A group of financial firms that includes wirehouses Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley and UBS, plan to launch a new member-owned equities exchange, the companies say.

The group also includes Charles Schwab, Citadel, ETrade, Fidelity Investments, TD Ameritrade and Virtu Financial, according to a press release from the group.

The firms intend to file an application with the SEC to operate Members Exchange, or MEMX, early this year, the group says.

"The launching of MEMX is a testament to the market-wide demand for competition, innovation, and transparency,” Virtu CEO Douglas Cifu says in the press release.

MEMX would be owned in its entirety by the nine founding firms and aims to compete with existing exchanges while bringing value to the companies’ institutional and retail clients, MEMX says. The group claims the new exchange will rely on “a simple trading model” offering basic order types and “a simple, low-cost fee structure.”

"All types of investors could benefit from this simplified investing experience that will foster competition and promote practices that put the needs of investors first,” Steve Quirk, executive vice president of trading and education at TD Ameritrade, says in the press release.