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Saxo bank: Building on a bright idea

The Danish firm’s play for the niche retail market has positioned it as the world’s fastest-growing FX house.

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Lars Christensen, co-CEO of Saxo Bank “We’re really part technology company, part bank”
Lars Christensen

The world’s biggest investment banks have always dominated the global foreign exchange market, something that is becoming more and more evident as the largest players gain market share. Trying to break into a market where scale is so important is a suicidal mission for any newcomer – unless it has a brilliant new idea, that is. Saxo bank, which is now the world’s 36th-biggest foreign exchange house, according to Euromoney’s 2006 FX poll (up from 57th in 2005) is the result of one such idea.

In 1992, while Lars Christensen was still trading foreign exchange for an investment bank in London he and one of his clients, Kim Fournais – a fellow Dane on the phone back in Copenhagen – decided to set up a retail foreign exchange business together back in Denmark, as the European exchange rate mechanism was generating a lot of interest in FX trading among Danish private clients.

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