Credit Agricle Indosuez (CAI) wants to be number one. The French bank has recently made a number of hires in London to bolstering its euro coverage, according to London-based FX manager Simon Eedle, and is also looking to strengthen its sales operations.
Steve Walker joined the bank as deputy chief dealer in charge of euro/dollar trading. Walker joined from UBS in London where he had a similar remit. Walker reports to Mark Clarke, CAI’s chief dealer.
“Steve will help strengthen the bank’s presence in the euro, which is key to our strategy as a European bank,” says Eedle. “We want to be number one in the three currency pairs: dollar/yen, euro/yen and euro/dollar.”
Eedle says Walker completes a mini-triumvirate, whereby chief dealer Clarke, who was among Eedle’s first hires in early 1996, handles dollar/yen; Walker will trade euro/dollar; and Phil Rands, who joined the bank in mid-1997 from Sumitomo, trades euro/yen.
“These are the three main currency pairs of the future,” says Eedle. “So it’s important to have the best traders in the business.”
In addition to Walker’s hire, the bank has reshuffled its euro traders among its major centres. Jan Souleyman, who was running the London euro book, has transferred to New York to run the business there. Stuart Rainsford, another euro trader, is now runing the Swiss franc section in London, concentrating on dollar/Swiss, where the bank has also seen a large increase in business.
“Speculative customers are showing a preference for the Swiss currency because it has a trading history,” says Eedle.
Meanwhile, CAI is also strengthening its presence in Tokyo. Stuart Walden, formerly number two on the yen desk in London, has transferred to Tokyo to be the chief yen trader. Additionally, Martin de Blocq van Scheltinga is looking after global customers in the Asian time zone from Tokyo. He was most recently with Nomura in London.
In answer to what Eedle says is a big pick-up in Commonwealth currencies, CAI has taken on two traders on this desk in order to support the increased customer flows he says CAI is seeing. Steve Pollard, previously of Lloyds Bank in London, has joined as an Aussie dollar trader. Pollard spent the past five years with Lloyds and before that, five with ANZ International.
Additionally, Mike Frankis joined from Scotiabank London where he ran the Canadian book for the past three years, to trade the loonie for CAI. Before Scotia, Frankis spent five years with the Royal Bank of Canada.
“The Commonwealth currencies have been picking up as people look for other currencies to trade and diversify following the launch of the euro,” Eedle adds.
In May, the bank hired Jorgen Olsson, a 10-year Citibank veteran, to run Nordic sales from London, where the bank last year concentrated its Scandi efforts. Olsson spent the past several years with Citi London, but prior to that he was based in Stockholm.
The move to London last year was part of the bank’s response to the rationalisation of the 11 European currencies that went into EMU. “Although we relocated trading to London, we have kept six sales dealers in Stockholm as part of our dual approach to trading in the centre and the region,” says Eedle.
Olsson’s role will be to coordinate all Scandinavian customer sales activities. He reports to Uwe Fuehrer, head of sales in London.
In addition to these local hires, the bank recently named Bassem Snaije as the new global head of FX for the bank. He succeeds Natalie Rachou, who left the bank after 20 years to start a private banking business. Snaije was the global head of FX for the former Caisse Nationale de Credit Agricole prior to its merger in 1996 with Banque Indosuez, but was most recently treasurer for the New York branch. He is transferring to Paris to assume the global post.
In a separate move, CAI’s global head of FX research, Arnaud Mares, left the bank to take a post at the European Central Bank. Mares’ appointment makes him the first non-central banker named to such a position, says Eedle.