The iFX Expo in Hong Kong started out with a blast today. Highlighting the first day were panels, workshop sessions and the main event, the packed conference center. Located in the spacious Hong Kong Convention Center, this year’s iFX Expo is the largest ever. Attending the day was a large contingency of local Hong Kong finance industry professionals which composed the largest group by country of those present. Also in attendance has been a diverse base of conference goers from both nearby and from far South East Asian countries such as Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.
One of the themes of the annual Asia conference is the ability for exhibitors to meet potential new Asia- region customers. In this regard, the show consists of many brokers targeting the region, at the iFX Expo looking to meet introducing brokers and affiliates. As such, partnerships highlighted the message for many firms. Included were money management solutions to offer introducing brokers an easy to monetize solution. Also, technologies and brokers were stressing the simplicity of their systems for both partners and end-user traders.
Panels – Marketing and Technology
With a focus on Asia, the Marketing Panel centered on best practices for brokers targeting the region. Participating were Ran Cohen from Traders Education, Alexander Koshkin of Alpari, Frankie Ho representing Baidu International, Andrew Mitchem from The Forex Trading Coach and Dr. Avi Grushka of Humanix ltd.
Among the topics discussed was localization. According to panelists, it’s not enough to just translate your website and product into many languages, but firms should also aim to achieve regional flavor. This includes the use of geo-targeting users to have the website appear in the language of the country they are from, using color schemes that are popular in the region and videos featuring acting, voices and look of that country.
Panelists were also asked about what they believe are the key trends of marketing now. Despite the move towards automation and bringing trading online, panelists recommended that brokers remember this is a relationship based business. Therefore, knowing your customer and having a personal connection is important. Ran Cohen explained that due to this need, his firm is finding that live webinars, such as those in collaboration with a forex portal with a large email subscriber base, are providing the highest conversion rates. Cohen conceded that such webinars are limited in their audience since they are live, but are worth undertaking because of their positive results.
Dr. Avi Grushka cited behavioral economics as an important marketing trend. Grushka explained that to a broker, two customers who deposited $50 and now have $75 may look the same, but if one made well more than $75 and lost it all, that trader’s psychology is very different than someone who profited $25 and has never lost. As such, using big data technology along with behavioral economics to understand clients better can provide superior retention performance when brokers are marketing to customers based on their psychological profile.
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In regard to relationships, Alexander Koshkin related the importance of similarly having strong connections with affiliate and introducing broker partners. Koshkin explained that partners provide important insight such as optimal adverts for different regions which can lead to better conversion rates.
Like for marketing, the technology panel focused on Asia. Participating were Eric Cui of Rise Hill Holdings Limited, Paul G. Smith of Mobile Trading Partners, Oded Shefer of CPattern, Itai Damti from Leverage, Andrew Ralich representing OneZero and Albina Zhdanova from Tools4Brokers.
One of the interesting debates was with regard to regional customizations for MetaTrader 4. The consensus was that the platform has become so synonymous with the retail trading industry that most traders are content with MT4 without requiring regional customizations. However, it was suggested that despite customer familiarity with MT4, traders are still looking for unique bolt-on products such as mobile platforms and education which need to be made available in a regional flavor.
Where regional customizations for MT4 were viewed as important was in relation to back office handling of liquidity and data. In this regard, brokers were advised to integrate systems such as point to point connectivity to reduce latency. In addition, it was suggested that firms should partner with local telecom companies to handle issues such as dealing with the ‘Great Wall of China’ and local routing of connections.
Another topic of discussion related towards mobile trading. A portion of panelists believed we will soon see the arrival of a true mobile only broker (more on this in a follow-up article). However, the clear consensus is that mobile trading still hasn’t surpassed the desktop experience with the vast majority of customers limiting their use of mobile apps to monitor the market.
Nonetheless, panelists highlighted the growth in mobile only users and the importance of realizing that they exist. As such, brokers need to be sensitive to satisfying this growing client base. Possible solutions include the integrations of payment and compliance processes on mobile and creating apps that learn about the user and adapt the interface to meet their profile.