John Lothian News caught up with Rival Systems CEO Rob D’Arco at the 2022 Options Conference-Industry Leader Series to gain his perspective on the new market opportunities created by the evolution of retail traders to professional traders.

JLN also explored the key features of Rival One, Rival Systems’ cloud-based, multi-asset trading platform for Futures, Equities, Options, and Crypto, and how it uniquely serves the needs of professional traders.

The Rival One approach is to try and make it as easy as possible for users to get up and running on the system, access the platform globally, and efficiently trade across exchanges and multiple asset classes.

Rival Systems CEO Rob D’Arco Sees Traders Making the Jump to Professional Ranks

“It’s been relevant because new exchanges are coming to market across futures, equities, and crypto. It has been a great opportunity for us to connect with those exchanges and provide their users with access to the exchange directly,” explains Rob D’Arco.

D’Arco cites the significant increase in the number of traders coming to market as a key driver in the overall increase in trade volume.

“A lot of those traders are retail traders, but we believe that they are going to evolve and become more professional traders. As their volume increases, they are going to want to reduce their fees, eliminate the step of going through a broker, and leverage more sophisticated tools.”

Rival One is well-positioned as the go-to solution for those traders graduating to professional status due to its easy, user-friendly interface offering:

  • Multi-Asset Trading-Direct connection to exchanges and brokers for futures, equities, and crypto.
  • Cloud-Based Platform- Secure connection globally to a high-performance, low latency platform.
  • Out-of-the-Box Algo Orders- Direct launch from the ladder.
  • Auto-Spreader- Spreads across exchanges and asset classes with optional throttle limits and hedge tick offsets
  • One Monthly Fee- Trade on all exchanges with no transaction fees

Whether users want to trade in crypto, futures, or equities, they can do that from one platform.


Rival Systems’ automated trading functionality is constantly evolving, utilizing feedback directly from its users. One of the most important innovations on the Rival One platform is the auto-spreader. Built on Rival’s ultra-low latency trading engine and with built-in features like optional throttle limits and hedge tick offsets, Rival’s auto-spreader allows users to navigate market conditions with greater accuracy and frictionless trade execution.

D’Arco elaborates, “We support several asset classes. So, to be able to create a spread from one futures exchange to another futures exchange, or from a future to equity, or an option to an option opens a lot of opportunities when you can start to spread different asset classes, especially in the crypto space.”

From a workflow standpoint, users can employ one unified system to trade instead of multiple systems. That function makes it easier to get into new products and helps users scale their new trade as they grow.

The Impact of Increased Trading

The market saw record trading volume across the board in 2021. As volume has increased, newer players are coming to the market, such as new exchanges, broker-dealers, FCM’s and new traders.

“From a vendor standpoint, it’s been great because those are more of the people we can work with, and it’s increasing the market for us. On the risk management side of things, we can get those new FCMs up and running quickly. On the trading side of things, integrating with new exchanges makes it easy for new clients to trade.”- CEO Rob D’Arco.

Much of the order flow and growth in the market is currently coming from retail traders. However, rival System predicts those traders will continue to mature and become professional traders, creating opportunities for everyone in the industry to provide them with the necessary tools and access.

Turn-key Risk Management Solution

New FCMs (Futures Commission Merchant) and Brokers that want proven risk management systems to get up and running quickly and reduce the time to market will find Rival’s enterprise Risk platform, Rival Risk, a perfect fit.

“Our system is a fully hosted solution. So, there is nothing our clients need to do from the technological side of things. We do everything for them, so it’s really a turn-key solution that gets them up and running quickly.”

Real-Time Risk-Based Haircuts and Customer Portfolio Margin

Rival Risk calculates margin in real-time. As positions change, users enjoy up-to-the-minute margin requirement insights throughout the day. As a result, traders can proactively adjust their positions instead of waiting until the following day.

“One of the features people are most interested in is our ‘real-time, risk-based haircut and customer portfolio margin calculations. Traditionally, other vendors or proprietary systems would calculate the margin at the start of the day. Obviously, as positions change throughout the day, you want to have a clear view of your margin,” said Rob D’Arco.

Rival differentiates the type of margin depending on the account. For market makers and broker-dealers, it’s calculated in terms of a risk-based haircut, but for customer accounts, it’s defined as a customer portfolio margin. The Rival One system automatically detects the account type which determines the calculation.

For large prop firms, SEMs, or large broker-dealers with multiple accounts, and high-frequency trading, the system can automatically distinguish between the different types of accounts. So, whether it’s the OCC margin or SPAN, one automated trading system that can perform those functions provides tremendous value. Users can see all their accounts: futures, equities, and options and determine correct margin requirements throughout the day.

Learn more about the Rival One platform