Richard Chatterton Head of Product Management of Centradia Ltd.
Richard Chatterton Head of Product Management of Centradia Ltd.

with Richard Chatterton Head of Product Management at Centradia Ltd

First Published: e-Forex Magazine 12 / e-Forex Interview / October, 2003

Richard, in our August 2001 edition, just before Centradia launched, we outlined its “one stop shop” philosophy and vision of providing a single, multi-bank, multi-product platform. Two years on, has that vision been fulfilled?

Centradia was designed at the start as a multi-bank platform offering a wide range of services to clients in the pre-trade, trade and post-trade spectrum. The underlying rationale being, that prior to Centradia clients had the choice of many mono-bank/multi-product or multi-bank/mono-product platforms, but very few – if any – true multi-bank multi-product platforms. Since November 2001, Centradia and its member banks have been providing their clients with a comprehensive range of features covering the full life-cycle of their treasury needs, from research and analytics to real-time trading with post-trade and STP services, in 3 asset classes [Money Markets, FX and registration of interest for Primary Fixed Income]. The strong take-up by clients (600+) has proven the vision has been fulfilled beyond expectations. In essence, our credo in “multi-bank, multi-product, multi-service and multi-lingual” is stronger than ever.

The four founding members of Centradia, -Société Générale, Sanpaolo IMI, Santander Central Hispano and The Royal Bank of Scotland have a strong technology heritage. How helpful was that in overcoming some of the technical hurdles in getting the platform up and running?

Technology is one component of the Centradia success story and it is true that the heritage of our member banks has been key, their ability to auto-quote live streaming prices from day one being a prime example. Their many years of experience in running successful and active mono-bank systems proved highly valuable when we built our brand new platform and it still continues to benefit us today, with the smooth implementation of ongoing enhancements. To date we have a secure and robust platform, which has afforded 100% availability to our clients for the past 2 years.

Centradia offers local access to the global treasury market. How much of an advantage to Centradia is having the member banks provide local and regional market knowledge?

Centradia member banks are domestic champions in their countries and are able to provide the necessary regional knowledge, that clients normally find in local mono-bank platforms, but they also bring with them the added benefit of their expertise in other areas such as LatAm, Eastern Europe and the Far East. Centradia combines these offerings and provides its clients with true local access to global markets, and in their own language!

You have said in the past that the relationship between banks and their corporate customers will always remain key. As you develop new products and services, are you confident you can still adhere to that principle?

All our products and services are designed after extensive input from the end-clients and, simultaneously, from the banks' sales teams. This method is key to ensure that all enhancements are beneficial to both parties and further the relationship between banks and their customers. Our STP and integrated Group Treasury Management solutions have been designed exactly in this way and the results only strengthen our commitment to delivering win-win propositions for the banks' sales and the end-clients.

Centradia's multi-lingual capability is clearly of great benefit to clients. Would you describe it as perhaps the most important differentiating factor between your platform and others?

Centradia's multi-lingual capability means that our features on our platform are available in 6 languages (with more to come): English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. Even our Customer Services department interact with clients in their own language. With more than 50% of our users accessing our site in non-English we feel confident in saying that this has proven to be a very welcomed feature in an industry over-crowded with English-only platforms. This has allowed Centradia member banks to not only reach efficiently a large diversity of client segments in their domestic countries but also to expand their coverage in Continental Europe.

You have rolled out some very innovative solutions, for example, in the area of research in local markets. Of your current services, which are proving most popular with clients?

Choosing the most popular service is difficult given the size and diversity of the Centradia client base, which translates into various patterns in the usage of our products and services. Many clients use the full range of features, other focus on information gathering (from the news, the multi-bank research pool, the product brochures, etc.) and others on the post-trade features. If one single service has to be picked, then judging by the positive feedback and actual trading numbers, our clients would certainly choose our FX trading capability with its unique pricing model. Centradia's specific methodology (pat. pending) – where all clients have access to and can trade on the prices from all our member banks whether they have a relationship with one or several of them – has been a clear winner.

Your traditional customers have been Corporates. How important are other sectors of the FX buy-side to you and are you planning to address their needs?

Centradia was initially designed with the Corporate segment in mind. However, our member banks have quickly realized that Centradia is an efficient distribution channel for a much wider scope of clients. As a result, the usage of the platform by the 600+ Centradia clients is well distributed between asset managers, financial institutions and, of course, corporates. We have already developed features that address the needs of some specific sectors of the buy-side, such as automatic deal import for asset managers. We will continue to work hand-in-hand with all types of end-clients and the associated banks' sales to further enhance our suite of features.

Will you be expanding your offerings beyond treasury and money market products?

From a technology standpoint, we are ready to expand beyond Treasury and Money Market products. Our platform was designed from day one as multi-asset class and, as an example, our post-trade and STP capability is fully multi-product. We are therefore always considering developing our offerings both vertically, with new features for existing asset classes, and horizontally, with potential new asset classes. When the business case for a new product or feature makes sense to the end-clients and to our member banks, we proceed to the development stage.

Do you expect to increase the number of member banks of Centradia?

It is true that some banks might fit the Centradia model and complement our current European coverage. We have been in contact with a few of them since our success raised some interest (for example, “The Banker” magazine rated Centradia as the second “most efficient trading platform”). However, our goal is not to sign-up as many member banks as possible, as this would not fit our model, but to proceed by carefully expanding the “Centradia club” with the most appropriate members.

Looking ahead over the next two years, what do you think are the most important challenges facing Centradia?

For the past 2 years, Centradia has proven its success by bringing to the banks and their clients all the benefits of mono-bank platforms plus all the benefits of multi-bank platforms without any of their drawbacks. Our main challenge will be to keep and develop that winning formula while managing carefully our expansion in terms of new products, new features and new member banks.