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.
David Mercer, CEO of LMAX Exchange, talks to Galen Stops, deputy editor of Profit & Loss, about why FinTechs are enablers rather than disruptors of the FX market.
The world “disruption” is often applied to FinTech firms, yet Mercer argues that in FX the role of these firms is not to disrupt but to enable the growth of the market.
“We’re trying to enable the industry to operate more efficiently and more fairly. Other people put that disruption word around companies like LMAX Exchange but the FX market is the biggest asset class in the world, it doesn’t really need disrupting, it needs to grow and it needs to be enabled to allow it to grow.
Rick Schonberg, global head of product for trading and clearing and the North American head of trading solutions at Currenex, talks to Galen Stops, deputy editor at Profit & Loss, about the launch of X2 trading platform.
“In some ways it’s easier and in some ways it’s harder,” explains Schonberg, who describes the number of execution choices available to these traders as “mind numbing”.
He says that many institutional clients, such as corporate treasurers, used to trade FX by doing what was effectively a telephone request for quotes (RFQ) to a handful of banks and then automating that into a GUI on a multi-bank platform
Franck Mikulecz, managing director of FXCH, talks to Galen Stops, deputy editor of Profit & Loss, about how blockchain technology can help mitigate some of the credit challenges facing the FX industry.
With blockchain, or distributed ledger technology, still being so new to financial services, Mikulecz claims that banks are still trying to figure out the most effective way to deploy this technology.
“I can see a lot of banks have an interest because they know that the market will evolve and the market will potentially be disrupted by the technology but they don’t really know how it’s going to happen and they don’t really know how to use it themselves.
Giovanni Pillitteri, global head of foreign exchange trading at GTS Securities, talks to Profit & Loss deputy editor, Galen Stops, about how his firm takes a holistic view of financial markets in order to build effective FX strategies.
In recent years there has been a well-documented trend of non-bank market makers expanding out of their traditional core equities business to trade FX. GTS Securities is one such firm, with Pillitteri explaining how its equities expertise can help inform and improve its FX strategies.
“We look at the various asset classes in a very holistic way and there are multiple strategies that we have that has correlations between FX and equities,” he says.
Carlo Koelzer CEO of 360T and global head of FX at Deutsche Börse Group, talks to Galen Stops, deputy editor at Profit & Loss, about his plans for building a central limit order book and why central clearing is now a viable method for alleviating credit risk in FX.
Following its acquisition by Deutsche Börse Group last year, 360T informed its clients that it planned to add a central limit order book (CLOB) and futures trading functionality to its platform.
Alex Dunegan, founder and CEO of Lumint, talks to Profit & Loss deputy editor, Galen Stops, about the challenges facing the buy side around selecting and evaluating benchmarks.
The WMR benchmark has come under severe scrutiny since the allegations that banks colluded to manipulate it, leading to changes in the way that the benchmark is calculated and questions from buy side firms about whether they should be using it at all.
Dunegan claims that this is a “critical” question, and provides his take on the answer.