Op-ed

How and Why FX Can Be a Force for Good

Helen Astaniou, CMO at TIOmarkets, discusses how and why FX can be a force for good.

There is no doubt about it; we live in frightening times. How do you react to trending news such as the US elections, Brexit, or the Corona Virus? Are you a passive observer who reads, disregards, and gets on with your business? Or perhaps you feel strongly about an issue and go so far as to tag @potus in your latest twitter rant.

It is my view that each one of us can make a meaningful contribution to our little planet, which is currently on a high-speed course to self-destruction. Most controversially, I wish to assert that our delightful FX industry – while having been plagued with bad PR (and sometimes rightfully so) – has the tools and the talent to make a positive impact on society at large, at a time when such contributions are desperately needed.

It’s time to harness FX as a force for good.

With some superb financial minds employed in some 300 plus FX companies within Cyprus alone, I’m inclined to wonder what decisions might be reached if these analysts joint forces to make some serious conclusions about our financial future.

Here are the facts as of today:

  1. We are entering into the 21st century using a banking system that was developed in the 15th century
  2. The rise of cashless spending has facilitated increased surveillance on individuals
  3. Financial freedoms can be revoked at a whim by autocratic governments and major financial institutions

What can the FX industry do about this, and why would they want to do anything?

 

Let’s start with data harvesting: a double-edged sword for FX marketers. I saw those industry CMOs avert their eyes when the whistle was blown on Cambridge Analytica. While shocking revelations were made about how the Trump campaign utilized confidential data to manipulate voter behavior, the FX industry has been no stranger to the hazy world of data purchase. Specifically, the fact that Facebook sells data to interested parties is far less concerning than the ways that this data can be used for political and social manipulation.

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ESMA, UK, and local European regulators work to protect the personal data of financial consumers, however more can be done. I, for instance, as both a UK national and European citizen (two separate identities, of course!), am frequently victim to data theft. I’ve been telephoned and emailed by FX companies, which I definitely didn’t sign up to, as well as the usual stream of spam rubbish that flows daily to my inbox. So, dear FX CMOs, let’s proactively clean up those databases.

Helen Astaniou, CMO, TIOmarkets
Helen Astaniou, CMO, TIOmarkets
  • DO Keep an eye on your email open rates. If somebody is repeatedly not opening your emails, it’s not because you accidentally went to spam – it’s because you were deliberately sent to spam
  • DO Pro-actively remove unengaged clients from your comms, even if they’ve signed up to receive email communications
  • DO Replace promotional messaging with added value in your communications to clients through your social sites and blog
  • DON’T purchase my data because I’m not interested in yours
  • DON’T purchase anyone’s data. It’s not allowed for a good reason.

Let’s continue with how we can help to avoid the erosion of social freedoms. It is increasingly observed that living in a democracy no longer means that as a citizen, you are free. With the decline in independent journalism, the rise of surveillance mechanisms as well as social credit scoring (this is a real-life episode of Black Mirror), it is inevitable that large political forces have unrestricted powers over our financial freedoms. Hong Kong protestors, for instance, were monitored through the usage of their bank cards when purchasing rail tickets to attend protests, crushing their right to anonymity.  There are many ways in which we can be surveilled without permission.  Rumors that Huawei installs centrally-monitored voice and face recognition software in publicly sold devices should concern anybody who owns a mobile phone. That’s you, me, and the cat’s mother. It’s no wonder that movements towards decentralized digital currencies and libertarianism are on the rise.

How can the FX industry help? We often boast that we operate in the world’s largest and most liquid market, so use some of that force for better. Let’s use our audiences, our social and communication channels to share unique and valuable information about the financial world we live in. Finance, after all, is our bread and butter, and social economies make the world go round.

  • DO Take data dissemination to a new level by applying as much real-life, unique analysis and relevance into your content as possible
  • DO Raise awareness on issues relating to liberty and human rights, as undoubtedly they have a relationship with the currency markets
  • DO Share analytical information instead of sterile data
  • DON’T copy and paste data that anybody can find on Bloomberg or other financial behemoths. 1. That’s plagiarism, and 2. You’re disadvantaging your own SEO efforts.
  • DO use the power of content to explain the link between social freedoms and the financial world

Lastly, let’s put aside political and social concerns and take note of the fact that the world is burning.   Australia. Ecuador. Brazil. Indonesia and elsewhere. Billions of CO2 gas have been released into the atmosphere, and the unmeltable ice in the poles is starting to melt. This has the potential to release a volume of methane which will wildly accelerate the speed of global warming, leading to catastrophic consequences for the animal kingdom and the natural world at large. Whilst companies of all sizes are no stranger to the benefits of contributing towards charitable causes, now could be the time to up the stakes. There is no shame in flaunting your contribution to charitable causes, and it takes no extra time from your day. Tag, hashtag, and share the living daylights out of any recipient charitable organizations, and it may even help support your brand and reputation as an ethical, trustworthy broker.

  • DO support important global and local causes
  • DON’T brag about it
  • DON’T ride on the back of the vulnerable to promote your latest offering. It’s not tasteful or ethical.

 

If you aren’t afraid yet, I hope this article has helped to instill some perspective. Put simply, today’s current affairs affect you. And if you still aren’t prompted into action, then consider that today’s current affairs impact your clients too.

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