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Foreign Exchange

Foreign exchange debate: The changing face of the foreign exchange market

New categories of participants, electronic trading and the use of algorithms have had profound effects on liquidity and pricing in the FX market, which now offer a real opportunity to manage macro events.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

• The dynamics of liquidity have changed as the FX market has developed

• The consensus is that all posted prices should be two-way

• The derivatives market can destroy liquidity in the spot market

• The FX markets offer the best opportunities to deal with macro events in a way that offers the highest liquidity

• FX markets have the advantage of being capital efficient and with positions that may be readily exited

Foreign exchange debate part one: Banks and buyside face up to market pressures

Foreign exchange debate: Learn more about the panelists


Sui Chung,
Euromoney I’d like to start this second half of the discussion with assessments of the liquidity situation. Mani, how do you see liquidity levels out there in the market today, at least in the leading currencies?

Mani Mahjouri (MM) is global head of foreign exchange at Sun Trading, a proprietary trading firm that specializes in high frequency
MM, Sun Trading The dynamics have changed. What we see now is a reflection of different strategic positioning; the advent of high-frequency trading into FX has definitely added value to the markets and it has allowed other participants to focus on other types of trading. With regard to the banks and their liquidity, they primarily seem to be very interested in knowing whom they’re trading with, and they’ve been able to focus on that as well. Through the top FX ECNs a lot of the volume is coming from non-bank entities producing two-sided markets and in those markets banks are consumers of liquidity now. I think it’s a reflection of having everyone focus on their relative strengths as opposed to everyone trying to do everything. That’s what makes things work.

Sui Chung, Euromoney Ian, would you agree, coming from Deutsche Bank, that you were as big a consumer of liquidity as a provider?

Ian O’Flaherty (IOF) is managing director and global head of FX e-commerce at Deutsche Bank
IOF, Deutsche Bank No, I don’t think we are as big a consumer as we are a provider of liquidity. On the other point there has definitely been an increase in volumes. That has come from two areas; one is new entrants to the market, secondly the increased ability for people to hedge has driven volumes up too. The key trend of the past few years, though, has been the evolution of FX from what was once a primarily quote-driven market into an order-driven one. At the moment new market participants have definitely helped the top-of-the-book area of the order book. Beneath the top of the book, the liquidity is not as good as it was and there isn’t liquidity at every point in the market, and sometimes at the times you need it the most it’s just not there. When you find these, you get a mini flash crash; there are a lot of mini flash crashes that happen every day in foreign exchange. At the moment the market can handle those, but it’s something that’s going to be very interesting to see how the market works them out over time.

Martin Wiedmann (MW) is a managing director of Credit Suisse in the investment banking division, based in Zurich
MW, Credit Suisse I would agree with Ian, I would describe the liquidity as sometimes discontinuous, so although it’s a 24-hour market the liquidity isn’t there at the same level uninterrupted on a 24-hour basis in all 100 currency pairs and all the payoffs. Also it’s usually discontinuous when you need it most. Particularly for the liquidity providers that makes it doubly difficult, and I guess that’s the challenge we all are facing.

Richard Olsen (RO) is an economic researcher in high-frequency finance. He is co-founder of Oanda
RO, Oanda Isn’t something quite dramatic happening? If you go back a few years you would say EBS and Reuters were at the core of the FX market and then you had the big market makers as a ring around it facing all the other market participants. I argue that the market landscape is changing. EBS and Reuters are losing their prime position. The big market makers are becoming far more prominent and are a powerful independent source of price information and liquidity. So this makes the whole discussion much more subtle. A system that was once centralized has now devolved and is operating in a distributed framework. Each of the big market makers plays a prominent role in determining liquidity.

Richard Longmore (RL) is head of EMEA FX & PM sales in London at UBS, which he joined in June 2010
RL, UBS As far as liquidity is concerned I’d say that liquidity is there. The big market makers have been able to tweak the liquidity and some of that has to do very much with what you’re talking about with regards to the way in which the big liquidity providers are increasingly the centre of gravity. But one of the issues that we face is when the market does lurch. A lot of that has to do with liquidity illusion, whereby people take a central feed, in some cases EBS, and they spit this out to a vast range of clients. When those consumers interact with the central pool it creates ripples and discontinuous movement, and I think that has been exacerbated.

All posted prices should be two-way

Richard Olsen (RO) is an economic researcher in high-frequency finance. He is co-founder of Oanda
RO, Oanda My contentious statement is that it’s a complete mistake to allow people direct access to the market without forcing them to post two-way prices. A market where you can just show one-way prices is open to abuse, even tactical abuse. The reason is very simple. When you see a one-sided price you don’t know if that’s just a very attractive price or the guy has some other information that you don’t have. The only way to prevent that is if you force people to show two-way prices. If it’s narrow you know he has no other information; if the spread is wide but one side is attractive you know he has a particular set of information.

Ian O’Flaherty (IOF) is managing director and global head of FX e-commerce at Deutsche Bank
IOF, Deutsche Bank If you were forced to show the other side, to a degree you can shade it, but now you’re able to just really show one side, and you have the active funds coming in on the ECNS just showing one side, and that makes the whole system very unstable.

Sui Chung, Euromoney Martin, do you think that makes it less stable?

Martin Wiedmann (MW) is a managing director of Credit Suisse in the investment banking division, based in Zurich
MW, Credit Suisse Yes. One side of the argument is that you can argue that these nontraditional players are trying to take market-making economic rents, if you like, but the real question is one of stability.



Ian O’Flaherty (IOF) is managing director and global head of FX e-commerce at Deutsche Bank
IOF, Deutsche Bank I’d rather have a one-sided price than no price. That adds at least liquidity on one side, and if that is at x price showing a particular interest, then I think it’s good.


Richard Longmore (RL) is head of EMEA FX & PM sales in London at UBS, which he joined in June 2010
RL, UBS But there are two different types of interaction. If I’m a hedge fund I could conceivably be an algorithmic model of some sort, and if I’m allowed to show one side of the price maybe I’m getting some sort of benefit. Equally, you’re going to get a macro trader that has a view that the euro is going to take a bath and, do you know what? I want to get myself short rather than hitting the bid, I’m just going to post an offer and I’ll be mid-market.

Richard Olsen (RO) is an economic researcher in high-frequency finance. He is co-founder of Oanda
RO, Oanda In the traditional world I have would agreed. In the old days of the old boys’ club, everyone knew each other so it was possible to impose rules of conduct. Today in the age of the internet and computer trading this is not the case. Direct access without the obligations of posting two-way prices is very dangerous indeed. This set-up is highly unstable at the very least and we need to acknowledge this and take action to remedy the situation.

Sui Chung, Euromoney As someone who represents the end consumer, James, do you feel it’s unstable? Is it an unstable market to take views in?

James Kwock (JK) joined Amundi London as head of currency management in October 2010
JK, Amundi Let’s look at the government bond market as an example. In May when we had the Greek debt problems, a lot of brokers only showed one side because they don’t want to take the other side. For me, I can understand why there is only one side to the price, and for us we only want to do one side as well. What is really important is that I want to get the best price. OK, the way to get the best price is to ask for quotations from different banks and then we execute the best one.

The liquidity mirage

Richard Longmore (RL) is head of EMEA FX & PM sales in London at UBS, which he joined in June 2010
RL, UBS The liquidity problem stems from the fact that people had a view of what liquidity is that was completely erroneous; it was a liquidity mirage. The central pool, whatever that may be, is showing 10/12 and the liquidity in the central pool is 10x10. However if you have 10 banks that are taking that central pool and are streaming it out to a vast array of clients you’ve just created 100x100 and it’s not really there. As I could trade in 100 because it said so on the machine, that liquidity existed, and therefore the market makers were mispricing liquidity. They weren’t; they were reflecting what the true value of liquidity was, which was incorrectly posted by the machines. In terms of addressing this instability, the only way in which you might reasonably do so is to create a system whereby a machine is legally obliged to provide two-way prices, and a human being, who at the end of the day should have no more informational value than anything else, or certainly not enough to create a systemic instability, would be able to post a one-way price.

Ian O’Flaherty (IOF) is managing director and global head of FX e-commerce at Deutsche Bank
IOF, Deutsche Bank I still go back to the quote-driven versus order-driven market. For most of the FX market’s history it has been a quote-driven market, so institutions have been asked by their clients to make sure that we can provide them a two-way price on the amount they want, and that has worked very well. Now you have a mixture between that and people that want to provide liquidity and they can add some value at some points in the liquidity curve and at certain times of the market. But the blurring of those two things makes it very difficult. If you layer on top of that certain technologies such as aggregation it causes even more problems. As Richard said, before everyone making the price of 10/12 off something that was 10/12 didn’t make a difference because you’d only trade once, the consumer would only trade once. Now everyone makes that same price and you then layer the aggregation on top of each other and an execution occurs on that. Those quotes are unstable, they cannot be supported. Now a mixture of technology and blurring of the quote-driven versus the order-driven market is causing instability because when everyone hits the execution button, the liquidity cannot be there.

Knock-on effects to derivatives

Sui Chung, Euromoney To me it would seem to have a more serious knock-on effect on the derivatives market?

Richard Olsen (RO) is an economic researcher in high-frequency finance. He is co-founder of Oanda
RO, Oanda It also has a knock-on effect on the derivatives market. That we talk about liquidity in the most liquid of spot markets is an implicit statement about liquidity in the derivatives market. There liquidity is a bigger issue and even more serious as the derivatives market can destroy liquidity in the spot market. The spot market needs to be vibrant so that derivative positions can be hedged at all times and the sizes of hedges adjusted. To an extent, it is possible to use advanced financial engineering to minimize the price impact of hedging and thus alleviate the liquidity issue.

Ian O’Flaherty (IOF) is managing director and global head of FX e-commerce at Deutsche Bank
IOF, Deutsche Bank The consequences of the derivatives markets evolving in the same way as the spot market would mean the spreads for derivatives would widen, without any doubt, much wider than they are now. As more and more people would then choose not to use derivatives because the costs would be too great, so you would have this movement that can never really grow because the underlying usage of it will never actually grow itself. What happens in the future in the cash market does have a bearing.

Richard Longmore (RL) is head of EMEA FX & PM sales in London at UBS, which he joined in June 2010
RL, UBS Correct me if I’m wrong, I think you’re saying that if the construction of the price ends up being by machine rather than by human beings that’s where the problem arises. Is that what you’re saying?



Ian O’Flaherty (IOF) is managing director and global head of FX e-commerce at Deutsche Bank
IOF, Deutsche Bank Machines can construct the price. As I said, you have some dynamics in the cash market that if they happen in the derivatives market will cause a problem. You have aggregation of liquidity. You don’t really get that full scale in the derivatives market – not yet. Technology could take you there quite quickly, and if it does go down the same route that the cash market has taken it’s going to have bigger problems for the derivatives market, and it might well hold back the growth in the derivatives market. I don’t think that turning it electronic is necessarily the issue. It’s the dynamics of the market of how that looks when you’re trading electronically and by voice and how the market participants work with each other. That’s where the problem can arise.

Martin Wiedmann (MW) is a managing director of Credit Suisse in the investment banking division, based in Zurich
MW, Credit Suisse It becomes much harder to aim volatility curves on a 24-hour basis because, where’s the source? It’s often a voice-focused market and it’s much harder to aggregate and to source prices on a 24-hour basis and this affects your ability to give good prices as a result; prices which are live and dealable, and so on.

Mani Mahjouri (MM) is global head of foreign exchange at Sun Trading, a proprietary trading firm that specializes in high frequency
MM, Sun Trading Right, but there’s a point in the curve where you could have standardized explorations?



Richard Longmore (RL) is head of EMEA FX & PM sales in London at UBS, which he joined in June 2010
RL, UBS You’re opening yourself up to a big arbitrage because you’ll just get a machine pinging you constantly and there will be arbs at the low delta end of the curve. If you moved to a centralized clearing model maybe that would force a standardization but the point about the FX market is that very few people want that. People have their own idiosyncrasies, some people like 40 deltas, some 20, some 15, whatever.

FX as an asset class

Sui Chung, Euromoney Going back to what Richard alluded to earlier, FX being increasingly used to express a view that would traditionally have taken place in a separate asset class, can you expand upon that?

Richard Longmore (RL) is head of EMEA FX & PM sales in London at UBS, which he joined in June 2010
RL, UBS I believe that the smart traders out there have a view of the world. It is constructed based on their inputs, what they look at, what they believe, and out of that there are certain trades that will naturally flow from those beliefs. Increasingly people are prepared to have a look at the currency angle in a way in which they would not have done even two or three years ago. Some of that is to do with the way in which the foreign exchange markets have matured as the situation regarding macro fundamentals has become more interesting to the market than the fact that x, y and z has just bought €300 million. This information is of supreme indifference to certainly me and, I would argue, to 95% of our client base. If I turn round to James and I say we’ve just bought €300 million, do you care? You just don’t, do you?

James Kwock (JK) joined Amundi London as head of currency management in October 2010
JK, Amundi You are right. The €300 million trade might have been executed for a number of reasons – such as for hedging purposes? You’re right, in isolation it’s not interesting to me.


Richard Longmore (RL) is head of EMEA FX & PM sales in London at UBS, which he joined in June 2010
RL, UBS However If I turn round to you and I build in a pattern against the macro bank drop, and say, ‘look, I believe that euro/dollar is going to get hammered and I believe it’s going to go to 120 and here are the reasons why. However, in the short term I think you’re going to get support from reserve managers so it’s a relatively slow process and here’s therefore the trade.’ That conversation as part of the equation is interesting to you, but the fact that one particular player has bought 300 is of no interest whatsoever.

Sui Chung, Euromoney James, do you encounter the phenomenon that Richard mentioned inside your own institution?

James Kwock (JK) joined Amundi London as head of currency management in October 2010
JK, Amundi Definitely. For example, a few years ago our people were very long equities, they use a dollar/yen trade to hedge exposure. And this year during the southern European crisis the people used the euro as their hedge. For example, for some investors with lots of European credits in the portfolio, when everything is not working well, the only way to help them is to buy the dollar. Even though the dollar may not be their benchmark currency, the action of buying the dollar and selling the euro is the only way to hedge because they cannot sell the Irish or Portuguese debts. In times of market stress they need the most liquid trade, and that is FX.

Richard Longmore (RL) is head of EMEA FX & PM sales in London at UBS, which he joined in June 2010
RL, UBS The liquidity point is absolutely right. If you have a look at what you could get done in terms of owning Brazil assets versus owning the Brazil real, you’re going to go with the real every time.

Sui Chung, Euromoney So FX as an asset class is a beneficiary of more end users? Martin, do you encounter that in the way Richard has?

Martin Wiedmann (MW) is a managing director of Credit Suisse in the investment banking division, based in Zurich
MW, Credit Suisse Definitely – FX also benefits because it’s very capital efficient, you don’t need to come up with the capital as such, it’s just a foreign exchange rate. You don’t need to have a billion dollars of assets to do the billion-dollar-level trade, so that is definitely also a factor.

Mani Mahjouri (MM) is global head of foreign exchange at Sun Trading, a proprietary trading firm that specializes in high frequency
MM, Sun Trading You also get transparent marks. If you need to move in and out of your positions. A lot of asset managers and hedge funds over the past couple of years were faced with large positions that they couldn’t get out of the next day. It’s very appealing to go to your end investors and say; "we’re in these positions; we can get out whenever we want to get out." We’re definitely beneficiaries of that.

Algorithmic execution

Sui Chung, Euromoney I’d like to move on to one of the reasons the market has changed in the way Ian mentioned: the increasing use of algorithmic execution. Let’s get the buy side to kick this off. James, do you utilize algorithmic execution?

James Kwock (JK) joined Amundi London as head of currency management in October 2010
JK, Amundi Not myself, but some of my colleagues use it. It’s up to the fund managers to decide. But I can see why it is interesting to use this kind of trade execution. If you have a very big size to put in the market and you just call a number of brokers searching for the best price at that moment, at that point you get the best price. But if you give it to an algorithmic system and then spread out over a few minutes at different levels, they can search for the best liquidity. At the end we should get a better price but we can never prove whether it’s better or not. What concerns me is that because of Mifid III we always need to consult different counterparties, and with algorithmic trading we can only trade with the counterparty that we decide to utilize. What I can imagine is if for some currencies that are less liquid we give this mandate to the system in advance of doing something it could be quite interesting. It’s a subject that I’d quite like to understand a bit more before I really move to executing this way, even though I have some colleagues that have been using it.

Sui Chung, Euromoney Who wants to address James’s concerns?

Ian O’Flaherty (IOF) is managing director and global head of FX e-commerce at Deutsche Bank
IOF, Deutsche Bank With an execution like this we can make it more complicated than it really is. When you’re executing, even if it’s with one of your brokers, any voice trading you do is exactly the same thing, whether that voice trading is a one- or two-way price or at best market. You’re trading with that individual institution to either take that risk from you or clear that risk for you. There’s no real difference between doing that and doing it algorithmically. As you touched on, the difficulty is knowing whether it was a good or a bad execution, or was it the right decision to make or not. That’s always a very difficult thing to know. The issue with analysing the transaction cost is that you can build it up in any way you want; you can write some of the numbers that suit. A lot of effort still needs to be put into TCA (transaction cost analysis) if clients are going to request that, but the mode of execution is not a lot different.

Sui Chung, Euromoney Martin, as a big house in the algorithmic world?

Martin Wiedmann (MW) is a managing director of Credit Suisse in the investment banking division, based in Zurich
MW, Credit Suisse I agree with what has been said. Algo in FX is good but it doesn’t suit everyone. It depends on the day, or it depends on the size, it depends on what you want to achieve. On average one can say, and you usually do benchmark this, that you will obtain a better fill. Not on every single trade. But if you look at 10 deals in a row, on eight of those 10 deals most likely you will beat a two-way risk price, a benchmark price. But you need to know what you’re doing and it’s not for everyone. You need to know that the price can move away from you, you don’t get filled at all or you only get partly filled, so you need to understand how the thing works.

Ian O’Flaherty (IOF) is managing director and global head of FX e-commerce at Deutsche Bank
IOF, Deutsche Bank But some of those issues, as you’ve said, have been around forever. It’s brought up in this new trading environment under a new guise. But it’s not very different to what’s been happening for quite a long time.



Richard Olsen (RO) is an economic researcher in high-frequency finance. He is co-founder of Oanda
RO, Oanda It’s a fancy term. It it sounds very impressive, but actually, as you say it’s still fulfilling the same functions for a consumer.


Ian O’Flaherty (IOF) is managing director and global head of FX e-commerce at Deutsche Bank
IOF, Deutsche Bank Algorithm is a simple "take profit" order, so you can dress it up in many ways. I agree with you, there are definite times when clients will want to use it and different times when clients won’t want to use it, and it’s down to the client to try to work out how they want to use it, and when.

Constraints on algo growth

Martin Wiedmann (MW) is a managing director of Credit Suisse in the investment banking division, based in Zurich
MW, Credit Suisse Usually there’s a cost associated with it, a fee to execute algorithmically, and the FX market isn’t yet ready to go down the commission route, at least that’s for many buy-side clients, so that is a challenge to overcome. Is FX going to be at some point a commission business or is it going to be a bid-and-ask business?

Sui Chung, Euromoney Mani? Any thoughts on how things could develop further in this arena?

Mani Mahjouri (MM) is global head of foreign exchange at Sun Trading, a proprietary trading firm that specializes in high frequency
MM, Sun Trading One of the things that would help us is the development of the central benchmark. We should publish at least on big exchanges so people have some idea of when things are trading.


Ian O’Flaherty (IOF) is managing director and global head of FX e-commerce at Deutsche Bank
IOF, Deutsche Bank Isn’t the equity market now finding problems with the emergence of dark pools. There are all these new venues that are coming into the equity market that make it very difficult now to even create the benchmark within equities in some cases. There was always a feeling that the FX market would leap to the equity model. Every conference panel I was on was always: "When will FX be an exchange?" That’s gone away now but to me there’s a convergence of the dynamics of the markets, the disparate liquidity pools in the FX market are very similar now to what’s happened in the equity market with dark pools. Thus the benchmark is something that’s very difficult to establish.

Mani Mahjouri (MM) is global head of foreign exchange at Sun Trading, a proprietary trading firm that specializes in high frequency
MM, Sun Trading Across all those venues the volumes are highly correlated. What’s more important is understanding that you’re executed at a fair price. You’ll get enough observations in there that enable you to say this was the price that people traded at and now I have a benchmark and I can say here is how well I did. If you do have a risk tolerance and you do have some sort of complementary risk horizon you do add value and it is better than crossing the market. There are a variety of ways you can execute that and it doesn’t always have to be algorithmic.

Sui Chung, Euromoney We also hear a certain amount about aggressive algorithms, those that are built to try to achieve alpha of some description. Can anyone shed a bit more light on where that is today?

Richard Olsen (RO) is an economic researcher in high-frequency finance. He is co-founder of Oanda
RO, Oanda I’d love it if anyone really knew. What I sense is that we now have a three-tier market: one tier is the high-frequency arbitrage-like traders, and that’s a pretty strong group. Then there is another group which is the trend followers. I think that is a very dangerous group because they can move the market in a dramatic way; they take advantage of the various venues for executing trades. Then there is a third group, that is still very small, the group that tries to be counter-trend in the true sense of the word, and really provides liquidity over the medium-term time horizon, meaning from minutes to hours to several days. These are the three groups that I see.

Mani Mahjouri (MM) is global head of foreign exchange at Sun Trading, a proprietary trading firm that specializes in high frequency
MM, Sun Trading It sounds as if you’re saying trend-forcing algorithms is the part that’s disturbing.




Richard Olsen (RO) is an economic researcher in high-frequency finance. He is co-founder of Oanda
RO, Oanda Yes, let me give you an example. Trend followers can be piling into the same trends. If the price doesn’t move to their expectations their bets get into trouble. The trend followers all bail out at the same time, which can cause a watershed of a price move. Shrewd traders take advantage of herding effects and can try to initialize these sorts of moves by timing their trades to trigger cascading margin calls.

Sui Chung, Euromoney Mani, where in those various buckets would you see your own institution and the way you guys trade?

Mani Mahjouri (MM) is global head of foreign exchange at Sun Trading, a proprietary trading firm that specializes in high frequency
MM, Sun Trading We trade on a variety of time horizons, for sure. There are temporary dislocations in markets. I wouldn’t classify anything as arbitrage any more; people who have gone in for this business and tried to profit from that have been pretty disappointed. But what I do see is a useful and profitable function in the market, there’s a need for risk transfer. That means unique sourcing of liquidity, from different areas, different asset classes. If you build the business that has access to equities, that has access to futures, that has access to a variety of different electronically traded instruments, you can source liquidity and provide a pretty complementary product to what everyone else has in the marketplace. To some extent having really great technology helps spawn those innovations, but it’s also having quantitative discipline to understand these relationships. The second category that Professor Olsen referred to – the trend follower – I wonder where that’s coming from?

Ian O’Flaherty (IOF) is managing director and global head of FX e-commerce at Deutsche Bank
IOF, Deutsche Bank It depends what the trend is: is it a sub-second trend, because a trend could be that you know from that trend the next two prices are this, or is it more than that? Is it that the creation of your price has involved inputs that are different to mine and are an expression of your different view of the world. There are two different things: there is trend following from literally knowing or listening to what’s happening in the market, and there can be trend following from just having a different set of inputs, which is more quantitative.

Mani Mahjouri (MM) is global head of foreign exchange at Sun Trading, a proprietary trading firm that specializes in high frequency
MM, Sun Trading That’s an important distinction to make. That information could also be related to trading on flows. Again, we come from a different place and it remains to be determined whether or not that’s a successful business model when you’re outside of the bank. The third is really interesting. There’s certainly a higher time horizon where dislocations can last a little bit longer. Those relationships certainly exist, the fast guys can figure those things out too, and the second group of guys can figure those things out too. That to me is probably potentially the most crowded space, but it’s also the one with the most capacity.

Latency arbitrage

Sui Chung, Euromoney Martin, do you view an institution like Sun, as Mani described, as a venue of risk transfer and just another component of the market in that sense, be the time horizon short or long?

Martin Wiedmann (MW) is a managing director of Credit Suisse in the investment banking division, based in Zurich
MW, Credit Suisse Yes. Mani described it correctly and that’s how we view that high-frequency segment. Another element that is not always mentioned is latency arbitrage, which is an issue. Streaming live dealable prices 24 hours a day in 100 pairs you sometimes somewhere find an old price, and often you find these electronic venues dealing on an old price. Banks have the right to reject it but you can’t do a check on every old price. There is a little bit of a tendency to see deals you wouldn’t like to see. I don’t know how Deutsche Bank views that?

Richard Longmore (RL) is head of EMEA FX & PM sales in London at UBS, which he joined in June 2010
RL, UBS It’s still there but it’s vastly reduced relative to where it was.



Ian O’Flaherty (IOF) is managing director and global head of FX e-commerce at Deutsche Bank
IOF, Deutsche Bank It can still be there but 99.9% of our clients are not trading with us in a latency arbitrage manner. The ones that are we know we’re going to lose money from and therefore we don’t need to provide a two-way quote to them. There’s a difference between a latency arb and, as Mani said, putting a bar in a very short time frame and seeing a dislocation. Your algorithm or your quantitative research says that euro/dollar is going to be moving up by the next three quotes. However, I need to sell at that particular point and I don’t want to wait for the next three quotes, so you’re going to take advantage of knowing that piece versus what I know.

Richard Longmore (RL) is head of EMEA FX & PM sales in London at UBS, which he joined in June 2010
RL, UBS I totally agree with that. The opportunity for latency arb is closing down, if it’s not closed down. Big players within the foreign exchange market have the analytical tools to be able to take a look at the client and have a reasonable take on whether that person is a latency arbitrageur, but that’s really to do with how quickly you’re on the wrong side of it. If you are a market maker you’re basing it on the spread; you have a certain amount of time before that portfolio will decay. If you’re consistently on the wrong side of it you have to ask yourself the question why? It’s very clear that the large protagonists within the foreign exchange market have those tools and the ability to be able to tweak their portfolios accordingly.

Trading is symbotic

Mani Mahjouri (MM) is global head of foreign exchange at Sun Trading, a proprietary trading firm that specializes in high frequency
MM, Sun Trading All I would add to that is that one of the keys is an understanding that you can’t build a sustainable business off a trading relationship that’s 100% one-sided. If it’s not symbiotic it’s not going to work.


Richard Longmore (RL) is head of EMEA FX & PM sales in London at UBS, which he joined in June 2010
RL, UBS It’s one of the huge benefits of electronic trading, it gives you an empirical view as to why a specific counterparty or participant might be bad for your business. Maybe it’s just bad for you because your machine operates in a particular way. Maybe it is because it is arbitrage, but at least it becomes a very empirical fact-based conversation in a way in which it certainly wasn’t before.

Mani Mahjouri (MM) is global head of foreign exchange at Sun Trading, a proprietary trading firm that specializes in high frequency
MM, Sun Trading That is a big advance.



Ian O’Flaherty (IOF) is managing director and global head of FX e-commerce at Deutsche Bank
IOF, Deutsche Bank One of the things that’s made us particularly successful and will make the community better is that we have approached it with a sense of communication. You’re absolutely right, FX is not equities and it’s not an anonymous market, it’s a relationship market. If you don’t approach it like that and if there’s not communication you’re going to have problems. Over the years we’ve always taken a view that we’re there for clients in liquid markets in good times and bad. The market forces everyone to make competitive spreads and over time we think the relationship is good between the two. If you look at it on too short a horizon or a single trade, you’re always going to have conversations with the client that I don’t think you should have. The better analytics you have and the more you take it as a portfolio approach over a period of time, the better it is. We continue to evolve our evaluation of our client flow, because we want to give better liquidity, better resources to clients that work well with us than we do the clients that don’t. It’s quite clear.

Interacting in pools

Sui Chung, Euromoney From your perspective as a consumer, James, how do you view interacting in a liquidity pool where Mani is present?

James Kwock (JK) joined Amundi London as head of currency management in October 2010
JK, Amundi For the liquid currencies I don’t mind, but how many liquid currencies are there in the world? In my mind it’s just the majors and there I don’t mind. In the other currencies I’m not quite sure if I have enough information about the others in the pool to be comfortable trading in it with them.

Sui Chung, Euromoney Anything you can say to allay James’s fears, Mani?

Mani Mahjouri (MM) is global head of foreign exchange at Sun Trading, a proprietary trading firm that specializes in high frequency
MM, Sun Trading Yes. I think it’s an awesome match. If you think about your time horizons and then you think about what I just described as our preferences and our risk tolerance and our risk horizon, our flow – we would have to work out what your concerns are – but our flow is not toxic to your flow. In fact, it interacts perfectly and very efficiently. That’s whether or not you’re comfortable with one set of rules or another set of rules, and that’s just sitting down at a table and discussing what are those rules.

Sui Chung, Euromoney Does that conversation of who is inside any given liquidity pool also have to extend to other market participants Would that solve some of your concerns James?

James Kwock (JK) joined Amundi London as head of currency management in October 2010
JK, Amundi Yes, definitely.




Martin Wiedmann (MW) is a managing director of Credit Suisse in the investment banking division, based in Zurich
MW, Credit Suisse I don’t see the need. It doesn’t matter, as long as there is a price and I get fair execution.




Richard Longmore (RL) is head of EMEA FX & PM sales in London at UBS, which he joined in June 2010
RL, UBS I think it’s more of a question of the price construction. I completely agree with Martin. It depends on what basis you’re operating on. If Mani is operating within my liquidity pool and is generating a price, the question for James has to be: is that the best price, yes or no. Then separately there may be the issue that Professor Olsen raised earlier on, which is: is the creation of that price somehow creating systemic problems within the currency pair. That is a much broader question. I’m not sure that anything Mani, or indeed Martin or myself, or Ian, would say could really change that. It’s an incredibly complex question.

Mani Mahjouri (MM) is global head of foreign exchange at Sun Trading, a proprietary trading firm that specializes in high frequency
MM, Sun Trading Without going into brutal details, you can feel comfortable where the price is coming from and decide whether or not that’s useful.



Richard Longmore (RL) is head of EMEA FX & PM sales in London at UBS, which he joined in June 2010
RL, UBS That’s because it basically allows us as banks to construct a price, you interacting within our market basically allows us to create a price. That’s effectively what happens. That price is then shown to other participants. The concern, therefore, has to be; is that price dealable? If the answer is yes and is the best price, great. However if that price is not dealable then there is a problem, that is a bad price and you can’t actually hit it because somehow the construction of the price is unstable. Then I would argue people should just stop using that particular platform or venue; my point being that ultimately the concern should be about the construction of the price rather than whether any given player or type of player is in it or not.

Mani Mahjouri (MM) is global head of foreign exchange at Sun Trading, a proprietary trading firm that specializes in high frequency
MM, Sun Trading The examples we’ve heard today, we’ve seen that market participants have said we do want these prices to be more stable. I definitely think that prices should be stable, but there is something to be said for being able to price risk, and the price of risk isn’t always 100% stable. By the way, you always have the freedom to go after the more stable price.

Richard Longmore (RL) is head of EMEA FX & PM sales in London at UBS, which he joined in June 2010
RL, UBS It’s a question of size. If the best price in there is half a euro, it’s supreme indifference to everybody, unless you trade in half a euro, and then it’s a question of the way in which the price behaves. I do think that stability is relevant, and the ability to be able to trade on what you see is what I mean by stability, because if you have a rejection rate set at 30%, the price it is seeing is not really the price you’re trading.

Sui Chung, Euromoney That brings us neatly to the end. Many thanks to all the participants in helping us cover such a wide array of topics.

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