Andreas Wigstrom

LMAX Group: Challenging convention to ensure fair access for all market participants

November 2022 in Partner Content

LMAX Group is a leading independent operator of multiple execution venues for FX and crypto currency trading. We spoke to Andreas Wigström, Managing Director of LMAX Global, the company’s regulated broker, to understand more about the Group’s approach to market access, its recent growth and its plans for 2023 and beyond.

LMAX Group appears to be three businesses in one, can you explain how they fit together?

Our business is set up to offer fair and transparent global market access to all institutional client segments, including banks, non-banks and retail brokers. We do this through three core entities.

The first is LMAX Exchange, which operates multiple global institutional FX exchanges and an FCA regulated MTF.

The second is LMAX Digital, a GFSC regulated institutional spot crypto currency exchange and custodian.

The third is LMAX Global, our regulated FX broker providing margin trading and fiat on-ramp services.

Together, these three entities make up LMAX Group. Our central limit order book model delivers efficient market structure and transparent, precise, consistent execution to all market participants and allow us to offer transparency, open access and a level playing field for all market participants giving them absolute control of their execution strategy and costs.

How did you arrive at this integrated exchange-broker model and what benefit does it offer to clients?

The integrated exchange-broker model allows us to serve clients exactly where their needs are. It’s an embodiment of our belief in fair access for all, regardless of size, geography or trading volume. For example, LMAX Global offers retail brokers and professional traders execution services as well as access to the LMAX Exchange central limit order book. It’s an institutional-grade experience for clients that may not have previously had institutional-grade access to the FX market.

Similarly, we created LMAX Digital in response to demand from clients for an institutional-grade experience in the crypto market. Since it was launched in 2018, it has become the leading institutional spot Crypto currency exchange. LMAX Global clients can now seamlessly trade spot FX and spot Crypto currencies through the same service provider.

Is fair access simply about creating a level playing field for all participants?

That is a huge part of it, but challenging convention and constantly looking for innovation in market structures is also key. LMAX Group was probably the leading voice in challenging ‘Last Look’ as an activity that was inconsistent with good market practice.

More recently, we’ve sought to bring new practices to the market that better serve client needs. Weekend FX is a great example. We looked at the 24/7 nature of the crypto market and recognised that access to FX markets would also need to change accordingly.

Fair access is really about better access, and that means creating a level playing field for all but also changing the shape of the playing field too.

How are you able to bring new innovations to market so rapidly?

Put simply, it’s all about the technology. Our clients value precise, consistent, and reliable performance. From the outset, we knew the only way to deliver that was through creating the technology ourselves. Working from the ground up, we build and operate our own ultra-high-performance exchange technology that allows us to deliver an exceptional client experience 24/7, but it also means we can build new functionality quickly and seamlessly.

Given recent market headwinds, particularly in crypto, how has the integrated exchange-broker model been performing?

We’ve seen exceptionally strong performance despite market headwinds. We recently announced our 2021 results which showed revenues were up 80 per cent on the previous year. It was particularly exciting to see the growth in total trading volume which was up 20% year-over-year to US$5.4 trillion. In this context, LMAX Digital is becoming an increasingly important part of this story with volumes reaching $500 billion in 2021, including record high of $6.6 bn on May 19, 2021.

What do you see as your key priorities in 2023 and beyond?

We see significant potential to develop our global footprint, especially as the convergence between crypto and traditional capital markets continues apace.

In our immediate sights is further expanding our presence in Asia Pacific. We’ve been operating a local exchange in Japan since 2014. We have a fantastic institutional client-base made up of Tier 1 brokers, local banks and proprietary trading firms and increasingly we’re seeing participation from global as well as local institutions. We see building on this momentum as key to creating a deeper, more diversified pool of liquidity across FX and crypto markets.

Similarly, Singapore has been a regional hub since 2015 and we launched our local matching engine earlier this year. We currently offer spot FX to institutions, but our plan is to launch NDFs, margin FX and crypto next year, pending regulatory approval.

Ultimately, we see a major opportunity to offer FX and crypto trading via one exchange, bringing unique access to the Asia Pacific region. It’s just another example of our restlessness to keep rethinking market structures, to challenge convention, and to bring fair access for all participants.