Greek Forex Brokers Open for Business Despite Ongoing Restrictions

As Greece struggles along, Vasilis Tsaprounis helps us answer the question of how Greek brokers are fairing.

As the Greek crisis fades from media focus following the acceptance by Alexis Tsipras of the bailout terms proposed by Greece’s creditors, Finance Magnates catches up with Vasilis Tsaprounis, Chief Economist and CFO of leading Greek broker MagnaFX, to discuss how local forex and CFD brokers have been affected.

Vasilis Tsaprounis, Chief Economist and CFO, MagnaFX
Vasilis Tsaprounis, Chief Economist and CFO, MagnaFX

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Indeed, the country has faced a number of trading restrictions. The Athens Stock Exchange reopened recently after a 5-week shutdown. Upon opening, Greek banks in particular nosedived, with share prices falling as much as 65% in just three days. Capital controls remain in place and economic data looks dismal, prompting investors to remain cautious.

In such an atmosphere, you would be forgiven for thinking then that Greek brokers must be struggling. However, Mr Tsaprounis was sanguine about their plight, and his firm, MagnaFX, in particular.

“The crisis had a very little impact on us, since our basic model plan continues to be on an institutional level, while the retail business was also intact.”

Indeed, while he notes that “it is taken for granted that the Greek crisis – coming to its zenith with the introduction of capital controls – left a negative ‘trace’ to the local market”, Greek brokers retain some advantages.

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Due to the imposed capital controls, without a Greek Custodian Bank, Greek investors can’t trade FX and/or CFDs, unless they have a bank account abroad.

Specifically, while the volumes of Greek accounts have diminished significantly across the industry and with the imposition of capital controls restricting domestic investors from withdrawing cash from their Greek bank account to trade on foreign platforms, the two Greek forex brokers that are regulated by the Hellenic Capital Markets Commission (HCMC) – namely MagnaFX and AAAFx – continue to serve local investors.

Mr. Tsaprounis explains: “Due to the imposed capital controls, without a Greek Custodian Bank, Greek investors can’t trade FX and/or CFDs, unless they have a bank account abroad. We are one of the only companies that have a Greek Custodian. From this perspective, among all the companies that are engaged in the FX industry in Greece, only MagnaFX and AAAFx are entirely Greek companies, fully supervised and regulated by HCMC, which can provide FX and/or CFD trading for Greek clientele.”

Of course, Greek brokers also continue to serve foreign customers. In MagnaFX’s case, Mr. Tsaprounis pointed out that it also has a reputable foreign bank as a custodian, allowing ongoing international trade.

With a Grexit off the table for the time being, it is unlikely that Greek brokers will have to contend with the introduction of a local currency anytime soon. But as Mr. Tsaprounis confidently muses: “Nevertheless, an investment company like us, with an exceptional organization, solid administration and high-calibre, experienced staff, not only would not have have any kind of issues in a case of a default State, but definitely would take high advantage of the new status, since we would have another local major offered currency to trade.”

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