And Another Thing…

The news this week that the US government has failed to prosecute another FX trader is yet another indication of both the eagerness of the authorities there to have a “head” to represent the general misconduct of bankers, as well as those same authorities’ lack of understanding as to how the FX market works. In this case, as well as that of Mark Johnson, there is more than enough evidence to indicate the "customer" knew perfectly well how the FX market operates and therefore were most definitely not "victims".
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And Finally…

What can only be described as a frisson of excitement ran through the FX market in London last week when word spread of former Barclays head of automated trading services David Fotheringhame launching a new website that – and this is putting it delicately – analyses the bank’s response to a fine imposed on its FX business in 2015 for what was found to be a too liberal use of last look. Fotheringhame won an unfair dismissal claim against the bank last year, however Barclays defied the employment tribunal’s edict to reemploy him, resulting in a second hearing this year at which he was awarded nearly £1 million.
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And Another Thing…

Today’s column comes with an apology to Labradors the world over – proof that my readership is made up of nothing if not animal lovers. Away from the unintended slight on man’s best friend, I am bothered by yet another example of what I consider to be weak operational practice. Technology, data and analytics are all good, but they can’t be left to their own devices – someone has to “own” them and either monitor them adequately or take responsibility when things go wrong.
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And Finally..

To channel my inner Shakespeare, “to re-paper or not re-paper – that is the question”. I could continue with something like, “whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to stand by the price and wear the loss, or run crying to the authorities and try to get it cancelled” but that kind of loses poetic effect. Anyway, what I want to say is why do markets let people get away with rank stupidity and lack of operational discipline by letting them re-paper trades?
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And Another Thing…

I know I have floated ideas around this issue before, but do we need to do more about that hour after the New York close than just talk about it? Flash events are starting to occur a little too frequently in FX markets for some peoples’ liking, so what can we do about it? Actually I think we can do quite a lot – or at least it would be a lot if all the noise around data capabilities isn’t just that – noise.
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And Finally..

I have always been someone who has, in FX trading at least, looked at certain firms’ desperation to shave another millisecond off round trip times with some despair and no little disdain. Obviously trading has got faster, that is inevitable in such a technologically-innovative era, but I have always looked at the speed issue single dimensionally – it was about people with a technology advantage exploiting it. I wonder, though, whether circumstances are pointing in the direction of a new effort to shave time off the trading process?
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And Another Thing…

What is it that infected so many of the banks’ FX businesses at the end of 2013 that led to so many bad decisions being made? Was it a lack of focus, courage, or even sheer panic that underpinned the decision to roll over on legal actions brought by customers, but at the same time stand firm and fight unfair dismissal cases brought about by their own staff? The question emerges because the stakes have been raised when it comes to unfair dismissals thanks to the awarding of £1.2 million to former RBC FX trader John Banerjee to compensate him for loss of earnings.
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And Finally…

The survey published last week by JP Morgan had liquidity as its customers’ number one concern, which, as P&L’s editor Galen Stops and I observe in this week’s podcast, kind of gives lie to the regular protestations from speakers at events that FX liquidity is plentiful. Some of the reasons for liquidity thinning out, people trying to jump on a trend for example, are understandable, but there is one that interests me - and that is the impact of best execution policies.
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And Another Thing…

Aside from what one news service decided was the headline – more like click bait – “FX Volumes Slump Globally” (guess what, yes, there was a dip from April, but on a more considered year-on-year basis FX turnover is up 8.9% at the third highest mark ever), there were actually a few interesting snippets in this week’s FX committee surveys. The two that stood out for me were the surge in RMB trading and a quite remarkable resurgence for the voice brokers in the UK.
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And Finally…

The communications channels have been buzzing following Thursday's column about banks taking more risk in their FICC businesses - especially FX - and some really good points were made by correspondents. But while there was general agreement that more risk-takers would benefit the broader industry, my correspondents and I diverged on a key point. To me this is not about spreads or the advantage of man over machine (or vice versa), it is about the risk taking role adding something different.
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