Profit & Loss sat down with Javier Alvarado, Monex Casa de Bolsa CEO, and Eduardo Gomez, Subdirector of Operations for FX at Monex, to discuss the group’s acceptance by CLS as the first Mexican member firm. Javier Alvarado: Monex started 32 years ago and has evolved from a very small FX house into a bank with the biggest international payments for private companies in Mexico. Monex is a public company that has close to 20% market share of international private payments in Mexico, with a base of close to 70,000 active customers around the world, 45,000 of which are private corporates and companies in Mexico.
CoVenture operates a venture capital firm, a direct lending business, and CoVenture Crypto, a cryptocurrency asset management firm run by co-founders Ali Hamed and Nikhil Kalghatgi. CoVenture Crypto operates multiple strategies and is backed by a large, publicly traded financial institution. Ali Hamed: During my freshman year at Cornell, I launched a software startup, and after that I started doing Angel investing. I didn’t have the capacity to write anything larger than a $25,000 check at a time and would find that when I tried to invest in people, they'd say the money was great, but what they really needed was help building the product. That made us think about how ridiculous the venture capital business model is – where you put $50 million into a fund and give out $1 million at a time to kids who can code and hope they can start a company – it just made no sense to us.
Raj Sitlani, co-founder of IS Prime and managing director of ISAM Capital Markets, sat down with Profit & Loss in Shanghai to talk about the challenges associated with expanding into Asian FX markets and why technology remains the key differentiator for prime-of-primes.
Profit & Loss: So what’s your business focus in Asia?
Raj Sitlani: We have a large market share in Australia but, until recently, never truly had the manpower or the resources to crack the broader Asia market. However, there’s a very big opportunity in the region for us to provide our flagship product – which is a prime-of-prime service with aggregated FX liquidity – and so last year we set up a Hong Kong office through which we can build out our presence in North Asia and China.
Ian Battye, chief investment officer, currency, at Russell Investments, talks to Profit & Loss about the next steps for driving the adoption of the Global Code of Conduct within the FX industry.
Profit & Loss: The FX Global Code of Conduct has obviously been a big initiative within the industry, but how much do your clients – the asset owners – know about it?
Ian Battye: Perhaps a little disappointingly there isn’t a great knowledge of even its existence amongst asset owners. That’s why at the moment we’re trying to help create a level of awareness around the Code by explaining why we have signed up to it.
Profit & Loss talks to Zeus Shaikh, founder of Bear Shaikh, about the legal challenges associated with FX prime brokerage and how firms should be approaching blockchain technology.
Profit & Loss: You now run a “legal consulting firm”. What is that and how does it differ from a typical law firm?
Zeus Shaikh: At Bear Shaikh we’re looking to disrupt the way that financial services firms are serviced. Although there is some overlap between what we and law firms do, there are services that I offer that a law firm does not.
Profit & Loss talks to Tim McCourt, managing director and global head of equity products at CME, about why the Chicago exchange is planning to launch bitcoin futures before the end of the year.
Profit & Loss: So why has the CME decided to launch bitcoin futures?
Tim McCourt: We’re launching this futures contract off the back of customer demand. But a key thing for us is that this product isn’t necessarily something that’s new to the CME. We launched the Bitcoin Reference Rate a year ago, and so it makes very good sense – given the feedback and response that we’ve had from customers – that now is the right time to introduce a cash settled futures contract based on this index that tracks the bitcoin reference rate.
Profit & Loss talks to John Betts, CEO of Noble Bank International, about the demand for more innovation in FX and the potential impact of a shift towards real-time settlement.
John Betts: The fact that people are not just receptive to innovation but starting to demand it is a really good sign for the industry. I think previously everyone was too focused on the front office, but now there’s a recognition that the back office needs innovation too.
One challenge that I feel still exists, however, is that the back office is not something that’s very well understood, so when solutions are being proposed to back office problems it can be difficult for firms to distinguish between solutions that actually address these problems and ones that are shiny new objects that allow firms to tick an “innovation” box.
Profit & Loss talks to John Deters, chief strategy officer and head of multi-asset solutions at CBOE, about the potential for cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin to trade on regulated exchange platforms.
Profit & Loss: You recently announced a deal with Gemini to use its bitcoin market data to develop your own bitcoin derivatives and indices. What was the thinking behind this deal?
John Deters: We’ve been observing the evolution of the cryptocurrency space, and of bitcoin specifically, for some time. In parallel with that, we’ve been thinking about what sort of structures might work well for these products.
Terence Chabe, business development manager, Colt PrizmNet, and John Sullivan, head of Capital Markets USA, at Colt Technology Services talk to Profit & Loss about the challenges posed by Mifid II compliance.
Profit & Loss: Are you currently seeing a disparity between different market participants in terms of how ready they are for Mifid II?
Terence Chabe: The sell-side seems to be more ready for Mifid II, as they’ve made an investment to ensure compliance. It’s really on the buy-side where we see less preparation, and they might not necessarily have the same infrastructure or funds available to make sure that they’re compliant with some of the technical requirements of Mifid II.
Guy Debelle, deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia and chair of the FX Working Group responsible for producing the Global Code, discusses his hopes and ambitions for the much-awaited document with Colin Lambert.
Colin Lambert: May 25 sees the full Code released after two years of work, what is your message to the wider market that is seeing it in its entirety for the first time?
Guy Debelle: I would like to stress that this has very much been a public/private endeavour to move the FX market to a better place by providing guidance around what constitutes good practice.