A Specialist will be required to place compulsory comparable bid and ask orders which respect a maximum spread and minimum countervaule. There can only be one specialist per instrument – the specialist is to be appointed by the relevant issuer.


Benefits to being a Specialist

Specialists will receive a total exemption from the trading fees for transactions deriving from the fulfilment of trading specialist obligations.

Specialists are also granted a number of free of charge transactions per second (tps), which is dependent on the number of instruments supported as Specialist.

1 - 50 products supported as Specialist = 50 tps

51 - 150 products supported as Specialist = 100 tps

150+ products supported as Specialist = 200 tps

The free tps are attached to the specialist CompID only.


The Specialist must be appointed by the relevant issuer.


Specialist obligations are defined by Borsa Italiana.

  • Obligation to display bid and ask prices continuously.

    The Specialist shall comply with the obligation to enter simultaneous buy and sell orders for comparable quantities.

  • Obligation to display a minimum size.

    The Specialist must honour the obligation to display a minimum size for the instruments which it supports as Specialist.

    Each instrument has a defined minimum size. Borsa Italiana classifies each instrument into one of three liquidity categories (see below). Borsa Italiana defines the minimum size for each instrument in relation to the liquidity category. The instrument is categorised into one of the three liquidity categories on the basis of the liquidity assessment of the underlying. 

    Liquidity Category 1:
    Minimum countervalue = €50,000
    Minimum spread = 3%
    Maximum spread = 6%

    Liquidity Category 2:
    Minimum countervalue = €100,000
    Minimum spread = 1%
    Maximum spread = 3%

    Liquidity Category 3:
    Minimum countervalue = 200,000
    Maximum spread = 1%

    During stressed market conditions, the size is reduced by half.  

  • Maximum spread obligation.

    The Specialist’s orders have to be entered at comparable competitive prices, i.e. the bid and ask prices must not diverge by the maximum spread. The maximum spread obligation is defined per instrument on the basis of the liquidity category which the instrument is in (as per the above table).

    During stressed market conditions, the spread is doubled.

  • Comparability obligation.

    The Specialist must make sure that the total bid size orders does not diverge more than 50% against the total ask size orders, according to the following formula:  

    Max (Total Buy Quantity, Total Sell Quantity) = Max
    Min (Total Buy Quantity, Total Sell Quantity) = Min
    If ( Min < ( Max / 2 )) Then test has failed

  • Temporary suspensions.

    In exceptional circumstances, declared by Borsa Italiana’s Trading Surveillance department, the Specialist may submit a request to Borsa Italiana for the suspension of quoting obligations for those instruments which they are a Specialist for.

Borsa Italiana constantly updates the table which summarises the minimum size and maximum spread obligations for each financial instrument traded on the ETFplus market (see bottom of the page).

More information on Specialist obligations can be found in Borsa Italiana’s Guide to the Parameters.

Specialists are required to adhere to their obligations for 60% of each trading day. The assessment will be calculated and disseminated on a monthly basis.

The daily compliance rate will be calculated in terms of four separate components:

  • Presence
  • Size
  • Spread
  • Comparability check

IT set up

Transactions entered to fulfil the quotation obligations must be “Named Quotes” or “Named Orders”. “Named Quotes” allow the specialist to contextually submit bid and ask orders, whilst also identifying the orders as coming from a specialist.

New specialists must test the “Named Quote” or “Named Order” or both  functionalities before starting the activity. Specialist is to decide which functionality they will be using.

Specialists are given a dedicated interface (CompID “S”) to the market that can be used for specialist activity only and only for the instruments which they support as Specialist.

How to become a Specialist

The Specialist must be appointed by the issuer for the relevant instrument(s) and only then, can they proceed with signing the agreement to become a Specialist, which is signed through a dedicated Specialist form. 

The Specialist form can be found within the instructions section on Borsa Italiana’s website, here.

Resignation of status

In order for a Specialist to terminate the agreement to fulfil their obligations as a Specialist, Borsa Italiana must be notified in writing at last three months before the effective date of the termination. Borsa Italiana may accept shorter notice if the continuity of the Specialist function is ensured by another entity entering into the undertakings of the obligations to be fulfilled by the Specialist for the relevant instrument(s).

It is the responsibility of the issuer to ensure that there is an entity available to replace the current Specialist for the relevant instrument(s) prior to the termination of the current Specialist’s agreement.

More information can be found in Borsa Italiana’s rules.

Please find below the list of specialists on ETFplus market:


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