Small-order execution system

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The Small-Order Execution System (SOES) was a system to facilitate clearing trades of low volume on NASDAQ. It has been phased out and is no longer necessary.


SOES was first introduced in December 1988 for 25 stocks. The lack of liquidity after the 1987 market crash led NASDAQ to implement a mandatory system (since June 1988) to provide automatic order execution for individual traders with orders less than or equal to 1000 shares. (For stocks with low volume, it may be less than 200 shares). Market makers must accept SOES orders and so this provides excellent liquidity for smaller investors and traders.


There were several restrictions for those who used SOES, rather than a traditional electronic communication network (ECN), to place their orders.[citation needed]

  1. Trades could not be in excess of 1000 shares for a particular stock.
  2. SOES did not allow trades in stocks that were trading at prices greater than $250 per share.
  3. Once a trader received an execution through SOES, they had to wait 10 minutes to place a trade on the same side of the market in the same stock.
  4. Institutions and stockbrokers were not allowed to place orders for their own accounts through SOES, but they could for a client's account.
  5. Market makers had to honor their advertised bid/ask prices to SOES orders, provided that they were for the amount that the market maker was seeking.

Initial reactions[edit]

Initially, when SOES was mandatory, it was met with heavy pessimism from NASDAQ member firms because it forced them to execute all SOES trades that met the market maker's advertised price. There were also significant limitations implemented to prevent day traders from exploiting the system and taking advantage of old prices quoted by market makers.[citation needed]


SOES revamped the trading market for individual investors. It gave small investors and traders the opportunity to compete on a level playing field with larger investors, such as institutions, for access to orders and execution.[citation needed]