What Is the Broker Booth Support System (BBSS)?

The Broker Booth Support System (BBSS) was a comprehensive electronic system used by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to send orders between brokers and trading booths on the floor of the exchange. The BBSS was an extremely efficient way to direct order flow in the early days of electronic trading.

Before its advent, brokers used paper forms and sent runners to give orders to the floor traders to execute. The BBSS permitted the NYSE to handle daily trade volumes in excess of one billion shares. In 2004, the Broker Booth Support System (BBSS) was replaced by NYSE Tradeworks, a new electronic system implemented by the NYSE.

Key Takeaways

  • The Broker Booth Support System (BBSS) was an electronic system used by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to send orders between brokers and trading booths on the floor of the exchange.
  • Before the use of the Broker Booth Support System (BBSS), brokers used paper forms and sent runners to give orders to the floor traders for execution.
  • With the implementation of the Broker Booth Support System (BBSS), order flow became faster and much more efficient, allowing for higher trading volumes.
  • In 2004, the NYSE replaced the Broker Booth Support System (BBSS) with a new electronic messaging system known as NYSE Tradeworks.
  • NYSE Tradeworks allowed for the same functionality as the Broker Booth Support System (BBSS), but aimed to do away with any downtime and allowed for scalability, to manage ever-growing volumes of trading.

Understanding the Broker Booth Support System (BBSS)

With the advent of electronic trading in the 90s, stock exchanges started to take advantage of new technology to improve how financial trading was done. The goal was to make the execution of buy and sell orders faster, more accurate, and more efficient.

The NYSE implemented the Broker Booth Support System (BBSS), a self-developed electronic order management system that was installed at all the trading booths on the floor. Floor brokers entered all information into the system, leaving digital trails and timestamps to preserve the integrity of the trading process throughout the day.

With every keystroke logged into the system, trades could be confirmed, and disputes could be resolved quickly. Users could produce customized reports from all the data compiled and organized in the system. While the BBSS was fast and efficient, it was not failproof. There were instances during its tenure when the system went down, causing partial stoppages in order processing.

Brokers on the floor had to return to the old-fashioned method of writing orders on paper and running them over to trading booths until the temporary technical issues were resolved. Robust redundancy functionalities were then implemented to help prevent future system issues.

Ancillary BBSS Devices

The Broker Booth Support System (BBSS) was not the only modern implementation of electronic trading that the NYSE implemented. For added efficiency and convenience, the NYSE rolled out e-Broker handheld devices for floor use, so that brokers could wander around the floor freely, without having to sit in a booth.

The NYSE also installed X terminals to sit at customer sites. The X terminals, supplied by the NYSE but installed by customers, were connected to the BBSS on the exchange floor, providing remote users the full range of BBSS services.

NYSE Tradeworks

In 2004, after 10 years of using the Broker Booth Support System (BBSS), the NYSE decided to upgrade their system with a new platform called NYSE Tradeworks. NYSE Tradeworks was created in conjunction with IBM with the goal of doing away with downtime and allowing for scalability for handling ever-increasing volumes.

According to the then chief technology officer (CTO) of the NYSE, Roger Burkhardt, "BBSS set the standard for providing efficient effective order-management capabilities in support of member firms' trading activities on the floor. With Tradeworks, the NYSE will offer the same functionality, adding new features and an improved user interface."

NYSE Tradeworks was also able to provide real-time information, ensuring that traders were not only making trades faster but also more accurately given the ease of access to high-quality information. Lehman Brothers, now defunct, was one of the first institutions to test and use NYSE Tradeworks as it was slowly rolled out over an 18-month period.

Does the NYSE Still Use the Broker Booth Support System (BBSS)?

No, the NYSE no longer uses the Broker Booth Support System (BBSS). The system was implemented in 1994 and stopped being used 10 years later when it was replaced with a new system with improved functionality. The new system was called NYSE Tradeworks.

Did All of the Financial Exchanges Use the Broker Booth Support System (BBSS)?

No, the Broker Booth Support System (BBSS) was a proprietary electronic system only used by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Other exchanges developed and used their own electronic trading systems.

Why Was the Broker Booth Support System Important (BBSS)?

The Broker Booth Support System (BBSS) was important because it moved the NYSE into the electronic trading era, removing the need for brokers to write their trade orders on paper slips to be delivered physically by runners to the floor traders. With BBSS, the entire process was handled electronically, which improved the efficiency and accuracy of trading.