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And Finally…

Rather than complain endlessly about the
extra work I have given myself by presenting these accolades – the Irrationals
– instead of just shutting up shop on December 1 like most sensible people, I
would in all seriousness like to thank those of you that have communicated your
appreciation of this little segment. Thankfully all of you have recognised the
spirit in which they are presented and many have contributed…and of course in
the spirit of democracy and freedom I took the opportunity to ignore your
suggestions!

Which neatly brings us to deciding And Finally’s Person of the Year.

This has taxed me somewhat because I was
torn between giving it to someone who has given me most cause to rant like a
madman (with the correct argument of course!), or someone who has been a big
part of the structural change I spend so much time writing about.

If it was the former I was unlikely to look
beyond the esteemed Professor Darrell Duffie, a bright, no doubt personable and
clearly very intellectual man – with whom I appear to disagree about
everything! As someone who likes to let off a little steam every now and again,
this is a valuable source of material.

Equally, I could have gone for one of the
sadly several people who have, to use the football parlance, “brought the
market into disrepute”, but then why give them an accolade? Even if they are
proven innocent by law, those people in the transcripts issued by the FCA and
CFTC were doing the wrong thing – and everyone in the business knows it,
including them. So while they have provided column inches, it is for the wrong
reason.

Thus I have decided to end the year on a
positive note with the wish that the positivity extends to you all for the
coming year.

I have to confess at one stage I was
considering giving it to the subject of my favourite story of the year – the
pioneering robot Clack
– but I decided that in spite of the remarkable
story around the machine, it was just that and as such cannot qualify for “person”
of the year.

Thankfully, in spite of the actions of a
few dragging the name of the FX market through the mud, there are many good,
decent, hard-working people in this business. Their story will never be told
and they will not be highlighted by the media, but the stigma attached to being
a part of the FX industry will stick to them – it’s the way it goes I’m afraid.

I think we all know it is a challenging
time to be in FX for a lot of people, as achieving success means jumping
through a lot more hoops than it used to, but I am still impressed by the
positive approach taken by so many.

When considering this accolade (and I would
very much like to think that it would be taken as an accolade – there is no
“irrational” about this) I was then torn between going for someone at the head
of a business or institution, or someone who epitomises what I have just
described – the person who just gets on with the job and helps people around
them, the ultimate professional.

The problem with the latter would be who to
pick? There are so many. I thought about some of our Hall of Famers, after all,
people like Claudia Jury, Jack Linker, Fulinda Malone-Rouse and Vince
O’Sullivan (to name just four from the past few years) are the epitome of that
description, professional. But to pick one would be unfair, and besides, the
spirit of this column is very much to take a stance and stick by it (remember
the motto, “sometimes right, sometimes wrong…always certain!)

There are, no doubt, some people at CEO
level who deserve this, but I suspect the jury is still out on the success or
otherwise of the moves being made by various firms (and of course it’s bonus
time, they could soon be very unpopular!) The industry is in a state of flux
and as such, picking a successful CEO is a tricky process….besides they are much
more successful than me, earn a lot more money than me and are probably(!)
better looking than me, so jealousy prevents them being named.

All of which leaves me with my decision
(who probably also fulfils the above criteria, but if I barred everyone who was
better than me it would be a very narrow field).

And
Finally
’s Person of the Year is Guy Debelle who has
been tasked by the world’s authorities with a great deal of the tricky overhaul
work.

Debelle started the year by following up on
the work conducted last year into benchmark reform – not least by ensuring the
message to the FX industry was clear – these are recommendations, but you are
expected to adhere to them.
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He will be the first to point out he has a
committee of people who do the work with/for him and all are giving up their time
for no commercial gain (business wise or individually) in the interests of
making our industry safer and less vulnerable to the inevitable bad apple. That
said, someone has to stand up and represent this collective effort and Guy
Debelle is that person.

It is not only about the benchmark work,
however, for when the global code of conduct was first mooted within the walls
of the powers that be, they turned again to Debelle to chair that working
group.

Talking to people who have interacted with
him, as indeed I
have myself
on occasions, the message is the same. Here is a person who
understands what makes the industry tick, would prefer a light touch approach,
but who is equally willing to impose harsher restrictions if the industry
doesn’t meet the required standards.

He talks in language people can understand
and his agenda is to make markets better, not, as some US regulators’ agenda
seems to be, to launch a political career.

Over the past 10 years I have railed
against how people use benchmarks, so benchmark reform was/is close to my heart
and has fed many a column. I was going to argue that I don’t believe we have
the final solution when it comes to the Fix but then thinking it through it
struck me that we actually do. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the FX
Benchmark Group’s recommendations and the new framework – they deliver a
working and, importantly, fair, process.

The true final solution is, as far as I am
concerned, that users of the Fix stop doing so on such a huge scale at one
point in time, and use the recommendations and framework to benchmark their
execution at other times. If nothing else, the work of this committee has opened
peoples’ eyes to the possibilities of algo execution – another long-term
favourite of this column – and that can only be a good thing.

The big issue for the industry – and Guy
Debelle’s group – is, however, conduct.

As an issue it became much bigger when sacked
traders started winning unfair dismissal cases against their former employers.
This has done much to highlight the several grey areas that existed and to a
degree still exist in the FX industry. Under Debelle the global code of conduct
will be produced, in part to overlay existing codes, but also to clarify some of
those grey areas.

The work is ongoing so I would urge as many
of you as possible to provide feedback and suggestions to the group – there
will be a member near you! This is especially important around the subject of
who will maintain the code? Once produced it will serve a purpose and can be
enforced at local and regional level, but there is still the question of who
ensures it remains fit for purpose, especially in an industry as dynamic and
innovative as FX.

The big issues for 2015, and indeed they
are likely to be so for 2016, are conduct related. Part of the reform process
has been put in place but there is much more to be done and as an industry we
are lucky that someone who “gets it” and who is open to ideas and feedback is
running the process (he also has a “day job” at the Reserve Bank of
Australia!).

The FX market has been at the eye of the
storm when it comes to conduct and the reform process is critical – Guy Debelle
stands at the heart of that process and as an industry we need to have a
solution that is both effective and workable, therefore we are, to a degree, in his hands.

Industry reform and structural change have
been key and recurrent themes of this column over the years and they will
continue to be so in 2016, so expect to read more of my thoughts on these
issues, but on a broader note, expect to hear a lot more from Guy Debelle in
2016 as the process advances.

I will leave it up to readers to decide who
makes the more pertinent and lasting contribution!

On which note, my thanks to all who have
contributed over the past year in the form of feedback (both positive and
negative as always) as well as ideas for columns. I hope to hear from even more
of you in 2016, the door (email, text, chat, whatever…) is always open as our
industry continues to reshape itself.

I wish you all a very happy and prosperous
2016.

Colin_lambert@profit-loss.com  Twitter @lamboPnL    

Colin Lambert

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