Rosario Ingargiola, founder and CEO of OTCXN, argues that accessing wholesale liquidity is one of the biggest challenges in the FX market today that could be alleviated by fintech solutions.
Speaking about different approaches to the FX market by fintech firms, Ingargiola says that one strategy is to look at areas where new technologies can reduce costs in terms of how firms operate and another – which he says OTCXN is pursuing – is to use technology to change the way that firms operate altogether.
The area where he sees the biggest opportunity to change the way that firms operate using fintech solutions is around using credit to access the FX market.
Despite two years of intensive work to produce the FX Global Code of Conduct, Chip Lowry, senior managing director at State Street Global Markets and chairman of the Foreign Exchange Professionals Association (FXPA), warns that the hard work in terms of adherence to the Code is just beginning.
Having just participated in a panel at Forex Network New York discussing the implementation of the Code, Lowry comments: “It took two years to get to this point with the Code, and that’s been a lot of work. But I think that one of the things that came out on the panel was: now the hard work begins.”
As buy-side workflows are becoming complex, these firms are looking for ways to simplify how they view and manage them, claims Basu Choudhury, business intelligence, Nex Traiana.
He says that, whereas in the past buy side firms used to probably have only one prime broker (PB), today they might have four or five prime brokers, or even have bilateral relationships. Further, when they execute they might do so via an anonymous venues or they might trade against another buy side firm that is using a prime broker.
“So what we’re seeing and hearing is that they want a single panel where they can see their PB relationships and bilateral, and even clearing at some point within one dashboard, one platform, where they can manage the matching, [confirmations] and settlements,” he says.
Although Dmitri Galinov, CEO of FastMatch, defends the controversial practice of last look in FX, he also claims that it will be eliminated within the next two years.
Explaining why last look has become such a hotly debated topic within the FX industry, Galinov explains that it is “a valuable tool” that enables liquidity providers to quote tighter prices to their customers.
The problem, as he puts it, is that “consumers want tighter prices but they don’t want last look”. For now, however, the two appear to be mutually exclusive, which is why this is a difficult issue for the industry to solve.
A more volatile trading environment is exposing a segment of businesses that are currently being under-served by FX service providers, claims Moises Michan, a managing partner at Tanridge Capital.
“I think that when you start looking into these higher volatility environments is when you start having treasurers and heads of family offices realising that they’re not FX experts, there’s a lot of mechanics a lot of input going into the FX market, and they do have exposures,” he says.
Michan says that Tanridge capital is focusing its efforts on providing FX asset management services for small to medium sized institutions that don’t meet the client requirements of the big banks.
Speaking at Profit & Loss’ Forex Network London, Paul Chappell, CIO of buy side firm C-View, explained how liquidity trends are being negatively impacted by the Fix scandal.
In a featured new segment introduced at Profit & Loss’ Forex Network London called BURSTS, Paul Chappell, CIO of buy side firm C-View, sought to explain liquidity trends in the FX market in the context of the recent scandals that have plagued the industry.
In this TED Talks-styled presentation, Chappell sought to address why there are, in his opinion, only a few genuine market makers left in the FX market that everyone else prices off, and why currency managers have seen their returns significantly reduced.
Following the sterling flash crash last year there has been much industry debate about what the increasingly regularity and severity of these events means for FX market participants and whether anything can be done to prevent or mitigate their impact in the future.
According to Neil Crammond, risk manager for FX at Avem Capital, part of the reason why these flash events are occurring is simply that markets aren’t used to the levels of volatility that used to exist prior to the financial crisis and the implementation of quantitative easing by a number of central banks.
“I think that the problem with the modern FX market is that pre-2008 if you came in every day and someone said to you that “we’re going to have a 300 tick move in the cable every day”, you’d trade according to that,” he says.
As access to credit has becoming increasingly constrained in the FX market, Noel Singh head of e-FX business development at Sucden Financial, explains that this is only factor at play in the evolving prime services space.
Questioned on the new credit reality in FX markets, Singh responded: “I think credit is only one aspect of the story and I think that post-SNB, when the top tier prime brokers lost money because their clients couldn’t make good the losses, that started it, but I think it’s now the concept of how much is the wallet worth to the prime broker.”
One of the key questions surrounding FX Global Code of Conduct, of which the second part is due to be released on May 25, is whether it would have actually prevented the scandals that have dogged the FX industry in recent years.
Brigid Taylor, global managing director of ACI, argues that it would have.
“In financial markets people say: talk is cheap but my word is my bond. So if I say that I’m going to do something then I need to understand what that means, I need to understand how to apply that knowledge and then I need to do it,” says Taylor, adding that this knowledge ensures accountability.
Isaac Lieberman, CEO of Aston Capital Management, talks to Profit & Loss deputy editor, Galen Stops, why it’s hard to find uncorrelated markets to trade right now.
“Volatility is very compressed right now because there’s a lot of central bank activity and markets are very highly correlated,” says Lieberman.
He adds that the FX market needs a “theme” that will cause it to break away from other markets, but that in the meantime “we’re certainly waiting for volatility to return”.
Lieberman says it’s become very hard to find uncorrelated markets, with equities, rates and FX all trading in unison and therefore dampening volatility. One reason for these correlations is the lack of interest differentials, but he also highlights central bank intervention as another factor that is causing this.