I had the chance to interview Sanjay Madgavkar, the Global Head of Citi’s retail FX business – CitiFX Pro.
Q: Is Citi planning on developing its own trading system just like Mogran Stanley and Barclays lately did? Or is Citi going to keep relying on existing technology such as MT4 and Saxo’s?
A: Our clients are happy with our customized technology from Saxo and our MT4 offerings. We have a strong, collaborative relationship with Saxo Bank and feel it meets our client needs well.
Q: Can Citi disclose some numbers – such as the number of clients and/or the traded volume just like some of the industry participants do? I’m mostly interested in the monthly volume figure as I’d like to add Citi to my monthly volume survey.
A: We do not mention traded volume numbers, but can report exceptionally strong growth over the last 6 months in particular. We expect further growth in the next 6 months with an expanded global presence: we are going live in the UK in the next 2 weeks and will go live in other European countries shortly thereafter.
Q: What is the ratio of Citi’s Web users (CitiFX Pro) vs a Desktop platform users (MT4)? Do you see any trends in the web/desktop usage?
A: We have a desktop version of CitiFX Pro as well. In fact the bulk of our CitiFX Pro users access our platform via a desktop version. I believe there remains a strong interest in desktop applications although there is a growing audience for web and mobile usage.
Q: Why did you decide to eventually add MT4 to your offered platforms?
A: The MT4 interface and automated trading capability is very popular among individual and small institutional FX traders. Given that clients have established loyalty to this platform, we felt it would be a good idea to offer the benefits of dealing with Citi – liquidity, reliable pricing and a world-renowned institutional counterparty – to this client-base.
Q: What is Citi offering now, and plans to offer in the future, to auto-traders – a very trendy market segment right now? Can you estimate how much percentage of your volume is done by auto-traders?
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A: CitFX Pro offers MT4 trading and API trading, both of which can be generated by automated/ programmatic trading engines. We plan to expand this capability in the months to come as the segment appears to be growing rapidly and many of these clients would like to deal with Citibank as their counterparty.
Q: Do you see any specific trends in what clients are asking from you in terms of platforms, pricing, decision supporting tools (such as autochartist)?
A: Client needs vary depending on the segment. Some segments (funds, brokers) require primarily liquidity and reliable execution. Others, such as individuals, value Citi’s research and value added products that help in their decision making process.
Q: Are you going to enter the forex options and binary options space?
A: We intend to offer forex options. We are not clear about whether binary options will be a part of that launch.
Q: How is Citi going to increase its market share – any specific targeted geographies or potential acquisitions?
A: We have ambitous plans to develop our geographic presence. We will be live in the UK in June and then in other European countries and the Middle East later this year. We also have plans to launch our product in other Asian countries, including Japan.
Q: Where do you think retail forex market is going to be a few years from now and what role will Citi take in it?
A: We believe the retail forex market consists of several segments, which are quite unique. The term retail usually refers to all clients that trade against cash margin. Citi aims to have a market-leading product for small institutions (hedge funds, brokers, money managers) and qualified individual traders. Citi will continue to expand its product offering and the number of regions it is live in – we hope to have a strong product in all the major global markets that will appeal to all our target segments over the next 12 months.