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FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Don’t look back in anger

A lot has been made of the banks’ rights to ‘last look’ on their own and some other multi-bank platforms. This allows them to reject trades. The inference is that they do this whenever a deal is done that doesn’t suit them.

I received an email this week from someone commenting on the relative lack of liquidity on FXMarketSpace. “The volume has started decreasing, yes, but I hope it will pick up again. Probably the banks like to keep things the old way, where they have no obligation to fill when it doesn’t suit them,” my contact writes.

Smarter people than me have termed FX a casino rather than a market; after all, the house always wins. But do banks really bust trades on such a frequent basis? Competition suggests that they can’t. I’m told that the rejection rate varies somewhere between less than 1% to as much as 20%, depending on the client. Active clients, I’m also told, benchmark the banks against rejections and will swiftly move on if they don’t like the fill-ratio they are getting. Furthermore, the rules are automated and trades are turned down for various reasons, such as static rates or latency, but not because a 12 offer was lifted and it’s now a 14 bid. “It’s not about looking back and simply saying, ‘I don’t fancy that trade,’” says the chief dealer at one bank in London.

I spoke to a very active retail aggregator and a second-tier bank – admittedly a small sample size – and neither had any complaints.

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