ACM – helping clients get closer to currencies

e-Forex talks to Nicholas Bang, the Managing Director of leading Swiss forex broker, Advanced Currency Markets SA (ACM).

First Published: e-Forex Magazine 34 / e-Forex Interview / January, 2009

Nick Bang, the Managing Director of leading Swiss forex broker, Advanced Currency Markets SA (ACM)An overview of ACM

ACM is a leading Swiss forex broker with capital requirements in excess of both US and Swiss regulations. Founded in 2002, the company now boasts offices on four continents and turnover exceeding US$60bn a month with over 10,000 clients all around the world.

ACM´s websites get between 30-40,000 visits a day. They operate in 13 languages, including Arabic. ACM has extensive experience with Arab clients from its Geneva office and in 2005 the company opened a representative office in Dubai, overlooking The Palm. In 2008 ACM opened an office in New York and is one of very few brokerages to be regulated in both the United States and Switzerland.

The Swiss online FX broker is in the process of becoming a Swiss bank, in accordance with new regulations requiring Swiss forex brokers to obtain a Swiss banking status.

ACM offering includes four easy to use platforms, (Advanced Trader, Advanced Web Trader, Advanced Flash Trader, and Advanced Mobile Trader) from a single account. Features include WYCIWYG (What You Click Is What You Get) execution, as well as a guaranteed stop losses and a guaranteed no re quote policy, something clients find attractive in current market conditions.

The company offers spreads as low as one pip for its institutional size accounts, as well as spreads as low as two pips for smaller account sizes, with an average spread of three pips for retail accounts on the major currencies.
Client monies are spread amongst major banks according to ACM and the company recently increased its capitalization from three to twenty million Swiss Francs.

White Label, Introducing Broker and Multi Client Asset programs are in place at ACM allowing the broker to offer a wide range of possibilities and it currently maintains over 600 partnerships with different companies, including White Labels with major banks.

ACM – helping clients get closer to currencies

Nick, what impact have the new regulations in Switzerland and elsewhere had on ACM's business model?

For a firm such as ACM, regulation is always a good thing. The reason is simple: Regulation consolidates the market by eliminating non serious companies. At ACM we have always been ahead of forthcoming regulatory requirements and we have always welcomed any initiatives aiming at making our business as transparent and safe as possible. Essentially the new banking regulations have no impact on ACM because we have been preparing our transition toward becoming a bank since 2005.

ACM – helping clients get closer to currencies

Were the new regulations timely or necessary in Switzerland and the United States, how do they differ and what impact have they had on that market?

The US has always had a strong regulatory environment as far as financial markets are concerned. In Switzerland, the administration has been concentrating mostly on banks so far and is now realizing that numerous other actors are involved in the financial markets. The Swiss financial authorities (SFDF and SFBC) think, and they’re right, that these new actors have to comply with the rules that set the outstanding financial standards Switzerland offers.

ACM Management & founders : Alexandre Axarlis, Director, Nicholas Bang, Managing Director, Lloyd La Marca, CEO

ACM Management & founders : Alexandre Axarlis, Director, Nicholas Bang, Managing Director, Lloyd La Marca, CEO

What do you see as the main strengths and attractions of ACM to the retail client?

We strongly believe that ACM offers the best technology coupled with the most attractive trading conditions, which create a truly advantageous trading environment for our clients. Imagine four interconnected platforms to keep in touch with your positions in any situation, with no fee or any commission whatsoever, extremely tight spreads and guaranteed stop and limit orders in all market conditions. I think the above says it all.
The simple fact that we do not charge any commission or fee at all, even when clients are withdrawing funds, adds up to complete transparency and optimal cash management. On top of that we have been applying a unique execution policy since inception, called the WYCIWYG policy. That means that the price quoted in our platforms can be traded with a single mouse click, without any re quote or slippage - ever.

What plans do you have to increase your geographical footprint?

ACM as been a pioneer in many markets. We established a presence in the Middle-East in 2005 with our Dubai office. Our Spanish and Lat Am desk is located in Montevideo while our US licensee, ACM USA opened in early 2008 in New York. These locations are already cover most of the world but we are of course planning to extend our representations to promising markets, but exact locations are top secret for the moment.

ACM – helping clients get closer to currencies

How many liquidity providers do you have?

As one should expect from a leading online currency broker, we have relationships with all major FX API providers.

What kind of redundancy do you have built into your systems?

Well, basically all our systems, or I should say infrastructure, has built-in redundancy. That includes the platforms, the servers, but also the electricity supply, the server room’s air conditioning - everything. We also have what is called a “Disaster Recovery Plan” including a remote infrastructure guaranteeing the continuation of our services in case of major disaster.

When clients open an account with ACM, where and at which banks is the money actually kept?

For regulation purposes, we cannot disclose that information, but when a client opens an account with ACM, they have the possibility to deposit their funds with several well known, reliable banking institutions.

How has the recent market volatility affected client profitability?

The recent volatility has created numerous trading opportunities for our clients. At ACM, we are proud of the fact that we have managed to keep the same trading conditions for our clients throughout this period of high volatility.

Nick BangHas the global credit crunch affected client behavior in any way?

It certainly has influenced the way they consider FX. Traders are looking for liquidity, and FX is the last and most liquid market available. Therefore more and more clients are turning to ACM to trade Foreign Exchange as an alternative asset class. Today clients have a good chance of generating profits as compared with the equity markets.

The online FX market is very dynamic. Looking ahead is it likely to get harder for ACM to distinguish itself from competitors in the marketplace and if so, how do you plan to address this challenge?

We pride ourselves on the quality of our service, which will continue to place us above our competitors. Due to ACM’s position as one of the world’s largest, most competitive and reliable brokers, it would seem easier in the near future to continue increasing its market share, by offering the most competitive conditions in the retail FX market. Moreover the consolidation we expect from ever increasing legal and regulatory requirements will clean the landscape, leaving only the most serious, competitive and reliable brokers in place. This leaves us in a very positive position towards future and existing clients.

Can you tell us a little about your White Label proposition?

Our WL product allows banks and licensed brokers to add foreign exchange to their clients offering. It’s fully and seamlessly customizable. Based on a revenue share, our partners would take advantages of this offering with limited development of design costs, it implies absolutely no development or design costs to the partner. Our WL specialists have an extensive knowledge of institutional clients business and IT requirements. Once a WL is in place, we offer an institutional partnership creating new opportunities built on each other's expertise. The partner is able to provide his clients with all the services ACM offers, and use our practice account subscription program to capture new leads and so enlarge their market share.

Has the addition of the Paypal payment solution been popular with customers?

Yes indeed, people find it very convenient and easier than the usual wire transfer. This new funding facility is becoming more and more popular in certain regions. It was a natural development to add the Paypal and Credit Card funding facility to our offer.

Your main office is in Geneva, with satellite offices in New York, Dubai, and Montevideo. What function do these offices perform?

They have various functions but primarily they are for the acquisition of clients’ equity.

You offer functionality on the move via your Mobile Trader platform. How popular has this become with clients?

We have offered Mobile Trader now for three years. Actually, we are a pioneer in mobile FX trading. It has been very popular with our clients who are often on the go. I’d like to emphasize the fact that our mobile platform is completely interconnected with the three other ones; it is a fully operational product, not another “tech gizmo”. You can actually trade and monitor your account with it.

Nick DunnYour Advanced Trader platform provides Strategy Builder software for automated trading and indicator creation. How does with compare with industry standard platforms such as MetaTrader and how popular is it with clients?

Our platform provides similar functionality to MetaTrader, with the added advantage of actually providing good execution. Since all of ACM’s software is completely proprietary, it has allowed us to provide our clients with the fastest execution available in the market.

We have noticed that you are now ISO 9001 compliant? What does this involve?

We were the first online broker to be ISO 9001 certified. Since then we have obtained the ISO 27001 certification and we are also the first double certified online FX broker. These certifications are a guarantee for our clients that we manage our business following strict guidelines and that data in our possession is well protected. Very briefly, the ISO 9001 certification involves the implementation of a Quality Management System to provide a set of processes that ensure a common sense approach to management. ISO 27001 is a certification attesting of the effective implementation of an Information Security Management System (ISMS). This standard guarantees that the security of information systems has been taken into account and that the company is committed to a process of constantly improving the conservation and protection of data in its possession

The retail FX market has risen from virtually nowhere and become an integral part of the FX marketplace. How do you see future trends developing in the short to medium term?

We see now that FX is not only the market offering the biggest liquidity; it is also the only one to remain liquid during financial turmoil. FX is now clearly considered as an alternative asset class. During the current crisis this new perception has been amply illustrated by equity and bond traders shifting from their traditional markets towards FX in this essential search for liquidity… and in FX they have discovered even more liquidity. They have discovered that the FX markets are open 24 hours a day, and that they could actually trade without paying any fee or commission. They could trade up to a hundred times their deposit without risking any negative balance thanks to our leverage and margin liquidation policy.
Our technology make it available for anybody who knows how to use a computer and is interested in finance while it provides professional traders with cutting hedge tools and conditions. To illustrate that, simply have a look at our new advertising motto: “Get Closer to Currencies”. This is what we do: We get the people closer to this amazing and fast growing market, by literally bringing the market to them.