FX Poll 1999: Life after execution
The pie may be getting smaller but the top players are taking bigger slices. However, as Jack Dyson reports, the largest foreign-exchange firms are having to work ever harder to carve out a point of difference in a mature market with thin margins. In our eagerly-awaited annual foreign-exchange poll, Citigroup stays ahead of Deutsche by a whisker. Research by Rebecca Cicolecchia.
Walk around the foreign-exchange trading floors this year and the first thing you notice is how quiet they all are. Gone are the squawk boxes and the telephones ringing non-stop. Instead the desks are top-heavy with machinery, and as much of the day seems to be spent watching the Kosovo crisis unfold on CNN as dealing. But Richard Moore, European foreign-exchange manager at Citibank denies that the markets are less exciting than usual. "Although customer and interbank deal volumes are lower so far this year, the need for high-quality market advice and interpretation remains a key requirement for our client base," he says. "After all, the euro has dropped more than 10%, the yen has traded in an 11% range and it's still only April."
Hal Herron, global head of foreign exchange at Deutsche Bank, London, says: "Sure, the market is currently less noisy, but less noise can be good because you get to spend more time with clients working out solutions to their problems."
One big factor accounting for the quietness of the markets is the introduction of the euro.