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FX poll 2002: Top five banks take control

Consolidation, including the transformation of regional banks from competitors of the biggest forex banks to their customers, is moving on apace. Only the biggest dealers are in a position to offer the wide range of interlinked services demanded by their largest customers and to invest in winning technology.

Go to the Forex poll results

This year's foreign exchange poll conducted by Euromoney shows that 44.48% of overall market share is concentrated in the hands of the top-five players. Last year, they held just 35.82% and in 2000 38.43%. Some banks say that in three to five years the poll will not extend beyond the top eight or 10 banks.

Volume begets volume, and flows are consolidating into the hands of fewer and larger players. Narrow spreads and pressured margins mean it is becoming increasingly difficult for regional and tier-two banks to be market makers. Buy-side clients are also becoming more choosy about the banks to which they give their business.

Big banks are out to cannibalize smaller banks' presence in the interbank markets. Smaller banks that have in the past been counterparties are becoming clients. Goldman Sachs, for one, is particularly keen to tap this growing source of financial institutions' business. It recently developed Goldman Sachs Quote Online, a forex options structuring and pricing tool with execution over chat targeted at "select clients". The firm admits these are smaller regional and tier-two banks. Regional banks in particular, it hopes, will become a conduit to regional client business.

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