1,000 post-trade reporting, post-trade matching and transparency clients, including investment firms, venues and aggregators.

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Our Clients

Over 2,000 institutional investor and broker-dealer firms are active users of our platforms. Since our founding, we have developed trusted relationships with many of our clients and have invested in maintaining strong relationships with our largest clients. Although institutional investors, specialist market making firms, proprietary trading firms and other non-traditional liquidity providers have increasingly provided liquidity on our platforms through Open Trading, we believe traditional broker-dealers still represent the principal source of secondary market liquidity in the markets in which we operate. Certain of our clients may account for a significant portion of our trading volume. Market knowledge and feedback from these clients have also been important factors in the development of many of our offerings and solutions. Our institutional investor and broker-dealer clients are increasingly trading multiple products on our platforms and using multiple trading protocols in order to execute upon their trading strategies.

Our Technology

Proprietary Technology

Our electronic trading platforms are based on a secure and scalable architecture that makes broad use of distributed computing to achieve speed and reliability. Our technology provides clients with end-to-end and customizable connectivity to fixed-income markets.

We support the achievement of best execution through our many trading protocols, including technologies such as our recently launched new platform, X-Pro, and our all-to-all Open Trading protocols. In designing X-Pro, we enhanced the trading experience by providing traders with a flexible user experience, intuitive workflows and easy access to our proprietary data and pre-trade analytics. Open Trading increases the number of potential trading counterparties by allowing participants to interact anonymously in an all-to-all trading environment of over 1,700 potential counterparties. We believe this technology enhances our institutional investor clients’ ability to obtain a competitive price by allowing all Open Trading participants to interact with each other and increases the likelihood of receiving a competitive price response. We estimate that Open Trading generated approximately $701.9 million of price improvement for our clients in 2023.

In addition, our clients have access to automated and algorithmic trading technologies, such as Auto-X RFQ, Auto-X Responder and Adaptive Auto-X, which allow clients to set eligibility criteria for their orders that will determine whether a trade is executed on our platforms in accordance with their pre-defined parameters. These automated and algorithmic trading protocols are designed to help increase trading efficiency, freeing traders to focus on more complex or higher-value trades.

In addition to services directly related to the execution of trades, MarketAxess offers clients several other pre- and post-trade services. In the pre-trade period, our platforms assist our participants by providing them with value-added services, such as real-time and historical trade price information, liquidity and turnover analytics, bond reference data and trade order matching alerts. Following the execution of a trade, our platforms enable our participants to realize the full benefits of electronic trading and demonstrate best execution, including customization, real-time trade details, STP, account allocations, automated audit trails, regulatory trade reporting, trade detail matching and transaction cost analysis.

Technology Team

The design and quality of our technology products is supported by a team of approximately 380 full-time technology professionals led by managers with deep market knowledge and fixed-income expertise. This combination of market knowledge and industry expertise allows us to address client demand and to focus on solutions that can be scaled across client sectors, fixed-income asset classes and trading protocols. Our technology is critical to our growth and our ability to execute our business strategy.

Our technology team is focused on:

Continuing to evolve our technology platform. We believe that it is imperative that we continue to invest in and evolve our technology in order to continue innovating and delivering new features and protocols to our clients, such as the launch of X-Pro in 2023. For example, we increasingly utilize cloud technology to capitalize on innovative tooling, cost savings and improvements to development velocity.
Investing in resiliency, scale and risk management. We recognize the value of investing in our capacity and risk management capabilities. The MarketAxess platforms are built on industry-standard technologies and have been designed to handle loads that exceed our current trading volume. In addition, all critical server-side components, including networks, application servers and databases, have backup solutions. This maximizes uptime and minimizes the potential for loss of transaction data in the event of an internal failure. We also seek to minimize the impact of external failures by automatically recovering connections in the event of a communications failure. Most of our broker-dealer clients and a significant number of our institutional investor clients have redundant dedicated high-speed communication paths to our network to provide fast data transfer. Our security measures include industry-standard communications encryption.
Continuing product delivery and improvement of features. Our technology team is focused on our agile product development cycle and continued innovation of our platforms with new features. During the year ended December 31, 2023, we delivered approximately 1,000 unique new business and technical features to our clients.

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See Part I, Item 1C – “Cybersecurity” for more information about our cybersecurity program as well as Part I, Item 1A. – “Risk Factors — Technology, IT Systems and Cybersecurity Risks.”

Environmental, Social and Governance

We are focused on growing our business by delivering sustainable long-term value for our customers, employees, stockholders, and the communities where we live and work. At MarketAxess, our environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) strategy encompasses both corporate and commercial objectives.

Corporate ESG Objectives

As part of our vision to maximize stakeholder value, we strive to incorporate ESG principles into our business strategies and organizational culture. Our 2022 ESG Report, which can be found on our corporate website (available at https://www.marketaxess.com/sustainability), included the Company’s first reporting against the Task Force on Climate-Related Disclosure (TCFD) framework in order to give our stakeholders additional insight into our climate change practices and policies. The ESG Report also includes the results of the Company’s comprehensive non-financial ESG materiality and prioritization assessment, which identified eighteen key ESG topics and six priority topics critical for MarketAxess to manage and drive long-term business performance and societal impact. Finally, the Company responded to the Climate Disclosure Project’s Climate Change Questionnaire in July 2023. Please also refer to “— Human Capital Resources” for additional information on our human capital management strategies.

Our ESG Reports and CDP questionnaire responses are not, and shall not be deemed to be, a part of this Form 10-K or incorporated into any of our other filings made with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”).

Commercial ESG Objectives

In order to help our institutional investor and broker-dealer clients meet their ESG goals and strategies, we have begun to develop ESG-integrated product offerings. For example, through our “Trading for Trees” program, five trees are planted by One Tree Planted, our partner charitable organization, for every $1.0 million of green bond trades executed on our platforms. In 2023, $74.2 billion in green bond trading volume was executed globally on our platforms, an increase of 17.2% from 2022.

In addition, our Diversity Dealer Initiative enables buy side firms to trade more easily with certain minority-, women- and veteran-owned broker-dealers, while still achieving best execution. The Diversity Dealer Initiative leverages our anonymous all-to-all Open Trading marketplace and provides enhanced trading connections by giving institutional investor clients the option to select a diversity dealer to intermediate an Open Trading transaction.

The Company began purchasing renewable energy-related transferable tax credits under the Inflation Reduction Act (the “IRA”) in 2023. The transferability market created by the IRA allows producers of renewable energy or related manufacturing components to sell the tax credits generated by their activities to corporate purchasers. Through the purchase of these credits, the Company has reduced its federal tax liability while supporting innovative companies as they continue to drive the United States’ transition to renewable energy.

Sales and Marketing

We sell and promote our offerings and solutions using a variety of sales and marketing strategies. Our sales organization follows a team-based approach to covering clients, deploying our product and regional expertise as best dictated by evolving market conditions. Our sales force, which works closely with our product management and technology teams, is responsible for new client acquisition and the management of ongoing client relationships to increase clients’ awareness, knowledge and usage of our solutions and products. Our sales team is also responsible for training and supporting new and existing clients on their use of our trade execution services, integrated and actionable data offerings and post-trade solutions, including how to optimize their trading performance and efficiency through our various trading protocols.

Given the breadth of our global client network, trading volume activity and engagement with regulators, we regularly educate market participants on market trends, the impact of regulatory changes and technology advancements. Our senior executives often provide insight and thought leadership to the industry through conversations with the media, appearances at important industry events, roundtables and forums, submitting authored opinion pieces to media outlets and conducting topical webinars for our clients. We believe this provides a valued service for our constituents and enhances our brand awareness and stature within the financial community. Additionally, we employ various marketing strategies to strengthen our brand position and explain our offerings, including through our public website, advertising, digital and social media, earned media, direct marketing, promotional mailings, industry conferences and hosted events.

Seasonality

Our revenue can be impacted by seasonal effects caused by increased levels of new bond issuance, which often occurs in the first quarter of a year, or slow-downs in trading activity, particularly during the customary holiday periods in August and December.

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Competition

The global fixed-income securities industry generally, and the electronic financial services markets in which we engage in particular, are highly competitive, and we expect competition to intensify in the future. We compete with a broad range of market participants globally. Some of these market participants compete with us in a particular market, while select others compete against substantially all of our platforms and solutions.

We primarily compete on the basis of our client network, the liquidity provided by our broker-dealer clients, the unique liquidity and the potential for price improvement offered by our Open Trading protocols, the total transaction costs associated with our services, the breadth of products, protocols and services offered, as well as the quality, reliability, security and ease of use of our platforms. We believe our competitive position is enhanced by the familiarity and integration of our clients' systems with our electronic trading platforms and other systems.

Our trading platforms face the following main areas of competition:

Bilateral Trading — We compete with bond trading business conducted over the telephone or electronic messaging directly between broker-dealers and their institutional investor clients. Institutional investors have historically purchased fixed-income securities by telephoning or otherwise communicating via instant messaging with bond sales professionals at one or more broker-dealers and inquiring about the price and availability of individual bonds. This remains the manner in which the majority of corporate bond volumes are still traded between institutional investors and broker-dealers.
Other multi-party electronic trading platforms — There are numerous other electronic trading platforms currently in existence, including several that have only commenced operations in the last few years. We compete with Tradeweb (indirectly controlled by the London Stock Exchange), Bloomberg, Intercontinental Exchange, Trumid and others in the credit and municipal markets; and Tradeweb, Bloomberg, CME Group (BrokerTec), BGC Partners (Fenics UST) and others in the rates markets. In addition, some broker-dealers and institutional investors operate, or have invested in, proprietary electronic trading systems or information networks that enable institutional investors to trade directly with a broker-dealer, and/or with other institutional investors over an electronic medium. As we expand our business into new products, we will likely come into more direct competition with other electronic trading platforms or firms offering traditional services.
EMS and OMS Providers – There are various providers of execution management services (“EMS”) and order management services (“OMS”) that have announced plans to offer aggregation of trading venue liquidity, as well as direct-to-dealer fully electronic trading solutions.
Securities and Futures Exchanges — In recent years, exchanges have pursued acquisitions that have put them in competition with us. For example, the London Stock Exchange Group acquired a significant stake in Tradeweb and Intercontinental Exchange acquired BondPoint and TMC Bonds, retail-focused platforms, and IDC, a provider of fixed-income data, in an effort to expand its portfolio of fixed-income products and services. CME Group also operates platforms that compete with us. Exchanges also have data and analytics businesses, which increasingly put their offerings in direct competition with us.

Our data business competes with several large market data and information providers, such as Bloomberg, the London Stock Exchange (Refinitiv), Intercontinental Exchange and S&P Global, which currently have a data and analytics relationship with virtually every institutional firm. These entities are currently direct competitors to our information services business and already are or may in the future become direct competitors to our electronic trading platforms.

Our post-trade business competes with other approved regulatory mechanisms in Europe that have ARM and APA designations, such as the London Stock Exchange’s UnaVista and Tradeweb, to provide post-trade matching and regulatory transaction reporting and transparency services to European clients.

Our automated and algorithmic trading solutions business competes with other providers of commercial algorithms.

We face intense competition, and we expect competition to continue to intensify in the future. See Part I, Item 1A. – “Risk Factors — Risks Related to Operating in the Electronic Fixed-Income Trading Markets — We face substantial competition that could reduce our market share and harm our financial performance.”

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Intellectual Property

We rely upon a combination of copyright, patent, trade secret and trademark laws, written agreements and common law to protect our proprietary technology, processes and other intellectual property. Our software code, elements of our electronic trading platforms, website and other proprietary materials are protected by copyright laws. We have been issued several patents covering significant trading protocols and other aspects of our trading system technology.

The written agreements upon which we rely to protect our proprietary technology, processes and intellectual property include agreements designed to protect our trade secrets. Examples of these written agreements include third party nondisclosure agreements, employee nondisclosure and inventions assignment agreements, and agreements with customers, contractors and strategic partners. Other written agreements upon which we rely to protect our proprietary technology, processes and intellectual property take many forms and contain provisions related to patent, copyright, trademark and trade secret rights.

We have registered the MarketAxess® name and logo for trademark in the U.S., Europe and in other parts of the world. We also have a number of other registered or pending trademarks and service marks globally, including Open Trading®, BondTicker®, CP+™, Axess All® and Now You’re In The Market® among others. In addition, we own, or have filed applications for, the rights to trade names, copyrights, domain names and service marks that we use in the marketing of products and services to clients.

In addition to our efforts to register our intellectual property, we believe that factors such as the technological and creative skills of our personnel, new product and service developments, frequent enhancements and reliability with respect to our services are essential to establishing and maintaining a technology and market leadership position.

Government Regulation

The securities industry and financial markets in the U.S. and elsewhere are subject to extensive regulation. In these jurisdictions, government regulators and self-regulatory organizations oversee the conduct of our business, and have broad powers to promulgate and interpret laws, rules and regulations that may serve to restrict or limit our business. As a matter of public policy, these regulators are charged with safeguarding the integrity of the securities and other financial markets and with protecting the interests of investors participating in those markets. Our active broker-dealer and regulated venue subsidiaries fall within the scope of their regulations. Rulemaking by regulators, including resulting market structure changes, has had an impact on our business by directly affecting our method of operation and, at times, our profitability.

As registered broker-dealers, trading venues and other types of regulated entities as described below, certain of our subsidiaries are subject to laws, rules and regulations (including the rules of self-regulatory organizations) that cover all aspects of their business, including manner of operation, system integrity, anti-money laundering and financial crimes, handling of material non-public information, safeguarding data, capital requirements, reporting, record retention, market access, licensing of employees and the conduct of officers, employees and other associated persons.

From time to time, regulations impose increased obligations on our regulated subsidiaries, including our broker-dealer subsidiaries. These increased obligations require the implementation and maintenance of internal practices, procedures and controls, which have increased our costs. Many of our regulators, as well as other governmental authorities, are empowered to bring enforcement actions and to conduct administrative proceedings, examinations, inspections and investigations, which may result in increased compliance costs, penalties, fines, enhanced oversight, increased financial and capital requirements, additional restrictions or limitations, censure, suspension or disqualification of the entity and/or its officers, employees or other associated persons, or other sanctions, such as disgorgement, restitution or the revocation or limitation of regulatory approvals. Whether or not resulting in adverse findings, regulatory proceedings, examinations, inspections and investigations can require substantial expenditures of time and money and can have an adverse impact on a firm’s reputation, client relationships and profitability. From time to time, we and our associated persons have been and are subject to routine reviews, none of which to date have had a material adverse effect on our businesses, financial condition, results of operations or prospects. As a result of such reviews, and any future actions or reviews, we may be required to, among other things, amend certain internal structures and frameworks such as our operating procedures, systems and controls.

The regulatory environment in which we operate is subject to constant change. We are unable to predict how certain new laws and proposed rules and regulations will be implemented or in what form, or whether any changes to existing laws, rules and regulations, including the interpretation, implementation or enforcement thereof or a relaxation or amendment thereof, will occur in the future. We believe that uncertainty and potential delays around the final form of certain new rules and regulations may negatively impact our clients and trading volumes in certain markets in which we transact, although a relaxation of or the amendment of existing rules and requirements could potentially have a positive impact in certain markets. For example, regulators are speaking more regularly about the benefits of all-to-all trading to promote market resiliency in fixed-income products. While we generally believe the net impact of the laws, rules and regulations may be positive for our business, it is possible that unintended consequences may materially adversely affect us in ways yet to be determined. See Part I, Item 1A. – “Risk Factors – Regulatory and Legal Risks - Our business and the trading businesses of many of our clients are subject to increasingly extensive government and other regulation, which may affect our trading volumes and increase our cost of doing business.”

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U.S. Regulation

In the U.S., the SEC is the federal governmental agency primarily responsible for the administration of the federal securities laws, including adopting and enforcing rules and regulations applicable to broker-dealers. One of our U.S. broker-dealer subsidiaries operates an alternative trading system (“ATS”) subject to the SEC’s Regulation ATS, which includes certain specific requirements and compliance responsibilities in addition to those faced by broker-dealers generally, and an exempt ATS for U.S. government bonds. Broker-dealers are also subject to regulation by state securities administrators in those states in which they conduct business or have registered to do business. We are also subject to the various anti-fraud provisions of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”), the Commodity Exchange Act, certain state securities laws and the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder. We also may be subject to vicarious and controlling person liability for the activities of our subsidiaries and our officers, employees and affiliated persons.

Much of the regulation of broker-dealers’ operations in the United States has been delegated to self-regulatory organizations. These self-regulatory organizations adopt rules (which are generally subject to approval by the SEC) that govern the operations of broker-dealers and conduct periodic inspections and examinations of their operations. In the case of our U.S. broker-dealer subsidiaries, the principal self-regulatory organization is FINRA. Our U.S. broker-dealer subsidiaries are subject to both scheduled and unscheduled examinations by the SEC and FINRA. In addition, our municipal securities-related activities are subject to the rules of the MSRB.

The SEC recently conducted a review of the regulatory framework for fixed-income electronic trading platforms for the purpose of evaluating the potential regulatory gaps that may exist among such platforms, including ours, with respect to access to markets, system integrity, surveillance, and transparency, among other things. In January 2022, as a result of this review, the SEC proposed rules that will expand Regulation ATS and Regulation SCI to ATS that trade government securities and amend the SEC rule regarding the definition of an “exchange” to include Communication Protocol Systems, such as our RFQ protocols. Based on these proposed rules, we expect that we will have to operate all of our trading protocols in compliance with Regulation ATS and we could become subject to Regulation SCI for certain parts of our business in the future. It is unknown at this time to what extent new legislation will be passed into law or whether pending or new regulatory proposals will be adopted or modified, or what effect such passage, adoption or modification will have, whether positive or negative, on our industry, our clients or us.

The SEC has also adopted final rule amendments that, effective May 2024, will shorten the standard settlement cycle for most broker-dealer securities transactions from two business days after the trade date (T+2) to one business day after the trade date (T+1). The shortening of the settlement cycle will lead to a reduction in the length of exposure to trading counterparties and lower margin requirements for our clearing operations, but it is also expected to increase the operational costs and complexities associated with cross border transactions conducted on our platforms.

The SEC also adopted final rules on December 13, 2023 regarding the central clearing of certain secondary market transactions involving U.S. Treasury securities. This central clearing mandate will impact certain of our participants who do not centrally clear such trades today, and some have expressed concerns about the potential impact of additional clearing costs. The full impact of this change, and what effect it will have, whether positive or negative, on our industry, our clients or us is unknown at this time.

Non-U.S. Regulation

Outside of the United States, we are currently directly regulated by: the Financial Conduct Authority (the “FCA”) in the U.K., De Nederlandsche Bank (“DNB”) and the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets (“AFM”) in the Netherlands, the European Securities and Markets Authority (“ESMA”) in the E.U., the Monetary Authority of Singapore (the “MAS”) in Singapore, the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (the “IIROC”) and provincial regulators in Canada, and the Securities and Exchange Commission and Central Bank in Brazil. We also hold cross-border licenses or permissions to operate in other jurisdictions with other regulatory bodies, including the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (“FINMA”), the Securities & Futures Commission of Hong Kong, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission in Australia (“ASIC”), the Danish Financial Supervisory Authority, the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (“BaFin”), the Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier of Luxembourg, the Italian Commissione Nazionale per le Società e la Borsa (“Consob”), the Norwegian Financial Supervisory Authority, the Finnish Financial Supervisory Authority, the China Foreign Exchange Trade System (“CFETS”), a direct subsidiary of the People’s Bank of China (PBC) and China’s Bond Connect Company Limited.

The FCA’s strategic objective is to ensure that the relevant markets function properly and its operational objectives are to protect consumers, to protect and enhance the integrity of the U.K. financial system and to promote effective competition in the interests of consumers. It has investigative and enforcement powers derived from the Financial Services and Markets Act (“FSMA”) and subsequent legislation and regulations. Subject to the FSMA, individuals or companies that seek to acquire or increase their control in a firm that the FCA regulates are required to obtain prior approval from the FCA.

In 2023, amendments to the FSMA repealed the financial services framework inherited from the E.U. The amended FSMA provides the FCA increased regulatory authority, including the power to reform the E.U. rules and the ability to devise a new financial services regime, and establishes a new secondary objective to promote “economic growth and international competitiveness” for the U.K. The U.K. is also reviewing and amending its MiFID II and MiFIR regime, including the U.K. CTP framework for bonds and the transparency regime for bonds and derivatives.

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The securities industry and financial markets in the 27 member states of the E.U. are regulated by the National Competent Authorities in each member state, or with respect to Data Reporting Services Providers (“DRSPs”), such as our E.U. post-trade business, by ESMA itself. E.U. regulations provide for a cross-border “passporting regime”, which allows us to provide our regulated services to customers throughout the E.U. in reliance upon our authorization from any E.U. member state or ESMA. As a result of the U.K.’s departure from the E.U. in 2020 (commonly referred to as “Brexit”), we obtained AFM authorizations for our subsidiaries in the Netherlands and we now provide regulated services to our clients within the E.U. in reliance on the cross-border services passport held by our Dutch subsidiaries. We have also established regulatory branches in Italy and Germany, which allows the Company to have a physical presence in those jurisdictions.

The legal framework in the Netherlands for financial undertakings is predominantly included in the Dutch Financial Supervision Act (“FSA”). The AFM, like DNB, is an autonomous administrative authority with independent responsibility for fulfilling its supervisory function. Pursuant to the FSA, the AFM authorizes investment firms. The AFM is legally responsible for business supervision. DNB is responsible for prudential supervision. The purpose of prudential supervision is to ensure the solidity of financial undertakings and to contribute to the stability of the financial sector. Holders of a qualifying holding (in short, shareholdings or voting rights of 10% or more) must apply to the DNB for a declaration of no objection and satisfy the applicable requirements of the FSA.

Following a recent review of the effectiveness of the changes introduced pursuant to MiFID II and MiFIR in 2018, the European Parliament, the European Council and the European Commission adopted a package of revisions to MiFID II and MiFIR in January 2024 (the “MiFIR Review”). The MiFIR Review will become effective in stages, beginning in 2024. The MiFIR Review includes; (i) changes in the SI and publication arrangements for investment firms, (ii) removal of certain best execution reporting requirements, (iii) removal of non-equity pre-trade transparency for RFQ protocols and SIs, (iv) introduction of data quality technical standards, (v) introduction of organizational requirements for APAs and ARMs, and (vi) significant changes to the proposed E.U. consolidated tape for all transactions executed on E.U. trading platforms, such as our MTFs. ESMA is currently required to select a single consolidated tape provider (the “CTP”) for bonds under its authorization and all trading venues will be obliged to share their trading data with the CTP. We currently expect the selection process for the E.U. CTP for bonds to commence in the fourth quarter of 2024, with operation no sooner than the fourth quarter of 2025.

Although MiFID II and MiFIR were intended to help improve the functioning of the E.U. single market by achieving a greater consistency of regulatory standards, Brexit has introduced additional operational complexity as the regulatory standards are diverging between the U.K. and the E.U. In general, MiFID II and MiFIR continue to cause us to expend significantly more compliance, business and technology resources, to incur additional operational costs and has created additional regulatory exposure for our trading and post-trade businesses. While we generally believe the net impact of the rules and regulations, and the ongoing changes has been positive for our businesses, unintended consequences of the rules and regulations (and ongoing amendments thereto) may adversely affect us in ways yet to be determined. In particular, the divergence of the U.K. from the E.U. following Brexit in relation to the future development of MIFID II and MiFIR and other rules and regulations within the financial markets (such as the Central Securities Depository Regulation or E.U.’s Digital Operational Resilience Act (“DORA”)) may further increase the complexity, operational costs and compliance requirements of our business in the U.K. and E.U. See Part I, Item 1A. — “Risk Factors — Regulatory and Legal Risks - The growing divergence of the U.K. and European Union legal and regulatory requirements following Brexit could materially adversely impact our business, clients, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.”

DORA, which focuses on the security of network and information systems of financial services entities, as well as third parties which provide certain information communication technologies services ("ICTs") to them, is expected to become applicable to portions of our business in January 2025. DORA will, among other things, introduce significant additional ICT-related governance, risk management, resilience testing and sub-contracting requirements. In addition, we are subject to ESMA’s guidelines on outsourcing to cloud service providers, which impose additional risk management, contractual and notification requirements related to material cloud service providers.

Capital Requirements

Certain of our subsidiaries are subject to jurisdictional specific regulatory capital requirements, designed to maintain the general financial integrity and liquidity of a regulated entity. In general, they require that at least a minimum amount of a regulated entity’s assets be kept in relatively liquid form. Failure to maintain required minimum capital may subject a regulated subsidiary to a fine, requirement to cease conducting business, suspension, revocation of registration or expulsion by the applicable regulatory authorities, and ultimately could require the relevant entity’s liquidation.

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In addition, as a result of its self-clearing and settlement activities, one of our U.S. broker-dealer subsidiaries is required to finance certain transactions, maintain deposits with various clearing organizations and clearing broker-dealers and maintain a special reserve bank account for the benefit of customers pursuant to Rule 15c3-3 of the Exchange Act. These requirements can fluctuate based on trading activity, market volatility or other factors which may impact our liquidity or require us to use our capital resources.

Regulatory Status of MarketAxess Entities

Our operations span jurisdictions across the Americas, Europe and Asia, and we operate through various regulated entities. The current regulatory status of many of our business entities is described below. We also provide our platforms in other countries pursuant to exemptions from registration under the laws of such countries.

Americas

MarketAxess Corporation is an SEC registered broker-dealer and a member of FINRA, the MSRB, and the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (“SIPC”). MarketAxess Corporation is registered as a clearing broker with FINRA. Pragma LLC is an SEC registered broker-dealer and a member of FINRA and the SIPC.

MarketAxess Canada Company is registered as an Alternative Trading System with the Ontario Securities Commission (“OSC”), the Autorité des Marchés Financiers (“AMF”), the British Columbia Securities Commission (“BCSC”) and the Alberta Securities Commission (“ASC”) and is a member of IIROC.

MarketAxess Plataforma de Negociacao Ltda. is authorized through its parent (MarketAxess Holdings Inc.) by Comissão de Valores Mobiliários (“CVM”) and BACEN (Central Bank of Brazil) to provide a system in Brazil for the trading of fixed-income securities by sophisticated institutional investors.

MarketAxess Colombia Corporation is registered with the Superintendence of Finance of Colombia (“SOFC”) as an Information System.

U.K. and Europe

MarketAxess Capital Limited is authorized and regulated by the FCA as a MiFID investment firm (limited license) and acts as a matched principal counterparty for Open Trading transactions.

MarketAxess Europe Limited is authorized and regulated by the FCA to operate a multilateral trading facility (“MTF”), licensed by ASIC to have an Australian Markets License, recognized by FINMA as a foreign trading venue, licensed by BaFin under the German Securities Trading Act, licensed by the Securities & Futures Commission of Hong Kong as an Automated Trading Service and licensed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore as a Recognized Market Operator. In addition, following Brexit, MarketAxess Europe Limited is recognized or licensed on a cross-border basis to provide its services in Italy and Finland and on a temporary cross-border basis in each of Luxembourg, Denmark and Norway.

MarketAxess NL B.V. is authorized and regulated by the AFM in the Netherlands as an MTF. MarketAxess NL B.V. may provide cross-border services throughout the 27 member states of the E.U. and EEA countries under the MiFID passport and is approved by FINMA to provide cross-border services into Switzerland as a foreign trading venue, and has regulatory branches in Germany and Italy.

MarketAxess Post-Trade NL B.V. is established in the Netherlands and holds a license to operate as a DRSP under the supervision of ESMA, specifically to act as an ARM and APA. MarketAxess Post-Trade NL B.V. may provide cross border services throughout the 27 member states of the E.U. and EEA countries under the MiFID passport, and has a regulatory branch in Germany.

MarketAxess Post Trade Limited is authorized and regulated by the FCA as a DRSP for ARM and APA services and as a service company.

Asia and Pacific

MarketAxess Singapore Pte. Limited is approved by the Monetary Authority of Singapore as a Recognized Market Operator. Additionally, MarketAxess Singapore Pte. Limited is approved on a cross-border basis by FINMA in Switzerland as a foreign trading venue, by Hong Kong as an ATS, by Germany as a foreign market operator, and holds an Australian Markets License from ASIC.

MarketAxess Information Consulting (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. is a wholly-owned foreign enterprise (WOFE) in China. Its business scope includes non-licensed information, data and technology related services. The MarketAxess offshore electronic trading platform is recognized by CFETS and Bond Connect Company Limited for the provision of Bond Connect and CIBM Direct RFQ connectivity services.

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Human Capital Resources

As of December 31, 2023, we had 881 employees, 572 of whom were based in the U.S. and 309 of whom were based outside of the U.S., principally in the U.K. During fiscal year 2023, we increased our number of employees by 137 or 18.4% compared to an increase of 68 or 10.1%, in 2022. None of our employees is represented by a labor union. We consider our relationships with our employees to be good and have not experienced any interruptions of operations due to labor disagreements.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

We believe that a workforce that reflects our society as a whole better serves our clients. As such, we are committed to fostering an equitable environment that attracts and retains a diverse workforce. We strive to make our workforce diverse, inclusive and supportive of all and the Company is committed to improving our diversity at all levels of the organization. As of December 31, 2023, (i) our global workforce was approximately 72.4% men and 27.6% women, and of our U.S. employees, our workforce was approximately 34.3% Asian, 4.4% Black or African American, 7.9% Hispanic or Latinx, 51.7% White and 1.7% identified with another race or ethnicity or did not disclose their race or ethnicity; (ii) our global management team was approximately 76.9% men and 23.1% women and was approximately 15.4% Asian and 84.6% White; and (iii) our Board of Directors (the “Board”) was approximately 66.7% men and 33.3% women and was approximately 8.3% Black or African American, 8.3% Hispanic or Latinx and 83.3% White.

We use diverse hiring sources to broaden our candidate pools, including employee referrals, recruitment vendors, postings on diversity job boards, partnering with diverse professional organizations and underrepresented student organizations, and attending various recruiting events. We also focus our diversity recruiting efforts on university campuses. We have been able to further diversify our workforce through our summer intern and graduate hire programs, which represent a spectrum of schools, fields of study, interests and socio-economic backgrounds. During the spring and fall recruiting seasons, we typically host MarketAxess informational sessions, networking events, mock interviews and sponsorships focused on women and underrepresented students.

Human Capital Development

Our talent management strategy is focused on attracting, developing and retaining top talent within the Company. The market for qualified staff, especially technology professionals, continues to be competitive in our talent markets. Many companies, including our competitors and firms outside of our industry, are interested in hiring our experienced personnel. We believe that one of the ways we have successfully retained staff with lower attrition than market is through the successful implementation of our hybrid work environment.

We are committed to positioning MarketAxess for further growth through ongoing talent management, succession planning and the deepening of our leadership bench. We utilize regular critical role assessments and talent reviews to ensure that the Company has adequate talent to run the Company’s business today and evolve the Company for the future. We maintain short- and long-term succession plans for the Global Management Team and certain critical roles reporting into them.

We believe that investing in development for our employees is crucial to our success and ability to attract and retain the best talent in our industry. Currently, we offer a customized management training program for new managers and an accelerated leadership program for our more seasoned leaders who we believe may assume broader or more complex roles within the Company in the future. We offer a range of live and on-demand technical, markets-related, product management, and professional skills development to all employees globally to enable employees to develop a broad spectrum of skills and continue their career growth at MarketAxess.

Employee Health & Wellbeing

We believe that the health and safety of our employees is of important to the Company. While the COVID-19 pandemic (the “Pandemic”) had less of an effect on our business in 2023, we continued to consider the health and welfare of our employees as a priority. We offer competitive benefits programs to employees in all regions for healthcare-related wellness and financial wellness. In addition to comprehensive medical, dental, and vision plans, and disability programs, we offer various vehicles for saving for the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Company Information

MarketAxess was incorporated in Delaware in April 2000. Our internet website address is www.marketaxess.com. Through our internet website, we will make available, free of charge, the following reports as soon as reasonably practicable after electronically filing them with, or furnishing them to, the SEC: our annual report on Form 10-K; our quarterly reports on Form 10-Q; our current reports on Form 8-K; and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act, as amended. Our Proxy Statements for our Annual Meetings are also available through our internet website. Our internet website and the information contained therein or connected thereto are not intended to be incorporated into this Annual Report on Form 10-K. You may also obtain copies of our reports without charge by writing to:

MarketAxess Holdings Inc.

55 Hudson Yards

New York, NY 10001

Attn: Investor Relations

Our Board has standing Audit, Compensation and Talent, Nominating and Corporate Governance, Risk and Finance Committees. Each of these committees has a written charter approved by our Board and our Board has also adopted a set of Corporate Governance Guidelines. Copies of the committee charters and the Corporate Governance Guidelines are also posted on our website.

The SEC maintains an internet website that contains annual, quarterly and current reports, proxy and information statements and other information that issuers (including the Company) file electronically with the SEC. The SEC’s internet website is www.sec.gov.

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Item 1A. Risk Factors.

Risk Factors Summary

The following is a summary of the principal risks and uncertainties described in more detail in this annual report:

Risks Relating to Market and Industry Dynamics and Competition

Global economic, political and market factors beyond our control could reduce demand for our services, and our profitability and business could suffer.
Decreases in trading volumes in the fixed-income markets generally or on our platforms would harm our business and profitability.
The industry in which we operate is rapidly evolving. If we are unable to adapt our business effectively to keep pace with industry changes, we may not be able to compete effectively, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We face substantial competition that could reduce our market share and harm our financial performance.

Risks Related to our Future Levels of Business, Profitability and Growth

Neither the sustainability of our current level of business nor any future growth can be assured. Even if we do experience growth, we may not grow profitably.
We may enter into new fee plans, the impact of which may be difficult to evaluate; past trends in commissions are not necessarily indicative of future commissions.
As we enter new markets, we may not be able to successfully attract clients and adapt our technology and marketing strategy for use in those markets.
We may face increasing challenges in our growing international operations that we may not be able to meet in the future.

Risks Related to our Customer Concentration

We are dependent on our broker-dealer clients, who are not restricted from using their own proprietary or third-party platforms to transact with our institutional investor clients.
We could lose significant sources of revenue and trading volume if we lose any of our significant institutional investor clients.

Credit and Operational Risks

We are exposed to risks in connection with certain transactions in which we act as a matched principal intermediary.
Self-clearing exposes us to significant operational, liquidity, financing and regulatory risks.
Economic sanctions levied against states or individuals could expose us to significant operational and regulatory risks.

Technology, IT Systems and Cybersecurity Risks

Rapid market or technological changes may render our technology obsolete or decrease the attractiveness of our products and services to our broker-dealer and institutional investor clients.
We depend on third-party suppliers for key products and services.
Our success depends on maintaining the integrity and capacity of our electronic trading platforms, systems and infrastructure.
Systems failures, interruptions, delays in service, catastrophic events and resulting interruptions in the availability of our trading platforms could materially harm our business and reputation.
If we experience design defects, errors, failures or delays with our platforms, products or services, including our automated and algorithmic trading solutions and pricing algorithms, our business could suffer serious harm.
Malicious cyber-attacks, attempted cybersecurity breaches, and other adverse events affecting our operational systems or infrastructure, or those of third parties, could disrupt our businesses, result in the disclosure of confidential information, damage our reputation and cause losses or regulatory penalties.
Our actual or perceived failure to comply with privacy, data protection and information security laws, regulations, and obligations could harm our business.

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Intellectual Property Risks

We may not be able to protect our intellectual property rights or technology effectively, which would allow competitors to duplicate or replicate our electronic trading platforms or any of our other current or future functionalities, products or services. This could adversely affect our ability to compete.
Defending against intellectual property infringement or other claims could be expensive and disruptive to our business. If we are found to infringe the proprietary rights of others, we could be required to redesign our technology, pay royalties or enter into license agreements with third parties.

Risks Related to Possible Transactions or Investments

If we acquire or invest in other businesses, products or technologies, and are unable to integrate them with our business, our financial performance may be impaired or we may not realize the anticipated financial and strategic goals for any such transactions or any strategic alliances, partnerships or joint ventures, which we may enter into.

Risks Related to Key Personnel and Employees

We are dependent on our management team, and the loss of any key member of this team may prevent us from implementing our business plan in a timely manner.
Because competition for our employees is intense, we may not be able to attract and retain the highly skilled employees we need to support our business.

Regulatory and Legal Risks

We operate in a highly regulated industry and we may face restrictions with respect to the way we conduct certain of our operations.
Our business and the trading businesses of many of our clients are subject to increasingly extensive government and other regulation, which may affect our trading volumes and increase our cost of doing business.
The growing divergence of the U.K. and European Union legal and regulatory requirements following Brexit could materially adversely impact our business, clients, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.
The extensive regulation of our business means we have ongoing exposure to potentially significant costs and penalties.
We are subject to the risks of litigation and securities laws liability.

ESG and Climate Risks

Our operations, businesses and clients could be materially adversely affected by climate change and we are subject to other ESG risks that could adversely affect our reputation.

Liquidity and Funding Risks

We cannot predict our future capital needs or our ability to obtain additional financing if we need it.
Our credit agreement contains restrictive and financial covenants that could limit our operating flexibility, and we may incur additional debt in the future that may include similar or additional restrictions.
We maintain our cash at financial institutions, often in balances that exceed federally insured limits.

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Risks Relating to Market and Industry Dynamics and Competition

Global economic, political and market factors beyond our control could reduce demand for our services, and our profitability and business could suffer.

The global financial services business is, by its nature, risky and volatile and is directly affected by many national and international factors that are beyond our control. Recently, for example, the 2023 banking crisis, rising interest rates and inflation, the Pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war, each created significant volatility in the markets we serve and increased uncertainty and economic disruption. Certain of the factors below have caused, and may in the future cause, a substantial decline in the U.S. and/or global financial services markets, resulting in reduced trading volume, and could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. These factors include:

economic and political conditions in the United States, Europe and elsewhere;
adverse market conditions, including unforeseen market closures or other disruptions in trading;
broad trends in business and finance, including the amount of new securities issuances;
consolidation or contraction in the number of market participants;
the current or anticipated impact of climate change, extreme weather events, natural disasters or other catastrophic events;
the emergence of widespread health emergencies or pandemics, including the Pandemic;
actual or threatened acts of war or terrorism or other armed hostilities, as well as international sanctions levied against countries and other parties;
actual or threatened trade war, including between the United States and China, or other governmental action related to tariffs, international trade agreements or trade policies;
concerns over, or actual, increased levels of inflation and weakening consumer confidence levels due to a recession (in the United States or globally) or otherwise;
the availability of cash for investment by mutual funds, exchange traded funds and other wholesale and retail investors;
the level and volatility of interest rates, including significant interest rate hikes, the difference between the yields on corporate securities being traded and those on related benchmark securities and foreign currency exchange rates;
the effect of monetary policy adopted by the Federal Reserve Board or foreign banking authorities, increased capital requirements for banks and other financial institutions, and other regulatory requirements and political impasses;
credit availability and other liquidity concerns;
concerns over credit default or bankruptcy of one or more sovereign nations or corporate entities; and
legislative and regulatory changes, including changes to financial industry regulations and tax laws.

There have been significant declines in trading volumes in the financial markets generally in the past and there may be similar declines in trading volumes generally or across our platforms in particular in the future. Any one or more of the above factors may contribute to reduced trading volumes. Our revenues and profitability are likely to decline significantly during periods of stagnant economic conditions, low volatility or low trading volume in the U.S. and global financial markets.

While we are expanding our businesses to new geographic areas, our business operations have historically been substantially located in the U.S. and the U.K. Due to the concentration of our operations in the U.S. and U.K. we are subject to greater regional risks than those of some of our competitors.

Decreases in trading volumes in the fixed-income markets generally or on our platforms would harm our business and profitability.

We have experienced significant decreases in overall trading volumes in the past and may experience similar decreases in trading volumes in the future. Declines in the overall volume of fixed-income securities trading and in market liquidity generally, as well as declines in interest rate volatility, could result in lower revenues from commissions for trades executed on our electronic trading platforms and fees generated from related activities.

Likewise, decreases in our share of the segments of the fixed-income trading markets in which we operate, or shifts in trading volume to segments of clients which we have not penetrated, could result in lower trading volume on our platforms and, consequently, lower commission revenue. During periods of increased volatility in credit markets, the use of electronic trading platforms to trade certain highly volatile or distressed bonds may decrease, such as occurred during the regional banking crisis in 2023. In addition, during rapidly moving markets, broker-dealers are less likely to post prices electronically. Our market share of the fixed-income trading markets is also impacted by a variety of other factors, including the amount of new issuances of corporate debt, the level of bond fund inflows or outflows, the percentage of volumes comprised of Rule 144A transactions, the percentage of volumes comprised of larger trades (such as block trades or portfolio trades), the level of credit spreads and credit volatility and whether the prevalent market environment is an “offer wanted” or “bid wanted” environment.

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A decline in overall market volumes, trading volumes on our platforms or our platforms’ market share for any reason would negatively affect our commission revenue and may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

The industry in which we operate is rapidly evolving. If we are unable to adapt our business effectively to keep pace with industry changes, we may not be able to compete effectively, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

The electronic financial services industry is characterized by rapidly changing and increasingly complex technologies and systems, changing and increasingly sophisticated client demands (including access to new technologies, functionalities and markets), frequent technology and service introductions, evolving industry standards, changing regulatory requirements and new business models. If we are not able to keep pace with changing market conditions or client demands and if our competitors release new functionality or technology before we do, our existing platforms, solutions and technologies may become obsolete or our competitive position may be materially harmed, each of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Operating in a rapidly evolving industry involves a high degree of risk and our future success depends, in part, on our ability to:

attract and retain market participants on our platforms on a cost-effective basis;
expand and enhance reliable and cost-effective product and service offerings for our clients;
develop and introduce new features to, and new versions of, our electronic trading platforms;
respond effectively to competitive pressures;
respond effectively to the loss of any of our significant broker-dealer or institutional investor clients, including due to merger, consolidation, bankruptcy, liquidation or other cause (including, among other things, the collection of any amounts due from such clients);
operate, support, expand and develop our operations, technology, website, software, communications and other systems;
defend our trading platforms and other systems from cybersecurity threats; and
respond to regulatory changes or demands.

If we are unsuccessful in addressing these risks or in executing our business strategy, our business, financial condition and results of operations may suffer.

We face substantial competition that could reduce our market share and harm our financial performance.

The fixed-income securities industry generally, and the electronic financial services markets in which we operate in particular, are highly competitive, and we expect competition to intensify in the future. Within our markets, we compete based on our ability to provide our clients with deep liquidity, a broad network of market participants, a wide range of products and protocols, and comprehensive pre-trade, trade and post-trade functionality, as well as the reliability, security and ease of use of our electronic platforms and solutions, among other factors. Our trading platforms primarily compete with other electronic trading platforms and trading businesses conducted directly between broker-dealers and their institutional investor clients over the telephone, email or instant messaging. Our current and prospective trading platform competitors are numerous and include: (1) other multi-party electronic trading platforms; (2) EMS and OMS Providers; (3) securities and futures exchanges; and (4) technology, software, and information services or other companies that have existing commercial relationships with broker-dealers or institutional investors. Our data, post-trade and automated and algorithmic trading solutions businesses compete against market data and information vendors, other approved regulatory reporting businesses and commercial algorithm providers, respectively.

Many of our current and potential competitors are more established and substantially larger than we are and have substantially greater market presence, as well as greater financial, technical, marketing and other resources. These competitors have previously aggressively reduced, and may in the future further aggressively reduce, their pricing to enter into, or otherwise compete in, market segments in which we provide services, potentially subsidizing any losses with profits from trading in other fixed-income or equity securities or other business operations. In addition, many of our competitors offer a wider range of services, have broader name recognition and have larger customer bases than we do. Some of them may be able to respond more quickly to new or evolving opportunities, technologies and client requirements than we can and may be able to undertake more extensive promotional activities.

Competition in the markets in which we operate has intensified due to consolidation, which has resulted in increasingly large and sophisticated competitors. In recent years, our competitors have made acquisitions and/or entered into joint ventures and consortia to improve the competitiveness of their electronic trading offerings. If, as a result of industry consolidation, our competitors are able to offer lower cost and/or a wider range of trading venues and solutions, obtain more favorable terms from third-party providers or otherwise take actions that could increase their market share, our competitive position and therefore our business, financial condition and results of operations may be materially adversely affected.

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Our operations also include the sale of pre- and post-trade services, analytics, and market data and index services. There is a high degree of competition among market data and information vendors in solutions for pre- and post-trade data, analytics and reporting, and such businesses may become more competitive in the future as new competitors emerge. Some of these companies are already in or may enter the electronic trading business. Accordingly, some of our competitors may be able to combine use of their electronic trading platforms with complementary access to market data and analytical tools and/or leverage relationships with existing clients to obtain additional business from such clients, which could preempt use of our platforms or solutions. For example, Bloomberg, Refinitiv and Intercontinental Exchange own trading platforms that compete with ours and also have a data and analytics relationships with the vast majority of institutional, wholesale and retail market participants. If we are not able to compete successfully in this area in the future, our revenues could be adversely impacted and, as a result, our business, financial condition and results of operations would be materially adversely affected.

Risks Related to our Future Levels of Business, Profitability and Growth

Neither the sustainability of our current level of business nor any future growth can be assured. Even if we do experience growth, we may not grow profitably.

The success of our business strategy depends, in part, on our ability to maintain and expand the network of market participants that use our electronic trading platforms. Our business strategy also depends on increasing the use of our platforms by these participants for a wide range of fixed-income products and trade sizes. Individuals at broker-dealers or institutional investors may have conflicting interests, which may discourage their use of our platforms. In certain of our product areas, the growth rates for the use of our electronic trading services that we experienced in recent years have slowed and such growth rates may not resume or increase in the future.

Our growth may also be dependent on our ability to diversify our revenue base. We currently derive approximately 40.0% of our revenues from secondary trading in U.S. high-grade corporate bonds. Our long-term business strategy includes expanding our service offerings and increasing our revenues from other fixed-income products and other sources. Our efforts may not be successful or result in increased revenues or continued profitability.

We may enter into new fee plans, the impact of which may be difficult to evaluate; past trends in commissions are not necessarily indicative of future commissions.

From time to time, we may introduce new fee plans for the market segments in which we operate. Any new fee plan may include different fee structures or provide volume incentives. New fee plans may not result in an increase in the volume of transactions executed over our platforms or our revenues may not increase as a result of the implementation of any such fee plans. It is possible that our broker-dealer or institutional investor clients could respond to a new fee plan by either reducing the amount of their business conducted on our platforms or terminating their contractual relationship with us, which could have an adverse impact on our fees and otherwise have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

In addition, under certain of our fee plans, our fees are designated in basis points in yield (and, as a result, are subject to fluctuation depending on the duration of the bond traded) or our fees vary based on trade size or maturity. For example, during 2022 and 2023, a significant rise in corporate bond yields contributed to a decrease in the duration of the bonds traded on our platforms, which had a negative effect on our average credit variable transaction fee per million. We anticipate that our average fees per million may continue to vary in the future due to changes in yield, years-to-maturity and nominal size of bonds traded on our platforms. Consequently, past trends in commissions are not necessarily indicative of future commissions.

As we enter new markets, we may not be able to successfully attract clients and adapt our technology and marketing strategy for use in those markets.

Our strategy includes leveraging our electronic trading platforms to enter new markets, including new asset classes, products and geographies, including markets where we have little or no operating experience. For example, with the acquisition of Pragma in 2023, we began providing algorithmic trading and quantitative execution solutions in the equities and foreign exchange markets, where we previously had little operating experience. We may have difficulties identifying and entering into new markets due to established competitors, lack of recognition of our brand and lack of acceptance of our platforms and solutions, as has occurred with certain of our initiatives in the past.

Expansion, particularly in new geographic markets, may require substantial expenditures and take considerable time. In particular, we may need to make additional investments in management and new personnel, infrastructure and compliance systems. Furthermore, our expansion efforts may divert management’s attention or inefficiently utilize our resources. If we are not able to manage our expansion effectively, our expansion costs could increase at a faster rate than our revenues from these new markets. If we cannot successfully implement the necessary processes to support and manage our expansion, our business, financial condition and results of operations may suffer.

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We may not be able to successfully adapt our proprietary software and technology for use in any new markets. Even if we do adapt our products, services and technologies, we may not be able to attract clients to our platforms and compete successfully in any such new markets. Our marketing efforts or our pursuit of any of these opportunities may not be successful. If these efforts are not successful, we may realize less than expected earnings, which in turn could result in a decrease in the market value of our common stock.

We may face increasing challenges in our growing international operations that we may not be able to meet in the future.

We operate electronic trading platforms in Europe, Latin America and Asia and we may further expand our operations throughout these and other regions. We have invested significant resources in our foreign operations and the increasing globalization of our platforms and services. However, there are certain risks inherent in doing business in international markets. These risks include:

difficulty in obtaining the necessary regulatory approvals for planned expansion, if at all, and the possibility that any approvals that are obtained may impose restrictions on the operation of our business;
the inability to manage and coordinate the various regulatory requirements of multiple jurisdictions that are constantly evolving and subject to unexpected change;
difficulties in staffing and managing foreign operations, including as a result of Brexit, our access to, and our ability to compete for and hire, skilled employees in both the U.K. and the E.U.;
less developed technological infrastructures and generally higher costs, which could result in lower client acceptance of our services or clients having difficulty accessing our trading platforms;
fluctuations in exchange rates;
reduced or no protection for intellectual property rights;
seasonal reductions in business activity; and
potentially adverse tax consequences.

Further, we may face unexpected challenges in our international operations due to global competitors, established local markets, and local economic, political and social conditions, including the possibility of economic slowdowns, hyperinflationary conditions, political instability, social unrest or outbreaks of pandemic or contagious diseases. Our inability to manage these risks effectively could adversely affect our business and limit our ability to expand our international operations, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Risks Related to our Customer Concentration

We are dependent on our broker-dealer clients, who are not restricted from using their own proprietary or third-party platforms to transact with our institutional investor clients.

We rely on our broker-dealer clients to provide liquidity on our electronic trading platforms by posting prices for bonds in their inventory and responding to institutional investor client inquiries. The contractual obligations of our broker-dealer clients to us are minimal, non-exclusive and terminable by such clients. Our broker-dealer clients buy and sell fixed-income securities through traditional methods, including by telephone, e-mail and instant messaging, and through other electronic trading platforms. Some of our broker-dealer clients have developed electronic trading networks that compete with us or have announced their intention to explore the development of such electronic trading networks, and many of our broker-dealer and institutional investor clients are involved in other ventures, including other electronic trading platforms or other distribution channels, as trading participants and/or as investors. These competing trading platforms may offer some features that we do not currently offer. Accordingly, there can be no assurance that such broker-dealers’ primary commitments will not be to one of our competitors.

If bank-affiliated entities reduce their trading activity and that activity is not replaced by other market participants, the level of liquidity and pricing available on our trading platforms would be negatively impacted, which could adversely affect our operating results. Higher capital requirements on trading activity by bank-affiliated broker-dealers may reduce their incentives to engage in certain market making activities and may impair market liquidity. In addition, over the past several years, there has been significant consolidation among firms in the banking and financial services industries and several of our large broker-dealer clients have reduced their sales and trading businesses in fixed-income products. Further consolidation, instability, and layoffs in the financial services industry could result in a smaller client base and heightened competition, which may lower volumes.

Any reduction in the use of our electronic trading platforms by our broker-dealer clients could reduce the volume of trading on our platforms, which could, in turn, reduce the use of our platforms by our institutional investor clients. The occurrence of any of the foregoing may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

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We could lose significant sources of revenue and trading volume if we lose any of our significant institutional investor clients.

We rely on our institutional investor clients to launch inquiries over our trading platforms and, increasingly, to provide liquidity through our Open Trading protocols. A limited number of such clients can account for a significant portion of our trading volume. The obligations of our institutional investor clients to us under our standard contractual agreements are minimal, non-exclusive and terminable by such clients. Our institutional investor clients also buy and sell fixed-income securities through traditional methods, including by telephone, e-mail and instant messaging, and through other electronic trading platforms.

There can be no assurance that we will be able to retain our major institutional investor clients or that such clients will continue to use our trading platform. The loss of a major institutional investor client or any reduction in the use of our electronic trading platforms by such clients could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Credit and Operational Risks

We are exposed to risks in connection with certain transactions in which we act as a matched principal intermediary.

In connection with our Open Trading protocols, we execute certain bond transactions between and among institutional investor and broker-dealer clients on a matched principal basis by serving as counterparty to both the buyer and the seller in trades which are then settled by us or through a third-party clearing broker. Settlement typically occurs within one to two trading days after the trade date. Cash settlement of the transaction occurs upon receipt or delivery of the underlying instrument that was traded.

We are exposed to credit and performance risks in our role as matched principal trading counterparty to the clients on our platforms, including the risk that counterparties that owe us money or securities will not perform their obligations. These parties may default on their obligations to us due to bankruptcy, lack of liquidity, operational failure or other reasons. Adverse movements in the prices of securities that are the subject of these transactions can increase our risk. In connection with Open Trading or other anonymous protocols, we expect that the number of transactions in which we act as a matched principal will increase.

In the process of executing matched principal transactions, miscommunications and other errors by our clients or us can arise that involve substantial risks of liability. These risks include, among others, potential liability from disputes over the terms of a trade, the settlement of the trade, or claims that we resolved an error trade dispute incorrectly or that a system malfunction or delay caused monetary loss to a client. In addition, because of the ease and speed with which trades can be executed on our electronic platforms, clients can lose substantial amounts by inadvertently entering trade instructions or by entering trade orders inaccurately. A significant error trade or a large number of error trades could result in participant dissatisfaction and a decline in participant willingness to trade on our platforms. Although we maintain error trade policies designed to protect our anonymous trading participants and enable us to manage the risks attendant in acting as a matched principal counterparty, depending on the cause, number and value of the trades that are the subject of an alleged error or dispute, such trades have the potential to have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations. In addition, if we are required to hold a securities position as a result of an error, there may also be financing costs or regulatory capital charges required to be taken by us.

We have policies, procedures and automated controls in place to identify and manage our credit risk, though there can be no assurance that they will effectively mitigate our credit risk exposure. Some of our risk management procedures are reliant upon the evaluation of information regarding the fixed-income markets, our clients or other relevant matters that are publicly available or otherwise acquired from third party sources. Such information may not be accurate, complete, up-to-date or properly assessed and interpreted by us. If our risk management procedures fail, our business, financial condition and results of operations may be adversely affected. Furthermore, our insurance policies are unlikely to provide coverage for such risks.

Self-clearing exposes us to significant operational, liquidity, financing and regulatory risks.

We self-clear a significant percentage of our bond transactions and we may expand self-clearing to additional products and regions in the future. Self-clearing requires us to finance transactions and maintain margin deposits at clearing organizations. Self-clearing exposes our business to operational risks, including business and technology disruption; operational inefficiencies; liquidity, financing and regulatory risks; and potentially increased expenses. In the U.S., the SEC has adopted final rule amendments that, effective May 2024, will shorten the standard settlement cycle for most broker-dealer securities transactions from two business days after the trade date (T+2) to one business day after the trade date (T+1). The shortening of the settlement cycle will lead to a reduction in the length of exposure to trading counterparties and lower margin requirements for our clearing operations, but it is also expected to increase the operational costs and complexities associated with cross border transactions conducted on our platforms. We have in the past and may in the future also encounter difficulties with self-clearing that lead to operating inefficiencies, technology issues, dissatisfaction amongst our client base, disruption in the infrastructure that supports the business, inadequate liquidity, increased margin requirements with clearing organizations and third-party settlement agents who provide financing with respect to transactions, reductions in available borrowing capacity and financial loss. Any such delay, disruption, expense or failure could adversely affect our ability to effect transactions and manage our exposure to risk. Moreover, any of these events could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and operating results.

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Economic sanctions levied against states or individuals could expose us to significant operational and regulatory risks.

Sanctions imposed by the United States or other countries in response to conflicts or other geopolitical events could adversely impact the financial markets and the global economy, and any economic countermeasures by the affected countries or others could exacerbate market and economic instability. For example, in February 2022, following the onset of the Russia-Ukraine war, the U.S., the U.K., and the E.U., among others, adopted sanctions that, in various ways, prohibited transactions with numerous Russian entities, including major Russian banks, and individuals; limited transactions in Russian sovereign debt; and constrained investment, trade and financing to, from or in certain regions of Ukraine. We did not incur any material losses on trades that were unsettled at the time sanctions were imposed and our business has not otherwise been materially affected by the recent sanctions. Our financial position and results of operations may be adversely affected if these sanctions are further expanded or the ongoing war or geopolitical tensions have further adverse effects on the global economy or the participants on our platforms. In addition, any such sanctions may limit our ability to effect transactions in certain instruments on our platforms.

Technology, IT Systems and Cybersecurity Risks

Rapid market or technological changes may render our technology obsolete or decrease the attractiveness of our products and services to our broker-dealer and institutional investor clients.

We must continue to enhance and improve our electronic trading platforms. The electronic financial services industry is characterized by significant structural changes, increasingly complex systems and infrastructures, changes in clients’ needs and preferences, constant competition and new business models. If new industry standards and practices emerge and our competitors release new technology before us, our existing technology, systems and electronic trading platforms may become obsolete or our existing business may be harmed. Our future success will depend on our ability to: (1) enhance our existing products and services; (2) develop and/or license new products and technologies that address the increasingly sophisticated and varied needs of our broker-dealer and institutional investor clients and prospective clients; (3) continue to attract highly-skilled technology personnel; and (4) respond to technological advances and emerging industry standards and practices on a cost-effective and timely basis.

Developing our electronic trading platforms and other technology entails significant technical and business risks. We may use new technologies ineffectively or we may fail to adapt our electronic trading platforms, information databases and network infrastructure to broker-dealer or institutional investor client requirements or emerging industry or regulatory standards. If we face material delays in introducing new services, products and enhancements, such as X-Pro, our clients may forego the use of our platforms and use those of our competitors.

Further, the adoption of new internet, networking, cloud, telecommunications, AI, generative AI or blockchain technologies may require us to devote substantial resources to modify and adapt our services. We may not be able to successfully implement new technologies or adapt our proprietary technology and transaction-processing systems to client requirements or emerging industry or regulatory standards. We may not be able to respond in a timely manner to changing market conditions or client requirements.

We depend on third-party suppliers for key products and services.

We rely on a number of third parties to supply elements of our trading, information and other systems, as well as computers and other equipment, and related support and maintenance. These providers may not be willing and/or able to (i) continue to provide these services in an efficient, cost-effective manner, if at all, (ii) adequately expand their services to meet our needs or (iii) meet the increasing regulatory requirements applicable to certain technology and data services providers to financial institutions. See “Regulatory and Legal Risks – Our business and the trading businesses of many of our clients are subject to increasingly extensive government and other regulation, which may affect our trading volumes and increase our cost of doing business.” If we are unable to make alternative arrangements for the supply of critical products or services in the event of a malfunction of a product or an interruption in or the cessation of service by an existing service provider, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially adversely affected.

In particular, we depend on third-party vendors for our bond reference databases, the clearing and settlement of certain of our Open Trading transactions and to provide the technology underpinning key portions of our MarketAxess Rates platform. We obtain essential reference data and information services from external sources, including data received from certain competitors, clients, self-regulatory organizations, rating agencies and other third-party data providers. Our reference data sources and information providers could increase the price for or withdraw their data or information services for a variety of reasons. Further, as has occurred in the past, our competitors could revise the current terms on which they provide us with data or information services or could cease providing us with data or information services altogether for a variety of reasons, including competition. Disruptions in the services provided by those third-parties to us, including as a result of their inability (due to cybersecurity incidents or otherwise) or unwillingness to continue to license products or provide technology services that are critical to the success of our business, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. For example, we used ICBC Financial Services (“ICBC”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited, to clear certain U.S. government bond trades on the MarketAxess Rates platform. Following the November 2023 ransomware attack on ICBC, we switched to a different pre-existing clearing arrangement with another clearing provider. While this event did not have a material adverse effect on the Company, similar events in the future events could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

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We also rely, and expect in the future to continue to rely, on third parties for various computer and communications systems and services, such as telephone companies, online service providers, data processors, cloud computing and data centers, software and hardware vendors. Any interruption in these or other third-party services or deterioration in their performance could impair the quality of our service. We cannot be certain of the financial viability of all of the third parties on which we rely.

We license software from third parties, much of which is integral to our electronic trading platform and our business. We also hire contractors to assist in the development, quality assurance testing and maintenance of our electronic trading platform and other systems. Continued access to these licensors and contractors on favorable contract terms or access to alternative software and information technology contractors is important to our operations. Adverse changes in any of these relationships could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

We attempt to negotiate favorable pricing, service, confidentiality and intellectual property ownership or licensing and other terms in our contracts with our third-party service providers. These contracts usually have multi-year terms. However, there is no guarantee that these contracts will not terminate and that we will be able to negotiate successor agreements or agreements with alternate service providers on competitive terms. Further, the existing agreements may bind us for a period of time to terms and technology that become obsolete as our industry and our competitors advance their own operations and use of technology.

Our success depends on maintaining the integrity and capacity of our electronic trading platforms, systems and infrastructure.

In order to be successful, we must provide reliable, secure, real-time access to our electronic trading platforms for our clients. If our trading platforms cannot cope, or expand to cope, with demand, or otherwise fail to perform, we could experience disruptions in service, slow delivery times and insufficient capacity. We have had disruptions of service in the past, and could have additional disruptions in the future, that may lead to our clients deciding to stop using or reduce their use of our platforms, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

As our operations grow in both size and scope, we will need to continually improve and upgrade our electronic trading platforms and infrastructure to accommodate potential increases in order message volume and trading volume, the trading practices of new and existing clients, regulatory changes and the development of new and enhanced trading platform features, functionalities and ancillary products and services. The expansion of our electronic trading platforms and infrastructure has required, and will continue to require, substantial financial, operational and technical resources. These resources will typically need to be committed well in advance of any actual increase in trading volumes and order messages. Our estimates of future trading volumes and order messages may not be accurate and our systems may not be able to accommodate actual trading volumes and order messages without failure or degradation of performance. Furthermore, we use new technologies to upgrade our established systems, and the development of these new technologies also entails technical, financial and business risks. We may not successfully implement new technologies or adapt our existing electronic trading platforms, technology and systems to the requirements of our broker-dealer and institutional investor clients or to emerging industry standards. The inability of our electronic trading platforms to accommodate increasing trading volume and order messages would also constrain our ability to expand our business.

Systems failures, interruptions, delays in service, catastrophic events and resulting interruptions in the availability of our trading platforms could materially harm our business and reputation.

Our business depends on the efficient and uninterrupted operation of our trading platforms, systems, networks and infrastructure. We, or our third-party providers, may experience systems failures or business interruptions in the future, as has occurred from time-to-time in the past. Our systems, networks, infrastructure and other operations, in particular our trading platforms, are vulnerable to impact or interruption from a wide variety of causes, including: irregular or heavy use of our trading platforms during peak trading times or at times of increased market volatility; power, internet or telecommunications failures; hardware failures or software errors; human error, acts of vandalism or sabotage; catastrophic events, including those that are occurring with increasing frequency due to climate change such as natural disasters and extreme weather events; acts of war or terrorism; malicious cyberattacks or cyber incidents, such as unauthorized access, ransomware, loss or destruction of data, computer viruses or other malicious code; and the loss or failure of systems over which we have no control, such as loss of support services from critical third-party providers. In addition, we may also face significant increases in our use of power and data storage and may experience a shortage of capacity and/or increased costs associated with such usage.

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Failures of, or significant interruptions, delays or disruptions to, or security breaches affecting, our systems, networks or infrastructure have in the past, and could in the future, result in: disruption to our operations, including disruptions in service to our clients; slower response times; distribution of untimely or inaccurate market data to clients who rely on this data for their trades; delays in trade execution; incomplete or inaccurate accounting, recording or processing of trades; significant expense to repair, replace or remediate systems, networks or infrastructure; financial losses and liabilities to clients; loss of clients; legal or regulatory claims, proceedings, penalties or fines. Any system failure or significant interruption, delay or disruption in our operations, or decreases in the responsiveness of our platforms, could materially harm our reputation and business and lead our clients to decrease or cease their use of our platforms. We internally support and maintain many of our systems and networks, including those underlying our trading platforms; however, we may not have sufficient personnel to properly respond to all systems, networks or infrastructure problems. Our failure to monitor or maintain our systems, networks and infrastructure, including those maintained or supported by our third-party providers, or to find a replacement for defective or obsolete components within our systems, networks and infrastructure in a timely and cost-effective manner when necessary, would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. While we generally have disaster recovery and business continuity plans that utilize industry standards and best practices for much of our business, including redundant systems, networks, computer software and hardware and data centers to address interruption to our normal course of business, our systems, networks and infrastructure may not always be fully redundant and our disaster recovery and business continuity plans may not always be sufficient or effective. Similarly, although some contracts with our third-party providers, such as our hosting facility providers, require adequate disaster recovery or business continuity capabilities, we cannot be certain that these will be adequate or implemented properly. Our disaster recovery and business continuity plans are heavily reliant on the availability of the internet and mobile phone technology, so any disruption of those systems would likely affect our ability to recover promptly from a crisis situation. If we are unable to execute our disaster recovery and business continuity plans, or if our plans prove insufficient for a particular situation or take longer than expected to implement in a crisis situation, it could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations, and our business interruption insurance may not adequately compensate us for losses that may occur.

If we experience design defects, errors, failures or delays with our platforms, products or services, our business could suffer serious harm.

Our platforms, products and services, including our automated and algorithmic trading solutions, data products and indices, may contain design defects and errors that cause them to operate incorrectly or less effectively. To the extent that any such product or service, or the Company as a whole, suffers a reputational or credibility loss, including due to a design defect or error, it could have a material adverse impact on our business. Many of our protocols also rely on data and services provided by third-party providers over which we have limited or no control and may be provided to us with defects, errors or failures. Our clients may also use our platforms, products or services together with their own software, data or products from other companies. As a result, when problems occur, it might be difficult to identify their source.

If design defects, errors or failures are discovered in our current or future platforms, protocols or products, we may not be able to correct or work around them in a cost-effective or timely manner or at all. The existence of design defects, errors, failures or delays that are significant, or are perceived to be significant, could also result in rejection or delay in market acceptance of our platforms or protocols, damage to our reputation, loss of clients and related revenues, diversion of resources, product liability claims, regulatory actions or increases in costs, any of which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Malicious cyber-attacks, attempted cybersecurity breaches, and other adverse events affecting our operational systems or infrastructure, or those of third parties, could disrupt our businesses, result in the disclosure of confidential information, damage our reputation and cause losses or regulatory penalties.

The operation of our electronic trading platforms relies on the secure processing, storage and transmission of a large amount of transactional data and other confidential sensitive data (including confidential client and personal information). Our computer systems, software and networks (or those of our third-party vendors) may be vulnerable to unauthorized access, loss or destruction of data (including confidential and personal customer information), ransomware, unavailability or disruption of service, computer viruses, acts of vandalism, or other malicious code, cyber-attack and other adverse events that could have an adverse security impact.

We deploy measures that seek to protect, detect, respond and recover from cyber threats, including identity and access controls, data protection, vulnerability management, incident response, secure product development, continuous monitoring of our networks, endpoints and systems, and maintenance of resilient backup and recovery capabilities. It is possible that such defensive measures will be unsuccessful in mitigating a cybersecurity event.

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Despite the defensive measures we have taken, we experience cybersecurity threats and incidents from time to time. However, as of the date of this report, MarketAxess has not experienced a cybersecurity threat or incident that has materially affected the Company in at least the last three years. These events may arise from external factors such as governments, organized crime, hackers, and other third parties such as infrastructure-support providers and application developers, or may originate internally from an employee or service provider to whom we have granted access to our computer systems. If our security measures are breached as a result of third-party action, employee error, malfeasance or otherwise, and, as a result, someone obtains unauthorized access to trading or other confidential or personal information, our reputation could be damaged, our business would suffer and we could incur material liability. Any such breach could compromise our networks and the information stored there could be accessed, publicly disclosed, lost or stolen. Because techniques used to obtain unauthorized access or to sabotage computer systems change frequently and generally are not recognized until launched against a target, we may be unable to anticipate these techniques or to implement adequate preventive measures.

Our business also depends on the efficient and uninterrupted operation of our platforms, systems, networks and infrastructure. Any failure of, or significant interruption, delay or disruption to, our systems, networks or infrastructure due to a ransomware attack or other cyber-attack could result in: disruption to our operations, including disruptions in service to our clients; slower response times; distribution of untimely or inaccurate market data to clients who rely on this data for their trades; delays in trade execution; incomplete or inaccurate accounting, recording or processing of trades; significant expense to repair, replace or remediate systems, networks or infrastructure; financial losses and liabilities to clients; loss of clients; legal or regulatory claims, proceedings, penalties or fines. We also face the risk of operational disruption, failure or capacity constraints of any of the third-party service providers that facilitate our business activities, including clients, clearing agents and trading system software, network or data providers. Such parties could also be the source of a cyber-attack on or breach of our operational systems, data or infrastructure. In addition, the increased flexibility for our employees to work remotely post-Pandemic has amplified certain risks related to, among other things, the increased demand on our information technology resources and systems, the increased risk of phishing and other cybersecurity attacks, and the increased number of points of possible attack, such as laptops and mobile devices (both of which are now being used in increased numbers), to be secured. Any system failure or significant interruption, delay or disruption in our operations, or decreases in the responsiveness of our platforms, could materially harm our reputation and business and lead our clients to decrease or cease their use of our trading platform.

There have been an increasing number of cyber-attacks in recent years in various industries, including ours, and cybersecurity risk management has been the subject of increasing focus by our regulators. Our regulators have increased their examination and enforcement focus on matters relating to cybersecurity threats, including the assessment of firms’ vulnerability to cyber-attacks. In particular, regulatory concerns have been raised about firms establishing effective cybersecurity governance and risk management policies, practices and procedures; protecting firm networks and information; identifying and addressing risks associated with clients, vendors, and other third parties; preventing and detecting unauthorized activities; adopting effective mitigation and business continuity plans to address the impact of cybersecurity breaches; and establishing protocols for reporting cybersecurity incidents. Any insurance that we have that may cover all or a portion of a specific cybersecurity incident would not protect us from the effects of adverse regulatory actions that may result from the incident or a finding that we had inadequate cybersecurity controls, including the reputational harm that could result from such regulatory actions.

Our remediation costs and lost revenues could be significant if we fall victim to a cyber-attack. If an actual, threatened or perceived breach of our security occurs, the market perception of the effectiveness of our security measures could be harmed and could cause our clients to reduce or stop their use of our electronic trading platforms. We may be required to expend significant resources to repair system damage, pay a ransom, protect against the threat of future security breaches or to alleviate problems, including reputational harm, loss of clients and revenues and litigation, caused by any breaches. We may be found liable to our clients for any misappropriated confidential or personal information. Although we intend to continue to implement industry-standard security measures, such measures may not be sufficient.

Our actual or perceived failure to comply with privacy, data protection, and information security laws, regulations, and obligations could harm our business.

Data privacy is subject to frequently changing rules and regulations in countries where we do business. For example, we are subject to the E.U.’s General Data Protection Regulations (“GDPR”) and the U.K. equivalent, which require us to comply with regulations regarding the handling of personal data irrespective of whether the processing of data takes place within the E.U. or not. We are also subject to certain U.S. federal, state and foreign laws governing the protection of personal privacy and data in those jurisdictions. These laws and regulations are increasing in complexity and number. In addition to the increased cost of compliance, our failure to successfully implement or comply with appropriate processes to adhere to the GDPR and other data protection and privacy laws and regulations could result in substantial financial penalties for non-compliance, expose us to litigation risk and could result in significant liability, increased costs or cause our clients to lose trust in us, which could have an adverse effect on our reputation and business.

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Intellectual Property Risks

We may not be able to protect our intellectual property rights or technology effectively, which would allow competitors to duplicate or replicate our electronic trading platforms or any of our other current or future functionalities, products or services. This could adversely affect our ability to compete.

Intellectual property is critical to our success and ability to compete, and if we fail to protect our intellectual property rights adequately, our competitors might gain access to our technology. We rely primarily on a combination of patent, copyright, trademark and trade secret laws in the United States and other jurisdictions, as well as license agreements, third-party non-disclosure and other agreements and other contractual provisions and technical measures to protect our intellectual property rights. We attempt to negotiate beneficial intellectual property ownership provisions in our contracts and also require employees, consultants, advisors and collaborators to enter into confidentiality agreements in order to protect the confidentiality of our proprietary information. We have been issued several patents covering aspects of our technology and/or business, but can give no assurances that any such patents will protect our business and processes from competition or that any patents applied for in the future will be issued. Additionally, laws and our contractual terms may not be sufficient to protect our technology from use or theft by third parties. These protections may not be adequate to prevent our competitors from independently developing technologies that are substantially equivalent or superior to our technology.

We may have legal or contractual rights that we could assert against illegal use of our intellectual property rights, but lawsuits claiming infringement or misappropriation are complex and expensive, and the outcome would not be certain. In addition, the laws of some countries in which we now or in the future provide our services may not protect software and intellectual property rights to the same extent as the laws of the United States. If our efforts to secure, protect and enforce our intellectual property rights are inadequate, or if any third party misappropriates, dilutes or infringes on our intellectual property, the value of our brand may be harmed, which could have a material adverse effect on our business.

Defending against intellectual property infringement or other claims could be expensive and disruptive to our business. If we are found to infringe the proprietary rights of others, we could be required to redesign our technology, pay royalties or enter into license agreements with third parties.

In the technology industry, there is frequent litigation based on allegations of infringement or other violations of intellectual property rights. As the number of participants in our market increases and the number of patents and other intellectual property registrations increases, the possibility of an intellectual property claim against us grows. Although we have never been the subject of a material intellectual property dispute, a third party may assert in the future that our technology or the manner in which we operate our business violates its intellectual property rights. From time to time, in the ordinary course of our business, we may become subject to legal proceedings and claims relating to the intellectual property rights of others, and we expect that third parties may assert intellectual property claims against us, particularly as we expand the complexity and scope of our business, the number of electronic trading platforms increases and the functionality of these platforms further overlaps. Any claims, whether with or without merit, could be expensive and time-consuming to defend, make it more difficult to operate or prevent us from operating our business, or portions of our business, and result in significant monetary liability.

Third parties may assert infringement claims against us, as they have done in the past, with respect to our electronic trading platforms or any of our other current or future products or services and any such assertion may require us to cease providing such services or products, try to redesign our products or services, enter into royalty arrangements, if available, or engage in litigation that could be costly to us. Any of these events could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

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Risks Related to Possible Transactions or Investments

If we acquire or invest in other businesses, products or technologies, and are unable to integrate them with our business, our financial performance may be impaired or we may not realize the anticipated financial and strategic goals for any such transactions or any strategic alliances, partnerships or joint ventures, which we may enter into.

From time to time, we may pursue acquisitions, which may not be completed or, if completed, may not be as beneficial to us as expected. We have made acquisitions in the past, including the purchases of the regulatory reporting business of Deutsche Börse in 2020, MuniBrokers in 2021 and Pragma in 2023. We also may consider potential divestitures of businesses from time to time. We routinely evaluate potential acquisition and divestiture candidates and engage in discussions and negotiations regarding potential acquisitions and divestitures on an ongoing basis; however, even if we execute a definitive agreement, there can be no assurance that we will consummate the transaction within the anticipated closing timeframe, or at all. Moreover, there is significant competition for acquisition and expansion opportunities in the electronic financial services industry.

If we do succeed in acquiring or investing in a business, product or technology, such acquisitions and investments may involve a number of risks, including:

we may find that the acquired company or assets do not further our business strategy, or that we overpaid for the company or assets, or the economic conditions underlying our acquisition decision may change;
we may have difficulty integrating the acquired technologies or products with our existing electronic trading platforms products and services;
we may have difficulty integrating the operations and personnel of the acquired business, or retaining the key personnel of the acquired business;
there may be client confusion if our services overlap with those of the acquired company and we may have difficulty retaining key customers, vendors and other business partners of the acquired business;
our ongoing business and management’s attention may be disrupted or diverted by transition or integration issues and the complexity of managing geographically or culturally diverse enterprises;
we may enter into markets, such as the equities and foreign exchange trading algorithm markets, in which we have limited experience or where competitors hold stronger market positions;
potential failure of the due diligence processes to identify significant problems, liabilities or other challenges of an acquired company or product; and
exposure to litigation or other claims in connection with, or inheritance of claims or litigation risk as a result of, an acquisition, including but not limited to, claims from terminated employees, customers, former stockholders or other third parties.

These factors could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows, particularly in the case of a larger acquisition or multiple acquisitions in a short period of time. From time to time, we may enter into negotiations for acquisitions or investments that are not ultimately consummated. Such negotiations could result in significant diversion of management time, as well as out-of-pocket costs.

The consideration paid in connection with an investment or acquisition also affects our financial results. If we were to proceed with one or more significant acquisitions in which the consideration included cash, we could be required to use a substantial portion of our available cash to consummate any acquisition. To the extent we issue shares of capital stock or other rights to purchase capital stock, including options or other rights, existing stockholders may be diluted and earnings per share may decrease. In addition, acquisitions may result in the incurrence of debt, large one-time write-offs, such as of acquired in-process research and development costs, and restructuring charges.

We may also enter into strategic alliances, partnerships or joint ventures as a means to accelerate our entry into new markets, provide new solutions or enhance our existing capabilities. For example, in 2022, we made a significant minority investment in RFQ-hub, a bilateral multi-asset and multi-dealer request for quote platform. Entering into strategic alliances, partnerships and joint ventures entails risks, including: (i) difficulties in developing or expanding the business of newly formed alliances, partnerships and joint ventures; (ii) exercising influence over the activities of joint ventures in which we do not have a controlling interest; (iii) potential conflicts with or among our partners; (iv) the possibility that our partners could take action without our approval or prevent us from taking action; and (v) the possibility that our partners become bankrupt or otherwise lack the financial resources to meet their obligations.

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Risks Related to Key Personnel and Employees

We are dependent on our management team, and the loss of any key member of this team may prevent us from implementing our business plan in a timely manner.

Our success depends largely upon the continued services of our executive officers and other key personnel, including Richard M. McVey, our founder and Executive Chairman, and Christopher Concannon, our Chief Executive Officer. The terms of Messrs. McVey’s and Concannon's employment agreements with us do not require them to continue to work for us and allow them to terminate their respective employment at any time, subject to certain notice requirements and forfeiture of non-vested equity compensation awards. We do not maintain “key person” life insurance on any of our executive officers and other key personnel. Although we have invested in succession plans and we have short-term contingency plans in place, any loss or interruption of Mr. McVey’s or Mr. Concanon's services or that of one or more of our other executive officers or key personnel for any reason, as well as any negative market or industry perception arising from such loss or interruption, could result in our inability to manage our operations effectively and/or pursue our business strategy.

Because competition for our employees is intense, we may not be able to attract and retain the highly skilled employees we need to support our business.

We strive to provide high-quality services that will allow us to establish and maintain long-term relationships with our clients. Our ability to provide these services and maintain these relationships, as well as our ability to execute our business plan generally, depends in large part upon our employees. We must attract and retain highly qualified personnel. Competition for these personnel is intense, especially for software engineers with extensive experience in designing and developing software and internet-related services, product managers and senior sales executives.

The market for qualified personnel, especially software developers, has become increasingly competitive in our talent markets. Many companies, including both our competitors and firms outside of our industry, are interested in hiring our experienced personnel. Additionally, highly innovative technology firms both in and outside our traditional geographic markets may offer attractive employment opportunities to our technology personnel through remote work opportunities. Many of these firms have greater resources than we have and are able to offer more lucrative compensation packages. We may not be successful in our efforts to recruit and retain the required personnel. The failure to attract new personnel or to retain and motivate our current personnel may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

Regulatory and Legal Risks

We operate in a highly regulated industry and we may face restrictions with respect to the way we conduct certain of our operations.

Our business is subject to increasingly extensive governmental and other regulations. These regulations are designed to protect public interests generally rather than the interests of our stockholders. The SEC, FINRA and other agencies extensively regulate the United States financial services industry, including most of our operations in the United States. Much of our international operations are subject to similar regulations in their respective jurisdictions, including regulations overseen by the FCA in the U.K., the AFM in the Netherlands, ESMA in the E.U., the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada and provincial regulators in Canada, and the Securities and Exchange Commission and Central Bank in Brazil. In addition, our regulatory reporting business is registered as an ARM and APA with the FCA and ESMA. We also hold several cross-border licenses and permissions with various other regulatory bodies. See Part I, Item 1 “Business – Government Regulation – Non-U.S. Regulation.”

As a matter of public policy, these regulatory bodies are responsible for safeguarding the integrity of the securities and other financial markets and protecting the interests of investors in those markets. These regulatory bodies have broad powers to promulgate and interpret, investigate and sanction non-compliance with their laws, rules and regulations. Most aspects of our broker-dealer and other licensed subsidiaries are highly regulated, including the way we deal with our clients; our capital requirements; our financial and regulatory reporting practices; required record-keeping and record retention procedures; the licensing of our employees; and the conduct of our directors, officers, employees and affiliates.

We and/or our directors, officers and employees may not be able to fully comply with these laws, rules and regulations. If we fail to comply with any of these laws, rules or regulations, we may be subject to censure, fines, cease-and-desist orders, suspension of our business, suspensions of personnel or other sanctions, including revocation of our membership in FINRA and registration as a broker-dealer.

Certain of our regulated subsidiaries, including our registered broker-dealers and MTFs, are subject to U.S. or foreign regulations which prohibit repayment of borrowings from us or our affiliates, paying cash dividends, making loans to us or our affiliates or otherwise entering into transactions that result in a significant reduction in regulatory net capital or financial resources, without prior notification to or approval from such subsidiary’s principal regulator.

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Our ability to operate our platforms in a jurisdiction may be dependent on continued registration or authorization in that jurisdiction or the maintenance of a proper exemption from such registration or authorization. Our ability to comply with all applicable laws and rules is largely dependent on our compliance, credit approval, audit and reporting systems and procedures, as well as our ability to attract and retain qualified compliance, credit approval, audit and risk management personnel. Our systems and procedures may not be sufficiently effective to prevent a violation of all applicable rules and regulations. In addition, the growth and expansion of our business may create additional strain on our compliance systems, procedures and personnel and has resulted, and we expect will continue to result, in increased costs to maintain and improve these systems.

In addition, because our industry is heavily regulated, regulatory approval may be required in order to continue or expand our business activities and we may not be able to obtain the necessary regulatory approvals on a timely or cost-effective basis, or at all. Even if approvals are obtained, they may impose restrictions on our business or we may not be able to continue to comply with the terms of the approvals or applicable regulations. The implementation of unfavorable regulations or unfavorable interpretations of existing regulations by courts or regulatory bodies could require us to incur significant compliance costs or cause the development or continuation of business activities in affected markets to be curtailed or become impractical. For a further description of the regulations which may limit our activities, see Part I, Item 1. “Business—Government Regulation.”

Some of our subsidiaries are subject to regulations regarding changes in control of their ownership. These regulations generally provide that regulatory approval must be obtained in connection with any transaction resulting in a change in control of the subsidiary, which may include changes in control of MarketAxess. As a result of these regulations, our future efforts to sell shares or raise additional capital may be delayed or prohibited in circumstances in which such a transaction would give rise to a change in control as defined by the applicable regulatory body.

Our business and the trading businesses of many of our clients are subject to increasingly extensive government and other regulation, which may affect our trading volumes and increase our cost of doing business.

Our business, and the business of many of our clients, is subject to extensive regulation. Governmental and regulatory authorities periodically review legislative and regulatory initiatives, and may promulgate new or revised, or adopt changes in the interpretation and enforcement of existing, rules and regulations at any time. In addition, we must comply with the laws, regulations and registration rules of foreign governments and regulatory bodies for each country in which we conduct business. Any such changes in laws, rules or regulations or in governmental policies could create additional regulatory exposure for our business, cause us to incur significant additional costs, require us to change or cease aspects of our business or restrict or limit our ability to grow our business, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations. For example, DORA, which focuses on the security of network and information systems of financial services entities as well as ICTs is expected to become applicable to portions of our business in January 2025. DORA will, among other things, introduce significant additional ICT-related governance, risk management, resilience testing and sub-contracting requirements. In addition, we are subject to ESMA’s guidelines on outsourcing to cloud service providers, which impose additional risk management, contractual and notification requirements related to material cloud service providers. Further, regulators are increasingly looking to regulate use of advanced data processing technologies such as AI or machine learning, which may impact our operations as well as our products that incorporate such technologies. There have been in the past, and could be in the future, additional significant technological, operational and compliance costs associated with the obligations that derive from compliance with evolving laws, rules and regulations.

We cannot predict whether additional changes to the laws, rules and regulations that govern our business and operations, including changes to their interpretation, implementation or enforcement, will occur in the future or the extent to which any such changes will impact our business and operations, but they may cause us to expend significantly more compliance, business and technology resources, incur additional operational costs and create additional regulatory exposure. For example, the SEC has proposed rules that will expand Regulation ATS and Regulation SCI to alternative trading systems (ATS) that trade government securities and amend the SEC rule regarding the definition of an “exchange” to include Communication Protocol Systems, such as our RFQ protocols. Based on these proposed rules, we expect that we will have to operate all of our trading protocols in compliance with Regulation ATS and we could become subject to Regulation SCI for certain parts of our business in the future.

The SEC has also adopted final rule amendments that, effective May 2024, will shorten the standard settlement cycle for most broker-dealer securities transactions from two business days after the trade date (T+2) to one business day after the trade date (T+1). The shortening of the settlement cycle will lead to a reduction in the length of exposure to trading counterparties and lower margin requirements for our clearing operations, but it is also expected to increase the operational costs and complexities associated with cross border transactions conducted on our platforms. The impact of any of these reform efforts on us and our operations remains uncertain.

The SEC also adopted final rules on December 13, 2023 regarding the central clearing of certain secondary market transactions involving U.S. Treasury securities. This central clearing mandate will impact certain of our participants who do not centrally clear such trades today, and some have expressed concerns about the potential impact of additional clearing costs. The full impact of this change, and what effect it will have, whether positive or negative, on our industry, our clients or us is unknown at this time.

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Further, we and/or our clients could become subject to future legislation and regulatory requirements beyond those currently proposed, adopted or contemplated in the U.S. or abroad. Additionally, unintended consequences of such new laws, rules and regulations may adversely affect our industry, our clients and us in ways yet to be determined. Any such legal and regulatory changes could affect us in substantial and unpredictable ways, and could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

The growing divergence of the U.K. and European Union legal and regulatory requirements following Brexit could materially adversely impact our business, clients, financial condition, results of operations and prospects.

The U.K.’s exit from the E.U. has increased the operational complexity and cost of conducting business in both the E.U. and the U.K., and has introduced significant new barriers to cross-border trading, including uncertainties with respect to the legal and regulatory requirements to which we and our clients are subject. Brexit has led to a growing divergence between the U.K. and E.U. financial regulations, which may impact our ability to comply with the extensive government regulation to which we are subject. In addition, the cost and complexity of operating across increasingly divergent regulatory regimes has required us to make changes to the technology underlying our trading platforms and regulatory reporting systems in the U.K. and E.U., which has resulted in new regulatory and operational costs and challenges. We expect the cost and complexity of complying with diverging E.U. and U.K. financial regulations will continue to increase following the implementation of the amendments to the FSMA in the U.K., the MiFIR Review and DORA see Part I, Item 1. “Business—Government Regulation—Non-U.S. Regulation.” In addition, as a result of Brexit, the E.U. regulatory authorities may enact regulatory changes that may affect our business by creating further market fragmentation.

Any of the foregoing factors could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

The extensive regulation of our business means we have ongoing exposure to potentially significant costs and penalties.

Our businesses are subject to regulation by governmental and self-regulatory organizations in the jurisdictions in which we operate around the world. Many of these regulators, including U.S. and non-U.S. government agencies and self-regulatory organizations, as well as state securities commissions in the U.S., are empowered to bring enforcement actions and to conduct administrative proceedings and examinations, inspections, and investigations, which may result in costs, penalties, fines, enhanced oversight, additional requirements, restrictions, or limitations, and censure, suspension, or expulsion. Self-regulatory organizations such as FINRA, along with statutory bodies, such as the SEC, the FCA, the AFM and ESMA and other international regulators, require strict compliance with their rules and regulations.

Firms in the financial services industry have experienced increased scrutiny in recent years, and penalties, fines and other sanctions sought by regulatory authorities, including the SEC, FINRA, state securities commissions and state attorney generals in the U.S., and the FCA, ESMA and other international regulators, have increased accordingly. Accordingly, we face the risk of regulatory intervention, investigations and proceedings, any of which could involve extensive scrutiny of our activities and result in significant fines and liability. Any of these developments would require significant time and financial resources and could adversely affect our reputation, financial condition and operating results.

We are subject to the risks of litigation and securities laws liability.

Many aspects of our business, and the businesses of our clients, involve substantial risks of liability. Dissatisfied clients may make claims against us regarding quality of trade execution, improperly settled trades, resolution of trade error claims, system failures, failure to protect their confidential or personal information, mismanagement or even fraud. We may become subject to these claims as the result of delays, failures or malfunctions of our electronic trading platform and the services provided by us. We could incur significant legal expenses defending claims, even those without merit. An adverse resolution of any lawsuits or claims against us could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

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ESG and Climate Risks

Our operations, businesses and clients could be materially adversely affected by climate change and we are subject to other ESG risks that could adversely affect our reputation.

There is increasing concern over the risks of climate change and related environmental sustainability matters. The physical risks of climate change include rising average global temperatures, rising sea levels and an increase in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events and natural disasters, including floods, wildfires, hurricanes and tornadoes. The impact of such events could increase because of the geographical concentration of our operations and personnel in certain areas of the U.S. Any of our primary locations or those of third parties on which we rely may be vulnerable to the adverse physical effects of climate change, which could result in risk of loss incurred as a result of physical damage, power outages, or business interruption caused by such events.

In addition, governments, investors, employees, customers, and the general public are increasingly focused on ESG practices and disclosures. For example, certain investors are incorporating the business risks of climate change and the adequacy of companies’ responses to climate change and other ESG matters as part of their investment theses and policies. Conversely, certain U.S. states have restricted state-controlled funds from investing based on ESG factors. Our reputation could be adversely impacted by our sustainability practices and ESG disclosures or investor perceptions thereof, including if we fail to establish measurable environmental goals or subsequently fail to meet any such goals or if the Company is perceived to have not responded appropriately to the growing concern for ESG or climate issues. Any negative publicity we receive regarding ESG, low ESG scores or ratings, or shifts in investing priorities may adversely affect the trading price of our common stock or our business, operations and earnings.

Finally, the Company could experience increased operating costs or capital expenditures associated with complying with new disclosure-based or emissions-reduction requirements.

Liquidity and Funding Risks

We cannot predict our future capital needs or our ability to obtain additional financing if we need it.

Our business is dependent upon the availability of adequate funding and regulatory capital under applicable regulatory requirements. The growth of our Open Trading protocols, in particular, is dependent on the willingness of our customers and counterparties to engage in transactions with us and any perceived issues with our capital levels or access to funding could have a material adverse effect on business. As a result of our self-clearing and settlement activities, we are also required to finance certain transactions, maintain deposits with various clearing organizations and clearing broker-dealers and maintain a special reserve bank account for the benefit of customers pursuant to Rule 15c3-3 of the Exchange Act. Although we believe that our available cash resources and borrowing capacity under our credit agreement are sufficient to meet our presently anticipated liquidity needs and capital expenditure requirements for at least the next 12 months, we may in the future need to raise additional funds to, among other things: (1) support more rapid growth of our business; (2) finance transactions and maintain margin deposits at clearing organizations; (3) acquire complementary companies or technologies; (4) increase the regulatory net capital necessary to support our operations; or (5) respond to unanticipated or changing capital requirements.

In addition, our liquidity could be impaired due to circumstances that we may be unable to control, such as a general market disruption or an operational problem that affects our trading customers or counterparties, other third parties or us.

All or part of any debt financing could be pursuant to the terms of our credit agreements with third party lenders, which include restrictive covenants with respect to dividends, issuances of additional capital and other financial and operational matters related to our business.

In the future, we may not be able to obtain additional financing, if needed, in amounts or on terms acceptable to us, if at all. If sufficient funds are not available or are not available on terms acceptable to us, our ability to fund our expansion, finance transactions and maintain margin deposits at clearing organizations, take advantage of acquisition opportunities, develop or enhance our services or products, or otherwise respond to competitive pressures would be significantly limited. These limitations could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

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Our credit agreement contains restrictive and financial covenants that could limit our operating flexibility, and we may incur additional debt in the future that may include similar or additional restrictions.

We are party to a credit agreement that provides for revolving loans and letters of credit up to an aggregate of $750.0 million. Subject to the satisfaction of certain specified conditions, we are permitted to upsize the borrowing capacity of the credit agreement by an additional $375.0 million. Our credit agreement contains certain covenants that, among other things, may restrict our ability to take certain actions, even if we believe them to be in our best interests. These covenants may restrict or prohibit, among other things, our ability to:

incur or guarantee additional debt;
create or incur liens;
change our line of business;
sell or transfer assets;
make certain investments or acquisitions;
pay dividends or distributions, redeem or repurchase our equity or make certain other restricted payments;
consummate a merger or consolidation;
enter into certain swap, derivative or similar transactions;
enter into certain transactions with affiliates; and
incur restrictions on our ability to grant liens or, in the case of subsidiaries, pay dividends or other distributions.

We are also required by our credit agreement to maintain a maximum consolidated total net leverage ratio and a minimum regulatory net capital balance for certain subsidiaries. We may not be able to meet these requirements or satisfy these covenants in the future. A breach of any of these covenants or the inability to comply with the required financial covenants could result in an event of default under the credit agreement. If any such event of default occurs, the lenders under the credit agreement could elect to declare all amounts outstanding and accrued and unpaid interest under the credit agreement to be immediately due and payable, and could foreclose on the assets securing the credit agreement. The lenders would also have the right in these circumstances to terminate any commitments they have to provide further credit extensions. We may incur other indebtedness in the future that may contain financial or other covenants more restrictive than those applicable to the credit agreement.

We maintain our cash at financial institutions, often in balances that exceed federally insured limits.

We regularly maintain cash balances with other financial institutions in excess of the FDIC insurance limit. A failure of any of the depository institutions that hold our deposits could impact access to our invested cash or cash equivalents and could adversely impact our operating liquidity and financial performance.

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Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments.

None.

Item 1C. Cybersecurity

As a global technology company, and the provider of electronic trading platforms and solutions for fixed-income and other securities, we view cybersecurity as fundamental to our business. Accordingly, we aim to appropriately secure all of our business operations, including information that we generate in the performance of our services, and data provided to us by third parties, including clients, vendors, business partners and employees.

Risk Management and Strategy

The Company has adopted an Enterprise Risk and Resilience Framework (the “ERRF”) to identify, assess, monitor, and control the Company’s risks, including cybersecurity risks. Our Chief Risk Officer (the “CRO”) is responsible for implementing and executing the ERRF. The Company’s information security team is staffed with skilled professionals who manage the safeguarding of our information and is led by our Chief Information Security Officer (the “CISO”). This team is responsible for aligning our practices with the requirements of local regulations and the voluntary standards to which we strive to adhere, such as ISO/IEC 27001 and the Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”) Cyber Security Framework. The CISO reports directly to our Chief Information Officer (the “CIO”) and CRO. The CIO is responsible for designing and executing the Company’s technology strategy, which includes overseeing the Company’s cybersecurity strategy.

The Company’s cybersecurity policies, standards, processes and practices are fully integrated into the Company’s ERRF and are based on recognized frameworks established by NIST, the International Organization for Standardization and other applicable industry standards. In general, the Company seeks to address cybersecurity risks through a comprehensive, cross-functional approach that is focused on preserving the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the information that the Company collects and stores by identifying, preventing and mitigating cybersecurity threats and effectively responding to cybersecurity incidents when they occur.

As one of the critical elements of the Company’s overall ERRF approach, the Company’s cybersecurity program is focused on the following key areas:

Governance: As discussed below in more detail under the heading “The Board’s Oversight of Cybersecurity Risk,” the Board’s oversight of cybersecurity risk management is supported by the Risk Committee of the Board (the “Risk Committee”), which regularly interacts with the Company’s CRO, CIO, CISO and other members of management.
Collaborative Approach: The Company has implemented a comprehensive, cross-functional approach to identification, protection, detection, response and recovery from cybersecurity threats and incidents, while also implementing controls and procedures that are designed to provide for the prompt escalation of certain cybersecurity incidents so that decisions regarding the public disclosure and reporting of such incidents can be made by management in a timely manner.
Technical Safeguards: The Company deploys technical safeguards that are designed to protect the Company’s information systems from cybersecurity threats, including firewalls, intrusion prevention and detection systems, anti-malware functionality and access controls, which are evaluated and improved through vulnerability assessments and cybersecurity threat intelligence.
Incident Response and Recovery Planning: The Company has established and maintains its Information Security Incident Management Policy that addresses the Company’s response to a cybersecurity incident, and such policy is tested and evaluated on a regular basis. The policy applies to all full- and part-time employees and contractors. The goal of the policy is to restore normal service operation as quickly as possible following an event, provide timely and accurate information to relevant stakeholders regarding such an event, as appropriate, and minimize the impact of such an event on our business operations. The policy is designed to ensure that we are meeting both our contractual and regulatory requirements related to cybersecurity events.
Data Collection, Use, Processing and Monitoring: The Company maintains robust policies and procedures relating to our data collection, use and processing activities as well as mechanisms for monitoring our data systems and usage. We do not have retail clients and any gathering and maintaining of individual consumer data is very limited. We seek to maintain compliance with global data protection laws, including the EU General Data Protection Regulation (the “GDPR”), the UK Data Protection regime and the California Consumer Privacy Act (the “CCPA”), in the countries in which we operate, and meet our contractual commitments to our clients.

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Third-Party Risk Management: The Company maintains a comprehensive, risk-based approach to identifying and overseeing cybersecurity risks presented by third parties, including vendors, service providers and other external users of the Company’s systems, as well as the systems of third parties that could adversely impact our business in the event of a cybersecurity incident affecting those third-party systems.
Education and Awareness: The Company provides regular, mandatory training for personnel regarding cybersecurity threats as a means to equip the Company’s personnel with effective tools to address cybersecurity threats, and to communicate the Company’s evolving information security policies, standards, processes and practices. In addition, the Company provides regular, mandatory training for personnel regarding key data privacy laws and the appropriate collection, use, and storage of data.

We periodically assess and test our policies, standards, processes and practices that are designed to address cybersecurity threats and incidents. These efforts include a wide range of activities, including audits, assessments, tabletop exercises, vulnerability testing and other exercises focused on evaluating the effectiveness of our cybersecurity measures and planning. The Company regularly engages third parties to perform assessments on our cybersecurity measures, including information security maturity assessments, audits and independent reviews of our information security control environment and operating effectiveness. The results of such assessments, audits and reviews are reported, as appropriate, to the Risk Committee, and the Company adjusts its cybersecurity policies, standards, processes and practices as necessary based on the information provided by these assessments, audits and reviews.

We experience cybersecurity threats and incidents from time to time. However, as of the date of this report, we have not experienced a cybersecurity threat or incident that has materially affected the Company in at least the last three years. While we are not currently aware of any risks from cybersecurity threats that are reasonably likely to materially affect the Company, please see Part I, Item 1A. – “Risk Factors – Malicious cyber-attacks, attempted cybersecurity breaches, and other adverse events affecting our operational systems or infrastructure, or those of third parties, could disrupt our businesses, result in the disclosure of confidential information, damage our reputation and cause losses or regulatory penalties.”

The Board’s Oversight of Cybersecurity Risk

The Board recognizes the critical importance of maintaining the trust and confidence of our clients, business partners and employees. The Board is actively involved in oversight of the Company’s ERRF, and cybersecurity represents an important component of the Company’s overall approach to enterprise risk management. The Board is responsible for overseeing the Company’s risk management processes over the short-, medium- and long-term by staying informed of the Company’s material risks and evaluating whether management has reasonable controls in place to address such material risks. As part of its oversight responsibilities, the Board dedicates meaningful time and attention to oversight of cybersecurity risk. The Board is not responsible, however, for defining or managing the Company’s various risks. See “Management’s Involvement in Cybersecurity Risk Oversight” below.

The Board and its committees oversee risk through regular reports from management. The Board’s committees report on the matters discussed at the committee level to the full Board. The Risk Committee has primary responsibility for cybersecurity oversight. In that capacity, the Risk Committee receives quarterly presentations and reports, as well as additional reports as needed, on cybersecurity risks. Such reports address a wide range of topics including recent developments, evolving standards, vulnerability assessments, third-party and independent reviews, the threat environment, technological trends and information security considerations arising with respect to the Company’s peers and third parties. The Board and the Risk Committee also receive prompt and timely information regarding any cybersecurity incident that meets established internal escalation thresholds, as well as ongoing updates regarding any such incident until it has been addressed.

Management’s Involvement in Cybersecurity Risk Oversight

The CISO, in coordination with the Information Security Management System Committee, which includes our Chief Executive Officer and Interim Chief Financial Officer (“CEO”), CIO, CRO and General Counsel & Corporate Secretary (the “GC”), works collaboratively across the Company to implement a program designed to protect the Company’s information systems from cybersecurity threats and to promptly respond to any cybersecurity incidents in accordance with the Company’s incident response and recovery plans. To facilitate the success of the Company’s cybersecurity risk management program, multidisciplinary teams throughout the Company are deployed to address cybersecurity threats and to respond to cybersecurity incidents. Through ongoing communications with these teams, the CISO and the Information Security Management System Committee monitor the prevention, detection, mitigation and remediation of cybersecurity threats and incidents in real time, and report such threats and incidents to the Risk Committee and/or the full Board when appropriate.

The CISO has served in various roles in information technology and information security for over 30 years, including previously serving as the Deputy Chief Information Security Officer of a large European banking group. The CISO has attained the professional certification of Certified Information System Security Professional (CISSP). The CIO holds undergraduate and masters degrees in computer science and has served in various roles in information technology for over 25 years. The Company’s CRO holds an undergraduate degree and has over 25 years of experience managing risks, including risks arising from cybersecurity threats.

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The Company is ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certified, which is a global standard that specifies the requirements for establishing, implementing, maintaining, and continually improving information security management systems. Additionally, we have received an independent examination regarding our compliance with SOC 2 Type 1 and Type 2.

Item 2. Properties.

Our corporate headquarters and principal U.S. office is located at 55 Hudson Yards in New York, New York, where we lease approximately 83,000 square feet under a lease expiring in August 2034. We also collectively lease approximately 59,000 square feet for our other office locations in jurisdictions such as the U.S., United Kingdom, Brazil, the Netherlands, Hong Kong and Singapore.

In the normal course of business, we and our subsidiaries included in the consolidated financial statements may be involved in various lawsuits, proceedings and regulatory examinations. We assess liabilities and contingencies in connection with outstanding legal proceedings, if any, utilizing the latest information available. Based on currently available information, the outcome of our outstanding matters is not expected to have a material adverse impact on our financial position. It is not presently possible to determine our ultimate exposure to these matters and there is no assurance that the resolution of the outstanding matters will not significantly exceed any reserves accrued by us. See Note 15 to the Consolidated Financial Statements for a discussion of our commitments and contingencies.

Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures.

Not applicable.

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PART II

Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities.

Our common stock trades on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol “MKTX”.

On February 20, 2024, the last reported closing price of our common stock on the NASDAQ Global Select Market was $213.98.

Holders

There were 15 holders of record of our common stock as of February 20, 2024.

Recent Sales of Unregistered Securities

None.

Securities Authorized for Issuance Under Equity Compensation Plans

Please see the section entitled “Equity Compensation Plan Information” in Item 12.

Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

During the three months ended December 31, 2023, we repurchased the following shares of common stock:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Period

 

Total Number of Shares Purchased

 

 

Average Price Paid per Share

 

 

Total Number of Shares Purchased as Part of Publicly Announced Plans or Programs

 

 

Approximate Dollar Value of Shares That May Yet Be Purchased Under the Plans or Programs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(In thousands)

 

October 1, 2023 - October 31, 2023

 

 

853

 

 

$

213.64

 

 

 

 

 

$

100,016

 

November 1, 2023 - November 30, 2023

 

 

19,773

 

 

 

222.86

 

 

 

 

 

 

100,016

 

December 1, 2023 - December 31, 2023

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

100,016

 

Total

 

 

20,626

 

 

$

222.48

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the three months ended December 31, 2023, we repurchased 20,626 shares of common stock that were surrendered to us to satisfy withholding tax obligations upon the exercise of stock options and vesting of restricted shares and restricted stock units. There were no shares repurchased in connection with our share repurchase program during the three months ended December 31, 2023.

In January 2021, our Board authorized a share repurchase program for up to $100.0 million that commenced in April 2021 and was completed in January 2022. In January 2022, our Board authorized a new share repurchase program for up to $150.0 million that commenced in March 2022. Shares repurchased under this program will be held in treasury for future use. As of December 31, 2023, we had $100.0 million of remaining capacity under the program.

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STOCK PERFORMANCE GRAPH

The following graph shows a comparison of the cumulative total return for (i) our common stock; (ii) the S&P 500 Index; and (iii) the Dow Jones U.S. Financials Index, in each case for the past five years. The performance graph and related information shall not be deemed “soliciting material” or to be “filed” with the SEC, nor shall such information be incorporated by reference into any future filing under the Securities Act or the Exchange Act, except to the extent that we specifically incorporate it by reference into such filing.

The figures in this graph assume an initial investment of $100 in our common stock and in each index on December 31, 2018, and that all dividends were reinvested. The returns illustrated below are based on historical results during the period indicated and should not be considered indicative of future stockholder returns.

 

 

img209539721_1.jpg 

 

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Item 6. [Reserved]

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Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.

You should read the following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and related notes included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. In addition to historical information, this discussion and analysis contains forward-looking statements relating to future events and the future performance of MarketAxess that are based on our current expectations, assumptions, estimates and projections about us and our industry. These forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties. Our actual results and timing of various events could differ materially from those anticipated in such forward-looking statements as a result of a variety of factors, as more fully described in this section, in “Item 1A. Risk Factors”, in “Cautionary Note Regarding Forward Looking Statements” and elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Except as may be required by applicable law, we undertake no obligation to update publicly any forward-looking statements for any reason, even if new information becomes available or other events occur in the future.

The following discussion includes a comparison of our Financial Results, Cash Flow Comparisons and Liquidity and Capital Resources for the years ended December 31, 2023 and 2022, respectively. A discussion of changes in our Financial Results and Cash Flow Comparisons from the year ended December 31, 2021 to the year ended December 31, 2022 may be found in Item 7, “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” of Part II of our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2022.

Executive Overview

MarketAxess operates leading electronic trading platforms delivering greater trading efficiency, a diversified pool of liquidity and significant cost savings to our clients across the global fixed-income markets. Over 2,000 institutional investor and broker-dealer firms use our patented trading technology to efficiently trade U.S. high-grade bonds, U.S. high-yield bonds, emerging market debt, Eurobonds, municipal bonds, U.S. government bonds and other fixed-income securities. Our award-winning Open Trading marketplace is widely regarded as the preferred all-to-all trading solution in the global credit markets, creating a unique liquidity pool for a broad range of credit market participants. We leverage our diverse set of trading protocols, automated and algorithmic trading solutions, intelligent data and index products and a range of post-trade services to provide an end-to-end trading solution to our robust network of platform participants.

We provide automated and algorithmic trading solutions that we believe, when combined with our integrated and actionable data offerings, will help our clients make faster, better-informed decisions on when and how to trade on our platforms. In 2023, we introduced X-Pro, our newest trading platform, to more seamlessly combine our trading protocols with our proprietary data and pre-trade analytics. We expect that our recent acquisition of Pragma, a quantitative trading technology provider specializing in algorithmic and analytical trading services, will accelerate our development of AI driven execution algorithms across all of our key product areas.

We operate in a large and growing market that provides us with a significant opportunity for future growth, due, in part, to the relatively low levels of electronic trading in many of our largest current product areas. We offer Open Trading for most of our products in order to capitalize on this addressable market by increasing the number of potential trading counterparties and providing our clients with a menu of solutions at each step in the trading process. We believe that Open Trading drives meaningful price improvement for our clients and reduces risk in fixed-income markets by creating a global, diversified pool of liquidity whereby our institutional investor, dealer and alternative liquidity provider clients can all interact on an anonymous basis. Institutional investors can also send trading inquiries directly to their traditional broker-dealer counterparties on a disclosed basis, while simultaneously accessing additional counterparties through our anonymous Open Trading solutions.

We also provide a number of integrated and actionable data offerings, including CP+™ and Axess All®, to assist clients with real-time pricing and trading decisions and transaction cost analysis. We have a range of post-trade services, including straight-through processing, post-trade matching, trade publication, regulatory transaction reporting and market and reference data across fixed-income and other products.

We derive revenue from commissions for transactions executed on our platforms, information services, post-trade services and technology services. Our expenses consist of employee compensation and benefits, depreciation and amortization, technology and communication expenses, professional and consulting fees, occupancy, marketing and advertising, clearing costs and general and administrative expenses.

Our objective is to provide the leading global electronic trading platforms for fixed-income securities, connecting broker-dealers and institutional investors more easily and efficiently, while offering a broad array of trading information and technology services to market participants across the trading cycle. The key elements of our strategy are discussed in Part I, Item 1. “Business – Our Strategy.”

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Critical Factors Affecting Our Industry and Our Company

Economic, Political and Market Factors

The global fixed-income securities industry is risky and volatile and is directly affected by a number of economic, political and market factors that may impact trading volume. These factors could have a material adverse or positive effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. These factors include, among others, credit market conditions, the current interest rate environment, including the volatility of interest rates and investors’ forecasts of future interest rates, the duration of bonds traded, economic and political conditions in the United States, Europe and elsewhere, and the consolidation or contraction of our broker-dealer and institutional investor clients.

During the second and third quarters of 2023, we experienced challenging operating conditions in the fixed-income markets, as the prospect of renewed inflation triggered a rapid rise in long-term bond yields. Such rise in bond yields during the second and third quarters of 2023 coupled with lower years to maturity of the bonds traded on our platforms relative to 2022 resulted in a decrease in the duration of U.S. high-grade bonds traded on our platforms, which had a negative effect on our average variable transaction fee per million, principally in U.S. high-grade during the quarters. In addition, the low levels of credit spread volatility during the second and third quarters of 2023 contributed to a decrease in ETF market maker activity, which we believe had a negative impact on our ability to increase our U.S. high-yield volumes. In the fourth quarter of 2023, market volatility increased, which benefited ETF market maker activity and U.S. high-grade and U.S. high-yield market volumes.

The failures of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank in March 2023 created bank-specific and broader financial institution liquidity risk and concerns, which may result in stricter bank capital and liquidity requirements. Future adverse developments with respect to specific financial institutions or the broader financial services industry may lead to market-wide liquidity shortages, impair the ability of companies to access working capital needs, and create additional market and economic uncertainty.

There has been increased demand for green bonds and other securities linked to environmental, social and governance factors in the fixed-income markets in which we operate.

Because the majority of our assets are short-term in nature, they are not significantly affected by inflation. However, the rate of inflation impacts our expenses, such as employee compensation, technology and communications expenses, which may not be readily recoverable in the prices of our services. To the extent inflation continues to result in rising interest rates or has other adverse effects on the securities markets or the economy, it may adversely affect our financial position and results of operations.

We expect that current cash and investment balances, in combination with cash flows that are generated from operations and the ability to borrow under our 2023 Credit Agreement (as defined below), will be sufficient to meet our liquidity needs and planned capital expenditure requirements for at least the next twelve months. We ended the quarter with $749.9 million in available borrowing capacity under the 2023 Credit Agreement and capital significantly in excess of our regulatory requirements.

Competitive Landscape

The global fixed-income securities industry generally, and the electronic financial services markets in which we engage in particular, are highly competitive, and we expect competition to intensify in the future. Sources of competition for us will continue to include, among others, bond trading conducted directly between broker-dealers and their institutional investor clients over the telephone or electronically and other multi-dealer or all-to-all trading platforms. Competitors, including companies in which some of our broker-dealer clients have invested, have developed or acquired electronic trading platforms or have announced their intention to explore the development of electronic platforms or information networks that may compete with us.

We primarily compete on the basis of our client network, the liquidity provided by our dealer, and, to a lesser extent, institutional investor clients, the total transaction costs associated with our services, the breadth of products, protocols and services offered, as well as the quality, reliability, security and ease of use of our platforms. We believe that our ability to grow volumes and revenues will largely depend on our performance with respect to these factors.

There has been increased demand for portfolio trading workflows over the last few years, which has resulted in heightened competition among trading platforms to enhance their portfolio trading offerings and expand them across different geographies and products.

Our competitive position is enhanced by the unique liquidity provided by our Open Trading functionalities and the integration of our broker-dealer and institutional investor clients with our electronic trading platforms and other systems. We have focused on the unique aspects of the credit markets we serve in the development of our platforms, working closely with our clients to provide a system that is suited to their needs.

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Regulatory Environment

Our business is subject to extensive regulations in the United States and internationally, which may expose us to significant regulatory risk and cause additional legal costs to ensure compliance. The existing legal framework that governs the financial markets is periodically reviewed and amended, resulting in the enactment and enforcement of new laws and regulations that apply to our business. The SEC recently proposed rules that will expand Regulation ATS and Regulation SCI to alternative trading systems (ATS) that trade government securities and amend the SEC rule regarding the definition of an “exchange” to include Communication Protocol Systems, such as our RFQ protocols. Based on these proposed rules, we expect that we will have to operate all of our trading protocols in compliance with Regulation ATS and we could become subject to Regulation SCI for certain parts of our business in the future. The SEC has also adopted final rule amendments that, effective May 2024, will shorten the standard settlement cycle for most broker-dealer securities transactions from two business days after the trade date (T+2) to one business day after the trade date (T+1). The shortening of the settlement cycle will lead to a reduction in the length of exposure to trading counterparties and lower margin requirements for our clearing operations, but it is also expected to increase the operational costs and complexities associated with cross border transactions conducted on our platforms. The SEC also adopted final rules on December 13, 2023 regarding the central clearing of certain secondary market transactions involving U.S. Treasury securities. This central clearing mandate will impact certain of our participants who do not centrally clear such trades today, and some have expressed concerns about the potential impact of additional clearing costs. The impact of any of these reform efforts on us and our operations remains uncertain.

As a result of Brexit, we obtained authorizations from the AFM for our subsidiaries in the Netherlands in 2019. We now provide regulated services to our clients within the E.U. in reliance on the cross-border services passport held by our Dutch subsidiaries. Brexit has led to an ongoing divergence between the U.K. and E.U. financial regulations, which has made it more difficult and costly to comply with the extensive government regulation to which we are subject. The cost and complexity of operating across increasingly divergent regulatory regimes has increased and is likely to continue to increase in the future.

Compliance with regulations may require us to dedicate additional financial and operational resources, which may adversely affect our profitability. For example, DORA, which will become applicable to portions of our business in 2025, will require us to dedicate additional financial and operational resources to meet the significant additional ICT-related governance, risk management, resilience testing and sub-contracting requirements created by the legislation. However, we also believe new regulations may increase demand for our platforms and we believe we are well positioned to benefit from those regulatory changes that cause market participants to seek electronic trading platforms that meet the various regulatory requirements and help them comply with their regulatory obligations.

For further description of the regulations which govern our business, see Part I, Item 1. “Business—Government Regulation.”

Technology Environment

We must continue to enhance and improve our electronic trading platforms. The electronic financial services industry is characterized by increasingly complex systems and infrastructures and new business models. Our future success will depend on our ability to enhance our existing products and services, develop and/or license new products and technologies that address the increasingly sophisticated and varied needs of our existing and prospective broker-dealer and institutional investor clients and respond to technological advances and emerging industry and regulatory standards and practices on a cost-effective and timely basis. For example, in 2023, we introduced MarketAxess X-Pro, our new trading platform, which provides traders with a flexible user experience, intuitive workflows and access to our proprietary data and pre-trade analytics. We plan to continue to focus on technology infrastructure initiatives and improving our platforms with the goal of further enhancing our leading market position.

As the overall share of electronic trading grows in global credit products, we are experiencing continued demand for, and growth in, our automated and algorithmic trading solutions. We also support a large and growing base of dealer market making algorithms. In 2023, trading volumes in our automated trading protocols rose to $303.3 billion, up 37.8% from $220.2 billion in 2022. There were 204 active client firms using our automated and algorithmic trading protocols in 2023, up 25.9% from 2022. In 2023, there were 32.5 million dealer algorithmic responses on our platforms, up 37.0% from 2022.

We experience cybersecurity threats and incidents from time to time. However, as of the date of this report, MarketAxess has not experienced a cybersecurity threat or incident that has materially affected the Company in at least the past three years. Cybersecurity incidents could impact revenue and operating income and increase costs. We therefore continue to make investments in our cybersecurity infrastructure and training of employees, which may result in increased costs, to strengthen our cybersecurity measures.

See also Part I, Item 1A. - “Risk Factors, Technology, IT Systems and Cybersecurity Risks” and Part I, Item 1C – “Cybersecurity.”

Trends in Our Business

The majority of our revenue is derived from commissions for transactions executed on our platforms between and among our institutional investor and broker-dealer clients and monthly distribution fees. We believe that the following are the key variables that impact the notional value of such transactions on our platforms and the amount of commissions and distribution fees earned by us:

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the number of participants on our platforms and their willingness to use our platforms instead of competitors' platforms or other execution methods;
the frequency and competitiveness of the price responses by participants on our platforms;
the number of markets that are available for our clients to trade on our platforms;
the overall level of activity in these markets;
the duration of the bonds trading on our platforms; and
the particular fee plan under which we earn commissions and distribution fees.

We believe that overall corporate bond market trading volume is affected by various factors including the absolute levels of interest rates, the direction of interest rate movements, the level of new issues of corporate bonds and the volatility of corporate bond spreads versus U.S. Treasury securities. Because a significant percentage of our revenue is tied directly to the volume of securities traded on our platforms, it is likely that a general decline in trading volumes, regardless of the cause of such decline, would reduce our revenues and have a significant negative impact on profitability.

As further described under “— Critical Factors Affecting our Industry and our Company — Economic, Political and Market Factors” and “— Results of Operations — Year Ended December 31, 2023 Compared to Year Ended December 31, 2022”, in 2023, our trading volumes and our average variable transaction fee per million decreased.

Components of Our Results of Operations

Commission Revenue

Commissions are recognized on a trade date basis, are generally calculated as a percentage of the notional dollar volume of bonds traded on our platforms and vary based on the type, size, yield and maturity of the bond traded, as well as individual client incentives. Bonds that are more actively traded or that have shorter maturities are generally charged lower commissions, while bonds that are less actively traded or that have longer maturities generally command higher commissions.

For Open Trading trades that we execute between and among institutional investor and broker-dealer clients on a matched principal basis by serving as counterparty to both the buyer and the seller, we earn our commission through the difference in price between the two trades. For the majority of U.S. Treasury matched principal trades, commissions are invoiced and recorded on a monthly basis.

Credit Commissions. Credit includes U.S. high-grade corporate bonds, high-yield bonds, emerging markets bonds, Eurobonds, municipal bonds and leveraged loans. Our U.S. high-grade corporate bond fee plans generally incorporate variable transaction fees and fixed distribution fees billed to our broker-dealer clients on a monthly basis. Certain broker-dealers participate in fee programs that do not contain monthly distribution fees and instead incorporate additional per transaction execution fees and minimum monthly fee commitments. Under these fee plans, we electronically add the transaction fee to the spread quoted by the broker-dealer client. The U.S. high-grade transaction fee is generally designated in basis points in yield and, as a result, is subject to fluctuation depending on the duration of the bond traded.

Commissions for high-yield bonds, emerging markets bonds, Eurobonds, municipal bonds and leveraged loans generally vary based on the type of the instrument traded using standard fee schedules. Our high-yield fee plan structure is similar to our U.S. high-grade fee plans. Certain dealers participate in a high-yield fee plan that incorporates a variable transaction fee and a fixed distribution fee, while other dealers participate in a plan that does not contain monthly distribution fees and instead incorporates additional per transaction execution fees and minimum monthly fee commitments.

The average credit fees per million may vary in the future due to changes in yield, years-to-maturity and nominal size of high-grade bonds traded on our platforms and changes in product mix or trading protocols.

Credit distribution fees include any unused monthly fee commitments under our variable fee plans.

Rates Commissions. Rates includes U.S. Treasury, U.S. agency and European government bonds. Commissions for rates products generally vary based on the type of the instrument traded. U.S. Treasury fee plans are typically volume tiered and can vary based on the trading protocol. The average rates fee per million may vary in the future due to changes in product mix or trading protocols.

We anticipate that average fees per million may change in the future. Consequently, past trends in credit and rates commissions are not necessarily indicative of future commissions.

Other Commissions. Other commissions includes equities and foreign exchange commissions for Pragma's algorithmic trading services. Commissions for equities are volume-tiered and consist of variable transaction fees billed monthly, while commissions for foreign exchange generally incorporate variable transaction fees and fixed distribution fees that are billed monthly.

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Information Services

We generate revenue from data licensed to our broker-dealer clients, institutional investor clients and data-only subscribers; professional and consulting services; technology software licenses; and maintenance and support services. These revenues are either for subscription-based services transferred over time, and may be net of volume-based discounts, or one-time services. Revenues for services transferred over time are recognized ratably over the contract period while revenues for services transferred at a point in time are recognized in the period the services are provided. Customers are generally billed monthly, quarterly, or annually; revenues billed in advance are deferred and recognized ratably over the contract period.

Post-trade Services

We generate revenue from regulatory transaction reporting, trade publication and post-trade matching services. Customers are generally billed in the current month or monthly in arrears and revenue is recognized in the period that the transactions are processed. Revenues billed in advance are deferred and recognized ratably over the contract period. We also generate one-time implementation fees for onboarding clients which are invoiced and recognized in the period the implementation is complete.

Technology Services

Technology services includes technology services revenue generated by Pragma and revenue generated from telecommunications line charges to broker-dealer clients.

Expenses

In the normal course of business, we incur the following expenses:

Employee Compensation and Benefits. Employee compensation and benefits is our most significant expense and includes employee salaries, stock-based compensation costs, other incentive compensation, employee benefits and payroll taxes.

Depreciation and Amortization. We depreciate our computer hardware and related software, office hardware and furniture and fixtures and amortize our capitalized software development costs on a straight-line basis over three to seven years. We amortize leasehold improvements on a straight-line basis over the lesser of the life of the improvement or the remaining term of the lease. Intangible assets with definite lives, including purchased technologies, customer relationships and other intangible assets, are amortized over their estimated useful lives, which range from one to 15 years, using either a straight-line or accelerated amortization method based on the pattern of economic benefit that we expect to realize from such assets. Intangible assets are assessed for impairment when events or circumstances indicate a possible impairment.

Technology and Communications. Technology and communications expense consists primarily of costs relating to software and licenses, maintenance on software and hardware, cloud hosting costs, data feeds provided by outside vendors, U.S. government bonds technology platform licensing fees, data center hosting costs and our internal network connections. The majority of our broker-dealer clients have dedicated high-speed communication lines to our network in order to provide fast data transfer. We charge our broker-dealer clients a monthly fee for these connections, which is recovered against the relevant expenses we incur.

Professional and Consulting Fees. Professional and consulting fees consist primarily of accounting fees, legal fees and fees paid to information technology and other consultants for services provided for the maintenance of our trading platforms, information and post-trade services products and other services.

Occupancy. Occupancy costs consist primarily of office and equipment rent, utilities and commercial rent tax.

Marketing and Advertising. Marketing and advertising expense consists primarily of branding and other advertising expenses we incur to promote our products and services. This expense also includes costs associated with attending or exhibiting at industry-sponsored seminars, conferences and conventions, and travel and entertainment expenses incurred by our sales force to promote our trading platforms, information services and post-trade services.

Clearing Costs. Clearing costs consist of fees that we are charged by third-party clearing brokers and depositories for the clearing and settlement of matched principal trades, regulatory reporting fees and variable transaction fees assessed by the provider of our third-party middle office system.

General and Administrative. General and administrative expense consists primarily of general travel and entertainment, board of directors’ expenses, regulatory fees, media subscription costs, charitable contributions, provision for doubtful accounts, various state franchise and U.K. value-added taxes and other miscellaneous expenses.

Expenses may continue to grow in the future, notably in employee compensation and benefits as we increase headcount to support investment in new products, operational support and geographic expansion, depreciation and amortization due to increased investment in new products and enhancements to our trading platforms, and technology and communication costs. Expenses may also grow due to increased regulatory complexity, acquisitions or the continued effects of inflation.

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Other Income (Expense)

Interest Income. Interest income consists of interest income earned on our cash and cash equivalents, restricted cash, deposits and investments.

Interest Expense. Interest expense consists of financing charges incurred on short-term borrowings.

Equity in Earnings of Unconsolidated Affiliate. Equity in earnings of unconsolidated affiliate represents the proportionate share of our equity method investee's net income.

Other, Net. Other, net consists of realized and unrealized gains and losses on trading security investments and foreign currency forward contracts, foreign currency transaction gains or losses, investment advisory fees, credit facility administrative fees, gains or losses on revaluations of contingent consideration payable and other miscellaneous revenues and expenses.

Critical Accounting Estimates

This Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations discusses our Consolidated Financial Statements, which have been prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States (“GAAP”). The preparation of these financial statements requires management to make estimates and assumptions that affect the reported amounts of assets and liabilities and the reported amounts of income and expenses during the reporting periods. We base our estimates and judgments on historical experience and on various other factors that we believe are reasonable under the circumstances. Actual results may differ from these estimates under varying assumptions or conditions. Critical accounting estimates for us include stock-based compensation.

Stock-based compensation

We maintain the MarketAxess Holdings Inc. 2020 Equity Incentive Plan (the “2020 Plan”) which provides for the grant of stock options, stock appreciation rights, restricted stock, performance shares, performance units, restricted stock units, performance stock units, or other stock-based awards as incentives to encourage employees, consultants and non-employee directors to participate in our long-term success. We make critical accounting estimates related to performance shares and performance stock units granted under the 2020 Plan.

In 2021, 2022 and 2023, annual performance-based equity awards (collectively, the “Performance Equity Awards”) were granted to the executive officers and certain senior managers. Each Performance Equity Award is earned or forfeited based on our level of achievement of certain predetermined metrics, including pre-tax adjusted operating margin and market share for the 2021 awards, and pre-tax adjusted operating margin, U.S. credit market share, and revenue growth excluding U.S. credit for the 2022 and 2023 awards. The vested share pay-out ranges from zero to 200% of the Performance Equity Award target. The number of Performance Equity Awards that vest, if any, is determined by the level of achievement of the performance metrics during the three-year performance periods, as certified by the Compensation and Talent Committee following the conclusion of the performance period. In addition, participants must provide continued service through the vesting date, subject to death, disability and qualified retirement exceptions, as applicable. Compensation expense for the Performance Equity Awards is measured using the fair value of our stock at the grant date and estimates of future performance and actual share payouts. Each period, we make estimates of the current expected share payouts and adjust the life-to-date compensation expense recognized since the grant date. As of December 31, 2023, a 10.0% change in the expected final share payouts would increase or decrease the life-to-date compensation expense by $1.3 million. The estimated final share payouts for the 2021 and 2022 awards as of December 31, 2023 decreased 34.6% compared to December 31, 2022.

Recent Accounting Pronouncements

See Note 2 for a discussion of any recent accounting pronouncements relevant to our Consolidated Financial Statements.

Segment Results

We operate electronic platforms for the trading of fixed-income securities and provide related data, analytics, compliance tools and post-trade services. We consider our operations to constitute a single business segment because of the highly integrated nature of these products and services, the financial markets in which we compete and our worldwide business activities. We believe that results by geographic region or client sector are not necessarily meaningful in understanding our business. See Note 16 to the Consolidated Financial Statements for certain geographic information about our business required by GAAP.

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Results of Operations

Year Ended December 31, 2023 Compared to Year Ended December 31, 2022

The following table summarizes our financial results for the years ended December 31, 2023 and 2022:

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

2023

 

 

2022

 

 

 

$
Change

 

 

%
Change

 

 

($ in thousands, except per share amounts)

Revenues

 

$

752,547

 

 

$

718,300

 

 

 

$

34,247

 

 

 

4.8

 

%

Expenses

 

 

437,528

 

 

 

391,424

 

 

 

 

46,104

 

 

 

11.8

 

 

Operating income

 

 

315,019

 

 

 

326,876

 

 

 

 

(11,857

)

 

 

(3.6

)

 

Other income (expense)

 

 

17,681

 

 

 

11,412

 

 

 

 

6,269

 

 

 

54.9

 

 

Income before income taxes

 

 

332,700

 

 

 

338,288

 

 

 

 

(5,588

)

 

 

(1.7

)

 

Provision for income taxes

 

 

74,645

 

 

 

88,064

 

 

 

 

(13,419

)

 

 

(15.2

)

 

Net income

 

$

258,055

 

 

$

250,224

 

 

 

$

7,831

 

 

 

3.1

 

%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net income per common share – Diluted

 

$

6.85

 

 

$

6.65

 

 

 

$

0.20

 

 

 

3.0

 

%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Changes in average foreign currency exchange rates compared to the U.S. dollar had the effect of increasing revenues and expenses by $0.9 million and $1.1 million, respectively, for the years ended December 31, 2023 and 2022.

Revenues

Our revenues for the years ended December 31, 2023 and 2022, and the resulting dollar and percentage changes, were as follows:

 

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

 

2023

 

2022

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

($ in thousands)

 

 

 

 

 

% of
Revenues

 

 

 

 

% of
Revenues

 

$
Change

 

 

%
Change

Commissions

 

$

662,964

 

 

 

88.1

 

%

 

$

641,183

 

 

 

89.3

 

%

 

$

21,781

 

 

 

3.4

 

%

Information services

 

 

46,383

 

 

 

6.2

 

 

 

 

39,314

 

 

 

5.5

 

 

 

 

7,069

 

 

 

18.0

 

 

Post-trade services

 

 

40,178

 

 

 

5.3

 

 

 

 

36,877

 

 

 

5.1

 

 

 

 

3,301

 

 

 

9.0

 

 

Technology services

 

 

3,022

 

 

 

0.4

 

 

 

 

926

 

 

 

0.1

 

 

 

 

2,096

 

 

 

226.3

 

 

Total revenues

 

$

752,547

 

 

 

100.0

 

%

 

$

718,300

 

 

 

100.0

 

%

 

 

34,247

 

 

 

4.8

 

%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Commissions

Our commission revenues for the years ended December 31, 2023 and 2022, and the resulting dollar and percentage changes, were as follows:

 

Year Ended December 31,

 

2023

 

 

2022

 

 

$
Change

 

 

%
Change

 

($ in thousands)

Variable transaction fees

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Credit

 $

 

496,028

 

 

 $

 

491,680

 

 

 $

 

4,348

 

 

 

0.9

 

%

Rates

 

 

20,749

 

 

 

 

22,341

 

 

 

 

(1,592

)

 

 

(7.1

)

 

Other

 

 

4,979

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4,979

 

 

NM

 

 

Total variable transaction fees

 

 

521,756

 

 

 

 

514,021

 

 

 

 

7,735

 

 

 

1.5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fixed distribution fees

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Credit

 

 

140,700

 

 

 

 

126,915

 

 

 

 

13,785

 

 

 

10.9

 

 

Rates

 

 

252

 

 

 

 

247

 

 

 

 

5

 

 

 

2.0

 

 

Other

 

 

256

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

256

 

 

NM

 

 

Total fixed distribution fees

 

 

141,208

 

 

 

 

127,162

 

 

 

 

14,046