And Finally…

Two laudatory columns in a week – I must be going soft…

The best thing about writing a column is that, within reason, I get to set the agenda, therefore I am choosing today, July 1, to mark 20 years of Profit & Loss. Obviously the company was formed beforehand and the actual articles that populated the first issue of the magazine were written well before this day, but Issue 1/1 of P&L was the July 1999 publication and therefore this day is as good as any to represent our 20thanniversary.

Julie Ros took what was a pretty big step into the unknown all those years ago by launching an FX publication, especially, as she observed in her welcome note in that first issue, FX was widely seen as a contracting business. Aside from the fact that in 1998, global FX turnover was $1.5 trillion per day ($600 billion in spot) and last year the UK alone handled $2.6 trillion and $775 billion per day – and therefore has anything but contracted –  Julie’s vision was a magazine “that addresses the changes taking place in the industry”. In other words, the actual level of activity in the market was fairly irrelevant at least in terms of content. P&L was launched as – and continues to be – a market structure publication.

I obviously wasn’t part of the P&L team at the time of the first issue of course, but that won’t stop me opining about some of the issues in it! Actually I do have a loose connection with the inaugural P&L, because one of the news stories was about MCM signing a deal with Tibco for its research publishing technology and I was actually at MCM at that time and remember the changeover – small world!

Two things stand out to me from Issue 1/1, the first being there was a tremendous amount happening in the third party research industry – since when that field has contracted and, more recently, started to expand again thanks in some part to MiFID II. The second is that clearly the industry was on the cusp of the great age of innovation; there were a lot of stories about small firms – today they would be called fintechs of course – coming to market with interesting ideas regarding making FX more efficient beyond the trade.

There was also good insight, in particular a feature about how the interbank market was dead and that customers would soon have access to the core market mechanisms such as Reuters Matching and EBS. It is actually quite fascinating to read those stories through a modern prism, we have become so accustomed to a democratised FX market that it is easy to forget that just 20 years ago creating such a structure was a big, and controversial, issue.

Some things don’t change, however, with the magazine being launched to coincide with the World Congress of ACI – The Financial Markets Association in Milan it carried an in-depth interview with then president of the Association Heering Ligthart who observed that ACI was “not particularly good at marketing itself”. Yes, I know this is perhaps unnecessarily controversial in a positive column, but all I can say is, plus ça change!

It is testament to Julie’s passion for the industry (and perhaps the odd Margarita) that she remains so enthusiastic and inspirational. The ideas never stop coming and her network highlights the regard in which she is held in the industry. I joined P&L almost 18 years ago having never been a journalist and having only a passing knowledge of writing anything that could be considered “weighty” but Julie took me under her wing (put up with the endless chatter!) and taught me how to go about my business. The aforementioned standing in the industry is important to her, and she made sure that I understood that and did nothing to undermine the high reputation that P&L had, and, I hope, still has today – I couldn’t have learnt from a better person.

There have been many people go through the doors of P&L over the 20 years and all have contributed in some way to its success. Julie Ros stands at the centre, however – P&L is her baby – and I consider it a privilege to have been able to share with her the past 18 years writing and talking about the industry I love – and I look forward to many more. There have been too many great moments to share here, but if I had to pick one it would have to be one of the working lunches we had when coming up with conference agendas – OK not all panel ideas and titles worked over the years but there were some genius moments – and she knows the one I am thinking about!

So, congratulations Julie, here’s to many more years informing and entertaining the FX industry, on which latter note, I feel I ought to caution anyone new to the world of P&L, if you hear the words “woo-hoo!” be prepared to move very quickly!

Twitter @lamboPnL

Colin Lambert

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