Insights from CEOs Roundtable at London Summit 2019

"The brokers that will survive long-term in five years will be multi-asset and that's the direction the industry is going."

London Summit 2019 is officially underway, including the marquee session of the event, the CEOs panel. Leading executives formed one of the event’s most star-studded panels to discuss a wide range of topics currently facing the industry.

The panel included the following thought leaders, who comprise some of the biggest names in the industry today:

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  • (Moderator) Michael Pearl, Director of Content at Finance Magnates
  • Andrew Ralich, Founder & CEO, oneZero
  • Andrew Edwards, CEO at Saxo Markets UK
  • Muhammad Rasoul, Director at TradeTech Group
  • Harpal Sandhu, CEO at Integral
  • Richard Elston, Group Head of Institutional at CMC Markets UK

As an FMLS tradition, top execs from leading businesses in the industry took center stage to discuss and debate some of the most pressing topics today.

This included an interesting perspective on 2020 vision and what’s to come as well as a bird’s eye view of the latest industry developments.

The panel also touched on insight on the business implications from regulation while addressing growth, revenue & development. “The most important thing to do in this market is re-engineering operations for scale,” Harpal Sandhu, CEO of Integral.

Indeed, the industry is moving fast, and each panelist explained his unique perspective on where we are headed. Ultimately there was no one-size-fits-all approach, suggesting the future is quite open to a multitude of possibilities.

Is the offshore broker movement sustainable?

This unilateral flow of brokers leaving regulated markets has been well documented. This was a particular topic of note at the panel, given the importance facing the retail industry at the moment.

“Companies need to make a decision. If they want to play in a regulated market, then they need to play by the rules,” noted Andrew Edwards, CEO at Saxo Markets UK. This stance is hardly surprising, echoing the ‘adapt or die’ attitude employed by several leading venues.

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On liquidity flows and the evolution of the industry

Andrew Ralich, Founder & CEO at oneZero, delved into liquidity flows and fragmentation. By extension, Muhammad Rasoul, Director of TradeTech Group, pivoted away to a different perspective entirely, that there’s more to the market than FX. “A simplified FX shop cannot survive long-term.”

According to Mr. Rasoul, “nothing in this industry is free, and that’s not how this industry has worked now or ever.” Indeed, this struck a noteworthy chord amongst the panelists, who each had a differing perspective in 2020.

Multi-asset focus

“Most answers in life are simple. “The brokers that will survive long-term in five years will be multi-asset, and that’s the direction the industry is going,” explained Mr. Rasoul. This was reinforced by ongoing regulations as well, with the focus shifting towards a larger audience.

The panelists also touched on the underestimation brokers can sometimes fall victim to in a move towards multi-asset offerings. Indeed, the logistics and costs of these do add a layer of complexity to the model.

Dwindling talent pool?

IT was identified as the pain point in operations. The overarching assessment from the panelists was that there are too few talented people spread out over too many venues. The resulting situation is a scramble to find qualified IT personnel that are needed to continue driving operations.

2020 predictions

The dust appears to be settling from ASIC in Australia and other jurisdictions. Andrew Ralich certainly pointed to this market and the wind-down of Brexit as the major areas to watch. A year from now, he pointed to a more defined field in each of these jurisdictions, which most brokers would welcome.

By extension, 2020 also appears to give more clues as to where brokers have moved to or settled. This is the million-dollar question as an offshore exodus is currently unfolding with a large degree of uncertainty.

Still, other brokers will be squeezed out of the market entirely. Time will tell, but the panelists collectively pointed towards a more normalized state of affairs in the industry.

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