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FX survey 2013: Deutsche clings on despite Citi’s resurgence

For all the fragmentation in the FX market, the top four banks further consolidated their dominance of customer business, according to the 2013 Euromoney foreign exchange survey. As volumes rise again in FX, volatility returns and banks’ earnings from it recover, margins are still compressing. Customers are focused on cutting transaction costs. Banks face big demands on scarce IT resources.

The foreign exchange market continues to consolidate, with a growing proportion of customer volume, now 50.43%, conducted by just four banks. That is the headline from the 2013 Euromoney foreign exchange survey results. As recently as 2011, the top-four banks captured just 45.87% of volumes. Last year, they accounted for 48.26% and they continue to capture share even as the size of the market grows.

Total volume reported by the more than 16,000 end-users responding to the latest Euromoney survey, which was conducted between mid January 2013 and mid February 2013 and which asks customers for details of the banks with which they transacted business in 2012, was $225.3 trillion, up by 8% from the $208.5 trillion disclosed in the 2012 survey, which covered business actually done in 2011.

The rise in volumes might come as a surprise. Most FX trading heads were downbeat last year, especially in the second half. Chris Vogelgesang, co-head of foreign exchange at UBS, says: "During the second half of last year FX revenues were impacted by central banks taking action and pumping vast amounts of liquidity into the markets.