P&L Report Card

For the second year in a row we are able to celebrate more clients coming around to the benefits of mobile trading – and for the second year in a row we cannot point to any new apps on the market! The obvious cause of this lack of discernible movement is likely to be the ubiquitous MiFID II, which, as we have already stated, dominated thinking and budgets last year.

Another factor may be – and we find this amazing in 2018 – some lingering doubts over the technology’s suitability and the control framework around it. After all, if a firm is still battling to come to terms with controlling its business activities in the office, as many still are – hence the control functionality being rushed out by banks – then it is inevitably that plans to use a mobile app will slide down the list of priorities.

This is understandable but short sighted, because given the control functionality available and the improved security around mobile devices, we feel the banking industry is missing a trick. For whilst mobile trading is in its relative infancy, who can recall misconduct involving off-site trading? Even the basic control frameworks that existed before the latest rush of functionality served the purpose well when dealing with off-desk trading.

The mobile apps are linked to the desktop so any trading, changing of orders or submitting of new orders is automatically registered, meaning a potential miscreant would have to cover their activity up across two platforms.

Even before mobile trading, someone could deal from home with an overseas office and it was perfectly acceptable – so why isn’t it with mobile? In the first case there was an extra human check – the trader in the offshore office who had to report the trade – but generally speaking the issues are the same.

While we have suggested the banking industry has failed, thus far, to grab the opportunity of mobile, two banks should be exempt from that, inevitably Citi and JP Morgan, both of which have excellent mobile apps, full of helpful functionality and easy to use. UBS came to the party last year and will build out the mobile functionality further, we also expect to see a development from BNP Paribas, which has the sort of product suite on Centric and Cortex that just screams “mobile”, to help empower their customers in their day-to-day work.

A third reason for the lack of releases in mobile products could be this year’s Eye on the Client mantra (we have one every year, sometimes you need to dig for them – this year you don’t!) “integrating with the clients’ workflow”. So much effort has been spent on delivering workflow solutions to the desktop that, along with MiFID, there was nothing left to spend on anything else.

We don’t think we are over-egging the pudding, but if we are to make a bold call it will be this – clients will demand mobile functionality in some shape or form, from the dealing desk to the back office, and the banks will need to provide it if they wish to remain relevant. Foreign exchange cannot live in isolation and so much else in life is done “on the go” why not trading and trade management?

We are hopeful then that the next year or two will see a raft of new products come to market, providing more choice. It is not so simple as delivering the desktop in scaled down version, but as the incumbents have already shown, it can be done and done very well. We are looking at a time when parts of a platform are delivered piecemeal to a client via third party channels, why should mobile not be one of those?

Winner – JP Morgan

The reality, when it comes to mobile, is that not a lot has changed over the past year. As noted, the challengers have not emerged to really take on Citi, or our winner JP Morgan, and in reality neither of those made a huge leap forward – mainly because both have excellent mobile offerings.

JP Morgan nicks the award again, however, thanks to user feedback that the execution experience is just that little bit better, and there is real value in a client being able to use the flexible, innovative Algo Central to create strategies, and then manage them on the go.

The cross asset market monitor on JPM’s mobile device, remains popular, allowing as it does, users to monitor markets across FX, fixed income, commodities, futures, securitised products and equities. We also like the look of the screen and how it is easy to move around, especially for a manager trying to monitor a business while on the move.

Although tablets have largely been forgotten (we wonder if this will change if clients do start using algos more where they will need the analytics functionality?), it is worth recalling that JP Morgan delivers content alongside pricing.

Trading is on a very clean, scaled down dealing panel, and users are also able to manage orders on the device as well as link orders to the bank’s suite of execution tools. Ensuring that the travelling client can effectively manage their business, any orders placed on the desktop are visible on the mobile, meaning even if they didn’t want to have trading “live”, managers could monitor activity.

Over the past year the bank has strengthened some of the security aspects of its offering, not so much in defensive terms, but more to provide flexibility for the user in logging on. The facial recognition technology is still there, as is the fingerprint login and the bank also made a QR code available so a user can login from their desktop as a last action before leaving.

More currency pairs were added over the last year, and the full commodities suite of products is available with an increasing proportion of them available for trading where allowed. The alerts functionality remains excellent, all of which makes for a more comfortable client experience. As suggested, we fully expect more clients to adopt mobile trading, and if they do, JP Morgan’s mobile app is a great place to start.

Galen Stops

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