It is quite remarkable to note that JP Morgan is the only bank to win this award since we first unveiled it in 2012, but that is testimony to both the early vision of the developers, the courage of the bank to maintain the service while people fretted about the control framework (which of course it had in hand), and the commitment to enhance the product every year.
In the past there has been one serious challenger to the crown in Citi, others have flirted with the idea but few have stepped up, however last year saw, as we noted earlier, Morgan Stanley unveil its excellent mobile offering.
All the better then that JPM did not rest on its laurels, for it has been another strong year for an already excellent mobile offering. We continue to hear great things about the execution experience on JPM’s mobile app, but last year the bank took a significant step forward in providing what is undoubtedly only the start of a truly multiasset class experience on mobile.
Base metals trading and base metals orders were added to the app and work is approaching culmination on adding US Treasuries orders, both single and multi-leg as well as other commodities-based orders.
In FX terms, algo and basic market orders as well as ‘tap to trade’ functionality is available on the mobile, as is a vols grid and charting. Grouped, or linked, orders have long been a favourite of users of the mobile app, as is the market monitor. The bank’s real time trade commentary discussed earlier in the Best Execution Award is also available on the mobile app, thus enriching the experience even further and bringing desktop and mobile closer together.
Interestingly, last year the bank reverted to the early days of mobile trading by reintroducing ‘tap to trade’ on the iPad version of the app. In recent years banks have worried themselves less about the larger tablet, preferring to focus on phonebased apps, but the iPad does remain in use, especially in business meetings, and therefore it would seem to make sense to have trading capabilities on this device.
Somehow, the FX world seemed to largely ignore how society generally condensed down into a small hand-held device, but with everyday tasks now routinely handled on the go it seems inevitable that more trading will be executed on mobile devices. Yes we understand the security risks that sceptics repeatedly bring up but control functionality is available and if used properly will minimise these risks.
It could be easy to see the FX industry as a Luddite when it comes to mobile trading, but luckily it has a trailblazer in JP Morgan. Mobile trading volumes are going up significantly and more influential clients are looking at the mechanism. In that environment, JP Morgan remains best placed to reap the rewards of its hard work of the past eight years.
Much of the detail around the excellent Algo Central from JP Morgan has been discussed in the Best Execution Award, but that prize is about much more than just algos. That being the case, Algo Central has to be recognised as a product that stands ahead of its peers.
We have discussed for several years the major obstacle to algo execution growth amongst clients in disenfranchisement, well Algo Central is the remedy for that. The ability to take a parent order, and allocate percentages across different strategies, that can run simultaneously or at staged intervals, with the ability to interact with the order ‘on the fly’ takes the algo offering to a new level.
The pre-trade and in-trade analytics package is, as discussed, superb, and importantly the market colour offers more than just the standard ECN view of the world as JP Morgan internal flows are also incorporated in the data. A streaming price offers the perfect ‘get out of jail free’ card, making it a quicker process to execute the balance of the trade.
Algo Central is a triumph of a product and like so many products that have changed the game over the years that we have seen, it has been met with some scepticism (mostly by competitors it has to be said, not clients). That scepticism is misplaced, because sophisticated clients want more control and information at their fingertips and Algo Central gives them that.
We would confidently predict that JP Morgan has, in Algo Central, given the FX world a preview of how that world will look in just a couple of years’ time – it is tomorrow’s product today.
Again looking at the second ‘C’ in FICC, we cannot ignore the sheer scale and excellence of JP Morgan’s commodities offering. Last year we were almost overwhelmed by the number of products on offer, and we are here to tell you that this year is no different!
The bank has added product types to its suite, such as a specific Cocoa Arb ticket that auto-hedges the currency, which is a nice confluence of FX and commodities that would not have been possible just a few years ago. It has also seriously expanded its energy suite of products to include offexchange outrights (available in multiple currencies), cleared futures, gasoil cracks and Brent NRA (non roll adjust).
It has also extended the tenors in which it quotes precious metals to three years, introduced customisable fixing date functionality and, as noted, added several base metals products to the mobile application. JPM has also broadened its index offering and now streams over 125 of them, as well as introduced limit and TWAP orders on indices.
As part of an enhanced post-trade experience it has made the blotter more flexible to allow date and currency adjustments, splits, aggregation and allocations, it has also delivered partial fill aggregation.
The sheer scale of the JP Morgan commodity offering belies the theory in some quarters that there is little value in commodities, for the bank would not be investing the resources it clearly is in this business if it were not successful. Given the sheer scope of the commodities markets we are loathe to say that this represents the complete solution, but it is easily the closest there is.