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Your order's journey

The trading process
Ablauf des Handels
You request to buy or sell a security at your bank or via the internet. AT some later point you will receive a confirmation that the order has been credited to your depot. That much you know about the procedure. But what happens in between? Which stages are passed by an order of a share, an echange-traded fund or a certificate? Only few know.
Starting point: ordering the buy or sell execution of a security
In the case of ordering a security that is traded in Germany, the trader enters the order into Xetra, the electronic trading system. If you choose Frankfurt, the order will be executed on the Frankfurt floor by a specialist.
Route planning: order supplements determine the route

The manner in which your order is processed depends on the supplements of your order, which can affect the price, time and type of processing. The breadth of details enables the processing of an order to respond to individual preferences and trading strategies. 

Choice of carrier: auctions and continous trading 

An order supplement can also determine the trading phase during which the order is processed. Hereby, you can distinguish between continuous trading and auctions. During the continuous trading, Xetra trading time (Monday to Friday between 9 am and 5:30 pm), prices are updated in real-time and existing orders are processed as soon as a suitable counteroffer becomes available. During auctions, on the other hand, any existing buy or sell orders are consolidated and matched. The price at which the highest trading volume develops is defined as the standard rate.

There are up to four auctions on each trading day: one auction each at the start and the end of the trading day and two intraday auctions at 1pm and 5.30pm. The exact point of time of intraday auctions, which interrupt the continuous trading, varies among the different segments.

Specialist trading on the floor is organized by the trading model of continuous auctions. The moment an executable order is in the book, the specialist starts an auction. 

On route: non Stop or with breaks in the order book 

If an order arrives at Xetra during continuous trading, and it is not limited by order details, it is checked whether acounteroffer is available. Hereby, a so called price / time priority applies. This means that orders, independent on their origin or size, are processed by price as the first priority and by the time of their entrance as the second. If no counteroffer is available, the order is entered into the order book, which lists all unmatched buy or sell orders. Again, the order details determine if or how long an order is kept in the order book. If not stated otherwise, the order is deleted automatically after 90 days.

The treasurer: the central point of execution

As an order is matched with a counteroffer, it is processed immediately and to the extent possible. The bank originally assigned to carry out the buy or sell, which must be participating in Xetra, receives a confirmation note from the system and thereupon informs its customer. The transaction data is forwarded on by Xetra to the clearing and settlement house – the central point of execution, which settles the transfer of the securities from and into the depots and processes the payments.

At the end of each trading day the clearing house informs its members about their transactions as well as claims and obligations resulting from those. The members of a clearing house are required to hold a license and, furthermore, own a securities depot and a money account with a clearing house. In some cases, cash accounts are held by a Regional Bundesbank Office. Whether or not this applies is determined by which bank was chosen to carry out the order on behalf of a private investor and whether this relates to a domestic operation.

Clearstream Banking is the clearing house of Deutsche Börse AG. The facility processes more than 500.000 transactions each day – in more than 200.000 securities in 39 markets. In its depots, Clearstream keeps shares, bonds and funds at a total value of around EUR 7,5 Trillion. The majority of those securities are no longer stored and transported physically; they are stored as electronically booked information.

Point of arrival: the depot

At the end of the trading process, the actual “delivery” takes place – the settlement. The securities are taken off the account of the clearing house and transferred to the customer’s preferred depot. At the same time, the selling price is debited directly from the bank account by either a Regional Bundesbank Office or the clearing house. The trade is finished two trading days later. The settlement is the final stage of the exchange of securities for money; the order has arrived. 

More complex: trading foreign securities

Domestic operations are relatively easy to keep track of. It gets more complex if foreign secutrities are traded as the rules and regulations of the particular country must be complied with. Additionally, the transaction passes through various technical execution systems, which usually causes higher costs and longer delays. If a domestic order can be compared to a comfortable weekend trip, a foreign order can quickly turn into a true adventure. 

© 12. Juli 2012/Edda Vogt