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BofA plays FX catch-up

Foreign exchange

If there's one business that has always been noticeable by its absence from Bank of America's ambitious push into investment banking, it's foreign exchange. It is certainly no newcomer, but it has never figured much outside of its traditional US corporate client base and, to an extent, the Asian business it inherited through one of its early acquisitions, Security Pacific.

Its relative insignificance  – it rarely finishes in the top 10 of Euromoney's annual foreign exchange survey – might have pleased competitors but it's no longer an acceptable state of affairs inside the bank.

After years of benign neglect while the bank concentrated on building a bonds and equities franchise, its executives decided earlier this year to expand its FX operations. In charge since March has been Christiane Mandell, who until then was head of institutional sales, as well as head of e-commerce for a time. Since she started, she says, the bank has added more than 70 new institutional clients, and intends to increase this further in the coming months. "The bank wasn't sure about the growth potential of this business for a while," she says. "It seemed like it might become commoditized when the euro was introduced.

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