London Capital Group – building success upon a new strategic focus

e-Forex talks with Charles Henri-Sabet, CEO of London Capital Group (LCG)

First Published: e-Forex Magazine 71 / e-Forex Interview / March, 2016

Charles Henri-Sabet
Charles Henri-Sabet

Charles, you have been involved in the FX and private banking markets across Europe for over 25 years. What has your broad experience taught you about how to meet the challenges of running a leading financial trading firm?

I have worked in this industry for over 25 years and have encountered and surmounted many challenges within that time.  Experience counts for a great deal with regards to running London Capital Group. This coupled with an experienced senior management team which can help develop strategy is the path to success.  You learn what works and what does not work very quickly and if I have made any mistakes in the past I have learned from them and use this to my advantage. As the CEO, I ultimately set the direction and ensure it is implemented well. It’s important to have a strategy in place with respect to which markets the company enters, how we compare with our competition, what product lines to focus on as well as ensuring that the company differentiates itself in such a competitive space.  All these decisions ultimately lie with me and it’s as a result of my experience and that of my management team within this industry that will enable us to make the correct decisions and face up to any challenges in order to run this business successfully.

What do your day to day responsibilities within LCG involve?

I take quite a hands-on approach to the business. I think it’s important to be involved in all aspects and I make sure I speak several times per day with my direct reports and with all employees regularly. Good communication, idea generation and implementation are the cornerstones of any successful business and while there isn’t really a traditional job description for any CEO; my main objectives are to set strategy and direction, ensure a profitable business model and foster a positive work culture. 

While I get lots of useful input from the senior executive team, it is really down to me to ensure everything is running well. So my day to day responsibilities are broad and can vary but I place a priority on risk management, adherence to FCA regulations and the ongoing improvements in our business flows. 

LCG is a leading provider of online trading services. In general, what types of client are you catering for?

Our main segment is private clients that we reach directly or indirectly. Our product offering suits institutional, HNWI and retail clients. FX and indices are the predominant and most traded products but as we expand, we intend to be more balanced. Our latest commission free offering on FTSE100 and Dow Jones constituents is working. What with the massive rout over the past two months in risk assets there are definite bargain hunting opportunities. Having some of the tightest spreads in the UK for FX and  these individual share derivatives gives us an edge over our competitors and indeed our active trading clients also gain an edge with cheaper trading costs.

Contracts for difference and spread betting; both versatile instruments and can be used for speculation or for hedging purposes. The ability to short gives traders double the number of trading opportunities. Over the last few years other asset classes have become more popular amongst the traders, notably commodities like gold and Oil and FX. I think the financial crisis opened up possibilities to the non-financial set, people are interested in how markets work and moreover how to gain a profit from them. 

What core range of financial trading products does LCG currently offer?

LCG allows its clients to trade in its new world class multi asset trading platform LCG Trader or the popular MT4 platform. Our clients benefit from the ability to trade either CFDs or spread bet on a wide range of over 7,000 financial markets across forex, indices, shares and commodities.  As we build our client base and grow our brand globally, we always strive to improve our offering for our clients, whether it’s via our price improvement technology or our industry leading spreads in order to make sure that we are always ahead of the competition. 

What do you see at the key strengths of LCG and the reason why increasing numbers of clients are choosing to trade with the firm?
 
We have a new cutting edge trading platform and because we are fully cognisant of the fact that many traders like to place and check trades on the go, we also provide an excellent mobile solution. We provide best in class pricings in OTC products such forex and CFDs. Our technical analysis and economic research is some of the best in class.  Our latest commission free offering on FTSE100 and Dow Jones constituents, launched very recently, is working and attracting new business. 

What with the massive rout over the past two months in risk assets there are definite bargain hunting opportunities and our clients, both existing and new, recognise this and are well placed to take advantage. Having some of the tightest spreads in the UK for these individual share derivatives gives us an edge over our competitors and indeed our active trading clients also gain an edge with cheaper trading costs. We offer a range of different educational material such as on-demand videos and e-books and regular online trading webinars which aim to both educate and inform.

How would you describe the company’s business model and in what ways do you see it as being fundamental to your future growth and success?

A global presence is something we aspire to. Through our product innovation, class leading dealing platforms and excellent customer service, we strive to give the best possible service and experience for our clients and know that this will produce dividends. 

“While still important, being aware of what clients want is a bigger priority than what competitors are doing.”

“While still important, being aware of what clients want is a bigger priority than what competitors are doing.”

Our comprehensive digital marketing campaigns and the benefits that come from a hefty presence on social media means that LCG’s offerings won’t just be constrained to the obvious markets. Growth will be both organic as well as astutely sought. 

Last year LCG undertook a major restructuring of all parts of its business. What was involved with that and how will it help you to achieve a clearer strategic focus?

We had to replace 100% of the technology, rebuild the organisation, and implement new, more efficient processes. I have had to rethink capital allocation, rebuild the brand and have a new website built from scratch. 

All of this necessitated us having to select the best people to work with us and as would be expected, an overhaul of this scale implicates a very large turnover in staffing. 

Having the right organisation allows LCG to be scalable in all business areas, more nimble and more adaptive to any material changes.  The fact that we offer our own trading platform as well as MT4 gives us great scope. 

LCG recently launched a powerful new multi-device platform called LCG TRADER. Why was the company so committed to building this and what new functionality does it offer?

Having done the research and asked for client feedback, we wanted to offer the latest new technology to our clients. Fast trade execution, an excellent mobile trading app, and regular, relevant actionable trading research is about providing the complete package to active traders. Our technology will allow us to offer many more useful tools that are currently being tested and we plan to put live in the next few months.

How important is it for leading providers of Spread Betting, CFD and FX products like LCG to continually improve their platform scalability and investment in “best in class” trading technology?

This industry is constantly evolving and it’s important not to become complacent.  There is a constant need to move with the times. While still important, being aware of what clients want is a bigger priority than what competitors are doing. Traders want an intuitive trading platform that offers the right type of user friendly functionality. Speed of execution is a priority for all but not at the expense of quality training and customer service when the need arises. LCG was one of the first financial spread betting organisations to provide white label solutions. 

What range of partnership services does the company offer and will you be maintaining your competitive strength in this area?

LCG is keen to maintain its competitiveness in the partnership space and to work with partners to expand its reach in both its core markets, and to help us gain a presence in new markets that would benefit from working with a respected UK based counterparty. Our partnerships range starts from simple affiliate deals, helping partners to direct prospective clients using their services or websites to an established broker. The next step up is working with introducing brokers who have a client base they are actively engaged with and are keen to trade through a trusted provider. Finally we will be offering both fully branded and neutrally branded solutions using our new technology for brokers wishing to provide their client base with a complete solution. We have the potential to offer these services across multiple platforms and devices and are happy to engage with potential partners over customised options.

Although the UK remains your primary market what steps will you be taking to expand the LCG brand internationally and what plans do you have for extending your client acquisition efforts into new regions around the world?

The UK will continue to be a core part of our market especially since spread betting is still a product very much in demand and with volatility reigning supreme since the beginning of the year, we would expect that to continue in the run-up to the Brexit referendum. We may also look to more actively extend this service into Ireland. We already have a core client base there. We have launched in Italy, Poland and Germany and we plan to build on this quite quickly. The comprehensive digital marketing strategy that we have employed has helped us to identify and realise where the best opportunities lie. I will also tell you that we like Eastern Europe and Asia; and the Middle East is also on the radar for future expansion. 

Founded in London in 1996 as a proprietary trading business, LCG is a firm with a long heritage. What are your key objectives for the business over the next few years and where do you hope to take it? 

We intend to take the best parts of the old heritage while embracing the future. We have recently moved our Headquarters to Knightsbridge which underlines my vision for LCG.  We look to build a brand that reflects and builds on this. As one of the UK’s leading spread betting companies we will continue offering great value for money and an unrivalled customer service to our clients.