Gold-i Becoming a dominant player in FX FinTech

Gold-i is a global market leader in trading technology, helping hundreds of multi-asset brokers to transform their trading operations with robust liquidity management solutions, award-winning MetaTrader Plug-ins, business intelligence tools and all with the best support in the industry. We caught up with Tom Higgins CEO and Founder of this award winning firm to find out what his plans are for the future.

First Published: e-Forex Magazine 90 / e-Forex Interview / November 2019

Gold-i
Tom Higgins, Gold-i CEO and Founder

Gold-i is a renowned industry leader and has just celebrated 11 years in business. What are the ‘stand out’ events for you since the company’s inception?

The continual changes in the industry since the company’s inception have made it both exciting and challenging and have reinforced the importance of ongoing innovation, which has been fundamental to Gold-i’s success. There hasn’t been a period of stability over the last 11 years since Gold-i was founded and there probably won’t be one in the foreseeable future either.

When we set up Gold-i in 2008, we couldn’t have predicted the changes to the retail FX industry or the political landscape. In particular, the SNB and ESMA have resulted in tighter regulation and squeezed margins and the need for financial institutions to become more efficient. Trump, Brexit and Boris have all contributed to market volatility which has created a colourful tapestry in our company history.

Then there’s been the addition of a whole new asset class – cryptocurrencies – which was much hyped and is still an underdeveloped market. There’s a big question mark about the future demand for cryptocurrencies; I believe that cryptocurrencies are still in the hype phase but are undoubtedly an interesting asset class to work with and have created new opportunities for financial institutions to diversify beyond FX and CFDs.

In terms of the global market, growth in Asia has resulted in significant opportunities for Gold-i. Opening offices in China and Australia have been key milestones for the business and a catalyst for major growth in these regions. 

As for technology, our MT4 Bridge was our first product and is hugely important to the business as it played a key role in establishing Gold-i as an innovator and market leader and enabled us to grow a global client base. 

The launch of our multi-asset liquidity management platform, Gold-i Matrix in 2016 opened significant additional markets for us and has enabled us to take the company in a new direction. It has broadened our client base to include Prime of Primes, Market Makers and Crypto Exchanges and has paved the way for our entry into the institutional market.

Gold-i
We have a strong team of experienced in-house developers

As you increase your focus on liquidity management, will the Gold-i Bridge and MAM Pro remain a key part of your portfolio?

Absolutely. The advantage of partnering with Gold-i is that we have a broad portfolio of products which means we can cater for brokers of all sizes throughout their lifecycle. For our clients, having one technology provider provides both time and cost efficiencies as they have a single point of contact for all their technology requirements.

In terms of our product focus, the Gold-i MT4 Bridge, which we launched just over 10 years ago, was – and still is - the fastest and most reliable integration between retail and institutional financial trading systems. In addition to being feature-rich, we can co-locate the software in any of the major data centres to give an ultra-low latency connection to the broker’s Liquidity Providers.

As the market evolved, we developed complementary products for MT4 brokers including our MAM Pro, Risk DB and IB Profit Share and we subsequently developed products for MT5 such as our MT5 Gateway and MAM Pro. 

All these products remain a key part of our portfolio and we continually invest in them and evolve them in line with growing demand and requirements. We have expanded our portfolio by focusing on multi-asset liquidity management, advanced risk management and business intelligence. The Gold-i Matrix and Visual Edge are more sophisticated products and enable us to cater for complex trading operations.

Gold-i
Key trends in the institutional market are multi-bank sourcing and buy side driven TCA, both of which can be delivered by Matrix

Has there been significant demand for your MT5 products?

Gold-i products are available for MT4, MT5 or any FIX-based trading platform. As MT5 becomes increasingly popular, we are seeing a steady rise in demand for our MT5 products. In new markets such as Latin America and Asia, MT5 is the trading platform of choice for brokers and this has stimulated demand for our MT5 Gateway and MAM Pro for MT5.

Gold-i
The advantage of partnering with Gold-i is that we have a broad portfolio of products

Matrix has been one of your most significant product developments. Please tell us more about this product and why it is such a key focus for Gold-i?

We have consolidated all our knowledge in building high performance, low latency technology to develop Matrix, our liquidity management platform which can be used to aggregate multi-asset liquidity feeds and gives access to invaluable analytics.

Matrix is extremely flexible and provides financial institutions with an enhanced way of managing multiple Liquidity Providers across multiple asset classes whilst providing them with easy access to the best liquidity in the market at the best prices. 

Matrix takes Gold-i in new directions. It is easily integrated with other platforms, allowing us to diversify - for example, into the buy side and sell side institutional markets. Key trends in the institutional market, highlighted by the Bank of England and driven by regulators, are multi-bank sourcing and buy side driven TCA, both of which can be delivered by Matrix.

What features and benefits does Matrix offer to brokers?

Matrix provides access to over 70 Liquidity Providers, with multiple routing and aggregation methods.  It enables financial institutions who use MT4, MT5 or any FIX-based system to pool their multi-asset liquidity, create spread profiles and stream them into multiple top-end trading systems. 

It provides a sophisticated multi-asset liquidity management platform for their retail clients and it enables them to enter the institutional space by distributing their liquidity to other financial institutions in Gold-i’s global client base, known as the Gold-i Matrix NETwork. 

One of the stand-out features of Matrix is our dashboard, Matrix Insights, which provides top line information to enable clients to analyse order routing and execution statistics across all asset classes. They can see where rejections are coming from, where their best execution venue is and where the least slippage is occurring. These stats are invaluable in terms of planning different liquidity strategies for their various client types and maximising profitability.

A further benefit is that Matrix provides financial institutions with a sophisticated failover process if their primary LP or technology provider has an outage.

Gold-i
Chris James is Chief Technology Officer

Many of the world’s leading multi-asset Liquidity Providers are part of the Matrix NETwork. What benefits does Matrix Net bring to Prime of Primes and Liquidity Providers?

Matrix Net is an extension of Matrix. It is used by leading Liquidity Providers and Prime of Primes to distribute liquidity, as opposed to Matrix, which is used to consume liquidity. Matrix Net has been very well received by leading LPs and Prime of Primes worldwide as they have been keen to extend their liquidity distribution to Gold-i’s large global client base. The calibre of our Liquidity Providers enables us to provide financial institutions worldwide with access to high quality, competitively priced liquidity across multiple asset classes.

Gold-i
We have expanded our portfolio by focusing on multi-asset liquidity management, advanced risk management and business intelligence

The Gold-i Crypto Switch 2.0™ is an integral part of your Matrix suite of products.  Please tell us more about it.

Our Crypto Switch™ 2.0 is an advanced platform for the distribution or consumption of cryptocurrency liquidity. It allows financial institutions, Crypto Exchanges, Liquidity Providers and Market Makers to distribute their liquidity to Gold-i’s Matrix NETwork. 

Crypto Switch™ 2.0 provides our institutional clients with the opportunity to access deep and diverse pools of liquidity with a fully cleared Crypto solution. It can be easily connected to any trading platform via a FIX API or other standard protocols and therefore opens up significant opportunities for institutions to add an exciting new asset class to their current offering.

Gold-i
Julian Elliott is Chief Commercial Officer

Business intelligence and data analytics are increasingly in demand. How can Gold-i assist in this area?

Capturing key metrics and required regulatory information in an efficient, automated manner should be a priority for all financial institutions. Gold-i’s Visual Edge is a best-in-class business intelligence and risk management tool which provides an easy and cost-effective way for financial institutions to access vital data relating to their trading operations. The information it provides can be leveraged by several departments, from dealing desks and risk managers to finance teams, back office staff and marketing teams. It enables them all to have a complete overview of their trading operations, to manage their exposure effectively across all asset classes and to plan client retention and growth strategies. It also increases efficiency and reduces the time spent sourcing data and compiling reports.

Gold-i
Gold-i products are available for MT4, MT5 or any FIX-based trading platform

In terms of product development and growing your portfolio, what are your main priorities?

We have a strong team of experienced in-house developers and we continually invest in the development of all our products. We are prioritising Matrix and our MAM Pro at the moment. In terms of Matrix, we are adding enhanced margining capabilities, more aggregated bank feeds, more PB integrations and enhancing the Matrix Insight analytics module. 

We are also putting significant effort into developing our next generation MAM tools. The Gold-i MAM Pro for MT4 and MT5, is the most feature rich and cost effective MAM on the market and, because it is one of our best-selling products, we are improving its functionality in order to retain its market leading position.

Gold-i
Gold-i is a company with strong values where people want to work and where work life balance is key to their lives

Who is on your management team and what roles do they play?

Julian Elliott is Chief Commercial Officer and Chris James is Chief Technology Officer. Julian is responsible for sales and marketing as well as finance and Chris is responsible for account management, software development, QA and client support. 
I work very closely with them both to ensure we are maximising growth opportunities whilst also delivering the very best products and services in the industry to our clients. Julian, Chris and I all take significant roles in creating long-term business development plans and devising our future strategy. 

Gold-i
The launch of our multi-asset liquidity management platform, Gold-i Matrix in 2016 opened significant additional markets for us

You have created a strong set of core values. What are they and how did you decide upon them?

Our core values were created by our employees and are key to how we operate – with each other and with our clients and partners. Gold-i’s values relate to innovation, going ‘the extra mile’ and enjoying life at work. They are ‘Innovate’, ‘Get it Done’ and ‘Have Fun.’ I believe that if you enjoy being at work, feel a valued member of the team and there’s a fun and positive atmosphere in the office, you will be far more motivated to succeed. 

Gold-i
I am most proud of the disruptive influence that Gold-i technology has had in the retail foreign exchange market

Gold-i is renowned for its focus on being a good employer and has won a number of awards including ‘Ultimate Fintech Workplace.’ What kind of employee initiatives take place at Gold-i?

We were delighted to be named the UK’s Ultimate Fintech Workplace – and this was largely due to our philanthropic focus, the career development opportunities within the company and our ethos, which links back to our core values. 

We also have a ‘Fun Committee’ which is made up of volunteers from across the business who organise a range of social events and fundraisers, supporting local charities. Over the last year, they have chosen to raise money for Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation (QEF), a charity which provides services to enable people with disabilities to increase their independence and achieve their goals in life. 

They have organised a range of initiatives from sweepstakes through to international food days, and we have raised £5,000 for QEF and its partner charity MERU to buy a BUGZI, an indoor powered wheelchair which offers pre-school age children with disabilities the chance to experience mobility, often for the first time in their lives.

Eight members of our team recently took park in a Rough Runner 10k obstacle course to raise funds towards QEF’s new state-of-the art Care and Rehabilitation Centre. Thanks to the generosity of our clients and industry partners, we managed to raise over £3,000. It’s very rewarding for Gold-i employees to feel they make a difference within our local community and our Fun Committee members enjoy having an extra dimension to their day to day roles.

Gold-i
Matrix Net has been very well received by leading LPs and Prime of Primes worldwide

Gold-i has won over 25 awards, including a Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Innovation in 2014. Have your award wins impacted your business? 

Yes. They are a strong external endorsement of Gold-i’s products and approach to business and the award wins have given credibility and validation to clients and employees. The Queen’s Award for Enterprise is recognised nationally and internationally and is the UK’s most prestigious business award. It is only awarded after in-depth scrutiny into the firm’s products, services, ethos, financials and potential future growth. It was a major achievement for the business to be awarded this and it has opened a wealth of new opportunities, particularly in terms of growing the business overseas. In fact, Gold-i has been invited to be a Passport to Export partner by the UKTI (UK Trade and Investment) and we now provide advice to other UK-based businesses on how to be a successful exporter.

Gold-i
Gold-i’s core values

You have an impressive global client list. How important has it been to have offices in China and Australia as part of your global growth strategy?

We received strong interest in our products and services from China and the Asia Pacific region, so it felt a natural step to create a local presence. This not only helped us to sell into those markets more easily, but it enabled us to implement a near “follow the sun” multi-lingual support model. APAC is where all the growth is happening in our industry and we are in a strong position to succeed in the region, with global products which we can sell to local markets without incurring additional development costs. We have the right products and services to support financial institutions of all sizes across multiple asset classes. 

Our Head of Business Development for Asia, Joy Li, has taken on a more strategic business development role across the APAC region and will be driving growth, particularly in new markets such as Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia. We plan to appoint new distribution partners in key APAC countries in order to strengthen our local presence where we see significant opportunities for the Gold-i Crypto Switch 2.0™ and Matrix.

Gold-i
Our core values were created by our employees and are key to how we operate

You are renowned worldwide as an industry authority and thought leader. How do you see the market evolving and, if you were running a financial institution, what do you think should be your biggest priority in order to have a competitive edge?

Regulatory pressure will continue, and financial institutions will need to streamline their operations to become more efficient. They will also need to look at adding new revenue streams, such as multi-asset, additional platforms or new territories in order to grow. In APAC, ASIC changes will squeeze margins; financial institutions in the region will feel the pressure in the same way as their European counterparts did as a result of ESMA. This will inevitably lead to more movement between technology providers as financial institutions become increasingly focused on cost efficiencies. 

Gold-i
We have the right products and services to support financial institutions of all sizes across multiple asset classes

What are you most proud of in terms of your achievements since setting up Gold-i?

I am most proud of the disruptive influence that Gold-i technology has had in the retail foreign exchange market, opening up opportunities for regulated brokers to set up their businesses which wouldn’t have been possible without our technology. I am also proud to have created a company with strong values where people want to work and where work life balance is key to their lives.

What do you want to achieve in the next 5 years?

I’d like Gold-i to become a dominant player in the global institutional market and continue to grow our market share amongst retail FX brokers worldwide. 

I’d like our innovations in technology to continue to make a significant difference in helping our clients to grow their businesses.

Gold-i
I’d like Gold-i to become a dominant player in the global institutional market