Solid FX - Building bridges between IT and the trading world

Solid FX is a privately held IT development & consultancy firm, specialised in automated FX trading solutions and custom software development for the financial sector. The company was founded in 2010, by two experienced algorithmic traders, José and Diego Baptista, who had extensive knowledge of both the FX market and HFT technologies. e-Forex talks with their CEO José Baptista to learn more about this fast growing company.

José, please can you tell us a little about the history of Solid Trading?

Rather than continuing to work for large, impersonal firms, we decided to start a platform focused on quality and performance. Solid FX would not just provide liquidity to the market, but also provide the personal and tailored services that finance professionals require. In 2011, Solid FX established a presence in LD4 and NY5, to reduce latency and allow clients to choose their preferred set up. Since then, the company has continued to grow into a tightly-knit team of experts in trading and technology. In the Solid FX office, on the outskirts of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, two things are paramount: firstly, helping our clients achieve business success and secondly, making sure the process is straightforward and enjoyable for all parties involved.

Diego Baptista, Co-founder
Diego Baptista, Co-founder

What range of products and services does Solid Trading now provide?

Solid FX is an ECN, a platform for spot FX trading. At the moment, we deliberately focus on spot FX, playing to our strengths to ensure the quality of our products. Most of the business on the platform is conducted though API connections. However, we offer a trading client and algorithmic trading solutions as well. Since our last article in e-Forex in 2013 there have been some major changes in FX landscape. On an economical/political level we have had the SNB, Brexit, flash crash and US elections. The SNB event particularly impacted the landscape on a PB level with banks leaving the PB area or changing their requirements. This had consequences for a lot of participants in the FX industry, from changing their strategies to leaving the market entirely. Some market makers (banks & non-banks) have shown less risk appetite. And last but not least, clients have changed their attitude towards consuming liquidity, regarding last look versus non-last look and response times. During all these changes and events, Solid FX has remained a very stable and reliable partner for all of our clients and liquidity providers. Actually we have been growing throughout these years, on a revenue basis as well on FTE’s, with only one mission that has not changed: support our clients as best we can in the most transparent way as possible. Our technology has proven to be solid and robust even during volatile times as described above, resulting in a fast growing institutional client base.

What types of clients are you usually working with?

From the start the focus has been on institutional clients. We started out with a client pool of institutional brokers and trading houses, but this has changed over time. Thanks to our dedicated sales team of finance industry veterans and exbank employees, we managed to diversify our client base significantly. Most notably, there has been a large increase in so called “real money” clients. The addition of asset managers and banks as clients on the platform creates a good mix, which has made Solid FX even more attractive to Liquidity Providers.

What are the main advantages of having a relatively small but highly skilled team of engineers?

A relatively small development team has to work smarter and more efficiently. It allows Solid to maintain an open culture, which makes it possible to freely discuss new ideas, alternative approaches and performance improvements. Moreover, the team can challenge and motivate each other to deliver the best quality. We believe this gives us an edge in time to market and even more so with regard to the quality of our products. This has led Solid FX to grow in the last few years, even though the market provided challenges at times.

In a nutshell what are the key reasons that Solid FX has become such a highly attractive FX venue?

Our clients are always the most important thing for us. We put a lot of effort into understanding their needs and requirements. However, we cannot help them reach their goals without the technology necessary to implement these requirements. To keep our platform on a superior level, we are continually investing, expanding and improving. With result: since the launch of the platform there have never been signifi cant issues. This has strengthened our counterparties’ confi dence in trading and working with Solid, especially since there have been many news events over the last few years. Besides the above we believe in transparency. Transparency is one of the key drivers of the growth of the Solid FX platform. We make sure that it is clear for all counterparties what we can, and certainly what we cannot deliver. Last but not least, we care about our company, the trading business and our counterparties. In a business based on trading and technology, it is important not to lose track of the human factor. We fi nd that stakeholders and counterparties alike appreciate the sincere interest we display for them and the business in general.

The Solid FX business team (left to right): Frank van Zegveld, Maxim Popal, Marco Westerman, Laurens Draper)
The Solid FX business team (left to right): Frank van Zegveld, Maxim Popal, Marco Westerman, Laurens Draper)

What recent efforts have you been devoting to improving Solid FX’s algorithmic trading tools?

This has been an ongoing project since the start of Solid FX, although recently, regulatory changes and a changing client base have brought the subject more into focus. In this context, we expect to see more and more clients to focus on best execution and this fi ts well into our transparent approach to trading.

We put a lot of effort into understanding the needs and requirements of clients
We put a lot of effort into understanding the needs and requirements of clients

Customer satisfaction is clearly central to your business proposition. As Solid FX continues on its rapid path of expansion do you intend to stay true to your boutique roots and client-focused philosophy?

Yes, in any business decision we make, staying true to our client-focused approach is an important consideration. We sincerely believe in putting the interest of our clients fi rst and providing them with the best service possible. In the last few years we have grown, the business has grown, the team has grown, the number of clients has grown, but one thing which has not changed and will not change is our focus on the client.

Looking ahead what plans do you have for further extending your product suite and market coverage?

Last year, we signifi cantly expanded the team so we can maintain our service level for our clients. Our development team has grown as well, which allows us to focus on internal (analytical) tools and our algorithmic solutions, without compromising the development of the platform. Looking at market coverage we will stay focused on the spot FX market, but anything is possible. We want to serve our clients in the best way as possible, through regulation changes and sometimes challenging market conditions.