“The business has to be downsized,” said Keith Underwood, a foreign-exchange consultant who ended a 25-year trading career, including at Lloyds Banking Group Plc, in 2014. But it’s not easy “for people who have been in a market for many, many years to see that they’ve been replaced by an algorithm.”
Humans are up against formidable opponents across the industry. Take Virtu Financial Inc. Deploying sophisticated technology in the business, the company’s computers can trade more than 11,000 securities and other products on more than 225 trading platforms in 35 countries. Because automation is so deeply ingrained in its business, it had only about 150 employees last year — generating more than $5 million per worker.