Stater Global Markets: Offering institutional access to the FX Market

e-Forex talks with Ramy Soliman, CEO of London-based Prime of Prime Brokerage, Stater Global Markets about his firm’s extraordinary fast growth and future plans.

First Published: e-Forex Magazine 76 / e-Forex Interview / June, 2017

Ramy Soliman
Ramy Soliman

Ramy, you have previously worked for the world’s largest FX investment bank, the world’s largest retail broker and a Silicon Valley-based fin-tech provider. Do you think this broad experience has given you a unique insight into the FX market and how best to serve clients?

My experience has given me a holistic view of the whole value chain. This has been a huge advantage in terms of devising our strategy and creating a service offering which is appropriate for our client base. 

From being at Citi, I understand how banks take risk, make pricing and deliver it to clients. 

My experience at IG has given me an in-depth insight into the retail market – I understand retail brokers’ pressures, their requirements and expectations in order to deliver a market-leading service to their customers. And from working for Integral, a tech provider, and also from interacting with technology providers in my roles at Citi and IG, I have a very good understanding of the capabilities of the different technologies in this industry.

In what ways were you looking to fill a market gap in the Prime of Prime segment with the launch of Stater Global Markets?

I saw a requirement for a true credit intermediation, liquidity and technology solution for institutional clients. At the time of planning Stater Global Markets, many Prime Brokers had off-boarded clients and there were very few specialist firms offering an institutional package to clients.

I spotted a gap in the market for a specialist Prime of Prime, with excellent infrastructure and a high quality offering for institutional clients.  

“Stater has a small, focused team which is a real benefit in terms of client service.”
“Stater has a small, focused team which is a real benefit in terms of client service.”

How important was it for you to be able to shape the offering from the outset and how have you been able to do that?

It was extremely important. I have been able to define and create our offering to establish what I believe is a unique and high quality Prime of Prime brokerage.
 
What I particularly value at Stater is the opportunity to be dynamic and fast moving. 

Whilst I gained great experience at Citi and IG, the downside of working at such large organisations is that it can take a while for decisions to be made, resulting in missed opportunities. You also have to work within the parameters of legacy systems.

David Barrett is Chief Information Officer
David Barrett is Chief Information Officer

I genuinely believe that we have ‘last mover advantage’ at Stater – we don’t have any legacy systems and have been able to build the offering steadily, with the very best ingredients  - an excellent team, a Tier 1 Prime Broker, top quality Liquidity Providers, leading trading platforms and the very best technology partners in the industry.

We have achieved such a lot in less than a year, building a truly credible product which has been very well received by the market. We have a small team but we have a vast amount of institutional experience between us – and our clients really benefit from that. We offer a bespoke, high quality service and are very responsive to client requirements.
 
Stater Global Markets is FCA regulated and backed by Stater Holdings in New Zealand. How important are these sort of credentials in this industry?

Very – particularly in the Prime of Prime space. We have strong financial backing through Stater Holdings and are authorised and regulated by the FCA, which is still widely regarded as the best financial regulator in the world. 

Our financial strength enables us to maintain relationships with top institutions and gain access to Prime Brokers, better quality pricing and direct disclosed liquidity. Having strong financial backing is key in this industry.

Being based in London is also an advantage. London is generally considered to be the home of Spot FX – and our offices in the City provide an excellent base from which we can market our offering.

Please tell us about the range of products that Stater currently provides?

Stater Global Markets provides liquidity, clearing and technology to institutional clients.

We offer Spot FX and Spot CFD products, with high quality pricing from Tier 1 banks and non-banks. Our clients can interact with us via a range of different platforms or FIX API. We also have an institutional quality MT4 offering, including White Label capabilities.

We provide a bespoke, flexible offering with competitive leverage and swift on-boarding. As the business evolves, we plan to expand our product range in response to client requirements.

What types of clients are you serving?

We have attracted a broad range of clients including brokers, hedge funds, high net worth individuals and professional traders. All of our clients are at the institutional end of the market, which is very much the focus of our offering.

Currently, the majority of our clients our based in Europe, although we do have some global clients. Moving forward, we aim to expand into the Middle East and Asia.

Nowadays many firms are looking for more customised FX trading solutions particularly with respect to liquidity. How does Stater meet that demand?

We have direct market access which enables us to have good relations with Top Tier banks and non-banks. We have also been able to widen our liquidity mix through bi-lateral relationships with different providers. This means that we can pick and choose the most appropriate Liquidity Providers to suit different client requirements. A very important part of our offering is our market depth and our ability to tailor liquidity for our clients.

Wei Xu is Operations Manager
Wei Xu is Operations Manager

What do your day to day responsibilities as CEO of the firm usually involve?

My remit is very broad as Stater is a small company. Ultimately, I am responsible for the strategic direction of the firm, delivering against our targets and making decisions about which new vendors or technology we want to implement. However, my role also involves new business, HR, marketing and finance activity as well as overall team management.

We are a very close knit team, with a non-hierarchical structure. We have an open plan office, with a great dynamic in the room and we generally brainstorm various issues in the office as and when they arise. Everyone in the team plays a key role in helping to reach the best decisions for the different topics we discuss – whether these relate to clients, prospects or general growth opportunities.

Marc Stenzel is Head of Compliance
Marc Stenzel is Head of Compliance

Who are the key individuals in your executive team and what roles do they have within Stater?

Wei Xu is our Operations Manager and is responsible for our systems, our MT4 offering and liaising with our technology vendors. I worked with him previously at Integral, where he was a Technical Account Manager and also when he was at Gold-i and I was based at Citi. I have always been impressed by his technical knowledge and capabilities. Wei is a fluent Mandarin speaker which is extremely useful, particularly as we look to grow our client base in Asia.

David Barrett is our Chief Information Officer, responsible for risk management, strategy and operations. David has a wealth of industry knowledge, having been in the financial markets since 1982 and in FX for over 30 years, notably at Chemical Bank, Nat West and AIG. He is experienced in serving a wide range of top-tier funds and institutional investors and has built excellent client relationships.

Marc Stenzel is Head of Compliance. He was previously a Compliance Officer at IG and Head of Compliance at FX Pro and is responsible for ensuring that Stater operates within the FCA regulatory framework. Marc speaks English, German and Spanish and is a real asset to the team.

“We are a one-stop-shop, delivering a premier service”
“We are a one-stop-shop, delivering a premier service”

Stater is operating in an increasingly competitive space. What makes your offering so compelling and what main advantages does it have?

We believe we have the correct business model for this space. We have built an offering with all the right components in terms of liquidity and technology. Stater is a matched principal broker, with an STP model and we take no risk.

We also see it as an advantage that we don’t rely on proprietary technology and can choose the best technology available to suit each client’s specific needs.  We are also not part of a retail franchise, which means we are not splitting our resources or risk.

As we started the organisation from scratch just under a year ago, every facet of the business has been looked at - from on-boarding and trading platforms through to connectivity and regulatory reporting. We have the advantage of using the very best technology in the industry.

Stater has a small, focused team which is a real benefit in terms of client service. We provide a level of service which is not usually available to all clients at larger PoP brokerages. When clients call Stater, they speak to either myself, David, Wei or Marc.  They know us all, we understand their businesses and we can respond quickly to their requests.

We have grown in a measured way and have created solid foundations from which to build on. We are experienced, impartial, nimble and dynamic – and this has been key to our growth.

You have announced a series of strategic partnerships over recent months. Who were these with and how will they assist you to meet your objective of offering best of breed solutions to your clients?

We had a rigorous procurement process to select who we believe are the very best technology partners in the industry – partners who meet our current aspirations and can help us with our future growth plans.

Stater has signed up Currenex, Integral and Flextrade, which are widely regarded as the leading institutional platforms for professional clients. We have built a truly institutional MT4 offering by forging partnerships with bridge provider, Gold-i and FX connectivity specialist, FXecosystem. 

In addition, we work with NEX Abide to provide clients with a market-leading regulatory reporting service.

Our focus is very much on offering best of breed technology. The market is evolving rapidly and we will continue to assess relevant technology companies, appointing new, high quality partners as and when we see the need.

Many commentators believe there will be increasing demand for consolidation in the liquidity and clearing of products through a single counterparty. How is Stater ideally placed to capitalise 
on this?

I agree and our whole business model is built on this basis. We can help clients with liquidity, clearing and technology. Most of our clients want a mixture of our services – they don’t tend to want just liquidity, although we can provide that if they do.

The key thing about Stater’s offering is that everything is delivered to institutional standards – from swift on-boarding and high quality liquidity pricing through to ultra-low latency execution. 
We are a one-stop-shop, delivering a premier service.

Stater has started looking towards Asia. Why does the region present a huge opportunity for you and what steps have you taken to increase your footprint there?

Asia is an obvious target for us. There’s a rapidly growing market, with brokers who have historically not had access to such an institutional quality offering but are increasingly aware of the value of such services.

Wei and I spent some time in Hong Kong earlier this year and we regularly speak to clients and prospects in the region. We are aware that Stater can fill a real market gap in Asia with our institutional quality MT4 offering which connects brokers to top tier Liquidity Providers using ultra low latency connectivity.

A key part of our plan moving forward is to focus on our growth in Asia and we have further trips planned over the next 18 months.

Stater’s growth since launch has been quite remarkable.  How ambitious are your future business plans and what steps will you be looking to take to achieve these?

Stater launched just under a year ago, having acquired a London-based FCA regulated brokerage. Since then we have re-branded the business, trebled the number of platforms that clients can trade on, increased the choice of liquidity, created an institutionalised MT4 offering, added new team members, formed partnerships with leading technology providers in the industry and attracted a range of clients. 

We have developed a reputation for excellence in a short space of time. As a result of the calibre of our offering and our achievements to date, we are delighted to have been shortlisted as a finalist in the Best Prime of Prime Provider category in FX Week’s prestigious e-FX Week Awards. This independent endorsement has given a huge boost to our business and validates the credible approach we have taken.

We plan to continue to focus on steady growth over the next couple of years, and aim to be widely recognised as a leading global Prime of Prime operator. As already highlighted, we are looking to expand in a number of regions across a variety of client segments. Asia provides a great opportunity for us – especially as Wei is a native Mandarin speaker. The Middle East is also an area we plan to target. I am fluent in Arabic and it is a region which I used to cover when I was at Citi so I have good contacts and a thorough understanding of the business landscape and client requirements in the region.

What’s the best way for firms who have an interest in working with Stater to contact you?

All contact details are on our website www.staterglobalmarkets.com. Alternatively they can email  sales@staterglobalmarkets.com. I look forward to receiving these enquiries!