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UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
_____________________________________
FORM 10-K
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020
or
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
Commission File Number: 001-38860
Tradeweb Markets Inc.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
_____________________________________
Delaware
(State of other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)
83-2456358
(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)
1177 Avenue of the Americas
New York, New York
(Address of principal executive offices)
10036
(Zip Code)
(646) 430-6000
(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each classTrading Symbol(s)Name of each exchange on which registered
Class A common stock, par value $0.00001TWNasdaq Global Select Market
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes No
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer”, “accelerated filer”, “smaller reporting company” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filerAccelerated filerNon-accelerated filer
Smaller reporting companyEmerging growth company
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). ☐ Yes No
The aggregate market value of the voting and non-voting common equity held by non-affiliates of the registrant, based on the closing price of the Class A common stock on the NASDAQ Global Select Market on June 30, 2020, was approximately $6.2 billion.
Class of StockShares Outstanding as of January 31, 2021
Class A Common Stock, par value $0.00001 per share101,674,943 
Class B Common Stock, par value $0.00001 per share96,933,192 
Class C Common Stock, par value $0.00001 per share1,654,825 
Class D Common Stock, par value $0.00001 per share28,884,108 
Documents Incorporated by Reference
Part III of this Annual Report on Form 10-K incorporates by reference portions of the Registrant’s Proxy Statement for its 2021 Annual Meeting of Stockholders. The Proxy Statement will be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission within 120 days of the registrant’s fiscal year ended December 31, 2020.


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TRADEWEB MARKETS INC.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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Table of Contents
BASIS OF PRESENTATION
The financial statements and other disclosures contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K include those of Tradeweb Markets Inc., which is the registrant, and those of its consolidating subsidiaries, including Tradeweb Markets LLC, which became the principal operating subsidiary of Tradeweb Markets Inc. on April 4, 2019 in a series of reorganization transactions (the “Reorganization Transactions”) that were completed in connection with Tradeweb Markets Inc.’s initial public offering (the “IPO”), which closed on April 8, 2019. For more information regarding the transactions described above, see Note 1—Organization to our audited consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
The financial statements and other disclosures contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K relate to periods that ended both prior to and after the completion of the Reorganization Transactions and the IPO. As a result of the Reorganization Transactions completed in connection with the IPO, Tradeweb Markets Inc. became a holding company whose only material assets consist of its equity interest in Tradeweb Markets LLC and related deferred tax assets. As the sole manager of Tradeweb Markets LLC, Tradeweb Markets Inc. operates and controls all of the business and affairs of Tradeweb Markets LLC and, through Tradeweb Markets LLC and its subsidiaries, conducts its business. As a result of this control, and because Tradeweb Markets Inc. has a substantial financial interest in Tradeweb Markets LLC, Tradeweb Markets Inc. consolidates the financial results of Tradeweb Markets LLC and its subsidiaries.
The audited consolidated financial statements and other financial disclosures included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K relating to periods prior to and including March 31, 2019, which we sometimes refer to as the “pre-IPO period,” reflect the results of operations, financial position and cash flows of Tradeweb Markets LLC, the predecessor of Tradeweb Markets Inc. for financial reporting purposes, and its subsidiaries. The audited consolidated financial statements and other financial disclosures included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K relating to periods beginning on April 1, 2019, and through and including December 31, 2020, which we sometimes refer to as the “post-IPO period,” reflect the results of operations, financial position and cash flows of Tradeweb Markets Inc. and its subsidiaries, including the consolidation of its investment in Tradeweb Markets LLC. As a result, for financial reporting purposes, the pre-IPO period excludes, and the post-IPO period includes, our financial results from April 1, 2019 through April 3, 2019, which are not material. The audited consolidated financial statements and other financial disclosures included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K do not reflect what the results of operations, financial position or cash flows would have been had the Reorganization Transactions and the IPO taken place at the beginning of the periods presented.
As used in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, unless the context otherwise requires, references to:
We,” “us,” “our,” the “Company,” “Tradeweb” and similar references refer: (i) on or prior to the completion of the Reorganization Transactions, to Tradeweb Markets LLC, which we refer to as “TWM LLC,” and, unless otherwise stated or the context otherwise requires, all of its subsidiaries and any predecessor entities, and (ii) following the completion of the Reorganization Transactions, to Tradeweb Markets Inc., and, unless otherwise stated or the context otherwise requires, TWM LLC and all of its subsidiaries and any predecessor entities.
Bank Stockholders” refer collectively to entities affiliated with the following clients: Barclays Capital Inc., BofA Securities, Inc. (a subsidiary of Bank of America Corporation), Citigroup Global Markets Inc., Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC, Deutsche Bank Securities Inc., Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC, J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC, RBS Securities Inc., UBS Securities LLC and Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, which, prior to the completion of the IPO, collectively held a 46% ownership interest in Tradeweb. Following the IPO and the application of the net proceeds therefrom, entities affiliated with BofA Securities, Inc., RBS Securities Inc. and UBS Securities LLC no longer hold LLC Interests and, except as otherwise indicated, are not considered Bank Stockholders for post-IPO periods.
 Continuing LLC Owners” refer collectively to (i) those Original LLC Owners, including the Refinitiv LLC Owner (as defined below), certain of the Bank Stockholders and members of management, that continued to own LLC Interests after the completion of the IPO and Reorganization Transactions, that received shares of our Class C common stock, shares of our Class D common stock or a combination of both, as the case may be, in connection with the completion of the Reorganization Transactions, and that may redeem or exchange their LLC Interests for shares of our Class A common stock or Class B common stock and (ii) solely with respect to the Tax Receivable Agreement (as defined below), also includes those Original LLC Owners, including certain Bank Stockholders, that disposed of all of their LLC Interests for cash in connection with the IPO.
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Investor Group” refer to certain investment funds affiliated with The Blackstone Group Inc. (f/k/a The Blackstone Group L.P.), an affiliate of Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, an affiliate of GIC Special Investments Pte. Ltd. and certain co-investors, which prior to the LSEG Transaction (as defined below) collectively held indirectly a 55% ownership interest in Refinitiv (as defined below).
LLC Interests” refer to the single class of common membership interests of TWM LLC issued in connection with the Reorganization Transactions.
LSEG Transaction” refer to the acquisition of the Refinitiv business by London Stock Exchange Group plc, in an all share transaction for a total enterprise value of approximately $27 billion, which closed on January 29, 2021.
Original LLC Owners” refer to the owners of TWM LLC prior to the Reorganization Transactions (including the Refinitiv Owners, the Bank Stockholders and members of management).
Refinitiv” refer to Refinitiv Holdings Limited, and unless otherwise stated or the context otherwise requires, all of its subsidiaries, which owns substantially all of the former financial and risk business of Thomson Reuters (as defined below), including, prior to and following the completion of the Reorganization Transactions, an indirect majority ownership interest in Tradeweb, and was controlled by the Investor Group prior to the LSEG Transaction.
Refinitiv Direct Owner” refer (i) prior to June 28, 2019, to a direct subsidiary of Refinitiv that owned interests in an entity that held membership interests of TWM LLC and received shares of our Class B common stock in exchange for the contribution of such entity to Tradeweb Markets Inc., which we refer to as the “Refinitiv Contribution,” in connection with the completion of the Reorganization Transactions and (ii) on and after June 28, 2019, to an indirect subsidiary of Refinitiv that owns shares of our Class B common stock, which shares were contributed by the direct subsidiary of Refinitiv referred to in the foregoing clause (i).
Refinitiv LLC Owner” refer to an indirect subsidiary of Refinitiv that, prior to the Reorganization Transactions, owned membership interests of TWM LLC and that continues to own LLC Interests after the completion of the IPO and Reorganization Transactions, that received shares of our Class D common stock in connection with the completion of the Reorganization Transactions, and that may redeem or exchange its LLC Interests for shares of our Class A common stock or Class B common stock.
Refinitiv Owners” refer collectively to the Refinitiv Direct Owner and the Refinitiv LLC Owner.
Refinitiv Transaction” refer to the transaction pursuant to which Refinitiv indirectly acquired on October 1, 2018 substantially all of the financial and risk business of Thomson Reuters and Thomson Reuters indirectly acquired a 45% ownership interest in Refinitiv.
Thomson Reuters” refer to Thomson Reuters Corporation, which prior to the LSEG Transaction indirectly held a 45% ownership interest in Refinitiv.
As a result of the Refinitiv Transaction, we revalued our assets and liabilities based on their fair values as of the closing date of the Refinitiv Transaction in accordance with the acquisition method of accounting. Certain financial information presented herein, including the allocation of the total purchase price of the Refinitiv Transaction attributable to the purchase of our assets and liabilities, are based on the fair values of our assets and our liabilities, as of the closing date of the Refinitiv Transaction. The values of our assets and liabilities were determined based on assumptions that reasonable market participants would use in the principal (or most advantageous) market for the asset or liability. In determining the fair value of the assets acquired and liabilities assumed, we considered the report of a third-party valuation expert. Our management is responsible for these internal and third-party valuations and appraisals.
Due to the change in the basis of accounting resulting from the application of pushdown accounting, we are required to present separately the financial information for the periods beginning on October 1, 2018, and through and including December 31, 2020, which we refer to as the “Successor period,” and the financial information for the periods prior to, and including, September 30, 2018, which we refer to as the “Predecessor period.”
The financial information presented in this Annual Report on Form 10-K and the audited consolidated financial statements included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K include a black line division to indicate that the Successor and Predecessor periods have applied different bases of accounting and are not comparable. Please note that our discussion of certain financial information, specifically revenues and certain expenses, represent the combined results of the Successor and Predecessor periods for the full year ended December 31, 2018. The change in basis resulting from the Refinitiv Transaction did not impact such financial information and, although this presentation of financial information on a combined basis does not comply with
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generally accepted accounting principles in the United States, or “GAAP,” we believe it provides a meaningful method of comparison to the other periods presented in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The combined financial information is being presented for informational purposes only and (i) has not been prepared on a pro forma basis as if the Refinitiv Transaction occurred on the first day of the period, (ii) may not reflect the actual results we would have achieved absent the Refinitiv Transaction, (iii) may not be predictive of future results of operations and (iv) should not be viewed as a substitute for the financial results of the Successor and Predecessor periods presented in accordance with GAAP. See Part II, Item 7. – “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Effect of Pushdown Accounting on our Financial Statements.”
References in this Annual Report on Form 10-K to (i) “2018 Successor Period” mean the period from October 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018, (ii) “2018 Predecessor Period” mean the period from January 1, 2018 to September 30, 2018, and (iii) “combined year ended December 31, 2018” or “2018 (Combined)” represent the sum of the results of the 2018 Successor Period and the 2018 Predecessor Period.
Numerical figures included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K have been subject to rounding adjustments. Accordingly, numerical figures shown as totals in various tables may not be arithmetic aggregations of the figures that precede them. In addition, we round certain percentages presented in this Annual Report on Form 10-K to the nearest whole number. As a result, figures expressed as percentages in the text may not total 100% or, when aggregated, may not be the arithmetic aggregation of the percentages that precede them. 
MARKET AND INDUSTRY DATA
This Annual Report on Form 10-K includes estimates regarding market and industry data. Unless otherwise indicated, information concerning our industry and the markets in which we operate, including our general expectations, market position, market opportunity and market size, are based on our management’s knowledge and experience in the markets in which we operate, together with currently available information obtained from various sources, including publicly available information, industry reports and publications, surveys, our clients, trade and business organizations and other contacts in the markets in which we operate. Certain information is based on management estimates, which have been derived from third-party sources, as well as data from our internal research, and are based on certain assumptions that we believe to be reasonable. In particular, to calculate our market position, market opportunity and market size we derived the size of the applicable market from a combination of management estimates and public industry sources, including FINRA’s Trade Reporting and Compliance Engine (“TRACE”), the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (“SIFMA”), the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (“ISDA”), Clarus Financial Technology, Trax, the Chicago Board Options Exchange (“CBOE”) and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. In calculating the size of certain markets, we omitted products for which there is no publicly available data, and, as a result, the actual markets for certain of our asset classes may be larger than those presented herein.
In presenting this information, we have made certain assumptions that we believe to be reasonable based on such data and other similar sources and on our knowledge of, and our experience to date in, the markets in which we operate. While we believe the estimated market and industry data included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are generally reliable, such information, which is derived in part from management’s estimates and beliefs, is inherently uncertain and imprecise. Market and industry data are subject to change and may be limited by the availability of raw data, the voluntary nature of the data gathering process and other limitations inherent in any statistical survey of such data. In addition, projections, assumptions and estimates of the future performance of the markets in which we operate and our future performance are necessarily subject to uncertainty and risk due to a variety of factors, including those described in “Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements” and Item 1A. – “Risk Factors.” These and other factors could cause results to differ materially from those expressed in the estimates made by third parties and by us. Accordingly, you are cautioned not to place undue reliance on such market and industry data or any other such estimates. We cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this information, and we have not independently verified any third-party information and data from our internal research has not been verified by any independent source.
CERTAIN TRADEMARKS, TRADE NAMES AND SERVICE MARKS
This Annual Report on Form 10-K includes trademarks and service marks owned by us. This Annual Report on Form 10-K also contains trademarks, trade names and service marks of other companies, which are the property of their respective owners. Solely for convenience, trademarks, trade names and service marks referred to in this Annual Report on Form 10-K may appear without the ®, ™ or SM symbols, but such references are not intended to indicate, in any way, that we will not assert, to the fullest extent under applicable law, our rights to these trademarks, trade names and service marks. We do not intend our use or display of other parties’ trademarks, trade names or service marks to imply, and such use or display should not be construed to imply, a relationship with, or endorsement or sponsorship of us by, these other parties.
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USE OF NON-GAAP FINANCIAL MEASURES
This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains “non-GAAP financial measures,” which are financial measures that are not calculated and presented in accordance with GAAP.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) has adopted rules to regulate the use in filings with the SEC and in other public disclosures of non-GAAP financial measures. These rules govern the manner in which non-GAAP financial measures are publicly presented and require, among other things:
a presentation with equal or greater prominence of the most comparable financial measure or measures calculated and presented in accordance with GAAP; and
a statement disclosing the purposes for which the registrant’s management uses the non-GAAP financial measure.
Specifically, we make use of the non-GAAP financial measures “Free Cash Flow,” “Adjusted EBITDA,” “Adjusted EBITDA margin,” “Adjusted EBIT,” “Adjusted EBIT margin,” “Adjusted Net Income” and “Adjusted Diluted EPS” in evaluating our past results and future prospects. For the definition of Free Cash Flow and a reconciliation to cash flow from operating activities, its most directly comparable financial measure presented in accordance with GAAP, see Part II, Item 7. – “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Non-GAAP Financial Measures.” For the definitions of Adjusted EBITDA, Adjusted EBIT and Adjusted Net Income and reconciliations to net income and net income attributable to Tradeweb Markets Inc., as applicable, their most directly comparable financial measures presented in accordance with GAAP, see Part II, Item 7. – “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Non-GAAP Financial Measures.” Adjusted EBITDA margin and Adjusted EBIT margin are defined as Adjusted EBITDA and Adjusted EBIT, respectively, divided by gross revenue for the applicable period. Adjusted Diluted EPS is defined as Adjusted Net Income divided by the diluted weighted average number of shares of Class A common stock and Class B common stock outstanding for the applicable period, assuming the full exchange of all outstanding LLC Interests held by non-controlling interests for shares of Class A common stock or Class B common stock, for post-IPO periods, and the diluted weighted average number of shares of TWM LLC outstanding for the applicable period, for pre-IPO periods.
We present Free Cash Flow because we believe it is a useful indicator of liquidity that provides information to management and investors about the amount of cash generated from our core operations after expenditures for capitalized software development costs and furniture, equipment and leasehold improvements.
We present Adjusted EBITDA, Adjusted EBITDA margin, Adjusted EBIT and Adjusted EBIT margin because we believe they assist investors and analysts in comparing our operating performance across reporting periods on a consistent basis by excluding items that we do not believe are indicative of our core operating performance. Management and our board of directors use Adjusted EBITDA, Adjusted EBITDA margin, Adjusted EBIT and Adjusted EBIT margin to assess our financial performance and believe they are helpful in highlighting trends in our core operating performance, while other measures can differ significantly depending on long-term strategic decisions regarding capital structure, the tax jurisdictions in which we operate and capital investments. Further, our executive incentive compensation is based in part on components of Adjusted EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA margin.
We use Adjusted Net Income and Adjusted Diluted EPS as supplemental metrics to evaluate our business performance in a way that also considers our ability to generate profit without the impact of certain items. Each of the normal recurring adjustments and other adjustments described in the definition of Adjusted Net Income helps to provide management with a measure of our operating performance over time by removing items that are not related to day-to-day operations or are non-cash expenses.
Free Cash Flow, Adjusted EBITDA, Adjusted EBIT, Adjusted Net Income and Adjusted Diluted EPS have limitations as analytical tools, and you should not consider such measures either in isolation or as substitutes for analyzing our results as reported under GAAP. Some of these limitations include the following:
Free Cash Flow, Adjusted EBITDA, Adjusted EBIT, Adjusted Net Income and Adjusted Diluted EPS do not reflect every expenditure, future requirements for capital expenditures or contractual commitments;
Adjusted EBITDA, Adjusted EBIT, Adjusted Net Income and Adjusted Diluted EPS do not reflect changes in our working capital needs;
Adjusted EBITDA and Adjusted EBIT do not reflect any interest expense, or the amounts necessary to service interest or principal payments on any debt obligations;
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Adjusted EBITDA and Adjusted EBIT do not reflect income tax expense, which in post-IPO periods is a necessary element of our costs and ability to operate;
although depreciation and amortization are eliminated in the calculation of Adjusted EBITDA, and the depreciation and amortization related to certain acquisitions and the Refinitiv Transaction are eliminated in the calculation of Adjusted EBIT, the assets being depreciated and amortized will often have to be replaced in the future, and Adjusted EBITDA and Adjusted EBIT do not reflect any costs of such replacements;
in post-IPO periods, Adjusted EBITDA, Adjusted EBIT, Adjusted Net Income and Adjusted Diluted EPS do not reflect the noncash component of certain employee compensation expense or payroll taxes associated with certain option exercises;
Adjusted EBITDA, Adjusted EBIT, Adjusted Net Income and Adjusted Diluted EPS do not reflect the impact of earnings or charges resulting from matters we consider not to be indicative, on a recurring basis, of our ongoing operations; and
other companies in our industry may calculate Free Cash Flow, Adjusted EBITDA, Adjusted EBIT, Adjusted Net Income and Adjusted Diluted EPS or similarly titled measures differently than we do, limiting their usefulness as comparative measures.
We compensate for these limitations by relying primarily on our GAAP results and using Free Cash Flow, Adjusted EBITDA, Adjusted EBIT, Adjusted Net Income and Adjusted Diluted EPS only as supplemental information.
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CAUTIONARY NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”). You can generally identify forward-looking statements by our use of forward-looking terminology such as “anticipate,” “believe,” “continue,” “could,” “estimate,” “expect,” “intend,” “may,” “might,” “plan,” “potential,” “predict,” “projection,” “seek,” “should,” “will” or “would,” or the negative thereof or other variations thereon or comparable terminology. In particular, statements about the markets in which we operate, including our expectations about market trends, our market opportunity and the growth of our various markets, our expansion into new markets, any potential tax savings we may realize as a result of our organizational structure, our dividend policy and our expectations, beliefs, plans, strategies, objectives, prospects or assumptions regarding future events, our performance or otherwise, contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K under Part I, Item 1. – “Business,” Part I, Item 1A. – “Risk Factors” and Part II, Item 7. – “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” are forward-looking statements. In addition, statements contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, the potential impacts of which are inherently uncertain, are forward-looking statements.
We have based these forward-looking statements on our current expectations, assumptions, estimates and projections. While we believe these expectations, assumptions, estimates and projections are reasonable, such forward-looking statements are only predictions and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond our control. These and other important factors, including those discussed in this Annual Report on Form 10-K under Part I, Item 1. – “Business,” Part I, Item 1A. – “Risk Factors” and Part II, Item 7. – “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations,” may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to differ materially from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements, or could affect our share price. Some of the factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements include:
changes in economic, political, social and market conditions and the impact of these changes on trading volumes;
our failure to compete successfully;
our failure to adapt our business effectively to keep pace with industry changes;
consolidation and concentration in the financial services industry;
our dependence on dealer clients that, in some cases, are also stockholders;
our dependence on third parties for certain market data and certain key functions;
our ability to implement our business strategies profitably;
our ability to successfully integrate any acquisition or to realize benefits from any strategic alliances, partnerships or joint ventures;
our inability to maintain and grow the capacity of our trading platforms, systems and infrastructure;
design defects, errors, failures or delays with our platforms or solutions;
systems failures, interruptions, delays in services, cybersecurity incidents, catastrophic events and any resulting interruptions;
inadequate protection of our intellectual property;
extensive regulation of our industry;
our ability to retain the services of certain members of our management;
limitations on operating our business and incurring additional indebtedness as a result of covenant restrictions under our $500.0 million senior secured revolving credit facility (the “Revolving Credit Facility”) with Citibank, N.A., as administrative agent and collateral agent, and the other lenders party thereto, and certain Refinitiv indebtedness;
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our dependence on distributions from TWM LLC to fund our expected dividend payments and to pay our taxes and expenses, including payments under the tax receivable agreement (the “Tax Receivable Agreement”) entered into in connection with the IPO;
our ability to realize any benefit from our organizational structure;
Refinitiv’s control of us and our status as a controlled company; and
other risks and uncertainties, including those listed under Part I, Item 1A. – “Risk Factors.”
Given these risks and uncertainties, you are cautioned not to place undue reliance on such forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K are not guarantees of future performance and our actual results of operations, financial condition or liquidity, and the development of the industry and markets in which we operate, may differ materially from the forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. In addition, even if our results of operations, financial condition or liquidity, and events in the industry and markets in which we operate, are consistent with the forward-looking statements contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, they may not be predictive of results or developments in future periods.
Any forward-looking statement that we make in this Annual Report on Form 10-K speaks only as of the date of such statement. Except as required by law, we do not undertake any obligation to update or revise, or to publicly announce any update or revision to, any of the forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
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PART I 
ITEM 1. BUSINESS.
Overview
We are a leader in building and operating electronic marketplaces for our global network of clients across the financial ecosystem. Our network is comprised of clients across the institutional, wholesale and retail client sectors, including many of the largest global asset managers, hedge funds, insurance companies, central banks, banks and dealers, proprietary trading firms and retail brokerage and financial advisory firms, as well as regional dealers. Our marketplaces facilitate trading across a range of asset classes, including rates, credit, equities and money markets. We are a global company serving clients in over 65 countries with offices in North America, Europe and Asia. We believe our proprietary technology and culture of collaborative innovation allow us to adapt our offerings to enter new markets, create new platforms and solutions and adjust to regulations quickly and efficiently. We support our clients by providing solutions across the trade lifecycle, including pre-trade, execution, post-trade and data.
There are multiple key dimensions to the electronic marketplaces that we build and operate to provide deep pools of liquidity. Foundationally, these begin with our clients and then expand through and across multiple client sectors, geographic regions, asset classes, product groups, trading protocols and trade lifecycle solutions.
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Our markets are large and growing. Electronic trading continues to increase across the markets in which we operate as a result of market demand for greater transparency, higher execution quality, operational efficiency and lower costs, as well as regulatory changes. We believe our deep client relationships, asset class breadth, geographic reach, regulatory knowledge and scalable technology position us to continue to be at the forefront of the evolution of electronic trading. Our platforms provide transparent, efficient, cost-effective and compliant trading solutions across multiple products, regions and regulatory regimes. As market participants seek to trade across multiple asset classes, reduce their costs of trading and increase the effectiveness of their trading, including through the use of data and analytics, we believe the demand for our platforms and electronic trading solutions will continue to grow.
We have a powerful network of approximately 2,500 clients across the institutional, wholesale and retail client sectors. Our clients include leading global asset managers, hedge funds, insurance companies, central banks, banks and dealers, proprietary trading firms and retail brokerage and financial advisory firms, as well as regional dealers. As our network continues to grow across client sectors, we will generate additional transactions and data on our platforms, driving a virtuous cycle of greater liquidity and value for our clients.
Our technology supports multiple asset classes, trading protocols and geographies, and as a result, we are able to provide a broad spectrum of solutions and cost savings to our clients. We have built, and continue to invest in, a scalable, flexible and resilient proprietary technology architecture that enables us to remain agile and evolve with market structure. This allows us to partner closely with our clients to develop customized solutions for their trading and workflow needs. Our technology is deeply integrated with our clients’ risk and order management systems, clearinghouses, trade repositories, middleware providers and other important links in the trading value chain. These qualities allow us to be quick to market with new offerings, to constantly enhance our existing platforms and solutions and to collect a robust set of data and analytics to support our marketplaces.
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We are focused on balancing revenue growth and margin expansion to create long-term value and we have a track record of growth and financial performance. By expanding the scope of our platforms and solutions, building scale and integration across marketplaces and benefiting from broader network effects, we have been able to grow both our transaction volume and subscription-based revenues.
Our Evolution
We were founded in 1996 and set out to solve for inefficiencies in the institutional U.S. treasury trading workflows, including limited price transparency, weak connectivity among market participants and error-prone manual processes. Our first electronic marketplace went live in 1998, and over the next two decades we leveraged our technology and expertise to expand into additional rates products and other asset classes, including credit, equities and money markets. Market demand for better trading workflows globally also was increasing and we initiated a strategy of rolling out our existing products to new geographies and adding local products. We expanded to Europe in 2000, initially offering U.S. fixed income products and soon thereafter added a marketplace for European government bonds. We expanded to Asia in 2004, where our first local product was Japanese government bonds. We have since continued to expand our product and client base in Europe and Asia.
We identified an opportunity to expand our offerings to the wholesale and retail client sectors based on our existing relationships with dealers and our strong market position. We developed our wholesale platform through the acquisitions of Hilliard Farber & Co. in 2008 and Rafferty Capital Markets in 2011, and developed technology to facilitate the migration of inefficient wholesale voice markets to more efficient and transparent electronic markets. We entered the retail market through our acquisition of LeverTrade in 2006, scaled our market position through our acquisition of BondDesk in 2013, and have continued to leverage our market and technology expertise to enhance our platform serving that client sector.
Throughout our evolution we have developed many new innovations that have provided greater pre-trade price transparency, better execution quality and seamless post-trade solutions. Such innovations include the introduction of pre-trade composite pricing for multi-dealer-to-customer (“D2C”) trading and the Request-for-Quote (“RFQ”) trading protocol across all of our asset classes. We have also integrated our trading platforms with our proprietary post-trade systems as well as many of our clients’ order management and risk systems for efficient post-trade processing. In addition, because large components of the market remain relationship-driven, we continue to focus on introducing technology solutions to solve inefficiencies in voice markets, such as electronic voice processing, which allows our clients to use Tradeweb technology to process voice trades. We expect to continue to leverage our success to expand into new products, asset classes and geographies, while growing our powerful network of clients.
While our cornerstone products continue to be some of the first products we launched, including U.S. treasuries, European government bonds and To-Be-Announced mortgage-backed securities (“TBA MBS”), we have continued to solve trading inefficiencies by adding new products across our rates, credit, equities and money markets asset classes. As a result of expanding our offerings, we have increased our opportunities in related addressable markets, where estimated average daily trading volumes have grown from approximately $0.6 trillion in 1998 to $6.0 trillion through December 31, 2020, according to industry sources and management estimates.
Our Competitive Strengths
Our Network of Clients, Products, Geographies and Protocols
Our clients continue to come to our trading venues because of our large network and deep pools of liquidity, which result in better and more efficient trade execution. We expand our relationships through our integrated technology and new offerings made available to our growing network of clients. As an electronic trading marketplace for key asset classes and products, we benefit from a virtuous cycle of liquidity — trading volumes growing together and re-enforcing each other. We expect our existing clients to trade more volume on our trading venues and to attract new users to our already powerful network, as liquidity on our marketplaces continues to grow and we offer more products and value-added solutions. The breadth of our network, products, global presence and embedded scalable technology offers us unique insights and an established platform to swiftly enter additional markets and offer new value-added solutions. This is supported by more than 20 years of successful innovation and long trusted relationships with our clients.
We are a leader in making trading and the associated workflow more efficient for market participants. Based on industry sources and management estimates, we believe that we are a market leader in electronic trading for the following products: U.S. treasuries, TBA MBS, European government bonds, U.S. dollar-denominated interest rate swaps, euro-denominated interest rate swaps, ETP-traded Yen-denominated interest rate swaps and European ETFs. We cover all major client sectors participating in electronic trading, including the institutional, wholesale and retail client sectors. In addition, we provide the full spectrum of trading protocols from voice to sweeps (session-based trading) through RFQ to CLOB (central limit order book).
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We believe the breadth of our offerings, experience and client relationships provides us unique market feedback and enables us to enter new markets with higher probabilities of success and greater speed. Many of our markets are interwoven and we provide participants trading capabilities across multiple products through a single relationship. We cover our global clients through offices in North America, Europe and Asia and a global trading network that is distributed throughout the world.
Culture of Collaborative Innovation
We have developed trusted client relationships through a culture of collaborative innovation where we work alongside our clients to solve their evolving workflow needs. We have a long track record of working with clients to solve both industry-level challenges and client-specific issues. We have had a philosophy of collaboration since our founding, when we worked with certain clients to improve U.S. treasury trading for the institutional client sector.
More recently, we helped make trading in credit markets more efficient by partnering with major dealers to improve liquidity and reduce the cost of net spotting the U.S. treasury in connection with a corporate bond trade. This net spotting functionality allows our credit clients to spot multiple bonds at the same time using our multi-dealer net spotting tool to net their interest rate risk simultaneously using one spot price. We have also worked side-by-side with clients and federal agencies to customize solutions for their particular needs in the TBA MBS market. For example, in direct collaboration with our leading TBA MBS clients we developed our Round Robin functionality to help resolve the issue of systemic fails on TBA MBS trades and reduce the operational risk and costs associated with delivery failures that often plague the TBA MBS market. In conjunction with Freddie Mac, we developed a direct-to-Freddie Mac exchange path for institutional clients related to the single security initiative, paving the way for a combined Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae TBA market of Uniform Mortgage-Backed Securities. Through collaborative endeavors like these, we have become deeply integrated into our clients’ workflow and become a partner of choice for new innovations.
Scalable and Flexible Technology
We consistently use our proprietary technology to find new ways for our clients to trade more effectively and efficiently. Our core software solutions span multiple components of the trading lifecycle and include pre-trade data and analytics, trade execution and post-trade data, analytics and reporting, integration, connectivity and straight-through processing. Our systems are built to be scalable, flexible and resilient. Our internet-based, thin client technology is readily accessible and enables us to quickly access the market with easily distributed new solutions. For example, we were the first to offer web-based electronic multi-dealer trading to the institutional U.S. treasury market and have subsequently automated the market structure of additional markets globally. We have also created new trading protocols and developed additional solutions for our clients that are translated and built by our highly experienced technology and business personnel working together to solve a client workflow problem. Going forward, we expect our technology platform, and ongoing investments in technology and new product offerings, to help us stay at the forefront of the evolution of electronic trading.
Our Global Regulatory Footprint and Domain Expertise
We are regulated (as necessitated by jurisdiction and applicable law) or have necessary legal clearance to offer our platforms and solutions in major markets globally, and our experience provides us credibility when we enter new markets and facilitates our ability to comply with additional regulatory regimes. With extensive experience in addressing existing and pending regulatory changes in our industry, we offer clients a central source of expertise and thought leadership in our markets and assist them through the myriad of regulatory requirements. We then provide our clients with trading platforms that meet regulatory requirements and enable connectivity to pre-and post-trade systems necessary to comply with their regulatory obligations.
Platforms and Solutions Empowered by Data and Analytics
Our data and analytics enhance the value proposition of our trading venues and improve the trading experience of our clients. We support our clients’ core trading functions by offering trusted pre- and post-trade services, value-added analytics and predictive insights informed by our deep understanding of how market participants interact. Our data and analytics help clients make better trading decisions, benefitting our current clients and attracting new market participants to our network. For example, data powers our Automated Intelligent Execution (“AiEX”) functionality which allows traders to automatically execute trades according to pre-programmed rules and automatically sends completed or rejected order details to internal order management systems. By allowing traders to automate and execute their smaller, low touch trades more efficiently, AiEX helps traders focus their attention on larger, more nuanced trades. During the year ended December 31, 2020, the percentage of trades executed by our institutional clients using our AiEX functionality was 25% of total institutional trades, up from 6% in 2015, and we are seeing demand for AiEX continue to grow across some of our key products, including U.S. treasuries, European government bonds, global swaps, U.S. and European corporate bonds and global ETFs.
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Our over 20 year operating history has allowed us to build comprehensive and unique datasets across our markets and, as we add new products to our platforms, we will continue to create new datasets that may be monetized in the future. Our marketplaces generate valuable data, processing over 50,000 trades and over 1.0 billion pre-trade price updates daily, that we collect centrally and use as inputs to our pre-trade indicative pricing and analytics. We maintain a full history of inquiries and transactions, which means, for example, we have 20 years of U.S. treasury data. We will seek to further monetize our data over time both through potential expansion of our existing market data license agreement with Refinitiv and through distributing additional datasets and analytics offerings through our own network or through other third-party networks.
We are continuously developing new offerings and solutions to meet the changing needs of our clients and will benefit from helping them comply with new regulations. For example, in January 2018, we launched our Approved Publication Arrangement (“APA”) reporting service in response to demand by our clients to satisfy new off-venue and over-the-counter (“OTC”) reporting requirements under MiFID II. We now operate one of the largest fixed income APA services with over 100 clients, including 20 leading global banks, and expect to expand our APA service in the coming years.
Experienced Management Team
Our focus and decades of experience have enabled us to accumulate the knowledge and capabilities needed to serve complex, dynamic and highly regulated markets. Our founder-led management team is composed of executives with an average of over 25 years of relevant industry experience including an average of 15 years working together at Tradeweb under different ownership structures and through multiple market cycles. Our stable management team has overseen our expansion into new markets and geographies while managing ongoing strategic initiatives including our significant technology investments. Additionally, management has fostered a culture of collaborative innovation with our clients, which combined with management’s focus and experience, has been an important contributor to our success. We have been thought leaders and contributors to the public dialogue on key issues and regulations affecting our markets and industry, including congressional testimony, public roundtables, regulatory committees and industry panels.
Our Growth Strategies
Throughout our history, we have operated with agility to address the evolving needs of our clients. We have been guided by our core principles, which are to build better marketplaces, to forge new relationships and to create trading solutions that position us as a strategic partner to the clients that we serve. We seek to advance our leadership position by focusing our efforts on the following growth strategies:
Continue to Grow Our Existing Markets
We believe there are significant opportunities to generate additional revenue from secular and cyclical tailwinds in our existing markets:
Growth in Our Underlying Asset Classes
The underlying volumes in our asset classes continue to increase due to expanded government and corporate issuance. In addition, the government bond market is foundational to and correlative to virtually every asset class in the cash and derivatives fixed income markets. Select products that we believe have a high growth potential due to current market trends include global government bonds, interest rate derivatives, ETFs and credit cash products.
Growth in Our Market Share
Our clients represent most of the largest institutional, wholesale and retail market participants. The global rates, credit, equities and money markets asset classes continue to evolve electronically, and we seek to increase our market share by continuing to innovate to electronify workflows. We intend to continue to increase our market share by growing our client base and increasing the percentage of our clients’ overall trading volume transacted in those asset classes on our platforms, including by leveraging our voice solutions to win more electronic trading business from electronic voice processing clients in our rates and credit asset classes. In particular, across many of our products, we are implementing an integrated approach to grow our market share — serving all three of our client sectors across all trade sizes, from odd-lot to block trades, through a variety of protocols. Many of our asset manager, hedge fund, insurance, central bank/sovereign entity and regional dealer clients actively trade multiple products on our platforms. In addition, our global dealer clients trade in most asset classes across all three client sectors. We also see a growing appetite for multi-asset trading to reduce cost and duration risk.
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Electronification of Our Markets
Market demands and regulation are changing the paradigm of trading and driving the migration to electronic markets. Our clients desire transparency, best execution and choice of trading protocols amidst dynamic and evolving markets. Furthermore, innovations in capital markets have enabled increased automation and process efficiency across our markets. The electronification of our marketplaces varies by product. We typically see meaningful electronification of new products within three to five years of their launch, with certain products experiencing significant revenue growth following that period of time, including as a result of market and regulatory developments. For example, our U.S.- and euro-denominated derivative products experienced increased rates of electronification and related revenue growth following the implementation of mandates under the Dodd-Frank Act in 2013 and MiFID II in 2018. We are well positioned to continue to innovate and provide better electronic markets and solutions that satisfy the needs of our clients and that meet changing market demands and evolving regulatory standards.
We believe that U.S. treasuries, global interest rate swaps, global ETFs, in particular, institutional block ETFs, and U.S. credit products, including corporate high grade and high yield bonds, are key drivers of our potential growth. Our penetration of these markets, and their level of electronification, are at various stages. We are focused on growing our market share for these products by continuing to invest in new technology solutions that will attract new market participants to our platforms and increase the use of our platforms by existing clients.
Expand Our Product Set and Reach
We have grown our business by prudently expanding our offerings to add new products and asset classes, and we expect to continue to invest to add new products and expand into new complementary markets as client demand and market trends evolve. We expanded into China in 2017 and offer our global clients access to the Chinese bond market through our initiative with BondConnect and recently launched CIBM Direct in 2020. We continue to focus on that initiative and on other opportunities in China, and on expanding opportunities with clients in the Asia region more broadly. In addition, we have expanded our product set to include wholesale electronic repurchase agreements, as well as U.S. and European bilateral repurchase agreements, European cash equities and U.S. options for our institutional client sector. We also intend to leverage innovation and technology capabilities to develop new solutions that help our clients trade more effectively and efficiently. For example, our swap compression functionality allows clients to reduce their swap positions at the clearinghouse, resulting in significant cost savings. On our institutional U.S. credit platform, our portfolio trading solution allows clients to obtain competitive prices on a full basket of securities and trade on net present value from dealers. In addition, multi-asset package (MAP) trading allows clients to simultaneously execute interest rate swaps, inflations swaps and government bonds in a single electronic package enabling clients to achieve more competitive pricing, reduce manual booking errors and increase execution speed. Net spotting, which links our institutional U.S. credit and U.S. treasury markets allows clients to reduce the operational stress and financial cost of executing offsetting Treasury hedges for corporate bonds that trade at a spread to the U.S. treasury. Given the breadth of expertise of our sales people and management, we have the ability to focus on new client opportunities and on selling additional solutions to existing clients.
In addition, we believe our business model is well suited to serve market participants in other asset classes and geographies where our guiding principles can continue to transform markets and broaden our reach. Our international strategy involves offering our existing products to new geographies and then adding local products. In addition, we believe we can, and will, continue to develop trading models in one product or asset class and deliver those models to other products or asset classes, irrespective of geography. For example, we have leveraged our session-based trading technology in European corporate bonds for session-based trading in U.S. corporate bonds and Off-the-Run U.S. treasuries, and we are focused on growing this newer trading protocol. We have significant scale and breadth across our platforms, which position us well to take advantage of favorable market dynamics when introducing new products or solutions or entering into new markets.
Enhance Underlying Data and Analytics Capabilities to Develop Innovative Solutions
As the demand for data and analytics solutions grows across markets and geographies, we plan to continue to expand the scope of our underlying data, improve our tools and technology and enhance our analytics and trade decision support capabilities to provide innovative solutions that address this demand. As the needs of market participants evolve, we expect to continue to help them meet their challenges, which our continuous investments in data, technology and analytics enable us to do more quickly and efficiently. For example, we enhance our solutions by linking indicative pre-trade data to our clients’ specific trades to create predictive insights from client trading behavior. Our technology architecture reduces the time to market for new data solutions, which allows us to react quickly to client needs.
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In November 2018, we extended our long-term agreement with Refinitiv, pursuant to which Refinitiv licenses certain data from us, which provides us with a predictable and growing revenue stream. In addition, we will continue to selectively pursue new strategic partnerships to expand our data and analytics offering over time.
We have also launched a roster of closing prices partnering with FTSE for UK Gilts and ICE for US treasuries in response to the growing demand for trusted reference price data that enables firms to manage investment portfolios, evaluate the fair value of securities, perform compliance monitoring and satisfy general accounting standards.
Pursue Strategic Acquisitions and Alliances
We intend to continue to selectively consider opportunities to grow through strategic acquisitions and alliances. These opportunities should enhance our existing capabilities, accelerate our ability to enter new markets or provide new solutions. Our focus continues to be on opportunities that we believe can enhance or benefit from our technology platform and client network, provide significant market share and profitability and are consistent with our corporate culture.
Our Client Sectors
We have a powerful network of approximately 2,500 clients across the institutional, wholesale and retail client sectors. Our clients include leading global asset managers, hedge funds, insurance companies, central banks, banks and dealers, proprietary trading firms and retail brokerage and financial advisory firms, as well as regional dealers. Since the founding of Tradeweb more than 20 years ago, we have developed trusted relationships with many of our clients and have invested to integrate with their capital markets technology infrastructures. This has facilitated the collaborative approach we employ to solve our clients’ evolving workflow needs.
We provide deep liquidity pools to the institutional, wholesale and retail client sectors through our Tradeweb Institutional, Dealerweb and Tradeweb Direct platforms. We are dependent on our dealer clients, some of which are also stockholders, to support our marketplaces by providing liquidity on our trading platforms, and certain of our dealer clients may account for a significant portion of our trading volume. Market knowledge and feedback from these dealer clients have also been important factors in the development of many of our offerings and solutions.
Our client sectors are continuing to become more interwoven and we believe we are well positioned to deliver the benefits of cross-marketplace network effects. Many of our asset manager, hedge fund, insurance, central bank/sovereign entity and regional dealer clients actively trade multiple products on our platforms. In addition, many of the commercial banks and dealers providing liquidity on Tradeweb Institutional are also active traders on Dealerweb, our wholesale platform, and provide odd-lot inventory for our retail client sector. We believe that this overlapping of client sectors and asset classes will continue and, in the long-term, will eliminate the distinctions across institutional, retail and wholesale channels. Given our technological capabilities, the diversity of our client sectors and the breadth of our products and trading protocols, we believe we are well positioned to capitalize on this emerging trend.
Institutional
Tradeweb Institutional offers dealer-to-client and all-to-all trading and related solutions to approximately 1,950 liquidity-taking clients. Our clients include leading asset managers, hedge funds, insurance companies, regional dealers and central banks/sovereign entities. The Tradeweb Institutional platform serves over 90% of the world’s largest 100 asset managers, over 80% of the top 25 insurance companies and over 50 central banks/sovereign entities with more than 150 dealers providing liquidity.
Tradeweb Institutional offers trading in a wide variety of products, including U.S. treasuries, European government bonds, TBA MBS, global interest rate swaps, global corporate bonds and ETFs. Our trading protocols include RFQ, Request-for-Market, Request-for-Stream, list trading, compression, blast all-to-all, Click-to-Trade, portfolio trading and inventory-based.
Wholesale
We provide fully electronic, hybrid and voice trading for the wholesale community on our Dealerweb platform. Our clients include approximately 300 dealers with more than 100 dealers actively trading on our electronic and hybrid markets. Nearly all of our electronic and hybrid dealer clients also trade on the Tradeweb Institutional and Tradeweb Direct platforms. Dealerweb’s leading markets include TBA MBS, global credit products, U.S. treasuries, repurchase agreements and U.S. dollar-denominated swaps. Our electronic trading protocols include directed streams, central limit orderbook and session-based trading. We are well positioned to facilitate and capitalize on the continued transition of wholesale client trading from voice or hybrid trading to fully
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electronic trading. To that end, we have had over 25% growth in the number of e-participants on our wholesale client sector markets since 2016.
Retail
Tradeweb Direct, our regulated Alternative Trading System (“ATS”), offers financial advisors and their retail clients access to micro-lot liquidity provided by our network of broker-dealers. Tradeweb Direct serves over 45,000 financial advisors at approximately 250 retail brokerage and advisory firms. In addition, certain Tradeweb Direct clients provide access to approximately 60,000 retail clients through white-labeled, web-based front ends. Tradeweb Direct also provides access to its ATS to large and middle-market asset managers. Tradeweb Direct offers trading in a range of products, including U.S. corporate bonds, treasuries, municipal bonds and certificates of deposit (CDs), using our Click-to-Trade, inventory-based and RFQ trading protocols. Participants on Tradeweb Direct have the ability to connect to our marketplaces via workstations or APIs or through access to websites that are white-labeled for our clients.
Our Asset Classes and Products
We offer efficient and transparent trading across a diverse range of asset classes:
Rates: We facilitate trading in a broad range of cash and derivatives rates products, including major government securities, such as U.S. treasury securities and European government bonds, mortgage-backed securities, interest rate swaps and agency/supranational securities and other rates products.
Credit: We offer deep pools of liquidity for our clients in cash and derivatives credit products, including U.S. and European high grade and high yield bonds, China bonds, municipal bonds, index, single name and sovereign credit default swaps and other credit products.
Equities: We offer trading in a range of cash and derivatives equities products, including global ETFs, equity derivatives and other equities products.
Money Markets: We offer trading in a broad range of cash money market products, including commercial paper, agency discount notes, repurchase agreements, certificates of deposit and treasury bills and other money markets products.
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Our Geographies
We have a global footprint serving approximately 2,500 clients in over 65 countries across the Americas, EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) and APAC (Asia Pacific) regions and with offices in North America, Europe and Asia. By region:
We serve approximately 1,500 clients in the Americas across North, Central and South America.
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We serve approximately 700 clients in EMEA across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.
We serve approximately 300 clients in APAC across Asia, the Pacific, Oceania and the Indian sub-continent.
In addition, we currently support trading across 25 currencies globally.
We believe our platforms, technology and solutions have made trading in markets globally more efficient and transparent. Furthermore, our expertise in multiple jurisdictions positions us as a partner of choice as our clients expand their trading operations to new geographies. As the global markets move to electronic trading, we expect to be at the forefront of this change. 
Our Solutions
We provide clients with solutions across the trade lifecycle including pre-trade data and analytics, intelligent trade execution, straight-through processing and post-trade data, analytics and reporting.
Pre-Trade Data and Analytics: We provide clients with accurate, real-time market data and streaming price updates across more than 40 products. Major financial publications across the globe reference our market data. Our real-time market data services include major government bonds, corporate bonds, mortgage-backed securities, fixed income derivatives and money markets. For example, data and analytics power our Automated Intelligent Price, or Ai-Price, functionality, which delivers benchmark pricing and insights for approximately 21,000 U.S. corporate bonds. We integrate directly with order management systems allowing for order entry and pre-trade compliance and risk analysis. Clients are also able to perform credit checks for cleared derivatives trading — either with limits on our system or through connectivity to the futures commission merchants.
In addition, we provide Refinitiv with certain real-time market data feeds for multiple fixed income and derivatives products under an exclusive license pursuant to which Refinitiv redistributes such market data to its customers on its Eikon platform and through direct feeds.
Trade Execution: Trade execution is at the core of our business. We provide marketplaces and tools that facilitate trading by our clients and streamline their related workflows. Our market specialists and technology team work closely with our clients to continuously innovate and improve their trading practices. The trading protocols we currently offer on our platforms include:
Request-for-quote. Our multi-dealer request-for-quote, or RFQ, protocol provides institutional clients with the ability to hold a real-time auction with multiple dealers and select the best price. RFQ was pioneered by Tradeweb in 1998 and has been deployed across all of our rate markets, including government bonds, mortgage-backed securities and U.S. agencies, and our other asset classes. The RFQ is a fully-disclosed trading protocol — both buy-side and sell-side names are known prior to execution. Multi-dealer RFQ assists clients with achieving best execution.
Request-for-market. Our request-for-market, or RFM, protocol provides institutional clients with the ability to request a two-sided market from a particular dealer. This mirrors the approach of a client calling a specific trader for market prices and rates before showing the direction they want to trade. The RFM protocol has been effective in some of our newer markets, including credit default swap indices, where it is integrated with the RFQ and click-to-trade protocols on a single trading screen.
Request-for-stream. Our request-for-stream, or RFS, protocol allows multiple dealers to show clients continuously updating rates, in line with market movements, during a client’s request window.
List trading. Used by clients with multiple transactions to complete, our list trading protocol is a highly efficient workflow tool. By executing many trades at once, clients can request prices from multiple dealers to extract the best price and complete the hedging of the trades at one time, saving significant manual effort compared to executing on the telephone.
Compression. Clients utilize our interest rate swap compression tool as an efficient means to reduce the number of line items they have outstanding at a clearinghouse by netting offsetting positions in a single transaction. This functionality allows clients to submit up to 250 line items to liquidity providers for simultaneous list pricing, which they can execute, clear and report in one transaction, reducing both their risk
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and clearing costs. The Tradeweb compression tool is flexible and versatile in design allowing clients to adapt the tool to their workflow and customize for granular swaps.
Blast all-to-all. Our Blast all-to-all, or A2A, protocol allows clients to send RFQ trade inquiries to all market participants in a given market and receive responses for executions. Trades are exposed to all liquidity providers simultaneously to broaden their liquidity sources. Blast A2A is currently used by our institutional clients in our global credit marketplaces, including U.S. high grade, U.S. high yield, European credit products and other corporate bonds. The Blast A2A functionality provides alert and inquiry monitors so participants are notified of trading opportunities. Clients can send single or list trade inquiries and can receive responses for full or partial fills. Clients can also leverage our AiEX tool in conjunction with this trading protocol.
Click-to-trade. Our click-to-trade, or CTT, protocol enables a liquidity-taking client to view a set of prices in real-time and click on the price and the dealer with whom they wish to execute. This trading protocol is especially popular with clients that are looking to view a range of executable, real-time prices across dealers.
Portfolio Trading. To support rebalancing of passive portfolios and ETFs, our portfolio trading solution allows clients to obtain competitive prices and trade on net present value on a full basket of securities.
Session-based. Sweep, our session-based trading protocol, allows clients to manage inventory and balance sheets by entering orders to be matched against opposite orders at a specified time and price, concentrating market liquidity to a particular point in time. This protocol leverages our broker relationships, technology, and pricing from the overall Tradeweb network to fill the gap between voice brokering and fully electronic order book trading.
Central Limit Order Book. Our central limit order book, or CLOB, is a continuous electronic protocol that allows clients to trade on firm bids and offers from other market participants, as well as enter their own resting bids and offers for display to the market participants, typically anonymously.
Directed streams. Our directed streams protocol, which is currently used by our wholesale clients in the On-The-Run U.S. treasury marketplace, gives clients an efficient alternative to traditional voice and order book trading. Liquidity-taking and liquidity-providing clients can establish data-driven, customized bilateral trading relationships that deliver real-time price discovery and high quality execution. In this matched principal model, clients can connect to a single platform to transact with multiple pools of directed liquidity.
Inventory-based. Our inventory-based protocol allows liquidity-providing clients to submit a range of bids and offers for particular securities that a counterparty can then look to execute on. These prices are not necessarily updated in real-time but provide a good indication of where the counterparty is likely to complete the trade. This protocol is most commonly deployed in less liquid, security-specific marketplaces, such as certain credit and money markets marketplaces.
Voice. Voice-brokered products in our wholesale client sector include, among other products, U.S. treasuries, MBS, municipal bonds and repurchase agreements. Our voice brokers provide anonymity and insight for sell side traders and give us valuable high-touch relationships and market understanding and access.
Tradeweb Automated Intelligent Execution, or AiEX, is an innovative automated trading technology that allows clients to execute large volumes of trade tickets at a high speed using pre-programmed execution rules that are tailored to the client’s trading strategy. Clients use AiEX to efficiently automate high volumes of small, basic trades to free up time and create capacity. In addition, clients apply AiEX to more complex execution strategies to open up new trading opportunities. The trading benefits of AiEX include efficient accelerated execution, better optimization to fine-tune dealer selection and enhanced automated compliance.
Trade Processing: Our trade processing technology allows our clients to increase productivity, reduce risk and improve overall performance. Our post-trade solutions allow clients to allocate their electronic or phone-executed trades electronically, including storing and communicating organizational and sub-account settlement, identity and confirmation preference information for processing trades. Our post-trade solutions also make it easier for clients to communicate trade settlement information to dealers, prime brokers, fund administrators and confirmation vendors. Additionally, clients can send trades to clearinghouses and reporting in real-time through third-party middleware or Tradeweb developed direct links. We work side by side with numerous industry partners to provide direct server-to-server connections. By eliminating manual re-entry of trade and allocation information, our solutions assist clients in reducing failed trades and saving time, effort and money.
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Post-Trade Data, Analytics and Reporting: Our comprehensive post-trade services include transaction cost analysis, or TCA, best execution reporting and client performance reports. These powerful tools provide our clients with ways to measure and optimize their trade performance. Our TCA tools monitor the cost effectiveness and quality of execution of trading activities for trades executed on or off Tradeweb. Our post-trade performance reports provide a summary of trading activity including detailed exception reports, price benchmarking and peer group comparisons. In response to MiFID II, we also launched an APA reporting service to allow clients to meet post-trade transparency requirements for off-venue or OTC trading activity. Our APA service provides regulatory pre-trade and post-trade reporting across multiple asset classes, including for products not offered by Tradeweb. The APA service also provides venue reporting for clients for Refinitiv’s FX trading venues and Forte Securities.
Strategic Alliances
As part of our culture of collaborative innovation, throughout our history we have also initiated several formal strategic alliances. These alliances have taken several forms, including distribution partnerships, technological alliances and revenue sharing and other financial arrangements. The alliances have allowed us to accelerate our entry into certain new markets, leverage scale of other parties or simply maximize opportunities through joint projects.
Sales and Marketing
We sell and promote our offerings and solutions using a variety of sales and marketing strategies. Our sales organization, which is generally not commission based, follows a team-based approach to covering clients, deploying our product and regional expertise as best dictated by evolving market conditions. The team has historically been organized by client sector and then by region, but as markets have converged, we have increasingly leveraged our global and cross-product expertise to drive growth. Our sales team, which works closely with our technology team, is responsible for new client acquisition and the management of ongoing client relationships to increase clients’ awareness, knowledge and usage of our trading platforms, new product launches, information and data services and post-trade services. Our sales team is also responsible for training and supporting new and existing clients on their use of our platforms and solutions and for educating clients more broadly on the benefits of electronic trading, including how to optimize their trading performance and efficiency through our various trading protocols.
Given the breadth of our global client network, trading volume activity and engagement with regulatory bodies, we regularly work to help educate market participants on market trends, the impact of regulatory changes and technology advancements. Our senior executives often provide insight and thought leadership to the industry through conversations with the media, appearances at important industry events, roundtables and forums, submitting authored opinion pieces to media outlets and conducting topical webinars for our clients. We believe this provides a valued service for our constituents and enhances our brand awareness and stature within the financial community.
Additionally, we employ various marketing strategies to strengthen our brand position and explain our offerings, including through our public website, advertising, digital and social media, earned media, direct marketing, promotional mailings, industry conferences and hosted events.
Competition
The markets for our solutions continue to evolve and are competitive in the asset classes, products and geographies in which we operate. We compete with a broad range of market participants globally. Some of these market participants compete in a particular market, while select others compete against the entire spectrum of our offerings and solutions. In addition, there are other companies that have the platform breadth and global reach that we provide. We believe that our comprehensive offerings, global reach, culture of collaboration and broad network increasingly differentiate us from other market participants.
We primarily compete on the basis of client network, domain expertise, breadth of offerings and solutions and ease of integration of our platforms with our client’s technology, as well as the quality, reliability, security and ease of our platforms and solutions. We face six main areas of competition:
Other electronic trading platforms: We compete with a number of other electronic trading venues. These include MarketAxess, Bloomberg, Intercontinental Exchange (“ICE”) (Bondpoint, TMC Bonds, Creditex) and others in the credit and municipal markets; Bloomberg, MTS BondVision, Nasdaq (Nasdaq Fixed Income), CME Group (NEX Group), BGC Partners (Fenics) and others in the rates and derivatives markets; and ITG (RFQ-hub) that was acquired by Virtu and Bloomberg in the equities and ETF markets. Additionally, new platform providers have entered the market, such as Trumid, LiquidityEdge, which was acquired by MarketAxess, and Liquidnet.
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Exchanges: In recent years, exchanges have pursued acquisitions that have put them in competition with us. For example, ICE acquired BondPoint and TMC Bonds, retail-focused platforms, and Interactive Data Corporation (“IDC”), a provider of fixed income data, in an effort to expand its portfolio of fixed income products and services. CME Group and Nasdaq also operate exchanges that compete with us. Exchanges also have data and analytics relationships with several market participants, which increasingly put their offerings in direct competition with Tradeweb.
Inter-dealer brokers: We compete with inter-dealer brokers, particularly in our wholesale markets in products such as MBS, U.S. Treasuries, U.S. repo and products traded on SEFs. Major competitors include TP ICAP, BGC Partners and Tradition. Many of these firms also offer voice, electronic and hybrid trading protocols. As larger, full service inter-dealer brokers have consolidated, numerous boutique firms and alternative electronic start-ups are attempting to capture select markets.
Single-bank systems: Major global and regional investment and commercial banks offer institutional clients electronic trade execution through proprietary trading systems. Many of these banks expend considerable resources on product development, sales and support to promote their single-bank systems.
Dealers: Many of our markets are still traded through traditional voice-based protocols. Institutional investors have historically purchased fixed-income securities, large blocks of equity securities, or ETFs, or entered into OTC derivative transactions, by telephoning sales professionals at dealers. We face competition from trading conducted over the telephone between dealers and their institutional clients.
Market data and information vendors: Market data and information providers, such as Bloomberg, IDC (now part of ICE) and IHS Markit, have a pervasive presence across the financial trading community. Their data and pre-and post-trade analytics compete with offerings we provide to support trading on our marketplaces.
We face intense competition, and we expect competition with a broad range of competitors to continue to intensify in the future. See Part I, Item 1A. – “Risk Factors — Risks Relating to Industry Dynamics and Competition — Failure to compete successfully could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.”
Proprietary Technology
Over the past 20 years, we have collaborated with our clients to continually innovate and evolve with the structure of our markets. This collaboration enables us to remain agile across client sectors, geographies, asset classes and products providing speed to market and a distinct cost and innovation advantage to our clients. Critical to our ability to collaborate with clients and remain at the forefront of evolving market trends is our team of over 300 technologists, which works closely with our client, product and sales teams and has deep market knowledge and domain expertise. This knowledge and expertise not only allows us to address client demand but also to focus on those solutions that can be scaled across client sectors, asset classes and trading protocols.
Our systems are built to be scalable, flexible and resilient. Our core software solutions span the trading lifecycle and include pre-trade analytics, trade execution and post-trade data, analytics and reporting, connectivity and straight-through processing.
A significant portion of our operating budget is dedicated to system design, development and operations in order to achieve high levels of overall system performance. We continually monitor our performance metrics and upgrade our capacity configurations and requirements to handle anticipated peak trading activity in our highest volume products.
The key aspects of our proprietary technology infrastructure include facilitating client-driven innovation, launching new solutions quickly and investing in talent, machine learning and AI capabilities. These aspects of our technology lead to the following:
Nimble product development in collaboration with clients: Our approach to product development facilitates continuous releases of important product features. This allows us to be opportunistic in what we decide to release at any point in time and inject newly discovered opportunities into the trade lifecycle. We have designed our platforms to be component-based and modular. New components can be built quickly and have detailed monitoring and command capabilities embedded.
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Scalable architecture: Our scalable architecture was designed to address increased trading activities and evolving market structures in a cost efficient manner. Furthermore, the diversity and breadth of our platforms allow us to expand our capabilities across new markets. We use third-party data centers to more flexibly manage our capacity needs and costs, as well as to leverage security, network and service capabilities.
Strong disaster recovery and business continuity planning: We maintain redundant networks, hardware, data centers and alternate operational facilities to address interruptions. We have eight datacenters across the United States, the United Kingdom ("UK") and Japan. Our data center infrastructure is designed to be resilient and responsive with built-in redundancies.
We have put in place business continuity plans in the event of a significant business disruption or disaster recovery situation to ensure the safety of all employees and resilience of critical systems required for normal operations. The plans cover a range of scenarios and adhere to industry standards and regulatory mandates as outlined by the Interagency Paper on Sound Practices to Strengthen the Resilience of the U.S. Financial System, the SEC’s Regulation Systems Compliance and Integrity, Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) rules concerning system safeguards and other agencies and entities. Activities covered by the plans include the primary responsible parties at Tradeweb, actions to restore essential systems and applications with target recovery times to accomplish all stated objectives and communications to staff, partners, clients and regulators. The plans are periodically updated based on the most relevant threats to operations and tested to ensure effectiveness during emergency conditions.
Ongoing security, system monitoring and alerting: We prioritize security throughout our platforms, operations and software development. We make architectural, design and implementation choices to structurally address security risks, such as logical and physical access controls, perimeter firewall protection and embedded security processes in our systems development lifecycle. Our cyber security program is based on the National Institute of Standards and Technology Cyber Security Framework (the “Framework”). The Framework consists of standards, guidelines and best practices to manage cybersecurity-related risks and promote the protection and resilience of critical infrastructure. Our Global Chief Information Security Officer leads a qualified cyber security team in assessing, managing and reducing the relevant risks to assure critical operations and continuous delivery of service. We constantly monitor connectivity, and our global operations team is alerted if there are any suspect events.
Intellectual Property
Like most companies that develop their technology in-house, we rely upon a combination of copyright, patent, trade secret and trademark laws, written agreements and common law to protect our proprietary technology, processes and other intellectual property.
To that end, we have patents or patents pending in the United States and other jurisdictions related to price discovery, order execution and trade workflows, including but not limited to pre-trade activities, market data scenarios, market data distribution, electronic data interchange, financial valuation, detecting trading opportunities, financial matching, order matching, order routing, pool trading, database, search, electronic messaging, prime brokerage, order transmission, electronic trading, tracking and monitoring, net spotting, straight-through-processing and clearing.
In addition, we own, or have filed applications for, the rights to trade names, trademarks, copyrights, domain names and service marks that we use in the marketing of our platforms and solutions to clients. We have registered for trademarks in many of our markets, including our major markets, with registrations pending in others. Trademarks registered include, but are not limited to, “Tradeweb,” “Dealerweb,” and “Tradeweb Direct.”
We also enter into written agreements with third parties, employees, clients, contractors and strategic partners to protect our proprietary technology, processes and other intellectual property, including agreements designed to protect our trade secrets. Examples of these written agreements include third-party non-disclosure agreements, employee non-disclosure and inventions assignment agreements, licensing agreements and restricted use agreements.
Regulation
Many aspects of our business are subject to regulation in a number of jurisdictions, including the United States, the UK, the Netherlands, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia. In these jurisdictions, government regulators and self-regulatory organizations oversee the conduct of our business, and have broad powers to promulgate and interpret laws, rules and regulations that may serve to restrict or limit our business. As a matter of public policy, these regulators are tasked with ensuring the integrity of the financial and securities markets and protecting the interests of investors in those markets generally.
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Rulemaking by regulators, including resulting market structure changes, has had an impact on our business by directly affecting our method of operation and, at times, our profitability.
As registered trading platforms, broker-dealers, introducing brokers and other types of regulated entities as described below, certain of our subsidiaries are subject to laws, rules and regulations (including the rules of self-regulatory organizations) that cover all aspects of their business, including manner of operation, system integrity, anti-money laundering and financial crimes, handling of material non-public information, safeguarding data, capital requirements, reporting, record retention, market access, licensing of employees and the conduct of officers, employees and other associated persons.
Regulation can impose, and has imposed, obligations on our regulated subsidiaries, including our broker-dealer subsidiaries. These increased obligations require the implementation and maintenance of internal practices, procedures and controls, which have increased our costs. Many of our regulators, as well as other governmental authorities, are empowered to bring enforcement actions and to conduct administrative proceedings, examinations, inspections and investigations, which may result in increased compliance costs, penalties, fines, enhanced oversight, increased financial and capital requirements, additional restrictions or limitations, censure, suspension or disqualification of the entity and/or its officers, employees or other associated persons, or other sanctions, such as disgorgement, restitution or the revocation or limitation of regulatory approvals. Whether or not resulting in adverse findings, regulatory proceedings, examinations, inspections and investigations can require substantial expenditures of time and money and can have an adverse impact on a firm’s reputation, client relationships and profitability. From time to time, we and our associated persons have been and are subject to routine reviews, none of which to date have had a material adverse effect on our businesses, financial condition, results of operations or prospects. As a result of such reviews, we may be required to amend certain internal structures and frameworks, such as our operating procedures, systems and controls.
The regulatory environment in which we operate is subject to constant change. We are unable to predict how certain new laws and proposed rules and regulations will be implemented or in what form, or whether any changes to existing laws, rules and regulations, including the interpretation, implementation or enforcement thereof or a relaxation or amendment thereof, will occur in the future. We believe that uncertainty and potential delays around the final form of certain new rules and regulations may negatively impact our clients and trading volumes in certain markets in which we transact, although a relaxation of or the amendment of existing rules and requirements could potentially have a positive impact on certain markets. While we generally believe the net impact of the laws, rules and regulations may be positive for our business, it is possible that unintended consequences may materially adversely affect us in ways yet to be determined. See Part I, Item 1A. – “Risk Factors — Risks Relating to Legal, Regulatory and Tax Considerations — Our business, and the businesses of many of our clients, could be materially adversely affected by new laws, rules or regulations or changes in existing laws, rules or regulations, including the interpretation and enforcement thereof.”
U.S. Regulation
In the United States, the SEC is the federal agency primarily responsible for the administration of the federal securities laws, including adopting and enforcing rules and regulations applicable to broker-dealers. Two of our broker-dealers operate alternative trading systems subject to the SEC’s Regulation ATS, which includes certain specific requirements and compliance responsibilities in addition to those faced by broker-dealers generally. Broker-dealers are also subject to regulation by state securities administrators in those states in which they conduct business or have registered to do business. We are also subject to the various anti-fraud provisions of the Securities Act, the Exchange Act, the Commodity Exchange Act, certain state securities laws and the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder. We also may be subject to vicarious and controlling person liability for the activities of our subsidiaries and our officers, employees and affiliated persons.
The CFTC is the federal agency primarily responsible for the administration of federal laws governing activities relating to futures, swaps and other derivatives including the adoption of rules applicable to SEFs. Our SEFs are subject to regulations that relate to trading and product requirements, governance and disciplinary requirements, operational capabilities, surveillance obligations and financial information and resource requirements, including the requirement that they maintain sufficient financial resources to cover operating costs for at least one year.
Much of the regulation of broker-dealers’ operations in the United States has been delegated to self-regulatory organizations. These self-regulatory organizations adopt rules (which are generally subject to approval by the SEC) that govern the operations of broker-dealers and conduct periodic inspections and examinations of their operations. In the case of our U.S. broker-dealer subsidiaries, the principal self-regulatory organization is the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (“FINRA”). Accordingly, our U.S. broker-dealer subsidiaries are subject to both scheduled and unscheduled examinations by the SEC and FINRA. In addition, our broker-dealers’ municipal securities-related activities are subject to the rules of the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (“MSRB”). In connection with our introducing broker-related activities, we are subject
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to the oversight of the National Futures Association (“NFA”), a self-regulatory organization that regulates certain CFTC registrants.
Following the 2008 financial crisis, legislators and regulators in the United States adopted new laws and regulations, including the Dodd-Frank Act. Various rules and regulations promulgated following the financial crisis, such as the Volcker Rule and additional bank capital and liquidity requirements, could adversely affect our bank and bank-affiliated dealer clients’ ability to make markets in a variety of products, thereby negatively impacting the level of liquidity and pricing available on our platforms.
In addition, Title VII of the Dodd-Frank Act (“Title VII”) amended the Commodity Exchange Act and the Exchange Act to establish a regulatory framework for swaps, subject to regulation by the CFTC, and security-based swaps, subject to regulation by the SEC. The CFTC has completed the majority of its regulations in this area, most of which are in effect. The SEC has also finalized many of its security-based swap regulations, although a significant number are not yet in effect. Among other things, Title VII rules require certain standardized swaps to be cleared through a central clearinghouse and/or traded on a designated contract market or SEF, subject to various exceptions. Title VII also requires the registration and regulation of certain market participants, including SEFs. As these rules require SEFs to maintain robust front-end and back-office IT capabilities and to make large and ongoing technology investments, and because SEFs may be supported by a variety of voice and auction-based execution methodologies, we expect our hybrid and fully electronic trading capability to perform strongly in such an environment. The SEC has proposed but not yet finalized its rules relating to the registration and regulation of security-based swap execution facilities (“SBSEFs”). If and when the SEC finalizes these rules, we expect that certain of our subsidiaries may be required to register as SBSEFs.
The administration under President Trump and the Republican Party passed legislation to roll-back key pieces of the Dodd-Frank Act in an effort to loosen certain regulatory restrictions on financial institutions. Under the new administration, it is unknown at this time to what extent new legislation will be passed into law or whether pending or new regulatory proposals will be adopted or modified, or what effect such passage, adoption or modification will have, whether positive or negative, on our industry, our clients or us. In particular, there can be no assurance that rules impacting our clients will be amended or repealed.
Non-U.S. Regulation
Outside of the United States, we are currently regulated by: the Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) in the UK, the De Nederlandsche Bank (“DNB”) and the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets (“AFM”) in the Netherlands, the Japan Financial Services Agency (the “JFSA”), the Japan Securities Dealers Association (the “JSDA”), the Securities & Futures Commission (the “SFC”) of Hong Kong, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (the “MAS”), the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (the “ASIC”), the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada and provincial regulators in Canada.
The FCA’s strategic objective is to ensure that the UK's markets function well and its operational objectives are to protect consumers, to protect and enhance the integrity of the UK financial system and to promote effective competition in the interests of consumers. It has investigative and enforcement powers derived from the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (“FSMA”) and subsequent legislation and regulations. Subject to section 178 of FSMA, individuals or companies that seek to acquire or increase their control in a firm that the FCA regulates is required to obtain prior approval from the FCA.
The legal framework in the Netherlands for financial undertakings is predominantly included in the Dutch Financial Supervision Act (Wet op het financieel toezicht or “FSA”). The AFM, like the DNB, is an autonomous administrative authority with independent responsibility for fulfilling its supervisory function. Pursuant to section 2:96 of the FSA, the AFM authorizes investment firms. The AFM is legally responsible for business supervision. The DNB is responsible for prudential supervision. The purpose of prudential supervision is to ensure the solidity of financial undertakings and to contribute to the stability of the financial sector. Holders of a qualifying holding (in short, shareholdings or voting rights of 10% or more) must apply to the DNB for a declaration of no objection and satisfy the applicable requirements pursuant to section 3:95 of the FSA. The DNB and the AFM co-operate under the provisions of the FSA and have concluded a covenant on the co-operation and co-ordination of supervision and other related tasks.
Much of our derivatives volumes continue to be executed by non-U.S. based clients outside the United States and is subject to local regulations. In particular, the European Union ("EU") has enhanced the existing laws and developed new rules and regulations targeted at the financial services industry, including MiFID II and Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation (“MiFIR”), which were implemented in January 2018 and which introduced significant changes to the EU financial markets designed to facilitate more efficient markets and greater transparency for participants.
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Among the other aspects of the regulations, MiFID II and MiFIR: (i) require a significant part of the market in certain derivative instruments to trade on regulated trading venues which are subject to transparency regimes, (ii) enhance pre- and post-trade transparency for instruments within the scope of the requirements which have been calibrated for different types of instruments and types of trading, (iii) enhance the transparency of fee structures and access to trading venues, (iv) increase and enhance post-trade reporting obligations with a requirement for “systematic internalisers” to submit certain post-trade data to APAs, (v) provide for the establishment a consolidated tape for certain trade data, (vi) improve technology synchronization and best execution and (vii) enhance investor protection. MiFID II is also intended to help improve the functioning of the EU single market by achieving a greater consistency of regulatory standards. By design, therefore, it is intended that Member States should have very similar regulatory regimes in relation to the matters addressed by MiFID. In addition, the new regulated execution venue category introduced by MiFID II known as the Organized Trading Facility (“OTF”) (in addition to the venue category of Multilateral Trading Facility (“MTF”) for electronic trading) is intended to capture much of the voice and hybrid oriented trading within the EU.
In March 2017, following the UK’s vote to leave the EU, the UK Prime Minister gave the European Council of the EU formal written notification of the UK’s intention to leave the EU, triggering the withdrawal process under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Following negotiations, on October 17, 2019 the UK government and the EU Council reached agreement on the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU (the “Withdrawal Agreement”). Following Royal Assent of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill and the ratification by the EU Parliament of the Withdrawal Agreement, the UK formally withdrew from the EU on January 31, 2020. The Withdrawal Agreement included a transitional period, during which the UK continued to be subject to EU laws and remained a member of the single market and customs union, but was not a member state of the EU. The transitional period expired on December 31, 2020, following which our UK authorized subsidiary no longer “passports” its FCA regulatory permissions throughout the European Economic Area (“EEA”).
In preparation for Brexit, we successfully ensured that services can continue to be provided in the UK and throughout the EEA, notably by establishing a legal entity in the Netherlands, Tradeweb EU B.V., which offers services from our Amsterdam office. We received approval in early 2019 from Dutch regulatory authorities to operate an MTF, an OTF and an APA, essentially replicating our current UK regulatory permissions, including “passports” throughout the EEA. As a result of this approval, since early 2019 we have operated two MTFs, two OTFs and two APAs in Europe, increasing the complexity of the business.
Further effects of Brexit will depend on any agreements the UK and EU may make, including in relation to access to the financial services markets. In December 2020 the UK and EU agreed to the terms of a trade and cooperation agreement, including a joint declaration on financial services. Negotiations to determine the framework of the future cooperation and relationship between the UK and the EU, including with regard to access to each other’s financial markets have commenced and are expected to continue during 2021. While the UK and EU equivalence regimes are expected to remain autonomous, the negotiations will be complex, and remain politically uncertain. The financial services negotiations are expected to result in a framework for regulatory cooperation being codified in a Memorandum of Understanding, though this is not certain.
Capital Requirements
Certain of our subsidiaries are subject to jurisdiction specific regulatory capital requirements, designed to maintain the general financial integrity and liquidity of a regulated entity. In general, they require that at least a minimum amount of a regulated entity’s assets be kept in relatively liquid form. Failure to maintain required minimum capital may subject a regulated subsidiary to a fine, requirement to cease conducting business, suspension, revocation of registration or expulsion by the applicable regulatory authorities, and ultimately could require the relevant entity’s liquidation. As of December 31, 2020, each of our regulated subsidiaries had maintained sufficient net capital or financial resources to at least satisfy their minimum requirements. See Note 18—Regulatory Capital Requirements to our audited consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Regulatory Status of Tradeweb Entities
Our operations span jurisdictions across North America, Europe and Asia, and we operate through various regulated entities. The current regulatory status of our regulated entities is described below.
Tradeweb LLC is a SEC-registered broker-dealer and a member of FINRA and MSRB. Tradeweb LLC is also a CFTC-registered introducing broker and a member of NFA. Tradeweb LLC relies on the international dealer exemption in the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Alberta, and Manitoba, and is recognized as a foreign trading venue in Switzerland.
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TW SEF LLC is a CFTC-registered SEF. TW SEF LLC is formally exempt from registration as an exchange in the Canadian provinces of Alberta, Ontario and Quebec and is recognized as a foreign trading venue in Switzerland. TW SEF LLC is formally exempt from registration by the ASIC with a pending application with ASIC for an Overseas Australian Market Operator Licensee.
Dealerweb Inc. is an SEC-registered broker-dealer, operates an ATS and is a member of FINRA and MSRB. Dealerweb Inc. is also a CFTC-registered introducing broker and a member of NFA. Dealerweb Inc. is recognized as a foreign trading venue in Switzerland. Dealerweb relies on the international dealer exemption in the Canadian province of Ontario.
DW SEF LLC is a CFTC-registered SEF. DW SEF LLC is formally exempt from registration in the Canadian province of Ontario and is recognized as a foreign trading venue in Switzerland.
Tradeweb Direct LLC is an SEC-registered broker-dealer, operates an ATS and is a member of FINRA and MSRB. Tradeweb Direct LLC relies on the international dealer exemption in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec.
Tradeweb Europe Limited is authorized and regulated in the UK by the FCA as a MiFID Investment Firm. It has permissions to operate an MTF, an OTF and an APA. Tradeweb Europe Limited passports its permissions under MiFID and accordingly provides services throughout the EEA. In addition, Tradeweb Europe Limited is also registered with the CFTC as an introducing broker and is a member of NFA. Tradeweb Europe Limited is also regulated by ASIC and holds an Overseas Australian Market Operator License.
The Singapore branch of Tradeweb Europe Limited is regulated by the MAS as a Recognised Market Operator (“RMO”).
The Hong Kong branch of Tradeweb Europe Limited is regulated by the SFC as an Automated Trading Service.
Tradeweb Commercial Information Consulting (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. is a wholly-owned foreign enterprise (WOFE) in China for the purpose of providing consulting and marketing activities in China. The Tradeweb offshore electronic trading platform is recognized by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) for the provision of Bond Connect.
Tradeweb Japan KK is regulated by the JFSA and is registered as a Type 1 Financial Instruments Exchange Business Operator (reg. Kanto Local Finance Bureau (Kinsho) No.2997) pursuant to which it has been granted a Proprietary Trading System (PTS) Operator License. It is also a notified Electronic Trading Platform (ETP) operator for IRS intermediary business. Tradeweb Japan KK is a member of the JSDA, which is an authorized self-regulatory body under the Financial Instruments and Exchange Law of Japan, the governing law of the financial services industry in Japan.
Tradeweb EU B.V. is authorized and regulated by the DNB and AFM as a MiFID Investment Firm with permissions to operate an MTF and an OTF. Tradeweb EU B.V. passports its permissions under MiFID and accordingly provides services throughout the EU and the EEA. Tradeweb EU B.V. is also regulated by ASIC and holds an Overseas Australian Market Operator License.
Human Capital
In order to maintain our role as a leader in building and operating electronic marketplaces for our global network of clients, it is crucial that we continue to attract and retain top talent. To facilitate talent attraction and employee retention, we strive to make Tradeweb a diverse, inclusive and safe workplace, with opportunities for our employees to grow and develop in their careers, supported by strong compensation, benefits and health and wellness programs, and by initiatives that build connections between our employees and their communities.
As of December 31, 2020, we had 961 employees, 698 of whom were based in the United States and 263 of whom were based outside of the United States. None of our employees are represented by a labor union. We consider our relationships with our employees to be good and have not experienced any interruptions of operations due to labor disagreements.
Diversity and Inclusion
We understand that our diverse pool of talents, ideas and worldviews make us strong as a company, and we are committed to maintaining a safe and inclusive environment for everyone. Through our Diversity and Inclusion Committee, we raise awareness, provide a forum to discuss diversity and inclusion and promote a diverse and inclusive culture. Through our One Tradeweb series, consisting of interactive panel discussions with Tradeweb employees about their own personal experiences across the many different elements of diversity, we aim to educate, empower and support each other as a community by sharing stories and listening to one another. This leads to understanding and compassion, and creates a more supportive and inclusive environment for everyone.
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The global Diversity and Inclusion committee has four subcommittees to get everyone involved in recruitment, philanthropy, training, and the One Tradeweb series. Our commitment has been demonstrated through partnerships with local organizations, such as Streetwise Partners, Little Flower, DREAM (formerly Harlem RBI) and Cristo Rey High School, that focus on assisting diverse students in New York City through mentorship, interview preparation and career counseling. By focusing on employee volunteerism in these areas, our employees have the opportunity to take action and make a difference. These efforts all support our multi-layered strategy for recruiting diverse talent by leveraging relationships with a number of external organizations to cement our commitment to diversity at the intern, college graduate and experienced hire levels.
Health and Wellbeing
The success of our business is fundamentally connected to the health, safety and wellness of our employees. We provide our employees and their families with access to a variety of innovative, flexible and convenient health and wellness programs, including those that: provide protection and security so they can have peace of mind concerning events that may require time away from work or that impact their financial well-being; support their physical and mental health by providing tools and resources to help them improve or maintain their health status and encourage engagement in healthy behaviors; and offer choice where possible so they can customize their benefits to meet their needs and the needs of their families. Some examples of the initiatives we provide include pre- and post-birth parental and adoptive parent leave, financial assistance in connection with adoption, a health and wellness speaker series, health club discounts and subsidized memberships, a Company walking program challenge with prizes, Healthkick, which is an online marketplace featuring exclusive access and discounts to top health, fitness and wellness lifestyle brands, and virtual health visits.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been focused on keeping our employees safe, helping our staff and clients stay connected and ensuring our markets operate efficiently through this period of unprecedented market volatility. We have implemented a series of measures to protect the health and safety of our employees, and by mid-March 2020, nearly all of our employees around the world were working remotely and most continue to work remotely as of the date of this report. In addition, through and with our external partners, we have provided multiple programs and benefits to help with the mental health challenges presented by the pandemic, as well as video-based exercise programs and resources for parents that balance remote schooling and working from home.
Compensation and Benefits
We provide robust compensation and benefits programs to help meet the needs of our employees. In addition to salaries, these programs (which vary by country or region) include annual bonuses, stock awards, retirement savings plans, healthcare and insurance benefits, health savings and flexible spending accounts, paid time off, family leave, family care resources, flexible work schedules, adoption and surrogacy assistance, employee assistance programs, including confidential counseling services for employees and their family members and tuition assistance, among many others. In addition to our broad-based equity award programs, we have used targeted equity-based grants with vesting conditions to facilitate retention of personnel, particularly those with strong product and functional knowledge, critical technology and engineering skills and experience.
Talent Development
We invest significant resources to develop the talent needed to remain a world-leading provider of electronic marketplaces. We are focused on providing continuous opportunities for our employees to garner new knowledge and skills. Events and resources such as product and business updates, as well as various other communications with our employees, are aimed at sharing information and improving our collective understanding of our industry. We sponsor a competitive summer internship program and provide assistance with numerous professional courses and qualifications. Through our mentoring efforts and Tradeweb Achievers Program, we aim to strengthen our global culture of mentoring and developing our homegrown talent by equipping our senior leadership team with the tools and framework to share their professional experiences, motivate up-and-coming talent and build our future leadership pipeline.
Our employee engagement programs provide employees with the resources they need to help develop themselves and our shared culture—celebrating our differences and common purpose as our people grow both as unique individuals and as a collective, positive force in the world. Tradeweb has established and supports a number of committees and affinity groups dedicated to improving our people’s lives at work, and advancing their personal and professional development. These include the Tradeweb Global Women’s Network, the Social Engagement Committee and the Working Parents Network, among others. Through regular town halls hosted by our CEO and President, as well as employee surveys, we gather valuable feedback to ensure our employees’ voices are heard. In addition, in September 2020, we launched Rungway on a pilot basis in Europe and Asia. This workplace advice platform creates a place for our employees to provide their feedback to the Company with the safety of anonymity.
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Community Involvement and Philanthropy
We believe it is the Company’s responsibility to improve the communities around the world where our employees live and work. We bring these opportunities to our employees through our philanthropy group, Tradeweb Cares, which focuses on corporate partnerships, encouraging employee volunteerism and matching of qualifying charitable contributions by our employees up to $1,000 per year per employee. We partner with organizations focused on reducing inequality and poverty in our society, as well as those that promote good health and well-being and improving quality in education outcomes.
Our Organizational Structure
Tradeweb Markets Inc. was incorporated in Delaware in November 2018. As a result of the Reorganization Transactions completed in connection with the IPO, Tradeweb Markets Inc. became a holding company whose only material assets consist of its equity interest in Tradeweb Markets LLC and related deferred tax assets. As the sole manager of Tradeweb Markets LLC, Tradeweb Markets Inc. operates and controls all of the business and affairs of Tradeweb Markets LLC and, through Tradeweb Markets LLC and its subsidiaries, conducts its business. As a result of this control, and because Tradeweb Markets Inc. has a substantial financial interest in Tradeweb Markets LLC, Tradeweb Markets Inc. consolidates the financial results of Tradeweb Markets LLC and its subsidiaries. For more information regarding our organizational structure, see Note 1 – Organization and Note 10 – Stockholders’ Equity to our audited consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
LSEG Transaction
On August 1, 2019, London Stock Exchange Group plc ("LSEG") announced that it has agreed to definitive terms with a consortium including certain investment funds affiliated with Blackstone as well as Thomson Reuters to acquire the Refinitiv business in an all share transaction for a total enterprise value of approximately $27 billion. The LSEG Transaction closed on January 29, 2021.
Following the consummation of the LSEG Transaction, LSEG is the controlling shareholder of Refinitiv and Refinitiv continues to be the controlling shareholder of Tradeweb, holding approximately 88.1% of our combined voting power. Tradeweb remains a standalone, publicly-traded company, and we do not expect the LSEG Transaction to result in any changes to our stockholder voting rights in the near-term, and we do not foresee any material impact on our strategy, day-to-day operations or Tradeweb management as a result of the LSEG Transaction. Our existing market data license agreement with Refinitiv remains unchanged. However, the non-compete period applicable to Refinitiv in their restrictive covenant agreement with us has been terminated as of January 29, 2021.
Available Information
Our internet website address is www.tradeweb.com. Through our internet website, we will make available, free of charge, the following reports as soon as reasonably practicable after electronically filing them with, or furnishing them to, the SEC: our Annual Report on Form 10-K; our Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q; our Current Reports on Form 8-K; and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. Our Proxy Statements for our Annual Meetings are also available through our internet website. In addition, the SEC maintains a website, www.sec.gov, that includes filings of and information about issuers, including the Company, that file electronically with the SEC. Our internet website and the information contained therein or connected thereto are not intended to be incorporated into this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Investors and others should note that we announce material financial and operational information using our investor relations website, press releases, SEC filings and public conference calls and webcasts. Information about Tradeweb, our business and our results of operations may also be announced by posts on Tradeweb’s accounts on the following social media channels: Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. The information that we post through these social media channels may be deemed material. As a result, we encourage investors, the media and others interested in Tradeweb to monitor these social media channels in addition to following our press releases, SEC filings and public conference calls and webcasts. These social media channels may be updated from time to time on our investor relations website.

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ITEM 1A. RISK FACTORS.
Investing in our Class A common stock involves a high degree of risk. You should carefully consider the following risks, together with all of the other information contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, before deciding to invest in our Class A common stock. Our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially adversely affected by any of these risks or uncertainties. In that case, the trading price of our Class A common stock could decline, and you may lose all or part of your investment.
Risk Factors Summary
The following is a summary of the principal factors that make an investment in our Class A common stock speculative or risky.
Risks Relating to Industry Dynamics and Competition
Economic, political and market conditions may reduce trading volumes.
We may fail to compete successfully.
If we are unable to adapt our business effectively to keep pace with industry changes, we may not be able to compete effectively.
We may face consolidation and concentration in the financial services industry.
Risks Relating to the Operation and Performance of our Business
We are dependent on our dealer clients to support our marketplaces by transacting with our other institutional, wholesale and retail clients.
We do not have long-term contractual arrangements with most of our liquidity taking clients.
Our business could be harmed if we are unable to maintain and grow the capacity of our trading platforms, systems and infrastructure.
We rely on third parties to perform certain key functions, are dependent on third parties for our pre- and post-trade data, analytics and reporting solutions and are dependent upon trading counterparties and clearinghouses to perform their obligations.
Our ability to conduct our business may be impacted by unforeseen or catastrophic events.
Our quarterly results may fluctuate significantly.
Failure to retain our existing senior management team or the inability to attract and retain qualified personnel could materially adversely impact our ability to operate or grow our business.
We could face damage to our reputation or brand.
We may incur impairment charges for our goodwill and other indefinite-lived intangible assets.
Risks Relating to our Growth Strategies and other Strategic Opportunities
We may fail to maintain our current level of business or execute our growth plan.
It is possible that our entry into new markets will not be successful, and potential new markets may not develop quickly or at all.
We may undertake acquisitions or divestitures, which may not be successful.
If we enter into strategic alliances, partnerships or joint ventures, we may not realize the anticipated strategic goals for any such transactions.
Risks Relating to our International Operations
Our business, financial condition and results of operations may be materially adversely affected by risks associated with our international operations, including risks related to Brexit.
Fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates may adversely affect our financial results.
Risks Relating to Security and Intellectual Property
We could face actual or perceived security vulnerabilities in our systems, networks and infrastructure, breaches of security controls, unauthorized access to confidential information or cyber-attacks.
We may experience design defects, errors, failures or delays with our platforms or solutions.
We could be subject to systems failures, interruptions, delays in service, catastrophic events and resulting interruptions in the availability of our platforms or solutions.
We may not be able to adequately protect our intellectual property.
Third parties may claim that we are infringing or misappropriating their intellectual property rights.
Our use of open source software could result in litigation or impose unanticipated restrictions on our ability to commercialize our platforms and solutions.
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Risks Relating to Legal, Regulatory and Tax Considerations
Extensive regulation of our industry results in ongoing exposure to significant costs and penalties, enhanced oversight and restrictions and limitations on our business.
Our business, and the businesses of many of our clients, could be materially adversely affected by new laws, rules or regulations or changes in existing laws, rules or regulations.
Our actual or perceived failure to comply with privacy, data protection and information security laws, rules, regulations and obligations could harm our business.
We may face new U.S. tax legislation as well as unanticipated changes in effective tax rates or adverse outcomes resulting from examination of our income or other tax returns.
Our compliance and risk management programs might not be effective.
We are exposed to litigation risk, including securities litigation.
Risks Relating to our Indebtedness
The credit agreement that governs the Revolving Credit Facility imposes significant operating and financial restrictions on us and our restricted subsidiaries.
Any borrowings under the Revolving Credit Facility will subject us to interest rate risk.
The phase-out, replacement or unavailability of LIBOR and/or other interest rate benchmarks could adversely affect our indebtedness.
We are a restricted subsidiary under Refinitiv’s credit facility and the indentures governing its senior notes, which may limit Refinitiv’s ability to permit us to take certain actions.
Risks Relating to our Organizational Structure and Governance
The Refinitiv Owners and their affiliates control us and their interests may conflict with ours or yours.
We are a “controlled company” within the meaning of the corporate governance standards of Nasdaq.
Anti-takeover provisions in our organizational documents and Delaware law might discourage or delay acquisition attempts for us that you might consider favorable.
Our principal asset is our equity interest in TWM LLC, and, accordingly, we depend on distributions from TWM LLC to pay our taxes and expenses, including payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement.
The Tax Receivable Agreement with the Continuing LLC Owners requires us to make cash payments to them in respect of certain tax benefits to which we may become entitled.
Our organizational structure, including the Tax Receivable Agreement, confers certain benefits upon the Continuing LLC Owners that will not benefit Class A common stockholders or Class B common stockholders to the same extent as it will benefit the Continuing LLC Owners.
In certain cases, payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement to the Continuing LLC Owners may be accelerated or significantly exceed the actual benefits we realize.
We will not be reimbursed for any payments made to the Continuing LLC Owners under the Tax Receivable Agreement in the event that any tax benefits are disallowed.
Risks Relating to Ownership of our Class A Common Stock
The Refinitiv Direct Owner and Continuing LLC Owners may require us to issue additional shares of our Class A common stock.
The market price of our Class A common stock may be highly volatile, and you may not be able to resell your shares at or above the public offering price.
Sales, or the potential for sales, of a substantial number of shares of our Class A common stock in the public market could cause our stock price to drop significantly.
We intend to continue to pay regular dividends, but our ability to do so may be limited.
Risks Relating to Industry Dynamics and Competition
Economic, political and market conditions may reduce trading volumes, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The electronic financial services industry is, by its nature, risky and volatile. Our business performance is impacted by a number of global and regional factors that are generally beyond our control. The occurrence of, or uncertainty related to, any one of the following factors may cause a substantial decline in the U.S. and/or global financial markets, which could result in reduced trading volumes and profitability for our business:
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economic, political and social conditions in the United States, the UK, the EU and/or its member states, China or other major economies around the world, including, among other things, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the strength and direction of the U.S. and/or global economy, the exit by the UK from the EU (“Brexit”) and a prolonged shutdown of the U.S. government;
the effect of Federal Reserve Board and other central banks’ monetary policy, increased capital requirements for banks and other financial institutions and other regulatory requirements;
adverse market conditions, including unforeseen market closures or other disruptions in trading;
broad trends in business and finance, including the amount of new issuances and changes in investment patterns and priorities;
the level and volatility of interest rates;
consolidation or contraction in the number, and changes in the financial strength, of market participants;
concerns over a potential recession (in the United States or globally), inflation and weakening consumer and investor confidence levels;
the availability of capital for borrowings and investments by our clients;
liquidity concerns, including concerns over credit default or bankruptcy of one or more sovereign nations or corporate entities;
legislative, regulatory or government policy changes, including changes to financial industry regulations and tax laws that could limit the ability of market participants to engage in a wider array of trading activities;
actual or threatened trade war, including between the United States and China, or other governmental action related to tariffs, international trade agreements or trade policies; and
catastrophic events, such as natural disasters, extreme weather events, actual or threatened acts of war, terrorism or other armed hostilities or outbreaks of pandemic or contagious diseases, such as COVID-19, Ebola, Zika, avian flu, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), H1N1 (swine flu) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
These factors also affect the degree of volatility (the magnitude and frequency of fluctuations) in the U.S. and/or global financial markets, including in the prices and trading volumes of the products traded on our platforms. Volatility increases the need to hedge price risk and creates opportunities for investment and speculative or arbitrage trading, and thus increases trading volumes. Although we generally experience increased trading volumes across our marketplaces during periods of volatility, use of our platforms and demand for our solutions may decline during periods of significant volatility as market participants in rapidly moving markets may seek to negotiate trades and access information directly over the telephone instead of electronically.
In the event of stagnant or deteriorating economic conditions or periods of instability or prolonged stability or decreased activity in the U.S. and/or global financial markets, we could experience lower trading volumes. A general decline in trading volumes across our marketplaces would lower revenues and could materially adversely affect our results of operations if we are unable to offset falling volumes through changes in our fee structure. If trading volumes decline substantially or for a sustained period, the critical mass of transaction volume necessary to support viable markets and generate valuable data could be jeopardized, which, in turn, could further discourage clients to use our platforms and solutions and further accelerate the decline in trading volumes. Additionally, if our total market share decreases relative to our competitors, our trading venues may be viewed as less attractive sources of liquidity. If our marketplaces are perceived to be less liquid, we could lose further trading volumes and our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially adversely affected.
There have been significant declines in trading volumes in the financial markets generally in the past and there may be similar declines in trading volumes generally or across our marketplaces in particular in the future. During periods of lower trading volumes or during an economic downturn, our clients may become more price sensitive and exert pricing pressure on us, and we may be forced to reduce our fees or to maintain our fees during periods of increased costs. Because our cost structure is largely fixed, if use of our platforms and demand for our solutions decline for any reason or if we are forced to reduce fees, we may not be able to adjust our cost structure to counteract the associated decline in revenues, which would materially harm our profitability.
Failure to compete successfully could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We face intense competition in both the financial services industry generally and the markets that we serve in particular, and we expect competition with a broad range of competitors to continue to intensify in the future. Within the electronic financial services industry in which we operate, we compete based on our ability to provide a broad range of solutions, trading venues with a broad network of market participants and deep liquidity, a competitive fee structure and comprehensive pre-trade, trade and post-trade functionality, as well as the reliability, security and ease of use of our platforms and solutions.
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We primarily compete with other electronic trading platforms and trading business conducted directly between dealers and their institutional, wholesale and retail client counterparties over telephone, email or instant messaging. We also compete with securities and futures exchanges, other inter-dealer brokers and single bank systems. For example, our trading platforms face existing and potential competition from large exchanges, which have in recent years developed electronic capabilities in-house or through acquisitions. We also face competition from individual banks that offer their own electronic platforms to their institutional clients. In addition, we may face competition from companies with strong market share in specific markets or organizations and businesses that have not traditionally competed with us but that could adapt their products and services or utilize significant financial and information resources, recognized brands, or technological expertise to begin competing with us. We expect that we may compete in the future with a variety of companies with respect to our platforms and solutions. If we are not able to compete successfully in the future, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially adversely affected.
Certain of our current and prospective competitors are substantially larger than we are and have substantially greater market presence than we do, as well as greater financial, technological, marketing and other resources. These competitors may be better able to withstand reductions in fees or other adverse economic or market conditions than we can. Some competitors may be able to adopt new or emerging technologies, or incorporate customized features or functions into existing technologies, to address changing market conditions or client preferences at a relatively low cost and/or more quickly than we can. In addition, because we operate in a rapidly evolving industry, start-up companies can enter the market with new and emerging technologies more easily and quickly than they would in more traditional industries. If we are unable or unwilling to reduce our fees or make additional investments in the future, we may lose clients and our competitive position may be adversely affected. In addition, our competitive position may be adversely affected by changes in regulations that have a disproportionately negative affect on us or the products or trading protocols we offer our clients.
Competition in the markets in which we operate has intensified due to consolidation, which has resulted in increasingly large and sophisticated competitors. In recent years, our competitors have made acquisitions and/or entered into joint ventures and consortia to improve the competitiveness of their electronic trading offerings. For example, Intercontinental Exchange (“ICE”) acquired BondPoint, TMC Bonds and IDC, in an effort to expand its portfolio of fixed income products and services. In addition, in 2018, CME Group completed its acquisition of NEX Group, which expands CME Group’s offerings to include NEX Group’s OTC foreign exchange and rates products and market data. If, as a result of industry consolidation, our competitors are able to offer lower cost (including fixed cost fees compared to our variable fees for certain offerings) and/or a wider range of trading venues and solutions, obtain more favorable terms from third-party providers or otherwise take actions that could increase their market share, our competitive position and therefore our business, financial condition and results of operations may be materially adversely affected.
Our operations also include the sale of pre- and post-trade services, analytics and market data (including through a distribution agreement with Refinitiv). There is a high degree of competition among market data and information vendors in solutions for pre- and post-trade data, analytics and reporting, and such businesses may become more competitive in the future as new competitors emerge. Some of these companies are already in or may enter the electronic trading business. Accordingly, some of our competitors may be able to combine use of their electronic trading platforms with complementary access to market data and analytical tools and/or leverage relationships with existing clients to obtain additional business from such clients, which could preempt use of our platforms or solutions. For example, Bloomberg and ICE have trading platforms that compete with ours and also have data and analytics relationships with the vast majority of institutional, wholesale and retail market participants. If we are not able to compete successfully in this area in the future, our revenues could be adversely impacted and, as a result, our business, financial condition and results of operations would be materially adversely affected.
The industry in which we operate is rapidly evolving. If we are unable to adapt our business effectively to keep pace with industry changes, we may not be able to compete effectively, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The electronic financial services industry is characterized by rapidly changing and increasingly complex technologies and systems, changing and increasingly sophisticated client demands (including access to new technologies and markets), frequent technology and service introductions, evolving industry standards, changing regulatory requirements and new business models. If we are not able to keep pace with changing market conditions or client demands and if our competitors release new technology before we do, our existing platforms, solutions and technologies may become obsolete or our competitive position may be materially harmed, each of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
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Operating in a rapidly evolving industry involves a high degree of risk and our future success will depend in part on our ability to:
enhance and improve the responsiveness, functionality, accessibility and reliability of our existing platforms and solutions;
develop and/or license new platforms, solutions and technologies that address the increasingly sophisticated and varied needs of our existing and prospective clients, and that allow us to grow within our existing markets and to expand into new markets, asset classes and products;
achieve and maintain market acceptance for our platforms and solutions;
adapt our existing platforms and solutions for new markets, asset classes and products;
respond to competitive pressures, technological advances, including new or disruptive technology, emerging industry standards and practices and regulatory requirements and changes on a cost-effective and timely basis;
attract highly-skilled technology, regulatory, sales and marketing personnel;
operate, support, expand, adapt and develop our operations, systems, networks and infrastructure;
manage cybersecurity threats;
take advantage of acquisitions, strategic alliances and other opportunities; and
obtain any applicable regulatory approval for our platforms and solutions.
Further, the development of new internet, networking, telecommunications or blockchain technologies may require us to devote substantial resources to modify and adapt our marketplaces. In particular, because our platforms and solutions are designed to operate on a variety of electronic systems, we will need to continuously modify and enhance our marketplaces to keep pace with changes in internet-related hardware and other software, communication and browser technologies. We cannot assure you that we will be able to successfully adapt our existing technologies and systems to incorporate new, or changes to existing, technologies.
The success of new platforms or solutions, or new features and versions of existing platforms and solutions, depends on several factors, including the timely and cost-effective completion, introduction and market acceptance of such new or enhanced platform or solution. Development efforts entail significant technical and business risks. We may use new technologies ineffectively, fail to adequately address regulatory requirements, experience design defects or errors or fail to accurately determine market demand for new platforms, solutions and enhancements. Furthermore, development efforts may require substantial expenditures and take considerable time, and we may experience cost overrun, delays in delivery or performance problems and not be successful in realizing a return on these development efforts in a timely manner or at all.
We cannot assure you that we will be able to anticipate or respond in a timely manner to changing market conditions, and new platforms, technologies or solutions, or enhancements to existing platforms, technologies or solutions, may not meet regulatory requirements, address client needs or achieve market acceptance. If we are not able to successfully develop and implement, or face material delays in introducing, new platforms, solutions and enhancements, our clients may forego the use of our platforms and solutions and instead use those of our competitors. Any failure to remain abreast of changing market conditions and to be responsive to market preferences could cause our market share to decline and materially adversely impact our revenues.
Consolidation and concentration in the financial services industry could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
There has been significant consolidation in the financial services industry over the past several years. Further consolidation in the financial services industry could result in a smaller client base and heightened competition, which may lower our trading volumes. If our clients merge with or are acquired by other companies that are not our clients, or companies that use less of our offerings, such clients may discontinue or reduce their use of our platforms and solutions. Any such developments could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The substantial consolidation of market share among companies in the financial services industry has resulted in concentration in markets by some of our largest dealer clients. Because our trading platforms depend on these clients, any event that impacts one or more of these clients or the financial services industry in general could negatively impact our trading volumes and revenues. For example, current financial regulations impose certain capital requirements on, and restrict certain trading activities by, our dealer clients, which could adversely affect such clients’ ability to make markets across a variety of asset classes and products. If our existing dealer clients reduce their trading activity and that activity is not replaced by other market participants, the level of liquidity and pricing available on our trading platforms would be negatively impacted, which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. In addition, some of our dealer clients have announced plans to reduce their sales and trading businesses in the markets in which we operate. This is in addition to the significant reductions in these businesses already completed by certain of our dealer clients.
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The consolidation and concentration of market share, the limitation on the ability of large clients to engage in a wider array of trading activities and the reduction by large clients of certain businesses may lead to increased revenue concentration among our dealer clients, which may further increase our dependency on such clients and reduce our ability to negotiate pricing and other matters with such clients. Additionally, the sales and trading global market share has become increasingly concentrated over the past several years among the top investment banks, which will increase competition for client trades and place additional pricing pressure on us. If we are not able to compete successfully, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially adversely affected.
Risks Relating to the Operation and Performance of our Business
We are dependent on our dealer clients, some of which are also stockholders, to support our marketplaces by transacting with our other institutional, wholesale and retail clients.
We rely on our dealer clients to provide liquidity on our trading platforms by posting prices on our platforms and responding to client inquiries, and some of our dealer clients may account for a significant portion of our total trading volume. In addition, our dealer clients also provide us with data via feeds and through the transactions they execute on our trading platforms, which is an important input for our data and analytics offerings. We have historically earned a substantial portion of our revenues from dealer clients that are also stockholders. For the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, and the combined year ended December 31, 2018, 45.1%, 44.8% and 42.2%, respectively, of our revenues were generated by the pre-IPO Bank Stockholders and their affiliates. Market knowledge and feedback from these stockholders have been important factors in the development of many of our offerings and solutions.
There are inherent risks whenever a significant percentage of our trading volume and revenues are concentrated with a limited number of clients, and these risks are especially heightened for us due to the potential effects of increased industry consolidation and financial regulation on our business. The contractual obligations of our clients to us are non-exclusive and subject to termination rights by such clients. Any failure by us to meet a key dealer client’s or other key client’s expectations could result in cancellation or non-renewal of the contract. In addition, our reliance on any individual dealer client for a significant portion of our trading volume may also give that client a degree of leverage against us when negotiating contracts and terms of services with us.
Our dealer clients also buy and sell through traditional methods, including by telephone, e-mail and instant messaging, and through other trading platforms. Some of our dealer clients have developed electronic trading networks that compete with us or have announced their intention to explore the development of such electronic trading networks, and many of our dealer clients are involved in other ventures, including other trading platforms or other distribution channels, as trading participants and/or as investors. In particular, certain of the pre-IPO Bank Stockholders or their affiliates, as is typical for a large number of major banks, have their own single bank or other competing trading platform and frequently invest in such businesses and may acquire ownership interests in similar businesses, and such businesses may also compete with us. These competing trading platforms may offer some features that we do not currently offer or that we are unable to offer, including customized features or functions. Accordingly, there can be no assurance that such dealer clients’ primary commitments will not be to one of our competitors or that they will not continue to rely on their own trading platforms or traditional methods instead of using our trading platforms.
Although we have established and maintain significant long-term relationships with our key dealer clients, we cannot assure you that all of these relationships will continue or will not diminish. In addition, it is possible that the pre-IPO Bank Stockholders and their affiliates may reduce their use of our trading platforms or their engagement with us in the future due to reductions in the level of their equity ownership following the completion of any future offering.
Any reduction in the use of our trading platforms by our key dealer clients, including certain of the pre-IPO Bank Stockholders and their affiliates, for any reason, and any associated decrease in the pool of capital and liquidity accessible across our marketplaces, could reduce the volume of trading on our platforms, which could, in turn, reduce the use of our platforms by their counterparty clients. In addition, any decrease in the number of dealer clients competing for trades on our trading platforms, could cause our dealer clients to forego use of our platforms and instead use platforms that provide access to more competitive trading environments and prices. The occurrence of any of the foregoing may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We do not have long-term contractual arrangements with most of our liquidity taking clients, and our trading volumes and revenues could be reduced if these clients stop using our platforms and solutions.
Our business largely depends on certain of our liquidity taking clients to initiate inquiries on our trading platforms. A limited number of such clients can account for a significant portion of our trading volumes, which in turn, results in a
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significant portion of our transaction fees. Most of our liquidity taking clients do not have long-term contractual arrangements with us and utilize our platforms and solutions on a transaction-by-transaction basis and may choose not to use our platforms at any time. These clients buy and sell a variety of products within various asset classes using traditional methods, including by telephone, e-mail and instant messaging, and through other trading platforms. Any significant loss of these clients or a significant reduction in their use of our platforms and solutions could have a material negative impact on our trading volumes and revenues, and materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our business could be harmed if we are unable to maintain and grow the capacity of our trading platforms, systems and infrastructure.
Our success depends on our clients’ confidence in our ability to provide reliable, secure, real-time access to our trading platforms. If our trading platforms cannot cope, or expand to cope, with demand, or otherwise fail to perform, we could experience disruptions in service, slow delivery times and insufficient capacity. These consequences could result in our clients deciding to stop using or to reduce their use of our trading platforms, either of which would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We will need to continually improve and upgrade our trading platforms, systems and infrastructure to accommodate increases in trading volumes, trading practices of new and existing clients, irregular or heavy use of our trading platforms, especially during peak trading times or at times of increased market volatility, regulatory changes and the development of new and enhanced trading platform features, functionalities and ancillary solutions. The maintenance and expansion of our trading platforms, systems and infrastructure has required, and will continue to require, substantial financial, operational and technical resources. As our operations grow in both size and scope, these resources will typically need to be committed well in advance of any potential increase in trading volumes. We cannot assure you that our estimates of future trading volumes will be accurate or that our systems will always be able to accommodate actual trading volumes without failure or degradation of performance, especially during periods of abnormally high volumes. If we do not successfully adapt our existing trading platforms, systems and infrastructure to the requirements of our clients or to emerging industry standards, or if our trading platforms otherwise fail to accommodate trading volumes, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially adversely affected.
We rely on third parties to perform certain key functions, and their failure to perform those functions could result in the interruption of our operations and systems and could result in significant costs and reputational damage to us.
We rely on a number of third parties to supply, support and maintain critical elements of our operations, including our trading, information, technology and other systems. In addition, we depend on third parties, such as telephone companies, online service providers, hosting services and software and hardware vendors, for various computer and communications systems, such as our data centers, telecommunications access lines and certain computer software and hardware. Our clients also depend on third-party middleware and clearinghouses for clearing and settlement of certain trades on our trading platforms, which could impact our trading platforms.
We cannot assure you that any of these third-party providers will be able or willing to continue to provide these products and services in an efficient, cost-effective or timely manner, or at all, or that they will be able to adequately expand their services to meet our needs. In particular, like us, third-party providers are vulnerable to operational and technological disruptions, and we may have limited remedies against these third parties in the event of product or service disruptions. In addition, we have little control over third-party providers, which increases our vulnerability to errors, failures, interruptions or disruptions or problems with their products or services. Further, the priorities and objectives of third-party providers may differ from ours, which may make us vulnerable to terminations of, or adverse changes to, our arrangements with such providers, and there can be no assurance that we will be able to maintain good relationships or the same terms with such providers. If an existing third-party provider is unable or unwilling to provide a critical product or service, and we are unable to make alternative arrangements for the supply of such product or service on commercially reasonable terms or a timely basis, or at all, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially adversely affected.
Further, we also face risks that providers may perform work that deviates from our standards. Moreover, our existing third-party arrangements may bind us for a period of time to terms that become uncompetitive or technology and systems that become obsolete. If we do not obtain the expected benefits from our relationships with third-party providers, we may be less competitive, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. In the future, if we choose to transition a function previously managed by us to a third party, we may spend significant financial and operational resources and experience delays in completing such transition, and may never realize any of the anticipated benefits of such transition.
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We are dependent on third parties for our pre- and post-trade data, analytics and reporting solutions.
The success of our trading platforms depends in part on our pre- and post-trade data, analytics and reporting solutions. We depend upon data and information services from external sources, including data received from certain competitors, clients, self-regulatory organizations and other third-party data providers for information used on our platforms and by our solutions, including our data, analytical tools and other pre- and post-trade services. In particular, we depend on Refinitiv to source certain reference data for products that trade on our platforms. Our data sources and information providers could increase the price for or withdraw their data or information services for a variety of reasons. For example, our clients, the majority of which are not subject to long-term contractual arrangements or purchase commitments, may stop using or reduce their use of our trading platforms at any time, which would decrease our volume of trade data and may diminish the competitiveness of our market data offerings. In addition, data sources or information providers may enter into exclusive contracts with other third parties, including our competitors, which could preclude us from receiving certain data or information services from these providers or restrict our use of such data or information services, which may give our competitors an advantage. Further, our competitors could revise the current terms on which they provide us with data or information services or could cease providing us with data or information services altogether for a variety of reasons, including competition.
If a substantial number of our key data sources and information providers withdraw or are unable to provide us with their data or information services, or if a substantial number of clients no longer trade on our platforms or use our solutions, and we are unable to suitably replace such data sources or information services, or if the collection of data or information becomes uneconomical, our ability to offer our pre- and post-trade data, analytics tools and reporting solutions could be adversely impacted. If any of these factors negatively impact our ability to provide these data-based solutions to our clients, our competitive position could be materially harmed, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
In addition, pursuant to a market data license agreement, Refinitiv currently distributes a significant portion of our market data. The cancellation of, or any adverse change to, our arrangement with Refinitiv or the inability of Refinitiv to effectively distribute our data may materially harm our business and competitive position.
We are dependent upon trading counterparties and clearinghouses to perform their obligations.
Our business consists of providing consistent two-sided liquidity to market participants across numerous geographies, asset classes and products. In addition, in the normal course of our business we, as an agent, execute transactions with, and on behalf of, other brokers and dealers. See Part II, Item 7A. – “Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risk — Credit Risk.” In the event of a systemic market event resulting from large price movements or otherwise, certain market participants may not be able to meet their obligations to their trading counterparties, who, in turn, may not be able to meet their obligations to their other trading counterparties, which could lead to major defaults by one or more market participants. Many trades in the securities markets, and an increasing number of trades in the over-the-counter derivatives markets, are cleared through central counterparties. These central counterparties assume and specialize in managing counterparty performance risk relating to such trades. However, even when trades are cleared in this manner, there can be no assurance that a clearinghouse’s risk management methodology will be adequate to manage one or more defaults. Given the counterparty performance risk that is concentrated in central clearing parties, any failure by a clearinghouse to properly manage a default could lead to a systemic market failure. If trading counterparties do not meet their obligations, including to us, or if any central clearing parties fail to properly manage defaults by market participants, we could suffer a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
Our ability to conduct our business may be materially adversely impacted by unforeseen or catastrophic events. In addition, our U.S. and European operations are heavily concentrated in particular areas and may be adversely affected by events in those areas.
We may incur losses as a result of unforeseen or catastrophic events, including fire, natural disasters, extreme weather events, global health crises (including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic), power loss, telecommunications failure, software or hardware malfunctions, theft, cyber-attacks, acts of war, terrorist attacks or other armed hostilities. In addition, employee misconduct or error could expose us to significant liability, losses, regulatory sanctions and reputational harm. Misconduct or error by employees could include improperly using confidential information or engaging in improper or unauthorized activities or transactions. These unforeseen or catastrophic events could adversely affect our clients’ levels of business activity and precipitate sudden significant changes in regional and global economic conditions and cycles. Certain of these events also pose significant risks to our employees and our physical facilities and operations around the world, whether the facilities are ours or those of our third-party providers or clients. If our systems, networks or infrastructure were to fail or be negatively impacted as a result of an unforeseen or catastrophic event, our business functions could be interrupted, our ability to make our platforms
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and solutions available to our clients could be impaired and we could lose critical data. If we are unable to develop adequate plans to ensure that our business functions continue to operate during and after an unforeseen or catastrophic event, and successfully execute on those plans should such an event occur, our business, financial condition, results of operations and reputation could be materially harmed.
In addition, our U.S. operations are heavily concentrated in the New York metro area and our European operations are heavily concentrated in London. Any event that affects either of those geographic areas could affect our ability to operate our business. For example, as discussed below, Brexit is expected to have a material impact on our European operations.
Our quarterly results may fluctuate significantly and may not fully reflect the underlying performance of our business.
Our quarterly operating results may vary significantly in the future, and period-to-period comparisons of our operating results may not be meaningful. Accordingly, the results of any one quarter should not be relied upon as an indication of future performance. Our quarterly financial results may fluctuate as a result of a variety of factors and, as a result, may not fully reflect the underlying performance of our business. Fluctuations in quarterly results may negatively impact the price at which our Class A common stock trades. Factors that may cause fluctuations in our quarterly financial results include, but are not limited to:
fluctuations in overall trading volumes or our market share for our key products;
the addition or loss of clients;
the unpredictability of the financial services industry;
our ability to drive an increase in the use of our trading platforms by new and existing clients;
the mix of products and volumes traded, changes in fee plans and average variable fees per million;
the amount and timing of expenses, including those related to the maintenance and expansion of our business, operations and infrastructure;
network or service outages, internet disruptions, the availability of our platforms, security breaches or perceived security breaches;
general economic, political, social, industry and market conditions;
changes in our business strategies and pricing policies (or those of our competitors);
the timing and success of our entry into new markets or introductions of new or enhanced platforms or solutions by us or our competitors, including disruptive technology, or any other change in the competitive dynamics of our industry, including consolidation or new entrants among competitors, market participants or strategic alliances;
the timing and success of any acquisitions, divestitures or strategic alliances;
the timing of expenses related to the development or acquisition of platforms, solutions, technologies or businesses and potential future charges for impairment of goodwill from acquired companies;
new, or changes to existing, regulations that limit or affect our platforms, solutions and technologies or which increase our regulatory compliance costs; and
the timing and magnitude of any adjustments in our consolidated financial statements driven by changes in the liability under the Tax Receivable Agreement.
Failure to retain our existing senior management team or the inability to attract and retain qualified personnel could materially adversely impact our ability to operate or grow our business.
The success of our business depends upon the skills, experience and efforts of our executive officers, particularly Lee Olesky, our Chief Executive Officer, and Billy Hult, our President. The terms of Messrs. Olesky’s and Hult’s employment agreements with us do not require them to continue to work for us and allow them to terminate their employment at any time, subject to certain notice requirements and forfeiture of non-vested equity awards. Although we have invested in succession planning, the loss of key members of our senior management team could nevertheless have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Should we lose the services of any member of our senior management team, we would have to conduct a search for a qualified replacement. This search may be prolonged, and we may not be able to locate and hire a qualified replacement.
Our business also depends on our ability to continue to attract, motivate and retain a large number of highly qualified personnel in order to support our clients and achieve business results. There is a limited pool of employees who have the requisite skills, training and education. Identifying, recruiting, training, integrating and retaining qualified personnel requires significant time, expense and attention, and the market for qualified personnel, particularly those with experience in technology, clearing and settlement, product management and regulatory compliance, has become increasingly competitive as an increasing number of companies seek to enhance their positions in the markets we serve. In particular, we compete for technology personnel with highly innovative technology companies and large companies focused on technology development. Many of these companies have significant financial resources and recognized brands and are able to offer more attractive employment
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opportunities and more lucrative compensation packages. Our inability to attract, retain and motivate personnel with the requisite skills could impair our ability to develop new platforms, platform features or solutions, enhance our existing platforms and solutions, grow our client base, enter into new markets, operate under various regulatory frameworks or manage our business effectively.
Damage to our reputation or brand could negatively impact our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our reputation and the quality of our brand are critical to our business, and we must protect and grow the value of our brand in order for us to continue to be successful. Any incident that erodes client loyalty for our brand could significantly reduce its value and damage our business. We may be adversely affected by any negative publicity, regardless of its accuracy, including with respect to, among other things, the quality and reliability of our platforms and solutions, the accuracy of our market data, our ability to maintain the security of our data and systems, networks and infrastructure and any impropriety, misconduct or fraudulent activity by any person formerly or currently associated with us.
Also, there has been a marked increase in the use of blogs, social media platforms and other forms of Internet-based communications that provide individuals with access to a broad audience of interested persons. The opportunity for dissemination of information, including inaccurate information, is seemingly limitless and readily available. Information may be posted on such sites and platforms at any time. Information posted may be adverse to our interests or may be inaccurate, each of which may harm our business and reputation. The harm may be immediate without affording us an opportunity for redress or correction.
Ultimately, the risks associated with any negative publicity or actual, alleged or perceived issues regarding our business or any person formerly or currently associated with us cannot be completely eliminated or mitigated and may materially harm our reputation, business, financial condition and results of operations.
We may incur impairment charges for our goodwill and other indefinite-lived intangible assets which would negatively impact our operating results.
As of December 31, 2020, we had goodwill of $2.7 billion and indefinite-lived intangible assets of $0.3 billion, which relate to the Refinitiv Transaction. The carrying value of goodwill represents the fair value of an acquired business in excess of identifiable assets and liabilities as of the acquisition date. The carrying value of indefinite-lived intangible assets represents the fair value of licenses and trade names as of the acquisition date. Determining the fair value of certain assets acquired and liabilities assumed is judgmental in nature and requires management to use significant estimates and assumptions, including assumptions with respect to future cash flows, discount rates, growth rates and asset lives. We do not amortize goodwill and indefinite-lived intangible assets that we expect to contribute indefinitely to our cash flows, but instead we evaluate these assets for impairment at least annually, or more frequently if changes in circumstances indicate that a potential impairment could exist. Significant negative industry or economic trends, disruptions to our business, inability to effectively integrate acquired businesses, unexpected significant changes or planned changes in use of the acquired assets, divestitures and market capitalization declines may impair our goodwill and other indefinite-lived intangible assets. Any charges relating to such impairments could materially adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.
Risks Relating to our Growth Strategies and other Strategic Opportunities
If we fail to maintain our current level of business or execute our growth plan, our business, financial condition and results of operations may be materially harmed.
We have experienced significant growth in our operations over the years, including, in part, as a result of favorable industry and market trends, such as the increased electronification of markets, growing global markets and evolving regulatory requirements. However, we cannot assure you that our operations will continue to grow at a similar rate, if at all, or that we will continue to benefit from such favorable industry and market trends. In particular, we cannot assure you that the growth of electronic means of trading will continue at the levels expected or at all. Our future financial performance depends in large part on our ability to successfully execute our growth plan. To effectively manage the expected growth of our operations, we will need to continue to improve our operational, financial and management processes and systems.
The success of our growth plan depends, in part, on our ability to implement our business strategies. In particular, our growth depends on our ability to maintain and expand our network by attracting new clients, increasing the use of our platforms and solutions by existing clients and by integrating them across geographies and a wide range of asset classes, products, trade types and trade sizes within our marketplaces. Our growth also depends on, among other things, our ability to increase our market share, add new products, enhance our existing platforms and solutions, develop new offerings that address client demand and market trends and stay abreast of changing market conditions and regulatory requirements. Our growth may also
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be dependent on our ability to further diversify our revenue base. We currently derive approximately 56% of our gross revenue from our Rates asset class. Our long-term growth plan includes expanding our asset classes, including the number of products we offer across those asset classes, by investing in our development efforts and increasing our revenues by growing our market share in our existing markets and entering into new markets. Although our long-term growth plan includes entering into new asset classes, we may not enter into new asset classes in the near term. We cannot assure you that we will be able to successfully execute our growth plan or implement our business strategies within our expected timing or at all or be able to maintain or improve our current level of business, and we may decide to alter or discontinue certain aspects of our growth plan at any time.
Execution of our growth plan entails significant risks and may be impacted by factors outside of our control, including competition, general economic, political and market conditions and industry, legal and regulatory changes. Failure to manage our growth effectively could result in our costs increasing at a faster rate than our revenues and distracting management from our core business and operations. For example, we may incur substantial development, sales and marketing expenses and expend significant management effort to create a new platform, platform feature or solution, and the period before such platform, platform feature or solution is successfully developed, introduced and/or adopted may extend over many months or years, if ever. Even after incurring these costs, such platform, platform feature or solution may not achieve market acceptance.
It is possible that our entry into new markets will not be successful, and potential new markets may not develop quickly or at all.
Our long-term growth plan includes expanding our operations by entering into new markets, including new asset classes, products and geographies, including markets where we have little or no operating experience. We may have difficulties identifying and entering into new markets due to established competitors, lack of recognition of our brand and lack of acceptance of our platforms and solutions, as has occurred with certain of our initiatives in the past.
Expansion, particularly in new geographic markets, may require substantial expenditures and take considerable time. In particular, we may need to make additional investments in management and new personnel, infrastructure and compliance systems. Furthermore, our expansion efforts may divert management’s attention or inefficiently utilize our resources. If we are not able to manage our expansion effectively, our expansion costs could increase at a faster rate than our revenues from these new markets. If we cannot successfully implement the necessary processes to support and manage our expansion, our business, financial condition and results of operations may suffer.
We cannot assure you that we will be able to successfully adapt our platforms, solutions and technologies for use in any new markets. Even if we do adapt our products, services and technologies, we cannot assure you that we will be able to attract clients to our platforms and solutions and compete successfully in any such new markets.
These and other factors have led us to scale back our expansion efforts into new markets in the past, and there can be no assurance that we will not experience similar difficulties in the future. For example, following the 2008 financial crisis, we did not continue to actively invest in our operations in Asia, following our entry into that market in 2004. There can be no assurance that we will be able to successfully maintain or grow our operations abroad.
It is possible that our entry into new markets will not be successful, and potential new markets may not develop quickly or at all. If these efforts are not successful, we may realize less than expected earnings, which in turn could result in a material decrease in the market value of our Class A common stock.
We may undertake acquisitions or divestitures, which may not be successful, and which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
From time to time, we consider acquisitions, which may not be completed or, if completed, may not be ultimately beneficial to us. We have made several acquisitions in the past, including the purchase of the Hilliard Farber & Co. business in 2008, the Rafferty Capital Markets business in 2011, BondDesk in 2013 and CodeStreet in 2016. We also may consider potential divestitures of businesses from time to time. We routinely evaluate potential acquisition and divestiture candidates and engage in discussions and negotiations regarding potential acquisitions and divestitures on an ongoing basis; however, even if we execute a definitive agreement, there can be no assurance that we will consummate the transaction within the anticipated closing timeframe, or at all. Moreover, there is significant competition for acquisition and expansion opportunities in the electronic financial services industry.
Acquisitions involve numerous risks, including (i) failing to properly identify appropriate acquisition targets and to negotiate acceptable terms; (ii) incurring the time and expense associated with identifying and evaluating potential acquisition targets and negotiating potential transactions; (iii) diverting management’s attention from the operation of our existing business;
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(iv) using inaccurate estimates and judgments to evaluate credit, operations, funding, liquidity, business, management and market risks with respect to the acquisition target or assets; (v) litigation relating to an acquisition, particularly in the context of a publicly held acquisition target, that could require us to incur significant expenses, result in or delay or enjoin the transaction; (vi) failing to properly identify an acquisition target’s significant problems, liabilities or risks; (vii) not receiving required regulatory approvals on the terms expected or such approvals being delayed or restrictively conditional; and (viii) failing to obtain financing on favorable terms, or at all. In addition, in connection with any acquisitions, we must comply with various antitrust requirements, and it is possible that perceived or actual violations of these requirements could give rise to litigation or regulatory enforcement action or result in us not receiving the necessary approvals to complete a desired acquisition.
Furthermore, even if we complete an acquisition, the anticipated benefits from such acquisition may not be achieved unless the operations of the acquired business, platform or technology are integrated in an efficient, cost-effective and timely manner. The integration of any acquisition includes numerous risks, including an acquired business not performing to our expectations, our not integrating it appropriately and failing to realize anticipated synergies and cost savings as a result, and difficulties, inefficiencies or cost overruns in integrating and assimilating the organizational cultures, operations, technologies, data, products and services of the acquired business with ours. The integration of any acquisition will require substantial attention from management and operating personnel to ensure that the acquisition does not disrupt any existing operations, or affect our reputation or our clients’ opinions and perceptions of our platforms and solutions. We may spend time and resources on acquisitions that do not ultimately increase our profitability or that cause loss of, or harm to, relationships with key employees, clients, third-party providers or other business partners.
Divestitures also involve numerous risks, including: (i) failing to properly identify appropriate assets or businesses for divestiture and buyers; (ii) inability to negotiate favorable terms for the divestiture of such assets or businesses; (iii) incurring the time and expense associated with identifying and evaluating potential divestitures and negotiating potential transactions; (iv) management’s attention being diverted from the operation of our existing business, including to provide on-going services to the divested business; (v) encountering difficulties in the separation of operations, platforms, solutions or personnel; (vi) retaining future liabilities as a result of contractual indemnity obligations; and (vii) loss of, or damage to our relationships with, any of our key employees, clients, third-party providers or other business partners.
We cannot readily predict the timing or size of any future acquisition or divestiture, and there can be no assurance that we will realize any anticipated benefits from any such acquisition or divestiture. If we do not realize any such anticipated benefits, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially adversely affected.
If we enter into strategic alliances, partnerships or joint ventures, we may not realize the anticipated strategic goals for any such transactions.
From time to time, we may enter into strategic alliances, partnerships or joint ventures as a means to accelerate our entry into new markets, provide new solutions or enhance our existing capabilities. Entering into strategic alliances, partnerships and joint ventures entails risks, including: (i) difficulties in developing or expanding the business of newly formed alliances, partnerships and joint ventures; (ii) exercising influence over the activities of joint ventures in which we do not have a controlling interest; (iii) potential conflicts with or among our partners; (iv) the possibility that our partners could take action without our approval or prevent us from taking action; and (v) the possibility that our partners become bankrupt or otherwise lack the financial resources to meet their obligations.
In addition, there may be a long negotiation period before we enter into a strategic alliance, partnership or joint venture or a long preparation period before we commence providing trading venues and solutions and/or begin earning revenues pursuant to such arrangement. We typically incur significant business development expenses, and management’s attention may be diverted from the operation of our existing business, during the discussion and negotiation period with no guarantee of consummation of the proposed transaction. Even if we succeed in developing a strategic alliance, partnership or joint venture with a new partner, we may not be successful in maintaining the relationship, which may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
We cannot assure you that we will be able to enter into strategic alliances, partnerships or joint ventures on terms that are favorable to us, or at all, or that any strategic alliance, partnership or joint venture we have entered into or may enter into will be successful. In particular, these arrangements may not generate the expected number of new clients or increased trading volumes or revenues or other benefits we seek. Unsuccessful strategic alliances, partnerships or joint ventures could harm our reputation and have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
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Risks Relating to our International Operations
Our business, financial condition and results of operations may be materially adversely affected by risks associated with our international operations.
We have operations in the United States, China, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, the UK and the Netherlands. We may further expand our international operations in the future. We have invested significant resources in our international operations and expect to continue to do so in the future. However, there are certain risks inherent in doing business in international markets, particularly in the financial services industry, which is heavily regulated in many jurisdictions. These risks include:
local economic, political and social conditions, including the possibility of economic slowdowns, hyperinflationary conditions, political instability, social unrest or outbreaks of pandemic or contagious diseases, such as COVID-19, Ebola, Zika, avian flu, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), H1N1 (swine flu) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS);
differing legal and regulatory requirements, and the possibility that any required approvals may impose restrictions on the operation of our business;
changes in laws, government policies and regulations, or in how provisions are interpreted or administered and how we are supervised;
the inability to manage and coordinate the various legal and regulatory requirements of multiple jurisdictions that are constantly evolving and subject to change;
varying tax regimes, including with respect to imposition or increase of taxes on financial transactions or withholding and other taxes on remittances and other payments by subsidiaries;
actual or threatened trade war, including between the United States and China, or other governmental action related to tariffs, international trade agreements or trade policies;
currency exchange rate fluctuations, changes in currency policies or practices and restrictions on currency conversion;
limitations or restrictions on the repatriation or other transfer of funds;
potential difficulties in protecting intellectual property;
the inability to enforce agreements, collect payments or seek recourse under or comply with differing commercial laws;
managing the potential conflicts between locally accepted business practices and our obligations to comply with laws and regulations, including anti-corruption and anti-money laundering laws and regulations;
compliance with economic sanctions laws and regulations;
difficulties in staffing and managing foreign operations;
increased costs and difficulties in developing and managing our global operations and our technological infrastructure; and
seasonal reductions in business activity.
Our overall success depends, in part, on our ability to anticipate and effectively manage these risks and there can be no assurance that we will be able to do so without incurring unexpected or increased costs. If we are not able to manage the risks related to our international operations, our business, financial condition and results of operations may be materially adversely affected. In certain regions, the degree of these risks may be higher due to more volatile economic, political or social conditions, less developed and predictable legal and regulatory regimes and increased potential for various types of adverse governmental action.
The UK’s exit from the EU could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
In March 2017, the UK government invoked article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and officially notified the EU of its decision to withdraw from the EU. This formally initiated the process of negotiations with the EU regarding the terms of the UK’s withdrawal, and the framework of the future relationship between the UK and the EU (the “Withdrawal Agreement”). The UK withdrew from the EU on January 31, 2020 (the “exit date”). As part of the negotiations with the EU, a transitional period was agreed which extended to the UK the application of EU law, and provided for continuing access to the EU market, which expired on December 31, 2020.
The UK’s departure from the EU and the terms of the future relationship between the UK and the EU could significantly impact the business environment in which we and our clients operate, increase the costs of conducting business in both the UK and the EU, impair or prohibit access to EU clients, affect market liquidity and introduce significant new uncertainties with respect to the legal and regulatory requirements to which we and our clients are subject. In particular, Brexit is expected to significantly affect the fiscal, monetary and regulatory landscape in both the UK and the EU, and may have a material impact on their respective economies, which could have a materially adverse impact on us despite our international client base. Until
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the terms of the future relationship are known, volatility in exchange rates may continue and it will remain unclear how Brexit may ultimately affect liquidity in our marketplaces.
Significantly, the effects of Brexit on our business will depend on any agreements the UK makes to retain access to the EU single market and vice versa. In December 2020, the UK and EU agreed to the terms of a trade and cooperation agreement, including a joint declaration on financial services. The UK and EU have commenced negotiations relating to the framework of future cooperation and the relationship between the UK and EU, including with regard to accessing each other’s financial markets; while the two regimes are expected to remain autonomous, these negotiations will be complex and remain politically uncertain. Until such an agreement is reached, the post-transitional period conditions of UK and EU market access are not known. With a loss of “passporting” rights, which allowed financial services firms to operate throughout the EU, and with no equivalent agreement in place between the UK and EU, our UK authorized subsidiary is no longer able to provide services to EU clients other than in limited circumstances. As a result of the uncertainty related to Brexit, we have established a new regulated subsidiary in the Netherlands that has started to serve clients in the EU, and for which we have incurred, and expect to continue to incur, increased regulatory and operational costs. These costs result from having established a new regulated subsidiary in the EU and the management of a client and employee base that is less centralized in London.
With Brexit, the UK has ended the supremacy of EU law in the UK by repealing the European Communities Act 1972, and by “on-shoring” EU law as it stands at exit into domestic law. With the exception that the UK has made secondary legislation to enable correction to be made to EU laws as they are on-shored – and where they would otherwise have no longer operated appropriately following Brexit - the UK and EU laws are substantively the same. Over time however, EU and UK laws may diverge, the pace and extent of which will be political and uncertain. The cost and complexity of operating across increasingly divergent regulatory regimes could increase following Brexit, and this could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, and results of operations.
Fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates may adversely affect our financial results.
Since we operate in several different countries outside the United States, most notably the UK, Japan and Hong Kong, significant portions of our revenues, expenses, assets and liabilities are denominated in non-U.S. dollar currencies, most notably the pound sterling, euros, Japanese Yen and Hong Kong dollars. Because our consolidated financial statements are presented in U.S. dollars, we must translate non-U.S. dollar denominated revenues, income and expenses, as well as assets and liabilities, into U.S. dollars at exchange rates in effect during or at the end of each reporting period. Accordingly, increases or decreases in the value of the U.S. dollar against other currencies may affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. In recent years, external events, such as Brexit, the 2020 U.S. presidential election, uncertainty regarding actual and potential shifts in U.S. and foreign trade, economic and other policies, the passage of U.S. tax reform legislation and concerns over the interest rate environment (particularly with respect to short-term rates), have caused, and may continue to cause, significant volatility in currency exchange rates, especially among the U.S. dollar, the pound sterling and the euro.
While we engage in hedging activity to attempt to mitigate currency exchange rate risk, these hedging activities may not fully mitigate the risk. Accordingly, if there are adverse movements in exchange rates, we may suffer significant losses, which would materially adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.
Risks Relating to Security and Intellectual Property
Actual or perceived security vulnerabilities in our systems, networks and infrastructure, breaches of security controls, unauthorized access to confidential information or cyber-attacks could harm our business, reputation and results of operations.
Our business relies on technology and automation to perform significant functions within our firm. Because of our reliance on technology, we are susceptible to various cyber-threats to our systems, networks and infrastructure, in particular those that power our platforms and solutions. Similar to other financial services companies that provide services online, we have experienced, and likely will continue to experience, cyber-threats, cyber-attacks and attempted security breaches. Cyber-threats and cyber-attacks vary in technique and sources, are persistent, frequently change and increasingly are more sophisticated, targeted and difficult to detect and prevent against. These threats and attacks may come from external sources such as governments, crime organizations, hackers and other third parties or may originate internally from an employee or a third-party provider, and can include unauthorized attempts to access, disable, improperly modify or degrade our information, systems, networks and infrastructure or the introduction of computer viruses and other malicious codes and fraudulent “phishing” emails that seek to misappropriate data and information or install malware onto users’ computers. We carry what we believe are sufficient levels of cyber insurance. However, if one or more cyber-attacks occur, it could jeopardize the confidential, proprietary and other information processed and stored in, and transmitted through, our systems and networks, or cause interruptions, significant delays, failures or malfunctions in our systems, networks, infrastructure and other operations, in
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particular our platforms and solutions, which could result in reputational damage, financial losses, client dissatisfaction and/or regulatory fines and penalties, which may not in all cases be covered by insurance.
While we have dedicated personnel who are responsible for maintaining our cybersecurity program and training our employees on cybersecurity, and while we utilize third-party technology product and services to help identify, protect and remediate our systems, networks and infrastructure, our defensive measures and security controls may not be adequate or effective to prevent, identify or mitigate cyber-attacks or security breaches. We are also dependent on security measures, if any, that our third-party providers and clients take to protect their own systems, networks and infrastructures. Because techniques used to obtain unauthorized access to, or to sabotage, systems, networks and infrastructures change frequently and generally are not recognized until launched against a target, we may be unable to anticipate these techniques or to implement adequate defensive measures or security controls. Additionally, we may be required in the future to incur significant costs to continue to minimize, mitigate against or alleviate the effects of cyber-attacks, security breaches or other security vulnerabilities and to protect against damage caused by cyber-attacks, security breaches or other disruptions that may occur.
We have a Risk Steering Committee that includes the heads of Risk Management, Information / Cyber Security, Regulatory Compliance and Human Resources. Our information / cyber security program is overseen internally by our Risk Steering Committee (and specifically, our Chief Risk Officer and Chief Information Security Officer), which in turn, is overseen by our board of directors and audit committee. Senior members of the Risk Steering Committee provide regular updates to our audit committee and the board of directors.
There have been an increasing number of cyber-attacks in recent years in various industries, including ours, and cybersecurity risk management has been the subject of increasing focus by U.S. and foreign regulators. As a result, we may be required to devote significant additional financial, operational and technical resources to modify and enhance our defensive measures and security controls and to identify and remediate any security vulnerabilities. In addition, any adverse regulatory actions that may result from a cybersecurity incident or a finding that we have inadequate defensive measures and security controls, could result in reputational harm.
Although we have not been a victim of a cyber-attack or other cybersecurity incident that has had a material impact on our operations or financial condition, we have from time to time experienced cybersecurity incidents, including attempted distributed denial of service attacks, malware infections, phishing and other information technology incidents that are typical for an electronic financial services company of our size. If an actual, threatened or perceived cyber-attack or breach of our security occurs, our clients could lose confidence in our platforms and solutions, security measures and reliability, which would materially harm our ability to retain existing clients and gain new clients. As a result of any such attack or breach, we may be required to expend significant resources to repair system, network or infrastructure damage and to protect against the threat of future cyber-attacks or security breaches. We could also face litigation or other claims from impacted individuals as well as substantial regulatory sanctions or fines.
If we experience design defects, errors, failures or delays with our platforms or solutions, our business could suffer serious harm.
Despite testing, our platforms and solutions may contain design defects and errors or fail when first introduced or when major new updates or enhancements are released. In our development of new platforms, platform features and solutions or updates and enhancements to our existing platforms and solutions, we may make a design error that causes the platform or solution to fail or operate incorrectly or less effectively. Many of our solutions also rely on data and services provided by third-party providers over which we have no or limited control and may be provided to us with defects, errors or failures. Our clients may also use our platforms and solutions together with their own software, data or products from other companies. As a result, when problems occur, it might be difficult to identify the source of the problem. In addition, we could experience delays while developing and introducing new or enhanced platforms, platform features and solutions, primarily due to difficulties in technology development, obtaining any applicable regulatory approval, licensing data inputs or adapting to new operating environments.
If design defects, errors or failures are discovered in our current or future platforms or solutions, we may not be able to correct or work around them in a cost-effective or timely manner or at all. The existence of design defects, errors, failures or delays that are significant, or are perceived to be significant, could also result in rejection or delay in market acceptance of our platforms or solutions, damage to our reputation, loss of clients and related revenues, diversion of resources, product liability claims, regulatory actions or increases in costs, any of which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.
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Systems failures, interruptions, delays in service, catastrophic events and resulting interruptions in the availability of our platforms or solutions could materially harm our business and reputation.
Our business depends on the efficient and uninterrupted operation of our systems, networks and infrastructure, in particular those that power our platforms and solutions. From time to time, we have experienced, and we cannot assure you that we, or our third-party providers, will not experience, systems failures, delays in service or business interruptions. Our systems, networks, infrastructure and other operations, in particular our platforms and solutions, are vulnerable to impact or interruption from a wide variety of causes, including: irregular or heavy use of our trading platforms and related solutions during peak trading times or at times of increased market volatility; power, internet or telecommunications failures; hardware failures or software errors; human error, acts of vandalism or sabotage; catastrophic events, such as natural disasters, extreme weather events or acts of war, terrorism or other armed hostilities; malicious cyberattacks or cyber incidents, such as unauthorized access, ransomware, loss or destruction of data, computer viruses or other malicious code; and the loss or failure of systems over which we have no control, such as loss of support services from critical third-party providers. In addition, we may also face significant increases in our use of power and data storage and may experience a shortage of capacity and/or increased costs associated with such usage.
Any failure of, or significant interruption, delay or disruption to, or security breaches affecting, our systems, networks or infrastructure could result in: disruption to our operations, including disruptions in service to our clients; slower response times; distribution of untimely or inaccurate market data to clients who rely on this data for their trades; delays in trade execution; incomplete or inaccurate accounting, recording or processing of trades; significant expense to repair, replace or remediate systems, networks or infrastructure; financial losses and liabilities to clients; loss of clients; or legal or regulatory claims, proceedings, penalties or fines. Any system failure or significant interruption, delay or disruption in our operations, or decreases in the responsiveness of our platforms and solutions, could materially harm our reputation and business and lead our clients to decrease or cease their use of our platforms and solutions, particularly our trading platforms.
We internally support and maintain many of our systems and networks, including those underlying our trading platforms; however, we may not have sufficient personnel to properly respond to all systems, networks or infrastructure problems. Our failure to monitor or maintain our systems, networks and infrastructure, including those maintained or supported by our third-party providers, or to find a replacement for defective or obsolete components within our systems, networks and infrastructure in a timely and cost-effective manner when necessary, would have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. While we generally have disaster recovery and business continuity plans that utilize industry standards and best practices for much of our business, including redundant systems, networks, computer software and hardware and data centers to address interruption to our normal course of business, our systems, networks and infrastructure may not always be fully redundant and our disaster recovery and business continuity plans may not always be sufficient or effective. Similarly, although some contracts with our third-party providers, such as our hosting facility providers, require adequate disaster recovery or business continuity capabilities, we cannot be certain that these will be adequate or implemented properly. Our disaster recovery and business continuity plans are heavily reliant on the availability of the internet and mobile phone technology, so any disruption of those systems would likely affect our ability to recover promptly from a crisis situation. In addition, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic could potentially disrupt the supply chain of hardware needed to recover from a crisis situation. If we are unable to execute our disaster recovery and business continuity plans, or if our plans prove insufficient for a particular situation or take longer than expected to implement in a crisis situation, it could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations, and our business interruption insurance may not adequately compensate us for losses that may occur.
In addition, high-profile system failures in the electronic financial services industry, whether or not involving us directly, could negatively impact our business. In recent years, U.S. and foreign regulators have imposed new requirements on operations such as ours that have been costly for us to implement and that could result in a decrease in the use of our platforms and demand for some of our solutions or result in regulatory investigations, fines and penalties. For example, the SEC’s Regulation Systems Compliance and Integrity and the system safeguards regulations of the CFTC subject portions of our trading platforms and other technological systems related to our SEFs to more extensive regulation and oversight. Ensuring our compliance with these regulations requires significant ongoing costs and there can be no assurance that government regulators will not impose additional costly obligations on us in the future. If system failures in the industry continue to occur, it is possible that confidence in the electronic financial services industry could diminish, leading to materially decreased trading volumes and revenues.
We may not be able to adequately protect our intellectual property, which, in turn, could materially adversely affect our brand and our business.
Our success depends in part on our proprietary technology, processes, methodologies and information and on our ability to further build brand recognition using our tradenames and logos. We rely primarily on a combination of U.S. and foreign patent,
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copyright, trademark, service mark and trade secret laws and nondisclosure, license, assignment and confidentiality arrangements to establish, maintain and protect our proprietary rights as well as the intellectual property rights of third parties whose content, data, information and other materials we license. We can give no assurances that any such patents, copyrights, trademarks, service marks and other intellectual property rights will protect our business from competition or that any intellectual property rights applied for in the future will be issued. In addition, the steps we take to protect our intellectual property may not adequately protect our rights or prevent third parties from infringing or misappropriating our rights, and third parties may successfully challenge the validity and/or enforceability of our intellectual property rights. Furthermore, we cannot assure you that these protections will be adequate to prevent our competitors from independently developing logos, platforms, solutions or technologies that are substantially equivalent or superior to our logos, platforms, solutions or technologies.
The protection of our intellectual property may require the expenditure of financial and managerial resources. Litigation brought to protect and enforce our intellectual property rights could be costly, time-consuming and distracting to management and may result in the impairment or loss of portions of our intellectual property. In addition, the laws of some countries in which we now or in the future provide our platforms and solutions may not protect intellectual property rights to the same extent as the laws of the United States. If our efforts to secure, protect and enforce our intellectual property rights are inadequate, or if any third party misappropriates, dilutes or infringes on our intellectual property, the value of our brand may be harmed, which could have a material adverse effect on our business.
Third parties may claim that we are infringing or misappropriating their intellectual property rights, which could cause us to suffer competitive injury, expend significant resources defending against such claims or be prevented from offering our platforms and solutions.
Our competitors, as well as other companies and individuals, may have obtained, and may be expected to obtain in the future, intellectual property rights related to the types of platforms and solutions we currently provide or plan to provide. In particular, as the number of trading platforms increases and the functionality of these platforms and related solutions further overlaps, the possibility of intellectual property rights claims against us grows. We cannot assure you that we are or will be aware of all third-party intellectual property rights that may pose a risk of infringement or misappropriation to our platforms, solutions, technologies or the manner in which we operate our business.
We have in the past been, are currently, and may from time to time in the future become subject to legal proceedings and claims relating to the intellectual property rights of others. The costs of supporting legal and dispute resolution proceedings are considerable, and there can be no assurance that a favorable outcome will be obtained. We may need to settle litigation and disputes on terms that are unfavorable to us, or we may be subject to an unfavorable judgment. The terms of any settlement or judgment may require us to cease some or all of our operations, pay substantial amounts to the other party and/or seek a license to continue practices found to be in violation of third-party intellectual property rights, which may not be available on reasonable terms and may significantly increase our operating expenses. A license may not be available to us at all, and we may be required to develop alternative non-infringing platforms, solutions, technologies or practices or discontinue use of such platforms, solutions, technologies or practices. Any development efforts could require significant effort and expense and, as result, our business, results of operations and financial condition could be materially adversely affected.
Our use of open source software could result in litigation or impose unanticipated restrictions on our ability to commercialize our platforms and solutions.
We use open source software in our technology, most often as small components within a larger solution. Open source code is also contained in some third-party software we rely on. The terms of many open source licenses are ambiguous and have not been interpreted by U.S. or other courts, and these licenses could be construed in a manner that imposes unanticipated conditions or restrictions on our ability to commercialize our platforms and solutions, license the software on unfavorable terms, require us to re-engineer our platforms and solutions or take other remedial actions, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business.
Risks Relating to Legal, Regulatory and Tax Considerations
Extensive regulation of our industry results in ongoing exposure to significant costs and penalties, enhanced oversight and restrictions and limitations on our ability to conduct and grow our business.
The financial services industry, including our business, is subject to extensive regulation by governmental and self-regulatory organizations in the jurisdictions in which we operate. These regulators have broad powers to promulgate and interpret laws, rules and regulations that often serve to restrict or limit our business. The requirements imposed by these regulators are designed to safeguard the integrity of the financial markets and to protect public investors generally rather than the interests of our stockholders, and we could become subject to increased governmental and public scrutiny in the future in
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response to global conditions and events. The SEC, the CFTC, the FINRA, the National Futures Association (“NFA”) and other authorities extensively regulate the U.S. financial services industry, including most of our operations in the United States. Much of our international operations are subject to similar regulations in their respective jurisdictions, including regulations overseen by the Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) in the UK, De Nederlandsche Bank (“DNB”), the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets (“AFM”), the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission, the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada and provincial regulators in Canada, the Japanese Financial Services Agency, the Japan Securities Dealers Association and the Australian Securities and Investment Commission.
Most aspects of our business, and in particular our broker-dealer, SEF and introducing broker subsidiaries, are subject to laws, rules and regulations that cover all aspects of our business, including manner of operation, system integrity, anti-money laundering and financial crimes, handling of material non-public information, safeguarding data, capital requirements, reporting, record retention, market access, licensing of employees and the conduct of officers, employees and other associated persons. See Part I, Item 1. – “Business — Regulation,” for a further description of the laws, rules and regulations that materially impact our business. There can be no assurance that we and/or our directors, officers and employees will be able to fully comply with these laws, rules and regulations. Any failure to comply with such legal and regulatory requirements could subject us to increased costs, fines, penalties or other sanctions, including suspensions of, or prohibitions on, certain of our activities, revocations of certain of our licenses or registrations, such as our membership in FINRA or our registration as a broker-dealer, or suspension of personnel.
Certain of our subsidiaries are subject to net capital and similar financial resource requirements. For example, our SEF subsidiaries are required to maintain sufficient financial resources to cover operating costs for at least one year. These net capital and related requirements may restrict our ability to withdraw capital from our regulated subsidiaries in certain circumstances, including through the payment of dividends, the redemption of stock or the making of unsecured advances or loans.
Some of our subsidiaries are subject to regulations, including under FINRA, the FCA and the DNB, regarding changes in control of their ownership or organizational structure as defined by the applicable regulatory body. These regulations generally provide that prior regulatory approval must be obtained in connection with any transaction resulting in a change in control or organizational structure of the subsidiary, such as changes in direct and indirect ownership or changes in the composition of the board of directors or similar body or the appointment of new officers, and may include similar changes that occur at Tradeweb Markets Inc. or any of its stockholders that may be deemed to hold a controlling interest as defined by the applicable regulatory body. As a result of these regulations, our future efforts to sell shares or raise additional capital, or to make changes to our organizational structure, may be delayed or prohibited in circumstances in which such a transaction would give rise to a change in control or organizational structure as defined by the applicable regulatory body.
Our ability to operate our trading platforms or offer our solutions in a particular jurisdiction is dependent on continued registration or authorization in that jurisdiction (or the maintenance of a valid exemption from such registration or authorization). In addition, regulatory approval may be required to expand certain of our operations and activities, and we may not be able to obtain the necessary regulatory approvals on a timely or cost-effective basis, or at all. Even if regulatory approvals are obtained, they may limit or impose restrictions on our operations and activities, and we may not be able to continue to comply with the terms of such approvals.
We incur significant costs, and will continue to devote significant financial and operational resources, to develop, implement and maintain policies, systems and processes to comply with our evolving legal and regulatory requirements. Future laws, rules and regulations, or adverse changes to, or more stringent enforcement of, existing laws, rules and regulations, could increase these costs and expose us to significant liabilities.
Our regulators generally require strict compliance with their laws, rules and regulations, and may investigate and enforce compliance and punish non-compliance. Many of our regulators, as well as other governmental authorities, are empowered to bring enforcement actions and to conduct administrative proceedings, examinations, inspections and investigations, which may result in increased compliance costs, penalties, fines, enhanced oversight, increased financial and capital requirements, additional restrictions or limitations, censure, suspension or other sanction, such as disgorgement, restitution or the revocation of regulatory approvals. The risks associated with such actions are difficult to assess or quantify.
In the normal course of our business, we have been, and continue to be from time to time, a party to various legal and regulatory proceedings related to compliance with applicable laws, rules and regulations, including audits, examinations and investigations of our operations and activities. Legal and regulatory actions, from subpoenas and other requests for information to potential criminal investigations, may divert management’s attention, cause us to incur significant expenses, including fees for legal representation and costs for remediation efforts, and result in fines, penalties or other sanctions. We may also be
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required to change or cease aspects of our operations or activities if a legal or regulatory authority determines that we have failed to comply with any laws, rules or regulations applicable to our business and/or otherwise determines to prohibit any of our operations or activities or revoke any of our approvals. In addition, regardless of the outcome, such actions may result in substantial costs and negative publicity, which may damage our reputation and impair our ability to attract and retain clients.
Firms in the financial services industry have experienced increased scrutiny in recent years, and penalties, fines and other sanctions sought by governmental and regulatory authorities, including the SEC, the CFTC, the Department of Justice, state securities administrators and state attorneys general in the United States, the FCA in the UK and other foreign regulators, have increased accordingly. This trend toward a heightened regulatory oversight and enforcement environment is expected to continue for the foreseeable future, and may create uncertainty and may increase our exposure to scrutiny of our operations and activities, significant penalties and liability and negative publicity.
Our business, and the businesses of many of our clients, could be materially adversely affected by new laws, rules or regulations or changes in existing laws, rules or regulations, including the interpretation and enforcement thereof.
Our business, and the business of many of our clients, is subject to extensive regulation. Governmental and regulatory authorities periodically review legislative and regulatory policies and initiatives, and may promulgate new or revised, or adopt changes in the interpretation and enforcement of existing, laws, rules and regulations at any time. Any such changes in laws, rules or regulations or in governmental policies could create additional regulatory exposure for our business, cause us to incur significant additional costs, require us to change or cease aspects of our business or restrict or limit our ability to grow our business, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations. There have been in the past, and could be in the future, significant technological, operational and compliance costs associated with the obligations that derive from compliance with evolving laws, rules and regulations.
Changes in legislation and in the rules and regulations promulgated by domestic and foreign regulators, and how they are applied, often directly affect the method of operation and profitability of dealers and other financial services intermediaries, including our dealer clients, and could result in restrictions in the way we and our clients conduct business. For example, various rules promulgated since the financial crisis, including under the Dodd-Frank Act, could adversely affect our dealer clients’ ability to make markets in a variety of products, thereby negatively impacting the level of liquidity and pricing available on our trading platforms. Our business and that of our clients could also be affected by the monetary policies adopted by the Federal Reserve and foreign central banking authorities, which may affect the credit quality of our clients or increase the cost for our clients to trade certain instruments on our trading platforms. In addition, such changes in monetary policy may directly impact our cost of funds for financing and investment activities and may impact the value of any financial instruments we hold.
Furthermore, many of the underlying markets in which we facilitate trading, and in which our clients trade, are subject to regulation. For example, trading in interest rate swaps has been subject to extensive regulation in the past, and any future regulation could lead to a decline in trading in these markets, which could have a negative impact on our trading volumes and, as a result, our revenues.
In addition, regulatory bodies in Europe have recently developed new rules and regulations targeted at the financial services industry, including MiFID II and the Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation (“MiFIR”), which were implemented in January 2018 and which introduced significant changes to the EU financial markets designed to facilitate more efficient markets and greater transparency for participants. MiFID II and MiFIR may have an adverse effect on our operations and our ability to offer our trading platforms and related solutions in a manner that can successfully compete against other methods of trading and related solutions. Additionally, most of the world’s major economies have introduced and continue to introduce regulations implementing Basel III, a global regulatory standard on bank capital adequacy, stress testing and market liquidity risk. The continued implementation of these and other bank capital standards could restrict the ability of our large bank and dealer customers to raise additional capital or use existing capital for trading purposes, which might cause them to trade less on our trading platforms and diminish transaction velocity. In addition, as regulations are introduced which affect our prudential obligations, the regulatory capital requirements imposed on certain of our subsidiaries may change.
We believe that it remains premature to know conclusively how specific aspects of the regulatory developments described above may directly affect our business. We cannot predict whether additional changes to the laws, rules and regulations that govern our business and operations, including changes to their interpretation, implementation or enforcement, will occur in the future or the extent to which any such changes will impact our business and operations. In addition, we cannot predict how current proposals that have not yet been finalized and/or that remain subject to ongoing debate will be implemented or in what form. We believe that uncertainty and potential delays around the final form of such new laws, rules and regulations may negatively impact our clients and trading volumes in certain markets in which we transact. Additionally, unintended consequences of such new laws, rules and regulations may adversely affect our industry, our clients and us in ways yet to be
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determined. Any such legal and regulatory changes could affect us in substantial and unpredictable ways, and could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our actual or perceived failure to comply with privacy, data protection and information security laws, rules, regulations and obligations could harm our business.
Certain types of information we collect, compile, store, use, transfer and/or publish are subject to numerous federal, state, local and foreign laws and regulations regarding privacy, data protection and information security. These laws, rules and regulations govern the storing, sharing, use, processing, transfer, disclosure and protection of personal information and other content. The scope of these laws, rules and regulations are changing, subject to differing interpretations, may be inconsistent among countries or conflict with other law, rules or regulations. We are also subject to the terms of our privacy policies and obligations to third parties related to applicable privacy, data protection and information security.
The regulatory framework for privacy, data protection and information security worldwide is uncertain, and is likely to remain uncertain for the foreseeable future, and we expect that there will continue to be new laws, rules regulations and industry standards concerning privacy, data protection and information security proposed and enacted in the various jurisdictions in which we operate. For example, European legislators adopted the General Data Protection Regulations (“GDPR”) that became effective in May 2018. The GDPR imposes more stringent EU data protection requirements for entities using, processing, and transferring personal data and provides for significant penalties for noncompliance. Recent legal developments in Europe have created complexity and regulatory compliance uncertainty regarding certain transfers of personal information from the European Economic Area to the United States. For example, on July 16, 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) invalidated the E.U.-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework (“Privacy Shield”) under which personal information could be transferred from the EU to US entities who had self-certified under the Privacy Shield program. While the CJEU upheld the adequacy of EU-specified standard contractual clauses as an adequate mechanism for cross-border transfers of personal data, it made clear that reliance on them alone may not necessarily be sufficient in all circumstances and that their use must be assessed on a case-by-case basis taking into account the surveillance laws in and the right of individuals afforded by, the destination country. The CJEU went on to state that, if the competent supervisory authority believes that the standard contractual clauses cannot be complied with in the destination country and the required level of protection cannot be secured by other means, such supervisory authority is under an obligation to suspend or prohibit that transfer unless the data exporter has already done so itself. We rely on a mixture of mechanisms to transfer personal data from our EU business to the U.S. and we evaluate what additional mechanisms may be required to establish adequate safeguards for personal information. As supervisory authorities issue further guidance on personal information export mechanisms, including circumstances where the standard contractual clauses cannot be used and/or start taking enforcement action, we could incur substantial costs and/or regulatory investigations or fines. Moreover, if we are otherwise unable to transfer personal information between and among countries and regions in which we operate, it could affect the manner in which we provide our services and could adversely affect our financial results.
Further, Brexit has created uncertainty with regard to the regulation of data protection in the United Kingdom. In December 2020, the Brexit Trade and Cooperation Agreement (“TCA”) established a four- to six-month grace period during which transfers of personal data from the EU to the UK can continue without additional safeguards, provided that the UK maintains its pre-TCA data protection laws. The exit creates uncertainty with regard to the regulation of data protection in the UK. In particular, it is unclear how data transfers to and from the UK will be regulated after the grace period expires and whether or not the UK will receive an adequacy decision from the European Commission permitting cross-border data transfer prior to leaving the EU. It is also unclear whether, in the future, the UK will amend the current UK version of the GDPR or enact new data protection laws or regulations and how data transfers to and from the United Kingdom will be regulated.
Our efforts to comply with privacy, data protection and information security laws, rules and regulations could entail substantial expenses, may divert resources from other initiatives and could impact our ability to provide certain solutions. Additionally, if our third-party providers violate any of these laws or regulations, such violations may also put our operations at risk. Any failure or perceived failure by us to comply with any of our obligations relating to privacy, data protection or information security may result in governmental investigations or enforcement actions, litigation, claims or negative publicity and could result in significant liability, increased costs or cause our clients to lose trust in us, which could have an adverse effect on our reputation and business.
New U.S. tax legislation may materially adversely affect our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
At any time, the U.S. federal income tax laws or the administrative interpretations of those laws may be amended. We cannot predict when or if any new U.S. federal income tax law, regulation or administrative interpretation, or any amendment to any existing U.S. federal income tax law, regulation, or administrative interpretation, will be adopted, promulgated or become effective. Any such law, regulation or interpretation could take effect retroactively, and could adversely affect our business and
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financial condition, and the impact of any such law, regulation or interpretation on holders of our Class A common stock could be adverse.
Unanticipated changes in effective tax rates or adverse outcomes resulting from examination of our income or other tax returns could materially adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.
We are subject to taxation by U.S. federal, state, local and foreign tax authorities, and our tax liabilities will be affected by the allocation of expenses to differing jurisdictions. Our future effective tax rates could be subject to volatility or adversely affected by a number of factors, including:
changes in the valuation of our deferred tax assets and liabilities;
expected timing and amount of the release of any tax valuation allowances;
tax effects of stock-based compensation;
changes in tax laws, regulations or interpretations thereof; or
future earnings being lower than anticipated in countries where we have lower statutory tax rates and higher than anticipated in countries where we have higher statutory tax rates.
In addition, we may be subject to audits of our income, sales and other transaction taxes by U.S. federal, state, local and foreign taxing authorities. Outcomes from these audits could have an adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition.
In certain circumstances, liability for adjustments to a partnership’s tax return may be imputed to the partnership itself absent an election to the contrary. TWM LLC may be subject to material liabilities if, for example, its calculations of taxable income are incorrect.
Our compliance and risk management programs might not be effective and may result in outcomes that could adversely affect our reputation, business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our ability to comply with all applicable laws, rules and regulations is largely dependent on our establishment and maintenance of compliance and risk management programs, including audit and reporting systems, that can quickly adapt and respond, as well as our ability to attract and retain qualified compliance, audit, legal, cybersecurity and other compliance and risk management personnel. While we have policies and procedures to identify, monitor and manage our risks and regulatory obligations, we cannot assure you that our policies and procedures will always be effective or that we will always be successful in monitoring or evaluating the risks to which we are or may be exposed. Our risk-management programs may prove to be ineffective because of their design, their implementation and maintenance or the lack of adequate, accurate or timely information. If our risk-management programs and efforts are ineffective, we could suffer losses that could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
As part of our compliance and risk management programs, we must rely upon our analysis of laws, rules, regulations and information regarding our industry, markets, personnel, clients and other matters that are publicly available or otherwise accessible to us. That information may not in all cases be accurate, complete, up-to-date or properly analyzed. Furthermore, we rely on a combination of technical and human controls and supervision that are subject to error and potential failure, the challenges of which are exacerbated by the 24-hour-a-day, global nature of our business, which is subject to various legal and regulatory requirements of multiple jurisdictions that are constantly evolving and subject to change.
In case of non-compliance or alleged non-compliance with applicable laws, rules or regulations by us or third parties on which we may rely, we could be subject to regulatory investigations and proceedings that may be very expensive to defend against and may result in substantial fines and penalties or civil lawsuits, including by clients, for damages which can be significant. Any of these outcomes would adversely affect our reputation, financial condition and results of operations. Further, the implementation of new legislation or regulations, or changes in or unfavorable interpretations of existing legislation or regulations by courts or regulators, could require us to incur significant compliance costs and impede our ability to operate, expand and enhance our platforms and solutions as necessary to remain competitive and grow our business, which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We are exposed to litigation risk.
We are from time to time involved in various litigation matters and claims, including lawsuits regarding employment matters, breach of contract matters and other business and commercial matters. See Part I, Item 3 – “Legal Proceedings.” Many aspects of our business, and the businesses of our clients, involve substantial risks of liability. These risks include, among others, disputes over terms of a trade and claims that a system failure or delay caused monetary loss to a client or that an
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unauthorized trade occurred. Although we carry insurance that may limit our risk of damages in some matters, we may still sustain uncovered losses or losses in excess of available insurance, and we could incur significant legal expenses defending claims, even those without merit. Due to the uncertain nature of the litigation process, it is not possible to predict with certainty the outcome of any particular litigation matter or claim, and we could in the future incur judgments or enter into settlements that could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. The ultimate outcome of litigation matters and claims against us may require us to change or cease certain operations and may result in higher operating costs. An adverse resolution of any litigation matter or claim could cause damage to our reputation and could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We may be subject to securities litigation, which is expensive and could divert management attention.
Our stock price may be volatile and, in the past, companies that have experienced volatility in the market price of their stock have been subject to securities class action litigation. We may be the target of this type of litigation in the future. Litigation of this type could result in substantial costs and diversion of management’s attention and resources, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Any adverse determination in litigation could also subject us to significant liabilities.
Risks Relating to our Indebtedness
The credit agreement that governs the Revolving Credit Facility imposes significant operating and financial restrictions on us and our restricted subsidiaries, which may prevent us from capitalizing on business opportunities, and we may incur additional debt in the future that may include similar or additional restrictions.
We are party to a $500.0 million senior secured revolving credit facility (the “Revolving Credit Facility”), with a syndicate of banks. The credit agreement that governs the Revolving Credit Facility imposes significant operating and financial restrictions. These restrictions, which are subject to a number of qualifications and exceptions, could limit our ability and the ability of our restricted subsidiaries to, among other things:
incur additional indebtedness and guarantee indebtedness;
create or incur liens;
pay dividends and distributions or repurchase capital stock;
make investments, loans and advances; and
enter into certain transactions with affiliates.
In addition, the credit agreement that governs our Revolving Credit Facility requires us to maintain a maximum total net leverage ratio and a minimum cash interest coverage ratio. See Part II, Item 7. – “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations — Liquidity and Capital Resources.”
These covenants could materially adversely affect our ability to finance our future operations or capital needs. Furthermore, they may restrict our ability to expand and pursue our business strategies and otherwise conduct our business. Our ability to comply with these covenants may be affected by circumstances and events beyond our control, such as prevailing economic conditions and changes in regulations, and we cannot assure you that we will be able to comply with such covenants. These restrictions could also limit our ability to obtain future financings to withstand a future downturn in our business or the economy in general. In addition, complying with these covenants may also cause us to take actions that make it more difficult for us to successfully execute our business strategies and compete against companies that are not subject to such restrictions.
Our failure to comply with the covenants and other terms of the Revolving Credit Facility and/or the terms of any future indebtedness could result in an event of default. If any such event of default occurs and is not waived, the lenders under the Revolving Credit Facility could elect to declare all amounts outstanding and accrued and unpaid interest, if any, under the Revolving Credit Facility to be immediately due and payable, and could foreclose on the assets securing the Revolving Credit Facility. The lenders would also have the right in these circumstances to terminate any commitments they have to provide further credit extensions. If we are forced to refinance any borrowings under the Revolving Credit Facility on less favorable terms or if we cannot refinance these borrowings, our financial condition and results of operations could be materially adversely affected.
In addition, although the credit agreement that governs the Revolving Credit Facility contains restrictions on the incurrence of additional indebtedness, these restrictions are subject to a number of qualifications and exceptions, and we and our subsidiaries may be able to incur substantial additional indebtedness in compliance with these restrictions in the future. The terms of any future indebtedness we may incur could include more restrictive covenants.
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Any borrowings under the Revolving Credit Facility will subject us to interest rate risk, which could cause our debt service obligations to increase significantly.
Any borrowings under the Revolving Credit Facility will be at variable rates of interest and expose us to interest rate risk. Although there is uncertainty concerning the current interest rate environment, interest rates are still near historically low levels. If interest rates rise, our debt service obligations on any borrowings under the Revolving Credit Facility will increase even though the amount borrowed may remain the same, and our net income and cash flows will correspondingly decrease. Assuming that the $500.0 million Revolving Credit Facility was fully drawn, each 0.125% change in interest rates would result in an approximate change of $0.6 million in annual interest expense on the borrowings under the Revolving Credit Facility.
The phase-out, replacement or unavailability of LIBOR and/or other interest rate benchmarks could adversely affect our indebtedness.
The interest rates applicable to the Revolving Credit Facility are based on, and the interest rates applicable to certain debt obligations we may incur in the future may be based on, a fluctuating rate of interest determined by reference to the London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”). In July 2017, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority, which regulates LIBOR, announced that it intends to stop persuading or compelling banks to submit rates for the calculation of LIBOR after 2021. In response to concerns regarding the future of LIBOR, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York convened the Alternative Reference Rates Committee (the “ARRC”) to identify alternatives to LIBOR. The ARRC has recommended a benchmark replacement waterfall to assist issuers in continued capital market entry while safeguarding against LIBOR’s discontinuation. The initial steps in the ARRC’s recommended provision reference variations of the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”), calculated using short-term repurchase agreements backed by Treasury securities. At this time, it is not possible to predict whether SOFR will attain market traction as a LIBOR replacement. Additionally, it is uncertain if LIBOR will cease to exist after calendar year 2021, or whether additional reforms to LIBOR may be enacted, or whether alternative reference rates will gain market acceptance as a replacement for LIBOR. In anticipation of LIBOR’s phase-out, the credit agreement governing the Revolving Credit Facility provides for alternative base rates as well as a transition mechanism for selecting a benchmark replacement rate for LIBOR, with such benchmark replacement rate to be mutually agreed with the administrative agent and subject to the majority lenders not objecting to such benchmark replacement. There can be no assurance that we will be able to reach any agreement on a replacement benchmark, and there can be no assurance that any agreement we reach will result in effective interest rates at least as favorable to us as our current effective interest rates. The failure to reach an agreement on a replacement benchmark, or the failure to reach an agreement that results in an effective interest rate at least as favorable to us as our current effective interest rates, could result in a significant increase in our debt service obligations, which could adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations. In addition, the overall financing market may be disrupted as a result of the phase-out or replacement of LIBOR, which could have an adverse impact on our ability to refinance, reprice or amend the Revolving Credit Facility, or incur additional indebtedness, on favorable terms, or at all.
We are a restricted subsidiary under Refinitiv’s credit facility and the indentures governing its senior notes, which may limit Refinitiv’s ability to permit us to take certain actions.
We are a “restricted subsidiary” under Refinitiv’s credit facility and the indentures governing its senior notes. While we are not a guarantor of Refinitiv’s indebtedness, or a party to the agreements governing Refinitiv’s indebtedness, the restrictions applicable to “restricted subsidiaries” contained in such agreements will nevertheless be applicable to us for so long as we are consolidated within Refinitiv’s financial statements in accordance with GAAP. Among these restrictions are limitations on Refinitiv’s ability to permit us to incur or guarantee indebtedness, issue certain preferred stock, repurchase subordinated indebtedness, make certain investments, transfer or sell certain assets, enter into restrictions affecting our ability to make distributions or loans or advances to Refinitiv, and enter into certain transactions with affiliates. As a result of these restrictions, we may be unable to take certain actions and, accordingly, limited in our ability to expand and pursue our business strategies and otherwise conduct our business.
Risks Relating to our Organizational Structure and Governance
The Refinitiv Owners and their affiliates control us and their interests may conflict with ours or yours in the future.
The Refinitiv Owners and their affiliates currently control approximately 88.1% of the combined voting power of our common stock as a result of their ownership of our Class B common stock and Class D common stock, each share of which is entitled to 10 votes on all matters submitted to a vote of our stockholders. Moreover, under our amended and restated bylaws and the Stockholders Agreement, for so long as the Refinitiv Owners and their affiliates together continue to beneficially own at least 10% of the combined voting power of our common stock, we will agree to nominate to our board of directors a certain number of individuals designated by the Refinitiv Owners. Even when the Refinitiv Owners and their affiliates cease to own
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shares of our common stock representing a majority of the combined voting power, for so long as the Refinitiv Owners continue to own a significant percentage of our common stock, the Refinitiv Owners will still be able to significantly influence the composition of our board of directors and the approval of actions requiring stockholder approval through their combined voting power. Accordingly, for such period of time, the Refinitiv Owners and their affiliates will continue to have significant influence with respect to our management, business plans and policies. In particular, the Refinitiv Owners and their affiliates are able to cause or prevent a change of control of our company or a change in the composition of our board of directors and could preclude any unsolicited acquisition of our company. The concentration of voting power could deprive you of an opportunity to receive a premium for your shares of Class A common stock as part of a sale of our company and ultimately might affect the market price of our Class A common stock.
The Refinitiv Owners and their affiliates engage in a broad spectrum of activities. In the ordinary course of their business activities, the Refinitiv Owners and their affiliates may engage in activities where their interests conflict with our interests or those of our stockholders. Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation provides that none of the Refinitiv Owners, any of their affiliates or any director who is not employed by us (including any non-employee director who serves as one of our officers in both his director and officer capacities) or his or her affiliates has any duty to refrain from engaging, directly or indirectly, in the same business activities or similar business activities or lines of business in which we operate. The Refinitiv Owners and their affiliates also may pursue acquisition opportunities that may be complementary to our business, and, as a result, those acquisition opportunities may not be available to us. In addition, the Refinitiv Owners and their affiliates may have an interest in us pursuing acquisitions, divestitures and other transactions that, in their judgment, could enhance their investment, even though such transactions might involve risks to you.
We are a “controlled company” within the meaning of the corporate governance standards of Nasdaq and, as a result, qualify for, and rely on, exemptions from certain corporate governance requirements.
Refinitiv owns a majority of the combined voting power in us. As a result, we are a “controlled company” within the meaning of the corporate governance standards of Nasdaq. A company of which more than 50% of the voting power is held by an individual, a group or another company is a “controlled company” within the meaning of the corporate governance standards of Nasdaq and may elect not to comply with certain corporate governance requirements of Nasdaq, including:
the requirement that a majority of our board of directors consist of independent directors;
the requirement that director nominations be made, or recommended to the full board of directors, by its independent directors or by a nominations committee that is composed entirely of independent directors; and
the requirement that we have a compensation committee that is composed entirely of independent directors with a written charter addressing the committee’s purpose and responsibilities.
We intend to continue to rely on all of the exemptions listed above. If we continue to utilize the exemptions, we will not have a majority of independent directors and our nominating and corporate governance and compensation committees will not consist entirely of independent directors. As a result, our board of directors and those committees may have more directors who do not meet Nasdaq independence standards than they would if those standards were to apply. The independence standards are intended to ensure that directors who meet those standards are free of any conflicting interest that could influence their actions as directors. Accordingly, you will not have the same protections afforded to stockholders of companies that are subject to all of the corporate governance requirements of Nasdaq.
Anti-takeover provisions in our organizational documents and Delaware law might discourage or delay acquisition attempts for us that you might consider favorable.
Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation and amended and restated bylaws contain provisions that may make the merger or acquisition of our company more difficult without the approval of our board of directors. Among other things, these provisions:
provide for a multi-class common stock structure with a 10 vote per share feature of our Class B common stock and Class D common stock;
allow us to authorize the issuance of undesignated preferred stock in connection with a stockholder rights plan or otherwise, the terms of which may be established and the shares of which may be issued without stockholder approval, and which may include super voting, special approval, dividend, or other rights or preferences superior to the rights of the holders of our common stock;
prohibit stockholder action by written consent from and after the date on which the Refinitiv Owners cease to beneficially own at least 50% of the total voting power of all then outstanding shares of our capital stock unless such action is recommended by all directors then in office;
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provide that the board of directors is expressly authorized to make, alter or repeal our bylaws and that our stockholders may only amend our bylaws with the approval of 662∕3% or more in voting power of all outstanding shares of our capital stock, if the Refinitiv Owners and their respective affiliates beneficially own less than 50% in voting power of our stock entitled to vote generally in the election of directors; and
establish advance notice requirements for nominations for elections to our board or for proposing matters that can be acted upon by stockholders at stockholder meetings.
In addition, while we have opted out of Section 203 of the DGCL, our amended and restated certificate of incorporation contains similar provisions providing that we may not engage in certain “business combinations” with any “interested stockholder” for a three-year period following the time that the stockholder became an interested stockholder, unless:
prior to such time, our board of directors approved either the business combination or the transaction which resulted in the stockholder becoming an interested stockholder;
upon consummation of the transaction that resulted in the stockholder becoming an interested stockholder, the interested stockholder owned at least 85% of our voting stock outstanding at the time the transaction commenced, excluding certain shares; or
at or subsequent to that time, the business combination is approved by our board of directors and by the affirmative vote of holders of at least 662∕3% of our outstanding voting stock that is not owned by the interested stockholder.
Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation provides that the Refinitiv Owners and their affiliates, and any of their respective direct or indirect transferees and any group as to which such persons are a party, do not constitute “interested stockholders” for purposes of this provision.
Further, as a Delaware corporation, we are also subject to provisions of Delaware law, which may impair a takeover attempt that our stockholders may find beneficial. These anti-takeover provisions and other provisions under Delaware law could discourage, delay or prevent a transaction involving a change in control of our company, including actions that our stockholders may deem advantageous, or negatively affect the market price of our Class A common stock. These provisions could also discourage proxy contests and make it more difficult for you and other stockholders to elect directors of your choosing and to cause us to take other corporate actions you desire. See Exhibit 4.2 to this Annual Report on Form 10-K for a description of our capital stock.
Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation designates the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware as the sole and exclusive forum for certain types of actions and proceedings that may be initiated by our stockholders, which could limit our stockholders’ ability to obtain what such stockholders believe to be a favorable judicial forum for disputes with us or our directors, officers or other employees.
Our amended and restated certificate of incorporation provides that, unless we consent to the selection of an alternative forum, any (i) derivative action or proceeding brought on behalf of our company, (ii) action asserting a claim of breach of a fiduciary duty owed by any director, officer or other employee of our company to our company or our stockholders, (iii) action asserting a claim against us or any director or officer arising pursuant to any provision of the Delaware General Corporation Law (“DGCL”) or our amended and restated certificate of incorporation or our amended and restated bylaws or (iv) action asserting a claim against us or any director or officer of our company governed by the internal affairs doctrine, shall, to the fullest extent permitted by law, be exclusively brought in the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware or, if such court does not have subject matter jurisdiction thereof, the federal district court of the State of Delaware. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the exclusive forum provision does not apply to suits brought to enforce any liability or duty created by the Exchange Act, the Securities Act or any other claim for which the federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction. Any person or entity purchasing or otherwise acquiring an interest in any shares of our capital stock shall be deemed to have notice of and to have consented to the forum provisions in our amended and restated certificate of incorporation. These choice-of-forum provisions may limit a stockholder’s ability to bring a claim in a judicial forum that he, she or it believes to be favorable for disputes with us or our directors, officers or other employees, which may discourage such lawsuits. Alternatively, if a court were to find these provisions of our amended and restated certificate of incorporation inapplicable or unenforceable with respect to one or more of the specified types of actions or proceedings, we may incur additional costs associated with resolving such matters in other jurisdictions, which could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations and result in a diversion of the time and resources of our management and board of directors.
Our principal asset is our equity interest in TWM LLC, and, accordingly, we depend on distributions from TWM LLC to pay our taxes and expenses, including payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement.
We are a holding company and our principal asset is our equity interest in TWM LLC. We have no independent means of generating revenue or cash flow, and our ability to pay our taxes and operating expenses or declare and pay dividends, if any, in
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accordance with our dividend policy will be dependent upon the financial results and cash flows of TWM LLC and its subsidiaries and distributions we receive from TWM LLC. There can be no assurance that TWM LLC and its subsidiaries will generate sufficient cash flow to distribute funds to us or that applicable state law and contractual restrictions will permit such distributions.
We also incur expenses related to our operations, including payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement, which we expect could be significant. See Note 9 — Tax Receivable Agreement to our audited consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. We intend, as its sole manager of TWM LLC, to cause TWM LLC to continue to make cash distributions to the owners of LLC Interests, including us, in an amount sufficient to (i) fund all or part of their tax obligations in respect of taxable income allocated to them and (ii) cover our operating expenses, including payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement. When TWM LLC makes distributions, the Continuing LLC Owners will be entitled to receive proportionate distributions based on their economic interests in TWM LLC at the time of such distributions. TWM LLC’s ability to make such distributions may be subject to various limitations and restrictions, such as restrictions on distributions that would either violate any contract or agreement to which TWM LLC is then a party, or any applicable law, or that would have the effect of rendering TWM LLC insolvent. If we do not have sufficient funds to pay tax or other liabilities or to fund our operations, we may have to borrow funds, including under the Revolving Credit Facility, which could materially adversely affect our liquidity and financial condition and subject us to various restrictions imposed by any such indebtedness. To the extent that we are unable to make payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement for any reason, such payments generally will be deferred and will accrue interest until paid; provided, however, that nonpayment for a specified period may constitute a material breach of a material obligation under the Tax Receivable Agreement and therefore accelerate payments due under the Tax Receivable Agreement. See “— Risks Relating to Ownership of Our Class A Common Stock” and Part II, Item 5 – “Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities — Dividend Policy.”
In certain circumstances, TWM LLC will be required to make distributions to us and the other holders of LLC Interests, and the distributions that TWM LLC will be required to make may be substantial and in excess of our tax liabilities and obligations under the Tax Receivable Agreement. To the extent we do not distribute such excess cash, the Continuing LLC Owners would benefit from any value attributable to such cash balances as a result of their ownership of Class A common stock or Class B common stock following an exchange of their LLC Interests.
TWM LLC is treated as a partnership for U.S. federal income tax purposes and, as such, is not subject to any entity-level U.S. federal income tax. Instead, taxable income is allocated to holders of LLC Interests, including us. Accordingly, we incur income taxes on our allocable share of any net taxable income of TWM LLC. Under the TWM LLC Agreement, TWM LLC is generally required from time to time to make pro rata distributions in cash to us and the other holders of LLC Interests in amounts that are intended to be sufficient to cover the taxes on our and the other LLC Interests holders’ respective allocable shares of the taxable income of TWM LLC. As a result of (i) potential differences in the amount of net taxable income allocable to us and the other LLC Interest holders, (ii) the lower tax rate applicable to corporations as compared to individuals and (iii) the favorable tax benefits that we anticipate receiving from (a) acquisitions of LLC Interests in connection with future taxable redemptions or exchanges of LLC Interests for shares of our Class A common stock or Class B common stock, as applicable, and (b) payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement, we expect that these tax distributions will be in amounts that exceed our tax liabilities and obligations to make payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement. Our board of directors will determine the appropriate uses for any excess cash so accumulated, which may include, among other uses, any potential dividends, the payment of obligations under the Tax Receivable Agreement and the payment of other expenses. We have no obligation to distribute such cash (or other available cash other than any declared dividend) to our stockholders. No adjustments to the redemption or exchange ratio of LLC Interests for shares of Class A common stock or Class B common stock, as applicable, will be made as a result of either (i) any cash distribution by TWM LLC or (ii) any cash that we retain and do not distribute to our stockholders. To the extent that we do not distribute such excess cash as dividends on our Class A common stock and Class B common stock and instead, for example, hold such cash balances or lend them to TWM LLC, the Continuing LLC Owners would benefit from any value attributable to such cash balances as a result of their ownership of Class A common stock or Class B common stock, as applicable, following a redemption or exchange of their LLC Interests.
The Tax Receivable Agreement with the Continuing LLC Owners requires us to make cash payments to them in respect of certain tax benefits to which we may become entitled, and we expect that the payments we will be required to make will be substantial.
We are a party to the Tax Receivable Agreement with TWM LLC and the Continuing LLC Owners. Under the Tax Receivable Agreement, we are required to make cash payments to a Continuing LLC Owner equal to 50% of the U.S. federal, state and local income or franchise tax savings, if any, that we actually realize, or in certain circumstances are deemed to realize, as a result of (i) increases in the tax basis of TWM LLC’s assets resulting from (a) the purchase of LLC Interests from
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such Continuing LLC Owner, including with the net proceeds from the IPO, the October 2019 and the April 2020 follow-on offerings and any future offerings or (b) redemptions or exchanges by such Continuing LLC Owner of LLC Interests for shares of our Class A common stock or Class B Common Stock or for cash, as applicable, and (ii) certain other tax benefits related to our making payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement. We expect that the amount of the cash payments that we will be required to make under the Tax Receivable Agreement will be substantial. Any payments made by us to the Continuing LLC Owners under the Tax Receivable Agreement will generally reduce the amount of overall cash flow that might have otherwise been available to us. Furthermore, our obligation to make payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement could make us a less attractive target for an acquisition, particularly in the case of an acquirer that cannot use some or all of the tax benefits that are the subject of the Tax Receivable Agreement.
The actual increase in tax basis, as well as the amount and timing of any payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement, will vary depending on a number of factors, including, but not limited to, the timing of any future redemptions, exchanges or purchases of the LLC Interests held by Continuing LLC Owners, the price of our Class A common stock at the time of the redemption, exchange or purchase, the extent to which redemptions or exchanges are taxable, the amount and timing of the taxable income that we generate in the future, the timing and amount of any earlier payments we make under the Tax Receivable Agreement itself, the tax rates then applicable and the portion of our payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement constituting imputed interest. We expect that, as a result of the increases in the tax basis of the tangible and intangible assets of TWM LLC attributable to the redeemed or exchanged LLC Interests, the payments that we may make to the existing Continuing LLC Owners could be substantial. For example, as of December 31, 2020, we recorded a liability of $404.3 million related to our projected obligations under the Tax Receivable Agreement with respect to LLC Interests that were purchased by Tradeweb Markets Inc. using the net proceeds from the IPO and the October 2019 and the April 2020 follow-on offerings and LLC Interests that were exchanged by Continuing LLC Owners during the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019. Payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement are not conditioned on any Continuing LLC Owner’s continued ownership of LLC Interests or our Class A common stock or Class B common stock. There may be a material negative effect on our liquidity if, as described below, the payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement exceed the actual benefits we receive in respect of the tax attributes subject to the Tax Receivable Agreement and/or distributions to us by TWM LLC are not sufficient to permit us to make payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement.
Our organizational structure, including the Tax Receivable Agreement, confers certain benefits upon the Continuing LLC Owners that will not benefit Class A common stockholders or Class B common stockholders to the same extent as it will benefit the Continuing LLC Owners.
Our organizational structure, including the Tax Receivable Agreement, confers certain benefits upon the Continuing LLC Owners that will not benefit the holders of our Class A common stock or Class B common stock to the same extent as it will benefit the Continuing LLC Owners. The Tax Receivable Agreement with TWM LLC and the Continuing LLC Owners provides for the payment by us to the Continuing LLC Owners of 50% of the tax benefits, if any, that we actually realize, or in certain circumstances are deemed to realize, as a result of (i) increases in the tax basis of TWM LLC’s assets resulting from (a) the purchase of LLC Interests from such Continuing LLC Owner, including with the net proceeds from the IPO, the October 2019 and April 2020 follow-on offerings and any future offerings or (b) redemptions or exchanges by the Continuing LLC Owners of LLC Interests for shares of our Class A common stock or Class B Common Stock or for cash, as applicable, and (ii) certain other tax benefits related to our making payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement. Although we will retain 50% of the amount of such tax benefits, this and other aspects of our organizational structure may adversely impact the future trading market for the Class A common stock.
In certain cases, payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement to the Continuing LLC Owners may be accelerated or significantly exceed the actual benefits we realize in respect of the tax attributes subject to the Tax Receivable Agreement.
The Tax Receivable Agreement provides that upon certain changes of control or if, at any time, we elect an early termination of the Tax Receivable Agreement, then our obligations, or our successor’s obligations, to make payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement would be accelerated and calculated based on certain assumptions, including an assumption that we would have sufficient taxable income to fully utilize all potential future tax benefits that are subject to the Tax Receivable Agreement.
As a result of the foregoing, (i) we could be required to make payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement that are greater than the specified percentage of the actual benefits we ultimately realize in respect of the tax benefits that are subject to the Tax Receivable Agreement (for example, if we do not end up having any income in the relevant period) and (ii) we would be required to make an immediate cash payment equal to the present value of the anticipated future tax benefits that are the subject of the Tax Receivable Agreement, which payment may be made significantly in advance of the actual realization, if any, of such future tax benefits. In these situations, our obligations under the Tax Receivable Agreement could have a substantial
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negative impact on our liquidity and could have the effect of delaying, deferring or preventing certain change of control transactions. There can be no assurance that we will be able to fund or finance our obligations under the Tax Receivable Agreement.
We will not be reimbursed for any payments made to the Continuing LLC Owners under the Tax Receivable Agreement in the event that any tax benefits are disallowed.
Payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement are based on the tax reporting positions that we determine, and the Internal Revenue Service or another tax authority may challenge all or part of the tax basis increases, as well as other related tax positions we take, and a court could sustain such challenge. We will not be reimbursed for any cash payments previously made to the Continuing LLC Owners under the Tax Receivable Agreement in the event that any tax benefits initially claimed by us and for which payment has been made to a Continuing LLC Owner are subsequently challenged by a taxing authority and are ultimately disallowed. Instead, any excess cash payments made by us to a Continuing LLC Owner will be netted against any future cash payments that we might otherwise be required to make to such Continuing LLC Owner under the terms of the Tax Receivable Agreement. However, we might not determine that we have effectively made an excess cash payment to a Continuing LLC Owner for a number of years following the initial time of such payment and, if any of our tax reporting positions are challenged by a taxing authority, we will not be permitted to reduce any future cash payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement until any such challenge is finally settled or determined. As a result, payments could be made under the Tax Receivable Agreement in excess of the tax savings that we realize in respect of the tax attributes with respect to a Continuing LLC Owner that are the subject of the Tax Receivable Agreement.
If we are deemed to be an investment company under the Investment Company Act of 1940, as amended (the “1940 Act”), as a result of our ownership of TWM LLC, applicable restrictions could make it impractical for us to continue our business as contemplated and could have a material adverse effect on our business.
Under Sections 3(a)(1)(A) and (C) of the 1940 Act, a company generally will be deemed to be an “investment company” for purposes of the 1940 Act if (i) it is, or holds itself out as being, engaged primarily, or proposes to engage primarily, in the business of investing, reinvesting or trading in securities or (ii) it engages, or proposes to engage, in the business of investing, reinvesting, owning, holding or trading in securities and it owns or proposes to acquire investment securities having a value exceeding 40% of the value of its total assets (exclusive of U.S. government securities and cash items) on an unconsolidated basis. We do not believe that we are an “investment company,” as such term is defined in either of those sections of the 1940 Act.
As the sole manager of TWM LLC, we control and operate TWM LLC. On that basis, we believe that our interest in TWM LLC is not an “investment security” as that term is used in the 1940 Act. However, if we were to cease participation in the management of TWM LLC, our interest in TWM LLC could be deemed an “investment security” for purposes of the 1940 Act.
We and TWM LLC intend to continue to conduct our operations so that we will not be deemed an investment company. However, if we are deemed to be an investment company, restrictions imposed by the 1940 Act, including limitations on our capital structure and our ability to transact with affiliates, could make it impractical for us to continue our business as contemplated and could have a material adverse effect on our business.
Risks Relating to Ownership of our Class A Common Stock
The Refinitiv Direct Owner and Continuing LLC Owners may require us to issue additional shares of our Class A common stock.
As of January 31, 2021, we have an aggregate of 898,325,057 shares of Class A common stock authorized but unissued, including approximately 127,472,125 shares of Class A common stock issuable upon the redemption or exchange of LLC Interests that are held by the Continuing LLC Owners or the exchange of shares of Class B common stock that are held by the Refinitiv Direct Owner and any other future holders of Class B common stock. Subject to certain restrictions set forth in the TWM LLC Agreement, Continuing LLC Owners are entitled to have their LLC Interests redeemed for newly issued shares of our Class A common stock or Class B common stock, in each case, on a one-for-one basis (in which case such holders’ shares of Class C common stock or Class D common stock, as the case may be, will be cancelled on a one-for-one basis upon any such issuance). Shares of our Class B common stock may also be exchanged at any time, at the option of the holder, for newly issued shares of Class A common stock (in which case such holders’ shares of Class B common stock will be cancelled on a one-for-one basis upon any such issuance).
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We cannot predict the size of future issuances of our Class A common stock or the effect, if any, that future issuances and sales of shares of our Class A common stock may have on the market price of our Class A common stock. Sales or distributions of substantial amounts of our Class A common stock, including shares issued in connection with an acquisition, or the perception that such sales or distributions could occur, may cause the market price of our Class A common stock to decline.
The market price of our Class A common stock may be highly volatile, and you may not be able to resell your shares at or above the public offering price.
Prior to the IPO, there was no public market for our Class A common stock. Given our limited trading history, an active trading market for our Class A common stock may not be sustained, which could adversely affect your ability to sell your shares and the market price for your shares. Further, the market price and trading volumes of our Class A common stock could be volatile, and you could lose all or part of your investment. Stock markets have experienced extreme price and volume fluctuations that have affected and continue to affect the market prices of equity securities of many companies in our industry. The following factors, in addition to other factors described in this “Risk Factors” section, may have a significant impact on the market price and trading volume of our Class A common stock:
negative trends in global economic conditions or activity levels in our industry;
changes in our relationship with our clients or in client needs or expectations or trends in the markets in which we operate;
announcements concerning or by our competitors or concerning our industry or the markets in which we operate in general;
announcements of investigations or regulatory scrutiny of our operations or lawsuits filed against us;
our ability to implement our business strategy;
our ability to complete and integrate acquisitions;
actual or anticipated fluctuations in our quarterly or annual operating results or failure to meet guidance given by us or any change in guidance given by us or in our guidance practices;
trading volume of our Class A common stock;
the failure of securities analysts to cover the Company or changes in financial estimates by the analysts who cover us, our competitors or our industry in general;
economic, political, social, legal and regulatory factors unrelated to our performance;
changes in accounting principles;
the loss of any of our management or key personnel;
sales of our Class A common stock by us, our executive officers, directors or our stockholders in the future;
investor perception of us, our competitors and our industry;
any adverse consequences related to our multi-class capital structure, such as stock index providers excluding companies with multi-class capital structures from certain indices; and
overall fluctuations in the U.S. equity markets generally.
In addition, broad market and industry factors may negatively affect the market price of our Class A common stock, regardless of our actual operating performance, and factors beyond our control may cause our stock price to decline rapidly and unexpectedly.
Sales, or the potential for sales, of a substantial number of shares of our Class A common stock in the public market could cause our stock price to drop significantly.
Sales of a substantial number of shares of our Class A common stock in the public market or the perception that these sales might occur, could depress the market price of our Class A common stock and could impair our ability to raise capital through the sale of additional equity securities. As of January 31, 2021 we have 101,674,943 outstanding shares of Class A common stock and 127,472,125 shares of Class A common stock that are authorized but unissued that would be issuable upon redemption or exchange of LLC Interests or exchange of shares of our Class B common stock.
We entered into the Registration Rights Agreement in connection with the IPO pursuant to which the shares of Class A common stock that may be issued upon redemption or exchange of LLC Interests held by the Refinitiv LLC Owner and the Bank Stockholders and the shares of Class A common stock that may be issued upon exchange of shares of Class B common stock held by the Refinitiv Direct Owner are subject to certain transfer restrictions. Sales of a substantial number of Class A common stock upon expiration of such above-described agreement, the perception that such sales may occur, or early release of such agreement, could cause the market price of our shares of Class A common stock to fall or make it more difficult for you to sell your Class A common stock at a time and price that you deem appropriate.
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In addition, shares of Class A common stock issued or issuable upon exercise of options that have currently vested are eligible for sale. We have filed a registration statement on Form S-8 under the Securities Act covering 31,819,860 shares of Class A common stock issued or issuable under our equity incentive plans. Accordingly, shares registered under such registration statement are available for sale in the open market following the vesting of awards, as applicable, the expiration or waiver of any applicable lockup period and subject to Rule 144 limitations applicable to affiliates.
In addition, pursuant to the Registration Rights Agreement, we granted the Refinitiv Owners, the Bank Stockholders, their affiliates and certain of their transferees the right, under certain circumstances and subject to certain restrictions, to require us to register under the Securities Act shares of Class A common stock. Registration of these shares under the Securities Act, would result in the shares becoming freely tradable without restriction under the Securities Act, except for shares held by our affiliates as defined in Rule 144 under the Securities Act.
If securities or industry analysts cease publishing research or reports about us, our business, our industry or markets or our competitors, or if they adversely change their recommendations or publish negative reports regarding our business or our Class A common stock, our stock price and trading volume could materially decline.
The trading market for our Class A common stock will be influenced by the research and reports that industry or securities analysts may publish about us, our business, our industry or markets or our competitors. We do not have any control over these analysts and we cannot provide any assurance that analysts will continue to cover us or provide favorable coverage. If any of the analysts who cover us adversely change their recommendation regarding our Class A common stock, or provide more favorable relative recommendations about our competitors, our stock price could materially decline. If any analyst who covers us were to cease coverage of our company or fail to regularly publish reports on us, we could lose visibility in the financial markets, which in turn could cause our stock price or trading volumes to materially decline.
We intend to continue to pay regular dividends on our Class A common stock and Class B common stock, but our ability to do so may be limited.
We intend to continue to pay cash dividends on our Class A common stock and Class B common stock on a quarterly basis, subject to the discretion of our board of directors and our compliance with applicable law, and depending on our and our subsidiaries’ results of operations, capital requirements, financial condition, business prospects, contractual restrictions, restrictions imposed by applicable laws and other factors that our board of directors deems relevant.
Because we are a holding company and all of our business is conducted through our subsidiaries, we expect to pay dividends, if any, only from funds we receive from our subsidiaries. Accordingly, our ability to pay dividends to our stockholders is dependent on the earnings and distributions of funds from our subsidiaries. As the sole manager of TWM LLC, we intend to cause, and will rely on, TWM LLC to make distributions in respect of LLC Interests to fund our dividends. When TWM LLC makes such distributions, the Continuing LLC Owners will be entitled to receive equivalent distributions pro rata based on their economic interests in TWM LLC at the time of such distributions. In order for TWM LLC to make distributions, it may need to receive distributions from its subsidiaries. Certain of these subsidiaries are or may in the future be subject to regulatory capital requirements that limit the size or frequency of distributions. If TWM LLC is unable to cause these subsidiaries to make distributions, it may have inadequate funds to distribute to us and we may be unable to fund our dividends. Our ability to pay dividends may also be restricted by the terms of the Revolving Credit Facility, any future credit agreement or any future debt or preferred equity securities of Tradeweb or its subsidiaries.
Our dividend policy entails certain risks and limitations, particularly with respect to our liquidity. By paying cash dividends rather than investing that cash in our business or repaying any outstanding debt, we risk, among other things, slowing the expansion of our business, having insufficient cash to fund our operations or make capital expenditures or limiting our ability to incur borrowings. Our board of directors will periodically review the cash generated from our business and the capital expenditures required to finance our growth plans and determine whether to modify the amount of regular dividends and/or declare any periodic special dividends. There can be no assurance that our board of directors will not reduce the amount of regular cash dividends or cause us to cease paying dividends altogether.
We are exposed to risks relating to evaluations of controls required by Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.
We are subject to Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (the “Sarbanes-Oxley Act”), which requires management to make a formal assessment of the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting for purposes of the rules of the SEC implementing Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Section 404 also requires our independent registered public accounting firm to formally attest to the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting. It is possible that our independent registered public accounting firm might issue a report that is adverse in the event that in its opinion we have not
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maintained effective internal control over financial reporting based on criteria established under Internal Control — Integrated Framework (2013) issued by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission.
Previously, as a private company, we did not have any internal audit function. To comply with the requirements of being a public company, we have undertaken various actions, and may need to take additional actions, such as implementing new internal controls and procedures and hiring additional accounting or internal audit staff or consultants. Testing and maintaining internal control can divert our management’s attention from other matters that are important to the operation of our business. Additionally, when evaluating our internal control over financial reporting, we may identify material weaknesses that we may not be able to remediate in time to meet the applicable deadline imposed upon us for compliance with the requirements of Section 404. If we identify any material weaknesses in our internal control over financial reporting or are unable to comply with the requirements of Section 404 or assert that our internal control over financial reporting is effective, or if our independent registered public accounting firm is unable to express an opinion as to the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting, investors may lose confidence in the accuracy and completeness of our financial reports and the market price of our Class A common stock could be negatively affected, and we could become subject to investigations by the stock exchange on which our securities are listed, the SEC or other regulatory authorities, which could require additional financial and management resources. In addition, if we fail to remedy any material weakness, our financial statements could be inaccurate and we could face restricted access to capital markets.
The requirements of being a public company, including compliance with the reporting requirements of the Exchange Act and the requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and Nasdaq, may strain our resources, increase our costs and divert management’s attention, and we may be unable to comply with these requirements in a timely or cost-effective manner.
As a public company, we are subject to the reporting requirements of the Exchange Act, and the corporate governance standards of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and Nasdaq. We have a limited history operating as a public company, and these requirements may place a strain on our management, systems and resources. In addition, we have incurred, and expect to continue to incur significant legal, accounting, insurance and other expenses that we did not incur as a private company. The Exchange Act requires us to file annual, quarterly and current reports with respect to our business and financial condition within specified time periods and to prepare a proxy statement with respect to our annual meeting of stockholders. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act requires that we maintain effective disclosure controls and procedures and internal control over financial reporting. Nasdaq requires that we comply with various corporate governance requirements. To maintain and improve the effectiveness of our disclosure controls and procedures and internal control over financial reporting and comply with the Exchange Act and Nasdaq requirements, significant resources and management oversight are required. This may divert management’s attention from other business concerns and lead to significant costs associated with compliance, which could have a material adverse effect on us and the market price of our Class A common stock.
The expenses incurred by public companies generally for reporting and corporate governance purposes have been increasing. We expect these rules and regulations to continue to increase our legal and financial compliance costs and to make some activities more time-consuming and costly. These laws and regulations could also make it more difficult or costly for us to obtain certain types of insurance, including director and officer liability insurance, and we may be forced to accept reduced policy limits and coverage or incur substantially higher costs to obtain the same or similar coverage. These laws and regulations could also make it more difficult for us to attract and retain qualified persons to serve on our board of directors or its committees or as our executive officers. Advocacy efforts by stockholders and third parties may also prompt even more changes in governance and reporting requirements. We cannot predict or estimate the amount of additional costs we may incur or the timing of these costs. Furthermore, if we are unable to satisfy our obligations as a public company, we could be subject to delisting of our Class A common stock, fines, sanctions and other regulatory action and potentially civil litigation.
ITEM 1B. UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS.
None.
ITEM 2. PROPERTIES.
Our corporate headquarters is located in New York, New York. As of December 31, 2020, our principal offices consisted of the following properties:
LocationSquare FeetLease Expiration DateUse
New York, New York41,062 12/31/2022Office Space
Jersey City, New Jersey65,242 12/31/2027Office Space
London, United Kingdom16,259 9/30/2024Office Space
(1)
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We also lease offices in Los Angeles, California, Boca Raton, Florida, Boston, Massachusetts, Garden City, New York, Shanghai, China, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Japan, Amsterdam, Netherlands and Singapore.
Our infrastructure operates out of third-party data centers in Secaucus, New Jersey, Weehawken, New Jersey, Piscataway, New Jersey and Chicago, Illinois and, outside the United States, in Hounslow, United Kingdom, Slough, United Kingdom, Saitama, Japan and Tokyo, Japan.
We believe that our facilities are in good operating condition and adequately meet our current needs, and that additional or alternative space to support future use and expansion will be available on reasonable commercial terms.
ITEM 3. LEGAL PROCEEDINGS.
From time to time, we are subject to various claims, lawsuits and other legal proceedings, including reviews, investigations and proceedings by governmental and self-regulatory agencies regarding our business. Set forth below is a summary of our currently pending material legal proceedings. While the ultimate resolution of these matters cannot presently be determined, we do not believe that, taking into account any applicable insurance coverage, any of our pending legal proceedings, including the matters set forth below, could reasonably be expected to have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations. However, legal matters are inherently unpredictable and subject to significant uncertainties, some of which are beyond our control. As such, there can be no assurance that the final outcome of any of our pending or future legal proceedings will not have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations, including for any particular reporting period. In addition, regardless of the outcome, legal proceedings may have an adverse impact on us because of defense and settlement costs, diversion of management resources, reputational loss and other factors.
We record our best estimate of a loss, including estimated defense costs, when the loss is considered probable and the amount of such loss can be reasonably estimated. Based on our experience, we believe that the amount of damages claimed in a legal proceeding is not a meaningful indicator of the potential liability. At this time, we cannot reasonably predict the timing or outcomes of, or estimate the amount of loss, or range of loss, if any, related to, our pending legal proceedings, including the matters described below, and therefore we do not have any contingency reserves established for any of these matters.
Treasuries Matter
In December 2015, more than 40 substantially similar putative class action complaints filed by individual investors, pension funds, retirement funds, insurance companies, municipalities, hedge funds and banks were consolidated in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York under the caption In re Treasuries Securities Auction Antitrust Litigation, No. 1:15-md-2673 (S.D.N.Y.) (PGG). In November 2017, the plaintiffs in these consolidated actions filed a consolidated amended complaint in which they allege (a) an “Auction Conspiracy” among primary dealers of United States Treasury securities in auctions for Treasury securities and in the “when-issued” and secondary markets for such securities and other derivative financial products; and (b) a “Boycott Conspiracy” among certain primary dealers and Tradeweb Markets LLC, Tradeweb IDB Markets, Inc. and Dealerweb Inc. (collectively, the “Tradeweb Parties”). The plaintiffs purport to represent two putative classes: an “Auction Class” consisting of all persons who purchased Treasuries in an auction, transacted in Treasuries with a dealer defendant or through an exchange from January 1, 2007 through June 8, 2015, and a “Boycott Class” consisting of all persons who transacted in Treasury securities in the secondary market with a dealer defendant from November 15, 2013 to the present.
The consolidated amended complaint alleges that the Tradeweb Parties participated in the alleged “Boycott Conspiracy” through which certain primary dealers are alleged to have boycotted trading platforms permitting “all-to-all” trading of Treasury securities. The complaint asserts claims against the Tradeweb Parties under Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act and for unjust enrichment under state law and seeks to permanently enjoin the Tradeweb Parties and the dealer defendants from maintaining the alleged “Boycott Conspiracy” and an award of treble damages, costs and expenses.
Defendants filed motions to dismiss in February 2018, including a separate motion to dismiss filed by the Tradeweb Parties. The motions to dismiss are pending. We believe that we have meritorious defenses to the claims set forth in the complaint and intend to continue to vigorously defend our position.
Interest Rate Swaps Matter
In November 2015, Public School Teachers’ Pension and Retirement Fund of Chicago, on behalf of itself and a putative class of other similar purchasers of interest rate swaps (“IRS”), filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York against Tradeweb Markets LLC, ICAP Capital Markets LLC and several investment banks and their affiliates (the “Dealer Defendants”), captioned Public School Teachers’ Pension and Retirement Fund of Chicago v. Bank
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of America Corporation, Case No. 15-cv-09219 (S.D.N.Y.). Additional plaintiffs, including Tera Group Inc. and Javelin Capital Markets LLC, filed lawsuits and, ultimately, the cases were consolidated under the caption In re Interest Rate Swaps Antitrust Litigation, No. 1:16-md-2704.
The plaintiffs allege that defendants conspired to forestall the emergence of exchange style trading for IRS and seek treble damages and declaratory and injunctive relief under federal antitrust laws with respect to Tradeweb Markets LLC. Plaintiffs allege that Tradeweb agreed with the Dealer Defendants to shutter its plans to launch an exchange-like trading platform for IRS in furtherance of the conspiracy and provided a forum where the Dealer Defendants carried out their alleged collusion.
Tradeweb Markets LLC and certain other entities were dismissed from the lawsuit in July 2017, following the court’s order and opinion on defendants’ motions to dismiss. In May 2018, the court denied plaintiffs’ request for leave to amend their complaint to reinstate Tradeweb Markets LLC as a defendant, but granted leave to amend to include additional allegations. In October 2018, plaintiffs filed a motion seeking leave to file a proposed fourth amended complaint. They did not seek to name Tradeweb Markets LLC as a defendant but instead purported to reserve all rights with respect to Tradeweb Markets LLC. While Tradeweb Markets LLC is not a party to the litigation, it was actively engaged in third-party discovery and responded to the parties’ data and document requests. Additionally, in June 2018, the plaintiffs notified the court that they are likely to move for entry of judgment of the dismissed claims. We believe that we have meritorious defenses to any allegations asserted against us in this litigation and, if necessary, intend to vigorously defend our position.
ITEM 4. MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES.
Not applicable.
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PART II
ITEM 5. MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES.
Market Information
Our Class A common stock trades on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the ticker symbol “TW.” There is no established public trading market for our Class B common stock, Class C common stock or Class D common stock.
Holders
As of December 31, 2020, there is one holder of record of our Class A common stock, Cede & Co., a nominee for The Depository Trust Company, one holder of record of our Class B common stock, two holders of record of our Class C common stock and 17 holders of record of our Class D common stock. A substantially greater number of holders of our Class A common stock are “street name” or beneficial owners, whose shares of Class A common stock are held of record by banks, brokerage firms and other financial institutions. Shares of Class A common stock held by banks, brokerage firms and other financial institutions as nominees for beneficial owners is considered to be held of record by Cede & Co., who is considered to be one holder of record.
Dividend Policy
Subject to legally available funds, we intend to continue to pay quarterly cash dividends on our Class A common stock and Class B common stock equal to $0.08 per share. The declaration, amount and payment of any dividends will be at the sole discretion of our board of directors and will depend on our and our subsidiaries’ results of operations, capital requirements, financial condition, business prospects, contractual restrictions, restrictions imposed by applicable laws and other factors that our board of directors may deem relevant. Because we are a holding company and all of our business is conducted through our subsidiaries, we expect to pay dividends, if any, from funds we receive from our subsidiaries. Accordingly, our ability to pay dividends to our stockholders is dependent on the earnings and distributions of funds from our subsidiaries. As the sole manager of TWM LLC, we intend to cause, and will rely on, TWM LLC to make distributions in respect of LLC Interests to fund our dividends. When TWM LLC makes such distributions, the Continuing LLC Owners will be entitled to receive equivalent distributions pro rata based on their economic interests in TWM LLC at the time of such distributions. Because Tradeweb must pay taxes and make payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement, amounts ultimately distributed as dividends to holders of our Class A common stock or Class B common stock are expected to be less than the amounts distributed by TWM LLC to its members on a per LLC Interest basis. In order for TWM LLC to make distributions, it may need to receive distributions from its subsidiaries. If TWM LLC is unable to cause these subsidiaries to make distributions, it may have inadequate funds to distribute to us and we may be unable to fund our dividends. Our ability to pay dividends may also be restricted by the terms of the Revolving Credit Facility or any future credit agreement or any future debt or preferred equity securities of Tradeweb or its subsidiaries.
Our board of directors will periodically review the cash generated from our business and the capital expenditures required to finance our growth plans and determine whether to modify the amount of regular dividends and/or declare any periodic special dividends. Any future determination to change the amount of dividends and/or declare special dividends will be at the discretion of our board of directors and will be dependent upon then-existing conditions and other factors that our board of directors considers relevant.
See Part I, Item 1A. – “Risk Factors — Risks Relating to Our Organizational Structure and Governance — Our principal asset is our equity interest in TWM LLC, and, accordingly, we depend on distributions from TWM LLC to pay our taxes and expenses, including payments under the Tax Receivable Agreement” and Part I, Item 1A. – “Risk Factors — Risks Relating to Ownership of our Class A Common Stock — We intend to continue to pay regular dividends on our Class A common stock and Class B common stock, but our ability to do so may be limited.”
During 2020, Tradeweb Markets Inc. paid quarterly cash dividends of $0.08 per share, in an aggregate amount of $58.1 million, to the holders of Class A common stock and Class B common stock.
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Securities Authorized for Issuance Under Equity Compensation Plans
See Item 12 of this Report for information about securities authorized for issuance under our equity compensation plans.
Stock Performance Graph
The following graph shows a comparison from April 4, 2019 (the date our Class A common stock commenced trading on Nasdaq) through December 31, 2020 of the cumulative total return for (i) our Class A common stock, (ii) the S&P 500 Index and (iii) the Dow Jones U.S. Financials Index. The graph assumes an initial investment of $100 in our Class A common stock and in each index on April 4, 2019, and that all dividends were reinvested. Historical stock price performance should not be relied upon as an indication of future stock price performance.

https://cdn.kscope.io/f1a4386fd08ed1dc36ebd42447a5636a-tw-20201231_g3.jpg
The stock performance graph and related information shall not be deemed “soliciting material” or to be “filed” for purposes of Section 18 of the Exchange Act or otherwise subject to the liabilities under that Section, and shall not be deemed to be incorporated by reference into any future filing under the Securities Act or Exchange Act, except to the extent that we specifically incorporate it by reference into such filing.

ITEM 6. SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA.
The following tables present selected historical consolidated financial and other data for the periods indicated below. Tradeweb Markets LLC is the predecessor of the registrant, Tradeweb Markets Inc., for financial reporting purposes. Prior to the consummation of the Reorganization Transactions, Tradeweb Markets Inc. did not conduct any activities other than those incident to its formation and the IPO. As a result of the Reorganization Transactions completed in connection with the IPO, Tradeweb Markets Inc. became the sole manager of Tradeweb Markets LLC whose only material assets consist of its equity interest in Tradeweb Markets LLC and related deferred tax assets. As a result, Tradeweb Markets Inc. consolidates the financial results of Tradeweb Markets LLC and its subsidiaries. Accordingly, the historical consolidated financial data presented below relating to periods prior to and including March 31, 2019 reflect the results of operations, financial position and cash flows of Tradeweb Markets LLC and its subsidiaries. The historical consolidated financial data presented below relating to periods beginning on April 1, 2019, and through and including December 31, 2020 reflect the results of operations, financial position and cash flows of Tradeweb Markets Inc. and its subsidiaries, including the consolidation of its investment in Tradeweb Markets LLC. See “Basis of Presentation.”
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The selected consolidated statement of income data for the years ended December 31, 2020 and 2019, the 2018 Successor Period and the 2018 Predecessor Period and the selected consolidated statement of financial condition data as of December 31, 2020 and 2019 are derived from our audited consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The selected consolidated statement of income data for the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016 and the selected consolidated statement of financial condition data as of December 31, 2018, 2017 and 2016 are derived from the audited consolidated financial statements of Tradeweb Markets LLC not included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
As discussed elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, as a result of the Refinitiv Transaction, we revalued our assets and liabilities based on their fair values as of the closing date of the Refinitiv Transaction in accordance with the acquisition method of accounting. Due to the change in the basis of accounting resulting from the application of pushdown accounting, we are required to present separately the financial information for the period beginning on October 1, 2018, and through and including December 31, 2020, which we refer to as the “Successor period,” and the financial information for the periods prior to, and including, September 30, 2018, which we refer to as the “Predecessor period.” Certain financial information of the Successor period is not comparable to that of the Predecessor period. For a discussion of our Successor and Predecessor periods, see “Basis of Presentation” and Part II, Item 7. – “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Effects of Pushdown Accounting on our Financial Statements.”
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The results of operations for the periods presented below are not necessarily indicative of the results to be expected for any future period. The information set forth below should be read together with “Basis of Presentation,” Part II, Item 7. – “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and our audited consolidated financial statements and related notes thereto appearing elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
 SuccessorSuccessor Successor Predecessor Predecessor Predecessor 
 Year Ended
December 31,
2020
Year Ended
December 31,
2019
 October 1, 2018 to
December 31,
2018
 January 1, 2018 to
September 30,
2018
 Year Ended
December 31,
2017
 Year Ended
December 31,
2016
 
Statement of Income Data:(in thousands, except share and per share amounts)
Revenues          
Transaction fees$518,474 $423,583  $97,130  $273,751  $267,020  $230,171  
Subscription fees (1)
202,064 194,366  46,519  143,981  194,534  191,983  
Commissions163,114 149,365  32,840  79,830  96,745  91,663  
Other9,007 8,252  2,148  8,209  4,669  4,587  
Gross revenue892,659 775,566  178,637  505,771  562,968  518,404  
Contingent consideration(2)
— —  —  (26,830) (58,520) (26,224) 
Net revenue892,659 775,566  178,637  478,941  504,448  492,180  
Expenses          
Employee compensation and benefits349,658 329,457  80,436  209,053  248,963  228,584  
Depreciation and amortization153,789 139,330  33,020  48,808  68,615  80,859  
Technology and communications47,500 39,285  9,907  26,598  30,013  28,239  
General and administrative34,822 34,960  11,837  23,056  33,973  27,392  
Professional fees28,875 28,029  8,194  20,360  19,351  18,158  
Occupancy14,660 14,686  3,308  10,732  14,441  15,817  
Total expenses629,304 585,747  146,702  338,607  415,356  399,049  
Operating income263,355 189,819  31,935  140,334  89,092  93,131  
Tax receivable agreement liability adjustment11,425 33,134  —  —  —  —  
Net interest income(316)2,373  787  1,726  685  (695) 
Income before taxes274,464 225,326  32,722  142,060  89,777  92,436  
(Provision) / benefit for income taxes(56,074)(52,302) (3,415) (11,900) (6,129) 725  
Net income$218,390 $173,024  $29,307  $130,160  $83,648  $93,161  
Less: Pre-IPO net income attributable to Tradeweb Markets LLC— 42,352          
Net income attributable to Tradeweb Markets Inc. and non-controlling interests218,390 130,672          
Less: Net income attributable to non-controlling interests52,094 46,903          
Net income attributable to Tradeweb Markets Inc.$166,296 $83,769          
EPS calculations for pre-IPO and post-IPO periods (3)
          
Basic$0.19 (b)      
 $0.92 
(a)
$0.57 
(a)
$0.13 
(b)
$0.60 (b)$0.39 (b)$0.44 (b)
Diluted$0.19 (b)      
 $0.88 
(a)
$0.54 
(a)
$0.13 
(b)
$0.60 (b)$0.39 (b)$0.44 (b)
Weighted average shares outstanding         
Basic222,222,197 (b)      
 180,409,462 
(a)
148,013,274 (a)222,221,628 (b)215,365,920 (b)212,568,635 (b)210,979,704 (b)
Diluted223,320,457 (b)      
 188,223,032 
(a)
156,540,246 (a)222,243,851 (b)215,365,920 (b)212,568,635 (b)210,979,704 (b)
Dividends per share$0.32 $0.24  $—  $—  $—  $—  

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 SuccessorSuccessorSuccessorPredecessorPredecessor
 As of
December 31,
2020
As of
December 31,
2019
As of
December 31,
2018
As of
December 31,
2017
As of
December 31,
2016
Statement of Financial Condition Data:(in thousands)
Cash and cash equivalents$791,280 $460,711 $410,104 $352,598 $324,074 
Total assets$5,679,850 $5,095,334 $4,997,139 $1,316,887 $1,320,732 
Total liabilities$660,687 $502,589 $410,626 $317,118 $