You Have Options for Directing Trades
If for any reason you want to direct your trade to a particular exchange, market maker, or ECN, you may be able to call your broker and ask him or her to do this. But some brokers may charge for that service. Some brokers offer active traders the ability to direct orders in Nasdaq stocks to the market maker or ECN of their choice.
SEC rules aimed at improving public disclosure of order execution and routing practices require all market centers that trade national market system securities to make monthly, electronic disclosures of basic information concerning their quality of executions on a stock-by-stock basis, including how market orders of various sizes are executed relative to the public quotes. These reports must also disclose information about effective spreads – the spreads actually paid by investors whose orders are routed to a particular market center. In addition, market centers must disclose the extent to which they provide executions at prices better than the public quotes to investors using limit orders.
These rules also require brokers that route orders on behalf of customers to disclose, on a quarterly basis, the identity of the market centers to which they route a significant percentage of their orders. In addition, brokers must respond to the requests of customers interested in learning where their individual orders were routed for execution during the previous six months.
With this information readily available, you can learn where and how your firm executes its customers' orders and what steps it takes to assure best execution. Ask your broker about the firm's policies on payment for order flow, internalization, or other routing practices – or look for that information in your new account agreement. You can also write to your broker to find out the nature and source of any payment for order flow it may have received for a particular order.
If you're comparing firms, ask each how often it gets price improvement on customers' orders. And then consider that information in deciding with which firm you will do business.