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Those who have not adapted successfully are struggling. Critical to adapting to this new reality is technology and systems tailored to that reality. The new technology of com petition Virtually every derivatives dealer we speak with across the world is, to a greater or lesser extent, trying to adapt or augment their technological capabilities to facilitate com petition and efficiency within the rapidly changing landscape of the derivatives market. Traditionally, dealer IT and Quant departments are extremely good at delivering com plex models and risk management technology to the trading desk; they 20 january e-FOREX have been less successful at delivering the tools necessary for the front office to com pete effectively and operate efficiently in the vanilla derivatives space.
This is partly due to lack of experience and partly due to an almost obsessive focus on model development. As the derivatives industry and the nature of dealer com petition be com e centred on client service, technology that supports this service, both indirectly and directly, is be com ing the focus of both the IT departments and the front offices of dealers across the globe. There is almost universal recognition among derivatives dealers of the need for scalable, integrated front office and distribution software to address these issues.
Dealers are currently facing the age old dilemma of technology procurement: build or buy. Fortunately, a few vendors have emerged over the last few years that are focusing on building these technologies. Those dealers who have embraced the changing landscape of derivatives com petition by addressing the need for new technologies are seeing opportunities in the FX derivatives market that have not existed in years; this edge, coupled with the decreased dominance of the franchise players, has created enormous growth potential for the small to midsize derivatives dealer.
This has created more business growth potential for a broader spectrum of derivative experts. As long as risk is managed, accurate valuations are adhered to and client service is exemplary this market will continue to be robust. Today, the retail FX market is booming with strong adoption across all major financial centers. Due in part to broader acceptance by retail customers, the retail FX market has experienced phenomenal growth in the past few years.
After a slow start in the mid- to lates, retail customers have finally be com e more familiar with currency as a legitimate asset class, and not just as an inevitable by-product of a cross border transaction. FX has indeed be com e widely accepted as a legitimate asset class. The active trading market is not the only venue through which retail investors can participate in this growing marketplace. Similar to other asset classes, those with shortterm speculative incentives can engage in active trading using many of the available global FX retail firms.
However, there are signs that a growing number of options are be com ing available for those investors with a more long-term perspective on FX as an asset class. FX is a truly global market that is open 24 hours per day.
This simple fact provides added convenience for those retail customers that may only have time during the evening hours to conduct most of their trading. Since the FX market is open at all hours, the down side of trading in after-hours such as drastically diminished liquidity, can be avoided. Despite the fact that the FX market is largely unregulated and over-thecounter OTC in nature at least in the cash FX market , it is incredibly liquid.
Even in low, volatile market conditions, there is always someone on the other side that is constantly providing trading opportunities. Even less than a decade ago, gaining access to the FX market was difficult, as a handful of global banks dominated every aspect of the market.
However, the emergence of the Internet as the key connectivity infrastructure for retail trading com bined with the development of sophisticated and reliable retail FX trading technologies have contributed greatly in nurturing the overall growth of the retail FX market. In the U. In addition, the higher net adjusted capital requirements have eliminated weaker service providers and reinforced the com petitive positions of those legitimate FX retail brokers.
A lack of understanding was one of the major impediments in the retail FX market. Thanks to the accessibility supported by the Internet and the aggressive educational campaigns by leading retail FX firms, customer education has be com e widely spread and has lead to the development of a more sophisticated retail FX client base.
Not surprisingly, the most com mon migration path has been from the equities and futures markets. Even with regulatory and market structure changes that are favorable to the development of the retail FX market, without the availability of reliable and cost-effective trading platforms, the current pace of growth in the retail FX market could not be sustainable. Most if not all of the major retail FX firms provide a demo account funded with thousands of dollars of virtual money.
These demo accounts provides live prices and all of the margin and collateral features to simulate a live trading environment. This is an extremely important step in account acquisition, especially when courting novice FX traders. Similar to what has happened in the institutional market, sophisticated retail FX traders have turned to automated trading strategies to take the emotion out of their daily trading activities.
Depending on what the trader wants to achieve and their tolerable risk levels, specific trading strategies can be automated to drive trading volume. The popularity of automated trading systems in 24 january e-FOREX the retail market has reached a point where even on eBay, one can find variety of automated trading systems ready for purchase.
Driven by stiffer com petition and higher adjusted net capital requirements, the retail FX market has gone through massive consolidation over the last 12 months. As of Q3 , the US retail FX industry had about 15 retail brokers, a drastic decline from over 30 at the end of For certain retail FX brokers, while the total number of clients from traditional FX market centers still account for a significant portion of their client base, an increasing percentage of revenue is actually com ing from clients based in emerging markets.
One such group is the major dealing banks that have, to date, functioned simply as liquidity providers to the leading retail FX players. As evidenced by the direct entrance of Deutsche Bank and Citi into the retail market, Aite Group expects other dealing banks with significant retail businesses to seek new revenue sources from the retail FX market.
In the past, the lack of regulatory guidance and reputational risk may have played a role in dissuading these firms from providing FX trading as part of their active trading platform. However, as they continue to focus on enhancing functionality within their active trader platforms, most of the traditional online brokerage firms will have no choice but to seriously consider the addition of FX into their overall asset class coverage or risk losing out on capturing this most liquid market to specialized retail FX brokers and large global banks.
Whether through the use of active trading firms profiled in this report or increasingly through other FX-related products, such as FX deposit products, FX funds, or FX ETFs, a growing number of retail clients are turning to FX as an asset class to diversify their portfolios and to achieve the higher returns that are unlikely to be gained from more traditional asset classes. The importance of liquidity was severely highlighted during the recent financial crisis and the need for solid credit lines, liquidity and relationship based pricing in times of uncertainty, for both those customers using multi-bank platforms, for best execution, and single bank platforms, became apparent.
Andrew Cohen, global head of e-Commerce marketing, at BNP Paribas says that during the crisis there was a noticeable flight to quality, with clients wanting to trade with highly rated resilient banks. This resulted in a large increase in customers trading over the traditional channel phone - the trades were large in nature and required execution excellence.
Despite the increasing volumes of business being done electronically, clients still want a sales person at the end of the phone, therefore showing that voice single bank and multi bank platforms com pliment each other. The chat systems are also used extensively and are integrated into some platforms to keep that oneon-one relationship going. Many buy-side firms define best execution in FX trading by looking at the total cost to execute, allocate, and settle an FX trade, including the potential for operational risk inherent in moving cash between accounts and counterparties.
Cohen believes the two models will continue to exist side-by-side, simply because of the com pliance requirement for certain fund managers to get three quotes for every deal. However, banks are continuing to invest in the single bank platforms and Cohen says they continue to show growth. The recent crisis has put all the over-the-counter market instruments firmly in the spotlight.
Cohen believes there has been greater focus on leverage in the retail space. In the US and Japan the tighter leverage regulations may have an impact on retail volumes further down the line, but Cohen says the single bank FX platforms are here to stay, due to the sheer volumes being traded on them, the resources that banks are putting into them and the fact that some clients prefer to trade on them. Going forward, Cohen says the banks will be com e more innovative to keep clients on their single bank platforms and this will take many different guises, from adding liquidity, better pricing models, more sophisticated execution models and algorithms, to adding more products, such as more exotic options.
Spiropoulos says there has been a recent focus on client relationships across all asset classes, and the banks with strong balance sheets and high credit ratings were able to focus more on their relationships and saw an increase in market share. We saw a reduction in the number of bank counterparties, defaults and credit constraints, and as a result clients became more dependent upon fewer banks for liquidity provision and funding.
For a number of primary dealers this presented opportunities to strengthen relationships with existing clients while opening the door to new clients in need of products that were challenging to hedge. The emerging agency e- com merce approach also relies on accessing ECN liquidity, using Direct Market Access, and leveraging execution algorithms. This way banks can offload some of the risks between e com merce desks without leaving a large execution footprint in the ECN market.
Single bank platforms leverage the aggregated liquidity and proprietary market making algorithms to produce com petitive and consistent pricing. It is now understood that single bank platforms also add value to the client by providing pre-trade and post-trade functionality. We see the single bank portal as an investment in client relationships. Going forward, Spiropoulos believes that as technology and web browsers evolve, web based solutions are be com ing viable alternative to installed applications and are more suitable for cross-asset single bank portal development.
For example, client designed pages on a single bank platform, advanced searching capability and stored searches, decision support using analytics and calculators with linked charting capability, integrated news, research and chat facilities.
All these features are much easier to integrate on webbased technology rather than installed application. Justyn Trenner, Principal of ClientKnowledge, says that all currencies, including the most liquid, were impacted by the financial crisis across all platforms and electronic venues.
As a result business, particularly large orders, shifted back to the phone and although there is flow is starting to go back to the electronic trading systems, this is not the case for much of the large order business. Algorithmic trading, however, has grown as a process for the sell-side to internalise client risk, but the buy-side has not grown, not least because some of these models became unstuck in the last year. Where algorithms are used to split up trades and find best execution in the market, there has been growth, according to ClientKnowledge, but the use of execution algorithms for large orders still remains at around just per cent of how large orders are traded, depending upon the region.
We think that single dealer platforms, depending on the region and client type, still account for 30 per cent of e-trading. The number of trading partners has not changed, it is just that firms prefer to see their banking partners in either multi-dealer venues or in an aggregated format of their own, which requires an API, so they can readily com pare pricing. Trenner believes the main driver for buy-side firms in choosing where they trade is convenience of market access and the use of aggregation technology, provided by firms like FlexTrade and Apama, is growing.
However in the immediate future, he believes both the multi-dealer and single bank platforms will continue to grow, side by side, for different customer types and requirements. However, the fact still remains that the main focus for the banks behind both the single and multi-bank platforms is the single bank portal and it is there that greater investment is being made.
In , many thought the arrival of the multi-bank portal would mean the death of single bank portals but the reality is that there will always be a number of com panies that continue to use a single bank credit provider as they simply do not have the kind of FX volumes that warrant the multi-bank portal subscriptions.
At the end of the day, challenges to the sustainability of the multi-bank platforms will com e from the supply side not the demand side, and how liquidity providers can maintain FX revenue by trading through a multi-bank portal. During this time Islam contributed to and either, directly or indirectly, influenced economic doctrine on every continent.
At around 1. Demographic diversity — globally visible, more globally integrated The notion that all Arabs are Muslim and all Muslims are Arab is also false. Findings in a recent report by Princeton University confirms that 60 percent of all Muslims live in Asia and only 20 percent live in the Middle East and North Africa. Importantly, a significant concentration of Muslims exist in the new economic powerhouses of India million and to a lesser extent, China 22 million and Russia 16 million as well as in-vogue, technology and resource rich countries of Malaysia and Indonesia another million.
However you look at it, these are com pelling numbers. Islam has a problem with the concept of making money simply by virtue of having money, a practice which it considers exploitative. So in summary, a com pliant FX trade: 1. Must not be in support of a prohibited item alcohol, pork products, etc. Must have a legitimate, underlying cross border trade or investment transaction, hedging and risk management acceptable 3.
Cannot simply be a speculative or short position in a currency 4. Must not involve interest or interest rate differentials. In conventional foreign exchange, anything other than a spot deal obviously falls foul of 1 or several of these. Murabaha based structures are the basic building blocks of Islamic finance with variations deployed to ac com modate a range of funding, asset and liability management and FX activities. This approach requires the customer and the bank to enter into two separate Murabaha transactions to replicate the FX forward cash flows.
The customer then sells the com modity back into the market to recover its initial investment and CCY requirement. While these are the most com mon structures in the market, imperfections exist with both approaches. They are not universally accepted by all Islamic scholars in all jurisdictions very few are. Sure, it has its structural peculiarities but it still represents a beacon in the post credit crisis financial markets landscape.
So why does it continue to underperform and fail to realise its fullest potential? Informed conjecture on this would probably consider 3 areas — standards, standards and standards — or lack of them. For the sell side, both global banks and to a slightly lesser extent, regionalised Islamic banks, standardisation and convergence is a two edged sword; com moditisation normally ac com panies introduction of standards and, as we all know, margin com pression rapidly occurs on the heels of product increased com moditisation.
In acknowledgement of this inevitability and for the benefit of the industry as a whole, only the more enlightened institutions are genuinely pushing for agreement on and adoption of standards and documentation. After all, why should Islamic investors and traders pay onerous premiums for so called proprietary structures that deliver little, if any economic benefit?
Although addressing a relatively small subset of their customer base, to varying degrees of automation, the single bank platforms offered by global banks all do this. In the event of Murabaha based transactions, in-line electronic integration with an approved com modities broker s would automate the process of discovery, execution and confirmation enabling the sell-side to leverage immediate operational efficiencies, dramatically reducing CPT average Cost Per Trade.
Given the nature of Islamic finance, the end-to-end processing of an outright or swap is a resource-intensive business. Together with an acceleration of standards and regulatory convergence, this has be com e an enduring barrier to widespread buy-side adoption of com pliant FX and a stubborn impediment to the sell-side scaling the business to anything like meaningful volumes.
The more generic benefits of eCommerce deployment such as reduced market and operational risk of course also apply. Conclusion The unique characteristics of Islamic finance are rooted in centuries old values. Operational challenges posed by these characteristics lend themselves perhaps even more than conventional FX, to electronic automation. Who are your main clients today? How many international and regional liquidity providers are now connected to the platform?
Globally more than 70 market makers are offering pricing across the different OTC products tradeable. Being rated as one of the top provider of integration solutions we offer and maintain online deal export interfaces to most treasury or portfolio management systems.
Online order routing via an upload API is also available. Then, beside the fact that T offers unlimited access to the full bank basket of buy-side customers, it is also much appreciated that we are the only multi-bank platform not owned by banks. Also our strong service orientation is especially valued by our customers. On customer wish the offering can of course be limited in terms of products. Furthermore we just launched our enhanced FX margin trading and position management tool to cater FX spot trading for margin trading customers.
Corporates can link the world wide subsidiaries and centralize FX and intra-group financing transactions in one or more central treasury hubs. Asset managers use us to centralize market or limit orders in a central execution desk and aggregate or group transactions easily before execution to the market. Our first priority is to maintain and support the existing already quite wide range of services and products but we are always open to discuss customer requests.
Lately enquiries to enhance FX option trading to volatility quotes, not limited to live prices as today, and also trading features for base metals have summed up. We are carefully evaluating this and other options. During the uncertain times of the banking crisis the exchanges saw renewed interest in central clearing and now that the regulators are deliberating over which instruments should be centrally cleared, it looks as though the exchanges will continue to benefit from the trend, both mandatory and voluntary, to mitigate counterparty risk through centrally cleared instruments.
As a result, the futures exchanges have continued to innovate in launching products and reducing fees to attract this new business. A pilot will begin at the end of the year, in readiness for a customer for launch in The service will enable bilaterally traded spot, swaps and forwards on eight currency pairs to be cleared using a centralised counterparty model, with flexible notional values and settlement dates available, and tenors out to five years.
Derek Sammann, managing director of financial products, at CME Group says that the interest is com ing from a range of investors, many of which are not new to listed products, but new to FX. Our noninstitutional customers indicated a need for smaller contracts to more easily access the FX market, and we have carried out an extensive educational programme with the brokerages to support this.
However, the two markets are correlated and cash market growth has a positive impact on the exchange traded volumes and Sammann says the liquidity pools com plement each other. Technology upgrades CME Group invests heavily in enhancing its infrastructure and speed of its matching engine.
According to Sammann, another benefit to our customers that trade cash and futures is that CME has reduced the EFP exchange-for-physicals fee, for firms to take an OTC position and migrate that onto an exchange-listed futures position, to give customers a 43 per cent saving. Customers, particularly in the last 12 months, have started to see the significant benefit of a clearing element in their FX transactions.
This speaks of a simpler view of risk, and customers are moving away from com plexity and are drawn to liquidity. By offering liquidity, transparency, and credit risk mitigation, we provide our customers with the solutions they need to manage their risk. ISE is also preparing to launch options on the Brazilian real USDBRL , and pending regulatory approval, the exchange will offer dual conventions on all currency pairs listed.
It is impossible to create new products and services in a vacuum, so we elicit feedback from a broad group of market participants and we test our ideas, keeping in mind that we need to be flexible. We recently launched a beta version of a new website called FXoptions. With the new site, we hope to create the best resource available for everything related to FX options. The site will have trading ideas, virtual trading contests, our new online TV program, trend opinions and technical analysis, breaking news, economic data, market com mentary, options market data, and much more.
This is obviously a new area for any exchange, but we feel that the best way to promote a product is to educate, and this will be our university. For example, a trader could buy the penny strike call and sell a slightly out of the money call against it. It is impossible to create new products and services in a vacuum Impact of regulatory initiatives While the financial crisis has certainly resulted in increased scrutiny of OTC products, Monaco says that without regulatory intervention, it is hard to predict future migration of OTC products onto exchange platforms.
Monaco also says that regulatory changes in the retail FX market appear to be having an impact. I believe we will see more retail-focused FX firms be com e securities broker-dealers, offering their customers a full range of exchange-listed products. I expect those types of products to grow in popularity, and I expect a broader range of market participants use them.
Regarding listed product innovation, I think we have just barely scratched the surface. Customers can exchange semi-annual fixed-rate payments in exchange for quarterly floating-rate payments on the 3-month US Dollar London Interbank Offered Rate. Ben Craig, president of NFX, says that market participants have expressed interest in trading currency futures of countries like Brazil, Russia, India and China and that NFX is looking into these opportunities.
We are increasing our supply on an incremental basis to match demand and to ensure that all firms continue to have equal access to the service. The exchange offers four currency pairs against the US dollar: euro, sterling, Indian rupee and Japanese yen.
DGCX currency futures have shown strong volume growth and interest from market participants, year to date. Currency futures have seen volume growth of 88 per cent this year com pared with At that time, the only market available to hedge rupee risk was the non-deliverable forward NDF interbank market, which is unregulated, not transparent and not accessible to all participants. DGCX rupee futures recorded a month-on-month growth of 52 per cent in October and per cent growth in year to date volumes.
Our Indian rupee contract was enhanced a year ago making it cash settled, enabling a wider number of participants to take advantage of its benefits. Settlement is based on the US dollar reference rate published by the Reserve Bank of India on the last day of trading. This facilitates the settlement process for both local and international market participants, as well as providing transparency and alignment with the domestic rate.
There is significant potential to grow our contracts further and launch new products at the right time by accessing regional liquidity pools in Middle East and Asia. Settlement is also guaranteed via the Dubai Commodities Clearing Corporation, reducing the counterparty risk inherent when trades are transacted bi-laterally over-the-counter. In addition, he says, trading on-exchange ensures best price discovery as market makers provide aggregated liquidity pools rather than offering one price as per the currency spot markets.
The DGCX trading platform incorporates a sophisticated and automated risk management system. Recently, we 50 january e-FOREX offered an onsite co-location service to support our market markers and liquidity providers. DGCX currency futures also offer many arbitrage trading opportunities with other international markets. This trend is also underlined in the Middle East by significant growth in the volume of DGCX currency contracts in Trading execution venues, their participants and technology vendors must now all be at the front of technology advancements.
In the second in our series on high frequency FX trading, Joe Hilt, VP of Sales, North America, Hibernia Atlantic, outlines some of the key issues facing FX trading firms who are planning how best to link their trading infrastructures to trading venues and what lessons they can take from latency, networking and trading connectivity developments in other markets.
In the previous decade, the capital markets trading infrastructure looked very different. Trading floors existed on exchanges, where the buy and selling of stocks, bonds, options and futures were negotiated for best prices. Having a high performance com munication system meant having extremely fast and legible note takers along with a few loud voices. High-speed, automated and algorithmic trading have set the next generation standard in finding best prices and executing better strategies across dozens of market centres.
Due to major economic turbulence and anomalies, the global capital markets com munity has begun to com e closer together. As a result, rapid expansion of new Electronic Communications Networks ECNs and high frequency trading across all asset classes have pushed the demand to Ultra-Low Latency connectivity solutions.
Connecting to equities markets have begun to drive the Ultra-Low latency race. However, in the next generation multi-asset class world, trading firms now have to also connect to securities, securities options, futures and FX nationally and internationally, processing data, sending orders and com municating with thousands of clients. Proximity vs. There are over 5, active trading firms of these markets with a race to be the fastest and most efficient in com pleting a trade.
Firms are constantly faced with the same basic principals: being close to the market and getting in and out as fast as possible! Proximity has been used for the Market Enters to be closer to the participant similar to how the floors were being operated a decade ago. Proximity is measured between the trading venue and the trader and is highly dependent on the physical network talking to the market systems, i. Latency is the round-trip measurement in speed on how fast a packet or a message runs over a network and through the various trading systems.
Several com panies today provide the leading market place colocation facility for exchanges and their firms to build their proximity trading infrastructures. In addition to private exchange-owned colocation centres. Recently, other com panies specializing in capital markets centered proximity services have com e to the market, such as Telx. Similar to Equinix, Telx offers financial com panies and their networks access to a variety com munications and exchange platforms located within their colocation centres.
Equinix and Telx along with the exchanges and many other venues, tout their advantages of proximity as it relates to the lower latency they can provide from a wide variety of network providers. However, this is where navigating the mine field could make a tremendous difference for trading firms of all types. Going the distance Proximity to financial exchange platforms is of ultimate importance when measuring latency in capital markets. Eliminating latency is core, so eliminating distance is the first step.
If we took out a yard stick to measure network latency, no doubt the shortest path would win and in capital markets, that could equate to millions of dollars. For many years, the global tele com munications industry has been measuring its network latency and selling Service Level Assurances SLAs on the differences based on these numbers.
Most networks measure latency capability based on bandwidth, which is simply the maximum rate of data that can flow through a specific media type. If there was no distance from the source to the consumer server, than a 1 Gig pipe would be 1 microsecond. Gearing Up With microseconds driving all decisions for financial institutions, choosing which network equipment and which provider to deploy are often million dollar decisions.
Living in a connected world Most financial networks require interconnectivity in a number of locations in order to leverage proximity trading with the Financial Exchanges. For example, the Chi-X Europe Platform connects com panies to multiple financial trading platforms. Companies colocated within close proximity to the Chi-X have measured a mean latency of 0.
This type of speed is hard to beat, as transactions are seemingly com pleted in real-time. Security through diversity With increased trends toward high frequency and algorithmic trading, proximity and interconnectivity to only one trading venue will not provide the financial gain required to stay ahead. For example, Hibernia Atlantic is the largest privately held, US-owned, diverse Transatlantic submarine provider.
Realizing that most networks enter North America and Europe FEATURES through only a couple of landing stations namely around London and New York waterways , the com pany sought to be sure that its cable would be better protected by having a unique network footprint, crossing the Atlantic in a more northern route than traditional carriers, leaving North America via Nova Scotia, Canada and entering Europe through Ireland.
The com pany also has diverse routes that can bypass main traffic arteries, if necessary, such as its terrestrial metro networks in and around New York City and London. Integration and Deployment Ok so how does everyone play nicely together so my network can be integrated securely and efficiently, with fast, easy deployment? The good news is that there is a small group of effective providers currently in the marketplace who are com mitted to global financial trading networks.
As such, these pioneers are actively working together to ensure best-of-breed services for the key financial houses. Most are already connected in the top exchange and data centre locations in the most prominent financial cities in the world. If you are searching for a network partner that considers your proximity, latency, bandwidth, quality and diversity needs, you may not need to cross that minefield all alone.
By asking the right questions, you can be assured that their services are right for your network considerations. All the right questions So what are the key factors to consider when analysing your com munication network performance? How important is speed or notably, lowest latency in relation to the type of trades that we will need to process? Where are our key network points, such as our financial exchanges where the trades will be processed? Are these trading points accessible?
Which networks provide interconnectivity into these transaction points? How are these networks designed to interconnect with these transaction points? How quick can the network provider provision service and provide us with the speed to market? Can the provider guarantee fast turn up and lowest latency? FEATURES Tracking new developments in currency derivatives processing Increasing numbers of banks, asset managers, pension funds, hedge funds, and corporates are looking to ramp up their use of currency derivatives, both for hedging purposes as well as a com ponent of their fund and investment management strategies.
Although great strides have been made in automating much of the processing and workflow associated with Over The Counter derivatives, much still remains to be done, particularly with regard to cost savings and risk management. Much has been achieved in attaining straight through processing for vanilla FX products and options, and now with volumes increasing the focus is one cost efficiency, and cost per trade, and 58 january e-FOREX By Frances Maguire the smooth operations of processing so that exceptions are managed efficiently.
The recent crisis has not only made banks focus on the operation risk of failed trades, but also reputational risk, where failed trades can impact credit and counterparty risk management. According to Niall Kennedy, director of product management at Wall Street Systems, the increased focus on FX as an asset class is bringing more and more participants, and therefore more volume, to the market.
Focus on costs Due to the investment required to enter the FX market, where spreads are so tight and there are many players in the market, there is an increased focus on cost, and cost per trade. Kennedy says that new entrants cannot survive without greater automation. Automation is helping to drive down operational risk. To this end, there have been advances within the industry in terms of a greater number of data sources, an increased number of solutions enabling price discovery for over the counter instruments, as well as a great improvement in standard messaging used between counterparties to enable firms to achieve higher STP rates for vanilla derivatives.
He says progress has been made in the tags and descriptions of over the counter instruments between counterparties, but the issue now is how the transactions are com municated across networks and agreeing formats for the confirmations. The equities market has managed to over com e these problems over the years, and a central clearing counterparty, where there would be one standard to adhere to, would benefit the over the counter market. This is part of the back to basics trend in the market.
Additionally, there is expansion in emerging markets operations and this too is feeding this growth firstly in FX and then FX options. This ambiguity, pre-confirmation, is the biggest choke point facing the FX options industry today. Although the instruments themselves are standardised, the method of bilaterally trading them, and the com munication between banks, is not, which still gives rise to operational risk.
According to Nusimovici, STP rates are much higher post-trade, even though they are often manually exercised, particularity with FX options. Using a system like Summit, these options can be sorted by strike so that the system alerts traders to whether they are in-the-money or out-of-the-money. Despite the fact volumes are smaller, the more com plex exotic structures need to be monitored and the Misys solution enables users to monitor transactions, and model any kind of pay-off using pricing algorithms.
In terms of standardisation of the trading systems, there are greater moves towards trading systems for hedged options strategies, as opposed to straight options. For sell-side customers, a high STP rate is essential to survival. For buy-side customers, it is about transparency and security. They have to be able to prove the conditions of investment and need the systems to track this. Therefore the focus is on removing cost from the lifecycle of over the counter instruments and typically a lot of the cost still resides in the middle and back office.
Improvements to STP Paul Hodgson, product manager, Front Arena SunGard, says that big improvements have been made in the use of the single confirmation of trades between customer and bank for the more vanilla derivatives enabling traders to negotiate more exotic trades individually.
Hodgson says this is the single most effective tool in the reduction of 'fails' and the improvement in STP rates. However they have not com pletely alleviated the situation, there are still many com ponents of the pricing process which involve data that is protected or restricted in its distribution to the broader market.
Systems that deliver processes that can handle these events in a generic way will deliver significant cost savings and risk reductions. Our solutions recognise this simplicity that resides within the com plexity of the overall structure, and addresses the settlement issue by simply focusing on cash flows. Systems that provide exception based processing significantly reduce risk, and enhance processing flexibility.
Complex and exotic structures represent some challenges, all the way from instrument and trade creation, through risk management and further processing. Moffat believes the key to addressing these challenges is to deliver software and processes that are able to recognise both the uniqueness of the overall products, whilst also finding the com monality of the underlying structures that allows com plexity to be broken down to allow standard processing.
Regardless of the com plexity of the exotic structure, settlement relates to the cash flows generated. New levels of com petition across financial institutions mean that banks want to improve end-to-end efficiency of transaction processing including, in one com plete value chain, quoting, execution, live risk management, processing and various connections with market-place services. This end-to-end efficiency needs to apply to vanilla and structured products similarly.
You simply com bine multi leg or multi product structures into a single product that you can then publish to a predetermined group of users. The purpose is to allow our clients to increase their market penetration and aggressively pursue new clients in an environment with substantially reduced TCO and operational risk.
Their infrastructure needs to be robust to sustain extreme conditions, fast, to provide analysis in real time and flexible, to implement at low cost evolving methodologies as standards are shifting in this domain. The purpose is to allow our clients to increase their market penetration and aggressively pursue clients in an environment with substantially reduced TCO and operational risk.
Reval also offers scrubbed and integrated market data that allows for independent pre-trade pricing. According to Okochi, com panies need to use and trust the newer technologies, like web services, that allow for more efficient maintenance of interfaces.
SaaS offerings allow vendors to work more closely together as well as the ability to use more user-friendly web services. In addition, potential OTC derivative reforms will probably drive costs higher for end-users, either through margining or clearing or other fees, and the jury is still out on what the regulators will decide for FX derivatives.
Roger Aitken canvasses industry opinion on how this trend is affecting the sourcing and integration of such data for FX applications. Developing a mechanical FX trading system requires back testing. And, backtesting for 66 january e-FOREX systematic and algorithmic traders requires plenty of high quality FX historical price data from which to build models and evaluate new trading strategies before they are unleashed into a live environment.
As such, historical price data that includes tick data, raw and cleansed data, are therefore absolutely critical elements for many FX trading end users. Generally speaking, having local copies of data can lead to faster and improved back testing. Such data can be used to test MetaTrader 3. That all fuels the demand. A number of FX historical data providers are available to the institutional and online FX retail trading com munities.
RTFX, which provides access to multiple market makers with a single login, is based on Reuters Electronic Trading technology, used by over leading FX banks. Thousands of users trade FX over Bloomberg FX , which is supported by liquidity from major and regional banks. FXall is also an important player in the FX data space and has more than of the world's largest financial institutions trading billions on its platform and a network of 70 liquidity providers. Historical data space A number of providers offer historical FX CSVformatted data including tick data, which in some cases can even be downloaded free of charge.
The expanded distribution agreement between the two firms was in response to market demand as algorithmic and program trading continued to grow. TRTH is a key element within the Thomson Reuters Quant and Event-Driven Trading product suite, which offers com prehensive regulatory com pliance content and backtesting investment tools. From an historical data perspective, traders came to Thomson Reuters for data to initiate back testing, as the firm has had a fairly dominant position in the FX market.
It also plays a vital role in supporting the com pliance, accounting and audit functions of financial institutions. Jim Foster, Global Head of Product Strategy, FXall says in addition to algo traders wanting historical tick data to build and back-test models, it can also be required for benchmarking purposes. Furthermore, institutional investors can need the ability to benchmark pricing for control and com pliance purposes.
For institutional asset managers who have a need to analyse execution quality, FXall timestamps trades to the millisecond when they receive the requirement - at the time it is placed into the market - on each quote provided by the selected banks. And, the availability of historical data includes similarly rigorous timestamps on each quote.
Algo traders and those who have super sophisticated strategies typically know what to do with this type of data. And, these are the drivers for the offering. Data quality com es in to play in respect of the number of contributing banks or other rate sources, tradable versus indicative data, as well as error correction techniques used to cleanse erroneous or off-market data from the set. Huffman says with regard to analytical tools required for modelling will create specific requirements for data availability e.
And, in order for the data to be meaningful it has to represent tradable data. For example, is the data time stamped at receipt by the platform, in the matching engine, or at distribution? And, the problem is not just isolated to a few firms. That is why firms com e to a source to obtain this data e.
Thomson Reuters. That said, the cost of mass storage has plummeted in recent years. And, when trying to calculate terabytes of data, high performance engines are required to calculate this type of analysis if you are looking at a year of data, let alone a decade or more of data.
They view it as a growth area and also want to stay ahead of the curve. For example, our customer savings reports have market data built directly into it and included with the analysis, such as the rates at the time of trades. With the FX market very well split, each of these players has their respective segments.
And, many of our clients are keen to only clean it [data] themselves so that they can ensure what has been cleansed. Bloomberg's CIX function is an additional very powerful tool for creating custom indices. Sophisticated traders and trading desks cannot disregard fundamental and technical data analysis to ultimately secure their investments and retain a stable level of profit. At the same time there is no sense trusting money to a trading system without total thorough testing of it with a wide and full range of historical data.
This is why reliable and error-free historical data are essential for an adequate technical analysis and successfully verifying trading strategies. The data cannot and should not be full of spikes or gaps. Regulatory measures and realtime FX margining The FX market has endured the financial crisis significantly better than most other asset classes. Nevertheless it has not escaped the eye of regulators. Previously FX firms have not faced many restrictions on either margining or leverage, but the FX market has grown enormously in a short time thanks to the adoption of electronic trading.
Regulators are keen to ensure that adequate protection measures exist, from the day trader up to larger firms, as the market continues to grow. These changes also attempt to prevent systemic risk from seeping outside of the FX market and, by domino effect, affecting any underlying com panies or retail investors.
The NFA has proposed some specific measures regarding margining and leverage, so that both customers and brokers can reduce the risks created by rapid market fluctuations and potential liquidations. Meanwhile leverage will be capped at These regulatory measures will have a direct and significant effect on margining techniques, forcing them to be both more flexible and granular.
The move from static to variable methodologies, such as from flat rate margining to variable currency margining, has already started to branch into product, tenor, volume, concentration and customer type margining capabilities. Another such trend will likely involve customer configuration, both a narrowing towards multiple sub-accounts, which would allow users to hedge across accounts, and an expansion of customer groupings for higher level monitoring of risk.
Benefit to margining The benefit of these changes to margining will be more than simply com pliance. Trading firms can also reduce their own market and credit risk on a global scale. More granular margining, by product and across products, will enable firms to expand their product offerings with increasingly sophisticated FX instruments, as they can better manage the risk associated with those products without affecting their vanilla FX margining. For FX options, risk managers have traditionally relied on delta notional margining.
This is a good starting place, but in the current environment where both investors and regulators are focusing more on risk management, this may not be enough. Firms will have to go further by taking more com plex pricing and revaluation models and applying this sophistication to the margining calculations. At the same time that firms expand the com plexity of their product offerings and with algorithmic trading be com ing increasingly popular in the FX market, margining systems must be able to both manage the risks associated with com plex algodriven strategies and the higher trade volumes without sacrificing the speed of execution and the speed of margining calculations.
More flexibility Faced with a future of increased regulation and ever increasing trade volumes, margin systems must be VIEWPOINT able to handle both of these trends without com promising risk management or performance. SunGard anticipates the effects that new regulations will have upon the margining sphere, and is proactive in enhancing its Sierra Advanced Margining solution to meet these new requirements.
Nicholas Pratt charts the development efforts of the leading algo providers to examine how execution strategies in FX can be taken to another level. There are, of course, a number of different ways that algorithmic trading is used. The classic execution strategy is where traders look to split their order into several smaller trades that are then carried out over a period of time rather than executing all at once — the idea being that any market impact is minimised.
Traders are now able to replace their multi-screen set-up with a single interface that shows all available prices and can also execute on an automated basis, thus freeing up traders and sales staff to focus on more quality tasks or more com plex trades. Aggregation, however, is not universally popular among the banks, says Nelson. Not only will such a move attract the increasing number of buy-side firms using the same platform for all asset classes, it will also reflect the evolution of algorithmic trading.
In terms of the next generation of FX algorithms much of the current interest is around the continued growth of multi-asset trading, as Nelson explains. This means that the best time to trade will be somewhat dependant on the exchange rate.
You do not want to think you have a good price for the asset and then find the FX rate has changed. FX firms trading electronically and looking at adding algorithmic trading capability can adopt the latest technology and implement it much quicker. But in equities there are all of these different alternative venues like Turquoise and Chi-X which are all different. You may not get the same range of choice in FX but in aggregation terms, it has a more modern infrastructure and is a less com plex product.
However, says Nelson, these obstacles can be over com e through the use of synthetic currency pairs. All of this can be done through new software and it makes it easier to get a good price for this currency pair. Being able to alter the algorithms is such an important feature. You really need an algorithmic trading set up that enables you to create your own algorithms.
Steve's unique skills include the science of technical analysis, using charts in forecasting rates in the foreign exchange and other financial markets. Since forming his own company in Steve has been offering Capital markets and technical analysis consultancy services and regularly presents open courses in London and provides in-house training and consultancy on behalf of client institutions world-wide.
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