FXCM has known its share of controversy in recent years and now the firm has been barred from operating in the US. Profit and Loss staff report on an issue that has triggered another round of introspection in the FX industry.
Just over two years after staving off bankruptcy due to losses resulting from the Swiss National Bank’s decision to unpeg the Swiss franc, FXCM has been forced to withdraw from operating in the US, changed its name and seen its two principals step down from the business.
The unravelling of FXCM has impacted across the FX industry with questions being asked around the effectiveness of self-regulation, how the Global Code of Conduct could deal with a repeat offence, and how the industry moves forward in an atmosphere of mistrust?
FXCM’s forced exit from the US leaves only two major retail OTC FX-focused brokerages in the market. Galen Stops talks to the CEOs of these firms about what this means for the industry.
“The retail foreign exchange market has suffered a less than exemplary reputation for some time now,” concedes Vatsa Narasimha, CEO of Oanda.
The latest blow to the industry’s reputation comes as the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and National Futures Association (NFA) concluded that FXCM had defrauded its US customers, ordering it to withdraw from doing business in the country and fining the firm and its founding partners a total of $7 million.
The FX industry has, by and large, been swift and united in its condemnation of the actions of FXCM, for which the firm was banned from the US and fined $7 million for defrauding FX customers.
But, as they say, there are always two sides to every story and so Profit & Loss has been talking to various market sources that provide different perspectives on this case. This is challenging because as part of the legal agreements between FXCM and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the firm neither denied nor admitted the allegations against it, and therefore cannot speak to the press about the issue.
A new paper uses trade repository data to forensically analyse the Swiss franc de-pegging and while Colin Lambert finds its conclusions are familiar, the paper offers other insights
The story is familiar to anyone in the foreign exchange business – on January 15, 2015, the Swiss National Bank shocked the markets with the announcement it was abandoning its Swiss franc ceiling to the euro at 1.2000. Chaos ensued as EUR/CHF collapsed over 40% before recovering sharply, after which the industry was left to rake over the ashes of what was to many a debacle.
Much has been made of the sharp drop in spot FX volumes in the recent BIS Turnover Survey, but, Colin Lambert asks, is what we are seeing merely a return to a longer term trend?
A regular theme in Profit & Loss over the past two years has been, since the traumatic events of January 15, 2015 around the Swiss franc peg, the return to relationship trading at the expense of the all-to-all model.
Analysis and data recently released by the Bank for International Settlements based upon its recent Triennial Central Bank Survey of FX Turnover appears to support the notion that the FX market is losing its infatuation with market share at all costs and is much more choosy about who it deals with.
As the FX jobs market becomes ever more competitive, Galen Stops talks to recruiters about the skill sets that firms will be looking for in 2017
As the FX industry continues to evolve, so too does the skill set that employers require and the roles that are available. For example, once upon a time it would have seemed inconceivable that vendors and ECNs would need liquidity managers. Now many of them employ people in a role similar to that of an e-trader, but instead of taking risk their job is to examine the liquidity available and help guarantee the efficiency of trading for clients and optimise P&L for their own company.
In recent years, the FX market has had to cope with some major spikes in volatility, forcing firms to adjust how they trade this market. The number of large market moves on the back of thin liquidity during unanticipated (and anticipated) market events seen last year – from SNB to Brexit to the US elections – raises the question whether there a need for a new “FX Playbook”.
Speaking at Profit & Loss Forex Network Chicago, Stephen Flanagan, executive director, global FX e-commerce risk manager at JP Morgan, highlighted how firms have made adjustments.
Colin Lambert has retrieved the trusty Profit & Loss Crystal Ball from the dark recesses of the office, given it a wipe, and peered into the future to produce 10 predictions for 2017.
There is little doubt that as an industry foreign exchange is a more optimistic place than it was just 12 months ago – and hopefully the majority of themes in this year’s Crystal Ball reflect a more upbeat message.
es, the coming year will not be without the challenges of legal battles that have dogged the industry for the past three years, but if nothing else the shock factor has worn off and most people see what is happening as the continuation of a long process.
In the interests of total transparency we also, as usual, cast our eye over last year’s predictions to see how they went. As always, these predictions will be viewed through rose-coloured spectacles to ensure we look as good as possible!
We kicked off last year’s predictions by suggesting the entire FX world would take a more realistic view of developments – that liquidity and spreads would reflect this thought process, and that market share would be a declining influence in business decisions.
It’s not necessarily that extracting alpha in FX has become harder, but rather that the way it needs to be extracted is changing, said panellists at Profit & Loss’ Forex Network Chicago conference.
Douglas Cilento, global head of execution at AQR, opened the discussion by point out that FX has traditionally been viewed as a good market for generating alpha because there is a large segment of non-profit seeking market participants, there are inefficiencies in the market and, because currency is not something that can be bought and held with the expectation of a return, it is effectively a market without beta.