Intelligent Ticks

Proposal from Nasdaq and a coalition of market participants to improve U.S. equities trading


The U.S. public equities markets are the most liquid, competitive and technologically advanced in the world.

Yet, we believe outdated policies hinder the market’s ability to reach even greater heights. One of the highest-priority reforms laid out in TotalMarkets is replacing the current one-size-fits-all tick regime with a model that benefits investors by improving the tradability of low- and high-priced publicly traded securities.


A smarter approach to tick-sizes— which has already been adopted in markets outside the U.S. – will lower costs for investors and reduce complexity.
Tal Cohen, EVP Nasdaq Market Services North America

Collaborative Proposal

We convened a coalition of market participants to put forth a specific set of recommendations for the SEC to consider. Our recommendation is the adoption of a market based approach where no tick would be wider than a stock’s average quoted spread. This approach ensures no spread would be forced wider than that at which it currently trades. The goal is to reduce costs for investors through tighter and more stable spreads. Further, as stock trading characteristics change over time, market forces would determine in which of six 'Intelligent Tick' size buckets an equity would trade: .5cps, 1cps, 2cps, 5cps, 10cps, 25cps.


Our Intelligent Ticks proposal is meant to advance the debate and spur the Commission to act.



TotalMarkets expanded our agenda to a serious and balanced debate on the market structure that supports the trading of public companies.


Why Now

Tick size is a crucial component of trading costs and investor experience. The benefits of our proposal are clear:


    Expects to narrow the current spread for a significant number of tick constrained stocks.


    Reduces quote flickering and promotes price stability for stocks that currently trade in significant multiples of the $0.01 increment.


    Spread narrowing will reduce costs to investors, anywhere from $100 million to $1 billion annually.


    Evidence suggests fragmentation, routing complexity and opportunity costs may also be reduced.

Intelligent Ticks
As markets evolve, so must the rules that govern them. As liquid and technologically proficient as our markets are, they are constrained by a one-size fits-all regulatory regime.
Mehmet Kinak, Global Head of Systematic Trading and Market Structure, T Rowe Price
Intelligent Ticks
Our proposal describes a smarter tick regime that would account for the wide variety in size, volume, and stock price.
Read Our Latest Proposal to the SEC

Learn more about Intelligent Ticks

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