GFT – shifting a forex broker through turbulent times, an interview with CEO Gary Tilkin

GFT, just like many major brokers out there, is facing increased competition in the forex market as more and more

GFT, just like many major brokers out there, is facing increased competition in the forex market as more and more brokers enter the arena, technology is leaping forward and the whole market structure is changing. With GFT undergoing major staff changes and rolling out several new products we thought it would be a good time to catch up with the CEO and Founder Gary Tilkin.

Gary Tilkin CEO and Founder GFT

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Please describe the current status and positioning of GFT.

GFT is an industry pioneer, a start up with 16 years of experience, a place where traders feel welcome and understood, and a proud market maker. We’re on a mission to provide traders with the tools and market access they want to speculate and try to make money. As a global leader in online trading GFT has been expanding globally for the last sixteen years and is implementing a strategy to dominate the currency and derivative markets.

Leadership and integrity are the hallmarks of GFT as we strive in every instance to serve our traders better. Our trading execution statistics speak for themselves and once and for all settle the nonsense discussion about the power of a dealing desk run by a company that puts their traders first like GFT. Traders who understand the markets know that there is a dealing desk in every trade and what GFT’s trading execution offers them. We are leading the industry forward in trade execution and pricing with the stability that comes from a market maker and leader. Even during volatile times our spreads remain competitive and we fill orders with ultra low rejection and re-quoting rates. Check the stats at www.gftmarkets.com

We’re on a quest to rebuild our technology infrastructure, our business processes, organization and our approach to markets. We’re taking the very best of GFT and surrounding it with the best business practices to serve traders better. Our volumes are up year to date in 2012 and while this is a great accomplishment in a tough market, we have much work to do. Our brand is respected but not widely known in broader market circles. Watch us as we address this and introduce ourselves to traders and share innovative new products and markets over the next 24 months.

How are you different, why should clients trade with GFT?

GFT is a market maker, which means we have a dealing desk, we understand how to price markets. We provide our account holders with direct access to our dealing desk without the middle-man. We can answer questions about trades because we understand the markets. As a result our clients enjoy excellent execution and competitive spreads on markets in both stable and volatile time. Consumers understand the pay-per-service model and appreciate great providers like GFT. We’ve established tremendous trust with our account holders over years of award winning service. With integrity at the center of every GFT management decision, traders rely on our no middle-man execution for great trades. Check out our trade execution statistics, they are the key point of differentiation for GFT.

What is your main target market? You have offices in US, UK , Singapore, Dubai and Australia but where is the focus?

We operate retail and institutional businesses in six regions: Australia, Middle East, Japan, Singapore, United Kingdom, and United States. Each region brings a unique product, market, culture and regulatory profile. GFT are quite comfortable focusing on all of these simultaneously with two general segmentations for all.

It’s easy to open an account with GFT, easy to learn how to trade with GFT, and easy to trade with GFT. GFT provides this segment with fast account opens, great education curriculum, and easy platforms including automated ones like our new MT4. This message resonates with the broader market of traders. We’re seeing research that supports the growth of new traders into our markets driven by the frustration and desire to find a place for their cash and the possibility of a decent return. This means lots of new traders who need a trustworthy provider like GFT that can take them from brand new to informed traders over time.

The second segmentation are those experienced traders who can leverage the deep competencies that only come from a market maker like GFT. Experienced traders look for great execution and for that you need a dealing desk. Look at our no middle-man execution stats, www.gftmarkets.com , slippage and requotes make experienced traders crazy and that why they love GFT. We’ve added order limit improvement execution as well which is helping over 60% of our traders get filled at better prices than they asked for.

These two segmentations translate across regions and allow us to be relevant because at the end of the day, traders want to try and make money by speculating on the markets. GFT is committed to making that the best experience possible around the world.

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GFT is recently losing both market share (in terms of volume) and some key employees (Ashraf Ebid, Mahmoud Rassoul, Boris and Kathy) – what is going on?

Every organization sees ongoing attrition and changes in personnel over time and GFT is no different. We’ve been fortunate to have great talent at GFT since the very start and the emphasis today is on filling key executive roles with experienced, capable, proven performers from across global business both in and out of the financial services markets. We will continue to attract and retain the best candidates as opportunities present themselves and in the meantime we’re fielding a strong team with a focus on innovation, service, and growth.

GFT recently launched several new products such as Binary platform and MT4 – can you describe why you launched both products and what is the acceptance like?

Binaries and MT4 are part of a broader product development guided initiative to bring the best innovation to our traders and the markets. Binaries is a broad-market offering with literally thousands of markets to trade that is frankly fun at GFT. We introduced this as an addition to our award winning DealBook suite and it features the DealBook DealWheel. If you haven’t seen the DealWheel you’ve got to check it out. http://www.gftuk.com/Trading-Software/DealBook-Web/Binaries/ It’s intuitive, easy to use, and highly entertaining. As we discussed this fits in our strategy of making the markets accessible and easy for new traders. Coupled with the limited downside risk, binaries are a great offering. We launched this in the UK region only late last fall and based on the response we will be rolling to other regions in the very near future.

MT4 at GFT was introduced a little more than a year ago. GFT were a bit late to the party with MT4 but the response was still very strong as many traders continue to like the automated platform coupled with GFT execution. Based on the success of this, GFT has just launched a new MT4 that we did in partnership with MT4i and others. The functionality of the new platform is simply spectacular including: trading history dashboard showing your win/loss ratios, undockable charts and create multi-monitor configurations, new powerful ‘If-Done’ and conditional order controls, Autochartist tools, partial close orders, one-click trades from quote boards and charts, and the ability to follow GFT’s twitter feeds with GFT Connect. We welcome comparisons from other MT4 offerings as this provides some great features and benefits for MT4 traders at GFT.

How does the DealBook platform compares/competes with MT4? What percentage of clients uses which platform?

Our award winning DealBook continues to be the primary platform for traders at GFT. With the standard bearer for our industry DealBook 360 and DealBook Mobile which covers browsers, iPad, iPhone and our newest Android, we give every trader the choice that suits their lifestyle. The adoption of MT4 at GFT has been excellent and we’re delighted to support and service this important group of traders including our new version as discussed above.

As part of our ongoing commitment to leadership I can tell you that our product development team is hard at work creating the next generation of DealBook. This will be a highly integrated platform that will impact the market in the same way that the original DealBook did. The features and integration are aimed at meeting traders wherever they are, as traders and their level of engagement. These are great times and the technologies available continue to astound and inspire us to serve traders better.

How popular is the mobile platform – what percentage of users uses it?

Mobile trading adoption varies as you know by region. We find that many eastern regions have jumped to mobile solutions ahead of others. We’re delighted to serve both and still see the majority of trades come across with traditional platforms. Going forward we expect to see this shift as functionality improves and feature differences blur. So ask again in three years and we think the answer will be rather different. Again we see this as an exciting way to serve traders better and we’re focused on meeting and leading them there with our DealBook brand.

What is your average monthly volume?

As a private company GFT doesn’t share volume numbers. We have been and continue to be a major player in all the markets in which we choose to compete. Flat and range-bound markets are challenging for our industry and coupled with historically low interest rates we’re focused on driving efficiencies throughout our operations. We are confident that the markets will return to normal over time and we’re positioning GFT to be a strong, dominant player regardless.

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