The annual trading expo hosted at the Melbourne Convention Centre concluded this past Sunday, having a noticeably more subdued tone compared to previous years. Running over the course of three days beginning on Friday, this year’s show was rebranded as the “Future Wealth Forum” by its organizers ‘Informa Exhibitions’.
Having acquired the rights to the show 18 months ago from its previous organizers, ‘Event Management International’, Informa decided to merge the previously separate ‘Traders Expo’ and ‘Home Buyer & Property Investor Show’ into a single event that offers a “level playing field for all retail traders and investors,” according to Informa’s Group Exhibitions Director, Joel Cooper.
“We organized over 70 presentations by top industry professionals in a variety of trading and investment spheres to share their knowledge and expertise with visitors,” said Mr.Cooper.
Knock Knock, Who’s There?
Trading expos are usually a good way for brokers and other trading industry firms to showcase their company and product offering to the wider public as well as potential clients. “Shows like this are a great way to meet traders and build client relationships on a more personal level. When it comes to building trust, there’s no substitute for meeting people face-to-face,” said Chris Weston, Chief Market Strategist at IG Markets.
This year’s show “attracted between 2,500 – 5,000 visitors – approximately the same amount as last year,” according to Informa. Seeing the show in full swing, Forex Magnates can confirm that many FX/CFD industry firms decided not to attend this year leaving only a handful of brokers amid a noticeably more ‘investor’ focused field of exhibitors.
The majority of exhibitors operate in property, superannuation and investment management niches, as opposed to trading. Australia tends to have a high financial services participation rate, because legislation allows Australians to manage their own retirement capital via a self-managed fund if they so choose.
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The two most prominent brokerages at this year’s show were IG Markets and FXCM – two of Australia’s largest and also the most internationally diversified with both firms operating globally in multiple regions. According to Peter Christensen, an FX Relationship Manager at FXCM, “The Melbourne event is usually a lot quieter than the corresponding event in Sydney.” Adding, “As a company we feel it’s important to be here in order to maintain and extend our presence in all parts of Australia.”
Other notable exhibitors in the trading arena include ‘VectorVest’ and ‘MetaStock’. VectorVest is the only stock analysis and portfolio management system that analyses, ranks and graphs over 23,000 stocks for relative value, while MetaStock is a technology company offering retail and professional charting services for traders.
One exhibitor which our Australian readers (and traders) may find especially interesting is the ‘Australian Investors Association’ (AIA), a non-profit association of active traders and investors. Ron Clifft, an AIA member volunteering at the show, described the organization as “a focus group for individual investors.” Clifft added, “We meet regularly to talk about our individual strategies and to learn from one another. As the markets get tougher, investors must be smarter if they are to be successful.”
Mr. Clifft estimates that the AIA currently has 6,000 active members with weekly meet-up groups organized around Australia.
Opportunity in Disguise
Australia’s retail trading industry is growing steadily with several brokers reporting resilient performance metrics despite low volatility market conditions that are weighing on revenues across the industry. The Melbourne show lacked brokerage participation this year, which is yet another sign of tough times in the FX industry as brokers cut back on excess marketing spending and focus on core business activity.
For potential clients and existing traders the current lull in trading activity could be an opportunity in disguise. In July this year, IG Markets introduced API access, branded as ‘IG Labs,’ and cut typical spreads on over 40 currency pairs focusing on the Asia/Pacific region. Other brokers have taken similar steps as they try to retain client business via better terms and innovative new tools in the absence of strong client growth and flat market conditions.
Brokers are being forced to become more efficient and competitive in such testing times, which often means better promotions, lower trading costs and additional value add services being provided to entice new clientele.