Brokers to lose out as ECNs eat into commissions

Electronic communications networks (ECNs) are threatening to replace the execution services of prime brokers, cutting the commission they receive by as much as $240,000 a year from hedge funds.

The networks, or ECNs, are computer systems, which aim to treat all exchanges as one vast market of trading opportunities. Originally developed as an extension of Nasdaq, the three principal ECNs ' Island, Instinet and Archipelago ' now connect to most major exchanges and continue to gain market share wit