It’s been half a year since Joe Rundle took up his new role as CEO of Markets.com. His appointment came at a tumultuous time for the retail industry, with new restrictions on leveraged trading from the European Securities and Markets Authority’s announced in March.
Smaller brokers may be shutting up shop or moving offshore as a result of the legislation, but Markets.com is staying put. The broker, a subsidiary of the gambling software provider Playtech, will continue to operate out of its London headquarters.
In the midst of all of this, Finance Magnates managed to catch up with Rundle. In a broad-ranging interview, we discussed what he’s been doing so far, how Markets.com is preparing for ESMA’s regulation and the firm’s plans for the future.
You are now almost six months into your new role. What attracted you to take up the position as CEO of Markets.com and what expectations have been placed on you by the higher-ups?
It’s an incredible opportunity to work with some of the best people, and some of the most advanced technology in the industry – Playtech’s support gives us an array of tech and tools – and take a truly global brand in a new direction. There are challenges of course, but we’ve been making huge strides already and starting to feel the benefits. Clients should also see better outcomes and a much better trading experience as we roll out our new platform later this year.
What steps have you taken to ensure you are compliant with ESMA’s new regulation and that it won’t be too harmful to your business?
We’ve taken all the steps required by the regulator of course, but we were already well ahead of the curve on several fronts, like offering negative balance protection. So we’re well placed, and with a lot of clients coming from outside the EU we are less exposed than some. Of course, it’s a challenge but ultimately the ESMA changes are a good thing for the industry, and our goal is always better outcomes for our customers: anything that’s good for clients is good for us.
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How do you see the retail industry changing as a result of the ESMA regulation?
We envisage some smaller and less reputable players to suffer and ultimately consolidation – which is long overdue – will occur. The industry remains highly fragmented, and if you look at other industries facing tighter regulations, consolidation is usually what follows.
Clients classified as ‘professional’ are not subject to ESMA’s regulations. How much of your client-base trades under this classification and what percentage of your revenue do they provide?
We have a decent number of professional clients, and we saw really good uptake from our push to encourage elective professionals recently, so we expect to have more and more. In addition, our upcoming Markets X platform is ideal for professional traders, although it is not exclusively for them to use.
Can we expect any new products from Markets.com in the near future?
Our Markets X platform is very nearly ready to launch. This will feature lots of extra tools for traders to use, analysis features and much better pricing with lower spreads. We’re also really proud of our Markets Knowledge Centre, which will be a one-stop shop for all traders’ news, analysis, and education needs. We’re already running things like in-platform live sessions with traders and have big plans for some really exciting content, including TV.
Do you have plans to expand into any new jurisdictions? What region looks the most promising or exciting for you?
We’re unifying our international business with a single offering. This allows us to give a lot more focus to Australia and South Africa in particular and improve our service delivery in those countries. A new soon-to-be-announced jurisdiction will allow us to service clients globally with more appropriate regulation and service offering.
The retail market is extremely saturated. How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors and what plans do you have for the future that will make you ‘stand out from the crowd’?
Our technology and tools. Daily Analyst Recommendations give you all the latest tips and price targets from Wall Street analysts. We have data on Hedge Fund Activity and Insider Transactions too so our traders can see what the smart money is doing. These are really great tools, and others don’t have them, so this really does help us stand out. In FX our Events & Trade tool is especially exciting and popular – it uses quantitative approaches to outline specific trading strategies around economic releases. We’re going to be rolling lots of new exciting tools in the coming months so stay tuned.