Ramy, you set up Stater Global Markets in October 2016. Has growth been as planned?
We set up the business in 2016 when Prime Brokers were starting to off-board smaller clients. We saw a real opportunity for a high calibre, liquidity and technology agnostic Prime of Prime broker. From the outset, Stater’s aim was for steady growth in order to build a sustainable business.
Our initial three year plan has prioritised developing a robust infrastructure, client acquisition and brand recognition. I am very proud of the fact that we have delivered in all three areas. We have institutional calibre technology, a growing global client base and a brand which has gained recognition amongst the broker, hedge fund and institutional investor communities in key territories within our industry.
How has your industry experience shaped Stater’s offering?
I have previously worked in senior roles at Citi – the world’s largest FX investment bank; IG – the world’s largest retail broker; and Integral – a Silicon Valley-based FinTech provider. This has given me a holistic view of the whole value chain and an insight into how best to service our clients. However, it’s not just my experience that has shaped Stater’s offering. We have a very experienced team. For example, Simon Henry, our Head of Compliance has over 17 years’ experience in compliance-based roles, including Head of Compliance at GAIN Capital Forex.com; London Capital Group and LMAX Exchange.
Ashraf Agha, our Strategic Advisor, has over 30 years’ experience in the financial sector, with roles including Head of Treasury at Saxo Bank and Co-Founder and Executive Director of CFH Clearing. He has also held a number of Board-level positions for FCA regulated entities and innovative FinTech companies and brings significant expertise to Stater in operations, compliance and Prime of Prime.
I believe it’s our collective experience, combined with the fact that we are agile and have very high service levels, which have been key to our success to date. As we started the business from scratch, we have the advantage of not having had any legacy systems. All of our technology partners have been through a rigorous selection process and I am confident that we are using the very best technology in the industry - from on-boarding and trading platforms through to connectivity and regulatory reporting tools.
How has your day-to-day role changed since starting the business?
Stater Global Markets is a young company and so I have a ‘hands on’ role across all areas of the business and, as sole Director of Stater Global Markets, I have ultimate responsibility for our governance function. As we have grown the team, I have been able to delegate certain business areas to other team members, freeing up some of my time to focus more heavily on the strategic development of the company.
What challenges have you faced as the business has evolved?
Over the last year, as a result of ESMA, we have been operating in a challenging business environment. With increased regulation in Europe, we have been looking at growth opportunities in other territories such as Asia and the Middle East.
A key part of our strategy, however, has been diversification – both in terms of the type of institutional clients we work with and the geographical regions where they are based. This helps to mitigate any macro themes which adversely affect particular client segments or certain territories.
A significant challenge which all true Prime of Primes face is capital. To grow a Prime of Prime, there is a constant requirement to maintain adequate credit capacity at its Prime Brokers. This drives the ability to facilitate clients’ trading requirements. We are capitalised prudently and are in active discussions to future proof our business platform by looking to raise additional capital.
How would you describe Stater Global Markets’ position in the Prime of Prime industry?
The blend of attributes that Stater Global Markets can offer differentiates us from other Prime of Primes. We trade on a Matched Principal basis - our clients trade directly with our Liquidity Providers (this also means our counterparty risk is reduced), we are regulated by the FCA, and we focus on packaging the best technology in the industry. I believe that as a truly liquidity and technology agnostic broker, with absolutely no inherent conflict of interest against our clients, Stater is largely unique in the Prime of Prime space.
What would you consider are your biggest achievements since launching Stater?
Growing the business to a point in which we can attract high calibre, experienced employees from within the industry has been a testament to our success. In addition, we’ve been a finalist for three consecutive years for FX Week’s Best FX Prime of Prime Provider Award which, for a young business in a competitive sector, is a great independent endorsement. I am also proud of the fact that we have developed an offering which is attractive to institutional clients worldwide and that we have put solid foundations in place for a sustainable business.
What is your typical client profile and in which regions are your clients based?
We service regulated brokers, banks and corporates, hedge funds, market makers and proprietary traders.
Our clients are currently spread across over ten countries, including the UK, Cyprus, Australia, UAE and China.
What services does Stater currently provide?
Stater Global Markets offers institutional clients direct access to Tier 1 bank and non-bank liquidity, clearing and institutional grade technology for FX and CFD trading. We provide clients with institutional Spot FX liquidity, CFDs and Exchange Traded Futures. We can customise feeds on a client by client basis.
Please explain about your liquidity offering and the sources of your liquidity.
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 to suit their specific requirements.
How much demand are you seeing for multi-asset liquidity?
We have had increasing requests for multi-asset liquidity. In the retail FX broker space, this is a clear reaction to the ESMA regulatory scrutiny that has affected FX houses. Diversifying revenue streams through additional products (expressed mainly through CFD’s) is sensible. Some have expanded into cash equities too. To service retail broker requirements, we already offer indices, commodities and metals. However, we are looking to expand our existing range of CFDs into other asset classes. We have been working on a cryptocurrency CFD product which we aim to launch soon.
For the institutional side of the market, expanding our FX product from Spot FX to include Swaps, Forwards and Options is something we are aiming for as the business develops further.
You pride yourselves on your industry leading technology across all areas of your business. Please explain further about your overall technology strategy.
Our strategy is to use best of breed technology across all areas of the business including trade execution, onboarding, client verification, regulatory reporting and staff training. We have been very rigorous in selecting the right partners for our business. The technology we use at Stater increases efficiencies, speeds up operations and mitigates issues that can occur through human error.
We also continually assess and review new technologies to see if they will add further value to our business. A key part of our strategy is to pioneer appropriate automated systems and new technologies – this will help us to stand out as a leading firm in our industry.
Stater is known for its fast and efficient onboarding. How does your technology aid with your onboarding process?
We have forged partnerships with a number of innovative third party technology partners in order to provide a fast, simple and compliant onboarding process for clients, with a strong audit trail for the regulators.
Stater was one of the early adopters of muinmos PASS, automated regulatory compliance (ARC) software, which we use for assessing client appropriateness. We also use Bloomberg Entity Exchange, a centralised secure platform which enables trading counterparties to share client data. Through Bloomberg we have a short, online application form for corporate clients. The onboarding experience for our clients is very simple and lean, reducing the need for them to print and scan multi-page documents and provide a range of documentation, which can be off-putting.
Tell us about your senior team and the roles they play.
In addition to Simon Henry, our Head of Compliance and Ashraf Agha, Strategic Adviser, both mentioned above, David Barrett is our Chief Information Officer and Wei Xu is our Operations Manager. Both David and Wei have been with the firm from the outset.
David has worked in the FX industry for over 30 years, notably at Chemical Bank, Nat West, and AIG. He is very experienced in serving a wide range of top-tier funds and institutional investors. Amongst his many responsibilities at Stater, his role involves risk management and strategic development.
Wei Xu is a technology specialist who previously worked in technical and account management roles at both Gold-i and Integral. At Stater he is responsible for all of our systems, our MT4 and MT5 offering and liaising with our technology vendors. He has over a decade of experience in FinTech and is extremely knowledgeable.
He plays an invaluable role in helping me to make informed decisions relating to the selection of our technology partners. He is also a fluent Mandarin speaker which is extremely useful, particularly as we look to grow our client base in Asia.
Over the last year, you have spent time in Australia, China and Hong Kong. What is your view of the Asian market and how are you able to attract clients in the region?
We have spent a number of years building our presence in the region attending expos and visiting clients to understand their requirements. I am pleased to say that this has reaped rewards and that we have a good offering, particularly Bullion, and we are onboarding clients from the region. Australia is a very important region for retail brokers and will continue to be so given the regulatory changes. China retail looks to have retreated a little but other Asian markets are becoming busier - Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia have all grown in maturity on the retail side. As a region, Australasia is a very important for Stater.
As a native Arabic speaker, are you looking into opportunities in the Middle East?
Yes, it’s another good region for traders, particularly in Bullion. We have exhibited in the UAE and have customers from the region.
How ambitious are your future plans for the business?
My ambitions are to be as successful as possible with Stater. I strongly believe the market for customers requiring Prime of Prime will grow significantly over the coming years through regulatory/competitive forces.
Our focus is on positioning the business competitively to take advantage of that opportunity. But we must accept that Stater is still a young company and just completing its start-up phase against a mature and well capitalised peer group so it won’t be easy. However, we are ambitious, experienced and capable!
If you were to describe Stater in 3 words, what would they be?
I think I may need a few more words but I’ll keep it brief! I’d describe the team as experienced, impartial and knowledgeable. I’d describe our service as bespoke, high quality and very responsive to client requirements.
About Stater Global Markets
Authorised and regulated by the FCA
Matched principal brokerage/STP model - takes no risk / no conflict with our clients.
Core Offering: Liquidity, clearing, institutional grade technology
Products: Spot FX, CFDs, Precious Metals, Exchange Traded Futures
Competitive pricing from Tier 1 banks and non-banks
Platforms: Integral, Flextrade, PrimeXM, Gold-i, oneZero, MT4, MT5
ECN Access: Cboe FX, FastMatch
Strong financial backing: wholly owned subsidiary of SBL Holdings Ltd
For further information, visit www.staterglobalmarkets.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org