This excerpt taken from the NDAQ 10-K filed Feb 25, 2008.
Outlook and future trends
Trading volume in both the U.S. and European equity markets has continued to grow meaningfully over the past few years. Industry growth is being driven by additional demand for active and transaction-intensive asset management, the shift away from floor-based to electronic trading platforms, lower transaction costs, narrow spreads, significantly enhanced technology, increased participation from retail investors and regulatory changes. As pension funds and institutional investors shift greater allocations to hedge funds and alternative asset managers who use sophisticated and complex trading strategies, volumes are expected to continue to increase. The strategies implemented by these investors, including quantitative and program trading models are transaction-intensive. Electronic trading has enabled buyside traders to access the market with minimal infrastructure or systems costs. Furthermore, as sellside trading firms have grown operations and pushed toward faster and more automated trading, volumes have increased substantially, creating value not only for trading firms, but for the exchanges handling the trading.
At the same time, macro and demographic trends are helping to drive ongoing volume growth. The rising life expectancy of an aging population is forcing a larger absolute number of investors to seek higher returns in the global equity markets. This is also contributing to changes for traditional institutional investors whose focus was to ensure that their own investment strategy was more profitable than a comparative index. Today, demand is instead directed toward more stable returns, measured in absolute terms over a longer period, for which more active and transaction-intensive management is required. An increasing number of hedge funds have entered the industry to cater to this increased institutional demand. Other participants, such as traditional pension funds, are adopting new investment strategies and are also becoming increasingly active in their management. At the same time, the use of more advanced and innovative methods and technologies for securities trading is spreading, resulting in an increasing number of transactions and a higher turnover rate.