Nicholas, please tell us about your background and career in the financial trading industry.
I studied Economics at University College London, and trained in London as a chartered accountant before working in investment banking and brokerage firms. After working in and eventually heading up several finance departments in Cyprus, I then moved to management roles in global business ventures. Throughout this time, I helped build and operate businesses and hubs in a number of countries across the world, including in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. My last role before joining FXTM involved business development for a global services firm.
At what stage did you join FXTM and what was it about the company that appealed to you?
I joined FXTM in its early stages. I was approached by the shareholders to discuss joining as Chief Operating Officer of what was, at the time, a start-up operation. What won me over was the friendly and honest discussions we had about the visions that the shareholders had for FXTM. It was an ambitious and forward-looking plan, requiring top-performing professionals and teams working together to innovate and deliver the highest level of service to clients. Our visions for the business were in perfect sync and I agreed to take on that role. With a lot of hard work and dedication, FXTM has grown, evolved and established itself as a successful member of the global financial services community with over 1.8 million clients globally.
What do your day to day responsibilities in the firm usually involve?
As CEO, I have overall responsibility for the execution of the strategy. Together with the other members of the board of directors and executive teams, I constantly review our performance against the agreed plan. And quite often we adjust that plan for changes in market conditions in order to continue acting in the best interests of our clients. My day usually involves a lot of meetings with senior executives to discuss performance or deal with any issues. I also make time to meet with our many external business partners and advisors as well as our regulatory authorities, as it is important to keep them updated and get their general feedback about the market.
How is the FXTM business structured and what presence does the firm currently hold around the world?
As a global firm FXTM has a wide-reaching presence and operates from several regional offices, including London and Limassol, that all work closely together. Since our foundation, we have established a strong reputation internationally. The FXTM brand is licensed in the UK, Cyprus, South Africa and Mauritius and accepts clients from many other areas under these licences.
Please tell us a little about the markets and financial instruments that can be traded with FXTM.
FXTM, as our name suggests, started with a focus on forex. As we’ve grown, we’ve added more and more financial instruments to our offering, allowing our clients to broaden their portfolios and enjoy a greater amount of flexibility over their investment strategy. As well as facilitating trading on major, minor and exotic currency pairs, we also offer spot metals trading (silver and gold). Last year, we expanded our instruments selection to include stock trading (available under our Global licence only), so that our clients are able to invest directly in some of the world’s biggest companies, including Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Alibaba.
What range of platforms do you offer traders?
Our UK clients enjoy access to MetaTrader 4, while clients outside the UK can choose between MetaTrader 4 and MetaTrader 5; together these software options represent some of the most powerful and user-friendly platforms the industry offers. We’re currently working towards making MetaTrader 5 available in the UK too.
We’ve invested a lot of energy into ensuring that the way our clients access our trading experience is as flexible as possible. This means offering a variety of options; clients can download either platform to their desktop or open their account on a browser via WebTrader. Our mobile app, FXTM Trader, makes the ever-changing markets even more accessible. Android and iOS users can place trades and manage their accounts wherever they are.
Last year you reported a huge increase in your client base. What types of clients are you serving and in what ways has this been evolving and changing since the business started?
In 2018, we passed the important milestone of registering 1 million clients – and we’re already over 1.8 million now. I put this phenomenal growth down to many factors, but chief among them is our commitment to offering an excellent customer experience through tailored services. The broad selection of financial instruments and the wide range of account types allow us to cater to all kinds of investors.
For example, we designed FXTM Invest for people who lack the time or the confidence to place trades themselves. This software allows investors to choose and follow a Strategy Manager (active traders with more experience), whose trades are automatically copied to the investor’s accounts. It’s currently available for clients under our EU and Global licences but we are looking to expand it to the UK.
FXTM states that its core mission is centred on the most precious commodity of all – time. Please tell us more about that and why the decisions you make are designed to ensure that your clients, business partners and teams of professionals at FXTM invest their time wisely.
Time is truly the best example of a finite resource. Each minute is irreplaceable, so it’s important to our corporate mission that everyone is using their time in the best way possible. This mantra filters down through all areas of the business; it informs the processes we develop and helps us cut out inefficient steps, for example. It becomes especially important when designing products for our clients. In an increasingly fast-paced world, our clients deserve convenience. The FXTM Trader app has been designed with as few steps as possible between user and market. Fingerprint access and one-click trading save precious seconds when market movements are gathering pace.
The retail trading space is a highly competitive one. In what ways has FXTM gone about building a business that is different from its competitors?
FXTM was launched with a unique client-centric vision. We exist to make the potential opportunities in the financial markets accessible to everyone, no matter their educational background, location or hectic schedule. That’s why we localise our services as much as possible. We offer a broad range of withdrawal and payment methods, including many country-specific options. For the same reason, our client support is available in over 30 languages.
Our commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) also separates us from the crowd. Last year we sponsored a very important environmental campaign (Lewis Pugh’s The Long Swim), an initiative that put us at the forefront of the industry and its embrace of issues relating to climate change and pollution. We are planning new ways to use our reach and resources to inspire change and support communities.
How important is it for leading retail trading providers to ensure that their interests are fundamentally aligned with clients wherever possible and how has FXTM gone about achieving this?
Our clients’ safety is our utmost concern, as it is theirs. This means that acting responsibly as a fully compliant and internationally regulated financial services company is a key component of our brand identity. Our products, actions and messaging are vetted by stringent regulatory bodies, including the Financial Conduct Authority, which means our clients can feel confident that they’re accessing a fair and transparent service.
Our educational efforts are another key piece of the puzzle in making sure our goals are aligned. We put a lot of emphasis on teaching risk-management principles, so our clients know to take steps to help protect the investment they are making in the financial markets. Techniques like placing stop loss orders can be instrumental in encouraging clients to navigate the markets with more confidence.
Who are the key individuals in your global executive team and what roles do they have within your team?
I’m lucky to be surrounded by a talented team who shares our vision of making the financial markets accessible to investors around the world.
Lex Webster is our Chief Commercial Officer, responsible for overseeing the Sales, Marketing, Market Research and Partnership Support departments. Some key players within his team are Jameel Ahmad, the Global Head of Currency Strategy and Market Research, and Nicholas Scott, who heads up the newly created Product Development department.
Valeriya Kolesnik is our Chief Operating Officer, George Kyriakoudes is our Chief Financial Officer, Charis Mountis is our Chief Dealer and Sergey Chumarov is our Chief Technology Officer.
FXTM has been winning numerous industry awards. What do clients particularly value about the services you provide and the way that you deliver them?
It’s an honour to be awarded by multiple bodies for our trading experience, educational resources, innovative products and customer service (among others). The many educational events we hold around the world – not to mention our regular webinars in multiple languages – keep us in constant close contact with our clients. It helps us discover how we can adjust our services to their needs and preferences.
This kind of feedback means these events can turn into as much of a learning experience for us as they are for attendees. I think these awards reflect the fact that we are always listening and evolving to suit our clients – as opposed to expecting them to adapt to suit us.
FXTM has also made a huge commitment towards client education. Why is that so important for the firm and how does it complement your efforts to deliver the very best trading conditions possible?
Education sits at the heart of everything FXTM does. The time taken to educate yourself and train is more than worth it in the long run – it’s the best investment you can make for your future. Our educational resources are split into market research and education. The Market Research team helps our clients understand the macroeconomic factors driving global trends and the impact on specific instruments. As experts in the field, they are regularly quoted by leading financial news outlets.
Our Educational team provides more direct guidance on the technical and fundamental skills they need to navigate the markets. We hold many seminars and workshops throughout the world. To support these training sessions, we also have multilingual webinars and regularly publish articles, Ebooks and videos readily available for our clients.
What role has technology played in the success of FXTM and how are you leveraging it to attract new clients and further strengthen your offering by opening up new investment and trading opportunities?
Technology has contributed to a huge shift towards the democratisation of opportunity, with the growth of smartphones (most recently) giving much wider access to the financial markets.
We’re focusing our efforts as a team on optimising the mobile experience, to reflect the way younger generations conduct business. As smartphones become more affordable, mobile trading is also becoming a more appealing option in emerging markets. It’s certainly an exciting time for the industry and for FXTM.
FXTM has been ahead of the curve in the launch of many new retail FX products and was one of the earliest adapted brokers for the MT5 platform. How popular has MT5 become amongst your clients?
We’re always glad to be able to provide our clients with options, so they can choose whatever suits them best. MT5’s wider selection of order types and MQL5 have proved very popular among our client base. Of course, there are still plenty of people who prefer the relative simplicity of MT4, and we’re happy to support both platforms, wherever possible.
Let’s talk more about FXTM Invest. How have you differentiated this product from other copy trading programmes in the industry?
The key factor in the design of FXTM Invest is the level of control the user retains over their investment. In order for it to be an effective, simple and low-effort way to access the markets, it’s important that investors are able to choose a Strategy Manager who fits their risk appetite and investment goals. We provide detailed information about their trading performance, style and risk level on our ranking table to help our users make an informed decision. The investor also decides how much capital they want to invest, and can set a range of protection levels to limit their risk exposure.
What regions around the world will you be focusing your efforts in to strengthen FXTM’s presence over the next few years and why are these important?
Our near-term plans mainly focus on strengthening our presence in the regions we are already active in. For the UK market, this means forging ahead with our plans to introduce MT5 as another trading platform option.
We’re also looking to push our educational efforts even further, with an initial target of hosting over 200 events a year globally. One part of this exciting development is the recent appointment of experienced financial journalist Han Tan as our new Market Analyst. His advanced knowledge and understanding of the dynamic Southeast Asian region puts us in a powerful position for more educational events, media appearances and market commentary.
The FX market is going through a period of huge transition with new regulations to comply with, technologies to exploit and digital assets to trade. In what ways has FXTM responded to these changes and in what ways do they present an opportunity for the firm?
Last year tested major brokers’ ability to adapt, with new regulations surrounding privacy and communication to contend with. The rate of change in this industry is phenomenal, so it’s clear that any organisation must stay agile and implement as many time-efficient processes as possible. For us, this means embracing technology even more enthusiastically than we do now, and exploring the opportunities of regtech (regulatory technology) in particular. We also see huge potential for AI-informed mobile trading apps, especially in the possibility of highly nuanced customisation features merging with state-of-the-art trading capabilities. While still in its relative infancy, there are many ways that technology could revolutionise trading.
How ambitious are your future business plans and what steps will you be looking to take to achieve these?
We have some exciting plans in development for growth, and you can be sure that we’re looking to optimise every aspect of the business.Our trading app plays a hugely important role in our future plans. We are already in the process of strategic enhancements to ensure it reaches its full potential as a one-stop investment experience.
Our industry has always been fast-paced and constantly adapting, so we have change well-ingrained in our DNA. In today’s world, we see that digital transformation is becoming the driving force in many more industries. Having been part of the digital economy for so long, we’ve had a head start and can take a leading role in bringing innovative products and services to new markets and clients.