LR: Hi Brian. I know you’ve been incredibly busy at Equiti Capital over this year. Do you mind if we go over some of your new developments?
Brian: It really has been an extremely busy, but hugely rewarding year, at Equiti Capital and the wider Equiti Group.
I’ve been particularly proud of the team at Equiti Capital during 2019. A lot of our competitors have found it increasingly difficult to pivot or grow through the global regulatory and technological changes that continue to evolve in our industry.
At Equiti Capital, we’ve doubled our workforce in London with extremely skilled and experienced industry professionals. We’ve onboarded outstanding people in our Institutional, Trading, Product, Finance and Business Intelligence departments. We continue to invest in our Development and IT infrastructure divisions and I’m excited about a lot of the projects there. For example, AlgoLabs- our Research and Development ‘arm’ of Equiti- has really taken shape and is something that embodies our investment in innovation. AlgoLabs fosters collaborations with universities and we sponsor and supervise PhD research to actively remain at the cutting-edge of new ideas and technologies. AlgoLabs went live with several software products from its proprietary ‘Cerebro’ platform over 2019, helping our trading desks manage their risk. This will be scaled up even further in 2020.
In the wider Equiti Group, we have opened new offices including in LATAM and through the Middle East. There have been several senior executive hires recently that have been outstanding additions to our diverse, global workforce. The entrepreneurial spirit that lives throughout our organisation and the hundreds of people we have working with us at Equiti is so energising. While many companies are unfortunately contracting, moving offshore or looking for any exit, we continue to expand.
LR: ESMA is making life very hard for brokers these days. Are you feeling ESMA’s pinch and how has the company grown this year, compared to some other brokerages in London?
Brian: Equiti Capital (UK) only onboards our B2B and Institutional partners. This is in the DNA of the London office and where the majority of investment from Equiti Capital is and will remain. Our other offices throughout the Middle East, LATAM and Africa also focus on the retail market, which are onboarded into our other regulated entities. The company is always reviewing this positioning but are happy to remain this way for the foreseeable future. In this way, the ESMA Product Intervention measures had minimal impact on Equiti Capital’s business.
LR: Why do you think retail FX is changing so fast and what’s next for the industry?
Brian: The industry ‘feels’ smaller in London currently, with very limited new retail players coming to the CFD/ FX/ FSB retail space and several brokers looking to downsize operations. Outside of London, its known that retail brokerages are looking to send their clients to ‘offshore’ locations or, like Equiti Group, are setting up locally regulated entities through the emerging markets. As mentioned, it doesn’t affect Equiti Capital, but I sense that in Europe, where various brokerages compete for the more sophisticated traders in a saturated environment, it has become increasingly tough. This has been tangibly seen by the decrease in quarterly revenues from Eurocentric brokers and the impact this has had on the listed brokerages’ share prices.
LR: You just joined the oneZero network, recently launched the WebTrader as well. Are you planning any new product roll outs soon?
Brian: Integrating with One Zero’s liquidity hub is part of a strategic drive to increase our coverage within the API/Margin space. We have spent some time refining our liquidity relationships and One Zero will be an avenue for distribution. Staying within the Margin API world, in terms of new initiatives you will see news before year end about a new vendor partnership along with us gaining the ability to price additional products via API.
On a Group level and for our Retail clients, we are extremely proud of the number PSPs we have onboarded and will continue to onboard into 2020, alongside this we are actively working through our features backlog to greatly improve our client portal and trading solutions.
We also launched a new product in our egm securities arm (Kenya) called fxPesa. This is an industry leading, end-to-end solution for our East African retail clients – from the mobile app and webtrader to the way we communicate their journey with us. As the first regulated online broker in the region, we’ve spent a lot of time and resource educating the growing market and this remains incredibly important to us into next year.
Our Group 2020 strategy is primarily focused on retail and to complement this we are implementing our own platform, completely customisable to our client’s needs. We are so fortunate to be surrounded by a world class and dedicated team that can manage these incredibly beneficial but complex tasks.
LR: What are your future plans for growth?
Brian: As a Group, we are steadfast in our approach to work with local partners, regulators and employees to bring the best and most secure environment to our traders. We were the first to be regulated in some of our key jurisdictions across the globe and we are currently working with several regulators to continue this trend. Exciting times. We’ve never shied from aggressive expansion plans and I know the Equiti Group Board are keen to continue this dynamic mindset into next year.