Days after being confirmed as the next President of ACI – The Financial Markets Association, Kim Winding Larsen talks to Colin Lambert about the job facing him and what he wants to achieve in his new role.

Colin Lambert: You have been involved with ACI FMA – and Danske Bank – for a long time; when did your association start?

Kim Winding Larsen: I have been with Danske Bank Group all my working life, starting in 1980. I moved into financial markets in 1987 and was appointed chief dealer in 1992. Since then I have been involved in the management of various parts of Danske’s FIC business in Denmark and abroad for our International banking division. During the last years I have been working on the business’ transition under MiFID II and into the new European benchmark regime. Most recently I worked on the new Risk Free Rate project in Denmark.

As far as ACI is concerned, I joined the association at the same time as I moved into the Markets business at Danske and my first serious involvement was in 1990 when I headed up the Danish Money Market and Rate Group in Danske Bank Markets – I did that until 2006. I was appointed chair of the Education Board of ACI Forex Danmark in 1997 and in 2001 I became president of the National Association in Denmark. I have been president for 18 years and will be succeeded at the association’s next general assembly on September 19. I also served as president of ACI Europe from 2017 – 2018.

CL: Having known you personally for many years I know how much education means to you, how did you get into that side of ACI’s work?

KWL: Svend Rostrup, who was president until 2001 of what was Forex Club Danmark as it was known from its establishment in 1957, wanted to have an education committee with younger leaders and I was asked to head that committee from 1997. The idea was to develop our education set up because at that time most of the educational efforts were aimed at more senior people in the industry and involved events with other Nordic associations. We wanted to establish a broad ACI education framework for all levels of the Scandinavian market, with different models, that could work closely with ACI’s headquarters in Paris.

CL: It’s certainly been successful, I can recall a time when Denmark led the way in terms of ACI’s examination suite.

Our education programme has been hugely successful in Denmark thanks to the hard work of so many people and yes, I think at one stage we were the biggest ACI education programme in the world – one year we ran 12 educational courses, which is a big effort. Since the start of the new education programme back in 1997 more than 1500 members have passed one of our ACI exams in Denmark. We were also an early adopter back in 2003 of the ACI Australia Dealing Simulation Course as you know and that has been – and continues to be – a great success because we are able to promote awareness of our other educational efforts and tools such as the Dealing and Operations Certificate and the ACI Diploma.

This also helped us demonstrate to senior managers at the banks in the region the real value ACI can offer beyond the traditional networking, we were able to demonstrate that we could put on a lot of educational events and a lot of seminars – it helped us treble our membership in Denmark in just six years leading up to the Global Financial Crisis.

CL: So looking at your coming role as president-delegate of ACI FMA, what are you hoping to bring to the table?

KWL: The core ethos of ACI FMA – conduct, education and networking will remain in place, they are still the backbone of our organisation, but we can possibly add to these. I would like ACI to be more visible and have a louder voice in developing the financial markets of the future and that means being available to join more working groups and having a presence on the committees that will shape the future of the industry. We are the voice of our members and we want to make sure that voice is heard – it is vital that ACI is heavily involved in evolving our industry.

During my long career I have been a keen participant in various financial markets working groups covering everything from FX, money markets, bonds, repos and the regulatory arena. After the new FX Global Code was introduced the Scandinavian central banks along with market participants established the Scandinavian FX Committee and I was invited to join.

We had one of my predecessors, Marshall Bailey, and ACI’s Committee for Professionalism chair David Woolcock on the Global FX Committee that developed the FX Global Code, if plans for a global money markets code do go ahead for instance this is a good example of where I would like ACI to be a strong contributor. To do this we need to have a very strong profile and use all communications channels to get our message and our ethos out.

I also think it is important that ACI evolves with the markets, so we need to look at developing our international programme to reflect that change – and that probably means a lot of different areas that traditionally ACI has not looked at that hard such as cryptocurrencies and the fintech area.

CL: Beyond the outreach programme what about ACI’s members?

KWL: The first priority is to support our members and the 61 national associations as they seek to navigate this changing industry – and we can do that by reinforcing what we can offer in terms of education services around the Global Code, benchmarks and new codes. There should be value in being an ACI member, so I want to ensure we deliver that value to our members so they can do their job with the support they need.

Our members’ managements have expectations and we can help them meet those – largely this is ongoing work but we can accelerate it is some areas.

CL: Can you expand on that?

KWL: The key to it will be ELAC, our training and certification portal. ELAC has started to accelerate nicely over the last couple of years and we want to maintain the momentum. We are getting some really good feedback about the benefits and banks’ compliance and oversight teams really like it because it helps them maintain a good understanding of how well their people are in line with the Code’s and the institution’s requirements – for example through peer analysis. People like how it is scalable so as the FX Global Code evolves, and new codes and regulatory content are introduced perhaps, ELAC can be updated to ensure it remains relevant and up-to-date. It is relatively unique and we can build further on it to make it a truly fantastic tool for any financial markets business. Besides the FX Global Code our ELAC portal today also includes the UK Money Markets Code and the Precious Metals Code, but we can add to these.

I want to develop ELAC into a broader educational resource that our ACI members can go to and extract knowledge – we need to help our members by giving them this type of information around regulations etc, to ensure they are fully informed of what’s required of them. This type of programme is more important now than I think it ever has been given the speed at which regulation and technology is moving.

So adding, for example, a MiFID II module to ELAC, or one on the new global money markets code if it emerges, will really help our members who will be able to leverage the ELAC offering beyond the Global Code and into specific areas of regulation. There are a large – and growing – number of regulations out there, it is important we help our members keep abreast of them and what is required of them under those rules or guidelines.

CL: ELAC was developed for the FX Global Code as you mentioned there, what are your thoughts about the Code itself and how that is evolving? 

KWL: The FX Global Code is a document that has the potential to transform the market. Yes, take up was a little slow to start with but people forget market participants also had to implement MiFID II at the same time and regulation takes precedence over a voluntary code. Now that MiFID II is in place, we are seeing a surge in interest and take up of the Code and I think that will continue in the future.

We understand there is a need to raise the profile of the Code amongst the buy side and ACI will help in this – not only through our membership of various local FX committees but amongst our members in markets that don’t have an FXC. I am confident the Code will gain greater traction, it is a matter of time, effort and education, and ACI can leverage its global footprint to help. We have already held a great number of seminars in local markets to help educate and raise awareness of the Code and we will continue to do so – we fully support the Code and the principles it stands for.

We needed the Code because the DNA of strong, robust financial markets is good conduct and a framework within which everyone can work and understand the boundaries. We need good and fair guidelines.

The first three-year review of the Code is due in the new year, I want ACI to play a part in that by providing feedback on areas that we think need review. I also want our voice to be heard when discussion turns to shadow banking and fintech firms moving into financial services as principals – we should be contributing to all of this as one of the strongest associations in financial markets.

I also think that we can look at the syllabi for our examination suite with a view to updating our exams, for example by incorporating more of the Global Code and other regulations into them – these are a much bigger part of our members’ daily work life than they were when the exam suites were last updated. We will look at creating additional modules to complement the existing exams – perhaps that people can add or take away depending upon their requirements and local regulations.

CL: Finally, what are your hopes and ambitions for your time in the role?

KWL: I want to evolve ACI in line with changes in financial markets, we should not be afraid of change. ACI FMA has strong foundations that I want to build on. I am very happy that Rui Correia is going to be working with me, he is a very strong education director, I think it is a good set up and we will work well with each other and be very successful.

My plan is to spend the next two-to-three months consulting with our national associations and members and analysing the current structure of the international organisations. I will then develop and start to execute a strategy to provide direction for the organisation going forward, working with the ACI’s Council and Management Board to update the ACI platform and ensure it remains relevant and evolves with financial markets.

We must be proactive in our approach if we are to succeed – and that is my real ambition. I want to leave ACI FMA, whenever I do leave this post, in a stronger position than when I took on the job.

I look forward to my new role as President of ACI FMA.

Colin Lambert

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