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Banking

I don’t want nobody to give me nothing -

– open up the door, I’ll get it myself. <br><br>I get the impression that some market participants are still a little bit concerned about what I’m going to write about when I contact them.

I have to admit that I’ve been in a major sulk this week that I’ve really struggled to get out of. One of the reasons is that I’ve been working on a couple of slightly problematical stories, which I’m close to being able to report, but I just haven’t quite managed to get enough firm details. That’s frustrating, but it’s not the main reason for my stroppy demeanour.

I get the impression that some market participants are still a little bit concerned about what I’m going to write about when I contact them. I’ve stated this several times already, but if something daft is occurring, I’ll report it; if something good is, I’ll report that as well. I will always contact you and in return I expect a degree of professionalism. After all, we have to stick to the rules of the game.

In time, I reckon I will be able to tone down my at times aggressive approach to substantiating rumours as facts. I don’t expect stuff necessarily to be given to me on a plate and I’ll never shy away from kicking a metaphorical door down to get the information myself. But the information flow should improve, which will allow me to show my caring, sharing nature more fully. 

What I don’t expect, though, is the treatment I’ve just received from Deutsche Bank. Two weeks ago I rang the bank and said that I had heard it was about to have a major reorganization in its FX business. I couldn’t provide any more details and I did, I confess, say I would get back to the bank when I’d got some more facts.

I didn’t do this but that’s no excuse, in my view, for what then occurred. Deutsche decided to spoon feed the news to another publication and then send me a press release a day later. The rules of the game are simple. It’s first come, first served. If a rival journalist beats me to a story fairly, I’ll have no issue. But when they get given my scoop, I do seriously get the hump.

Talking loud and saying nothing

In a similar vein, I’ve noticed that the Weekly FiX is being described elsewhere as a “market source” when my stories get lifted. Let me just point out that I am no longer a market source. Please, would my fellow journalists who do repeat something that has clearly originated here attribute the story either to Euromoney or the Weekly FiX or, if that is too much, just say a market commentator. I left the FX market in 1993, so stopped being a source many years ago.

You’ve got the power

I have to make an apology to my old mate Andy Durrant. Last week, I failed to report his promotion to director, FX products Europe, at the CME. To compound my stupidity, I then sent an abusive email to Jeremy Hughes, who is in charge of the exchange’s press relations in Europe, asking him why he hadn’t told me.

Of course, he had, but I had one of my dyslectic moments and didn’t read the e-mail correctly. I had the pleasure of working briefly with Andy back in 1986 at the First Interstate Bank of California (Fical). Funnily enough, the bank doesn’t feature too prominently on either of our CVs.

In my case, it is justified. I was only there for nine working days. I had a disagreement with my manager at Midland and after throwing my toys out of the pram I joined Fical to trade dollar/Swiss. I realized almost straightaway that I’d made a massive mistake, even though Andy, who was trading cable and several others at the bank were top-notch individuals. I was given the opportunity to go back to Midland, which I did with my tail between my legs and for a symbolic £500 cut in my annual salary. Andy stayed longer and life appears to have treated him well over the years. He certainly doesn’t appear to have gone hungry, that’s for sure.

Lost someone

Last week, I wrote that I was getting the impression that those banks with decent trading platforms are making efforts to get their clients to deal with them directly. Just after I filed the copy, I received a copy of an email Barclays sent out to clients advising them that it had withdrawn its liquidity from Reuters’ RTFX platform. I hear through the grapevine that Barclays wasn’t seeing that much flow from it and as it’s in the process of beefing up its Barx sales force, decided that it should focus its attention more fully on its own offering. Apparently it pulled its liquidity from RTFX some time ago. According to Reuters, there are still 20 price makers left on RTFX and another 14 are poised to join them.

Money won’t change you

A strange and slightly disturbing rumour is doing the rounds about the antics of a certain forward broking desk. The allegation is that it is stretching the boundaries of what constitutes client entertainment to the absolute limit. I was a little suspicious about the veracity of the rumours to start with and did wonder if they were just a rehash of old war stories.

However, there seems to be a lot of circumstantial evidence to suggest that the allegations are true. The individual that’s been fingered certainly has a chequered past and one of his former colleagues has told me that he would be prepared to stand in a witness box and detail what they used to get up to. He also says he has got documentary proof of how points were cashed in, bribes paid and entertainment lavished. I am amazed that such practices could still be going on.

I spoke to one broker on a different desk at the firm concerned who said that he has also heard the rumours, but that he thinks the allegations of backhanders are unfounded. In his view, there is little difference between sending a client some wine or a great big plasma television. I’m not so sure. There will be more on this later.

Try me

It’s inevitable that there will be a lot of news flow about FXMarketSpace in the run-up to its full-blown launch by the end of this quarter. The platform has effectively had a soft launch with a limited number of punters playing on it and I hear that the process of connecting up to it is continuing as planned.

This week an independent software vendor called Trading Technologies announced that it had connected its X_TRADER platform to FXMarketSpace. Trading Technologies won’t be a name that’s familiar to FX cash market players, but it has a legendary status in the futures industry. I hear that the platform is very good, but the company’s real fame stems from its propensity to sue its rivals and also its own clients if it feels they have breached any of the numerous patents it owns.

To European eyes, many US patents look completely ridiculous. Over the years I have reported about the granting of various patents, including one on basmati rice and one on electronic trading. The story about the latter, the Wagner Patent, is incredible and if you want to know more, take a look at my Euromoney stablemate, FO Week.

The Weekly FiX: What's going on in the world of FX this week? Get your FiX to find out.       

  Lee's biography   

  Lee Oliver can be contacted at fx@euromoney.com.           


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