With Andreas Wigström, Managing Director of LMAX Global

January 2024 in Cover Interviews

Talking about a market leading firm that’s building an increasingly successful and diversified offering.

LMAX Group is a leading independent operator of multiple execution venues for FX and digital assets trading. e-Forex spoke to Andreas Wigström, Managing Director of LMAX Global, the company’s regulated broker, which offers retail brokers and professional traders around the world access to trade over 100 instruments including FX, metals, equity indices, commodities and crypto CFDs.

Andreas, you joined LMAX Group in 2010 and are now Managing Director of LMAX Global. Please remind us how LMAX Global fits into the overall LMAX Group structure and the range of products and services each part of the business provides. 

LMAX Group is unique in offering fair and transparent global market access to all institutional customer segments, including banks, non-banks, the buy-side, and retail brokers. We have over 250 people working within the business across 11 offices worldwide and are continuously growing and expanding the business. We have a solid presence in all the major FX markets around the world, including Europe, North America, and Asia Pacific.

Our rapidly expanding global institutional and professional client base is a testament to our distinctive, integrated business model, which delivers efficient market structure and transparent, precise, consistent execution to all market participants. 

Our business consists of three core entities: LMAX Exchange, which operates institutional FX exchanges, an FCA regulated MTF, and a MAS regulated RMO, LMAX Digital, a GFSC regulated institutional spot crypto currency exchange and custodian, and LMAX Global, which I lead, an FCA and CySec regulated broker for FX, metals, and commodities worldwide. 

What do your day-to-day responsibilities usually involve?

I’m responsible for managing our teams around the world driving growth, expansion and overseeing sales coverage globally for LMAX Global. We operate FX brokers in the UK, Europe, and New Zealand and with liquidity pools in London, New York, Tokyo, and Singapore – it is a truly global role and requires me to conduct business at any time, on any given day.

We have a solid presence in all the major FX markets around the world, including Europe, North America, and Asia Pacific

I spend a substantial portion of my time on the road, meeting with our clients to really understand their needs in terms of product demand. The beauty of our integrated exchange-broker model allows us to offer solutions to our clients according to their trading requirements. It’s an embodiment of our belief in fair market access for all, regardless of size, geography, or trading volume.

As a team, we also participate in industry expos and events that bring together the key market participants including liquidity providers, banks, and regulators.

Can you please tell us more about your integrated exchange-broker model and the types of clients you are providing for? 

Our integrated exchange-broker model offers LMAX Global clients access to trade on LMAX Exchange central limit order book and peer-to-peer institutional liquidity. Enabling  transparent price discovery and precise, consistent execution with no ‘last look’ rejections. Those global clients include broker dealers, money managers, MT4/5 brokers, and professional traders. 

We offer a unique integrated exchange-broker model which allows us to serve clients exactly where their needs are 

It’s an institutional grade experience for clients that may not have previously has institutional grade access to the FX market. Similarly, in 2018 we established LMAX Digital, our institutional crypto currency exchange in response to demand from clients for an institutional-grade experience in the digital assets market. Through this model, LMAX Global clients can seamlessly trade both spot FX and spot crypto currencies through the same trusted partner.

Our clients have access to our global liquidity pools in London, New York, Tokyo, and Singapore and can trade over 100 instruments across FX, metals, equity indices, commodities and crypto CFDs.

Our clients have access to our global liquidity pools and can trade over 100 instruments across FX, metals, equity indices, commodities and crypto CFDs

What makes LMAX Global different from many other firms operating in this market and its value proposition so attractive and unique? What are the key advantages of your central limit order book model?

LMAX Global delivers the unique benefits of exchange quality execution, transparent price discovery and a level playing field for all brokers and professional traders.

For brokers, money managers and professional traders, a central limit order book (CLOB) model offers streaming firm limit order liquidity from top tier banks and non-bank institutions, transparent price discovery and no ‘last look’ rejections, giving institutions full transparency of market dynamics and control over their execution strategy and costs. 

Our success reflects the genuine shift that the industry has undergone. Clients from all FX market segments are trading increasingly more on order-driven firm liquidity and requiring transparent, precise, and consistent execution.

LMAX Group has always been well known for its marketing leading proprietary technology. How important is technology for your side of the business and how do you go about sourcing, operating, and leveraging it?

From the outset, we knew that the only way to deliver precise, consistent, and reliable performance on our exchanges was to take a proprietary approach and build all our ultra-high-performance technology ourselves. This technology allows us to deliver an exceptional client experience 24/7, but also means we can bring new innovations to the market and build new functionality quickly and seamlessly.

We offer an institutional-grade experience for clients that may not have previously had institutional-grade access to the FX market 

We continuously focus our expertise on refining and improving all aspects of our technology. Our revolutionary and minimalist approach to architecture and technology-related processes are a careful blend of in-house intellectual property and the most up-to-date best practice, with one aim in mind – optimised execution quality with superior ultra-low latency.

In the past you have talked about not just offering better access and creating a level playing field for all participants but also changing the shape of that playing field. What did you mean by that?

Our mission is to Build Fairer Markets for all and the leading cross-asset marketplace – something that we work towards and stand by daily within the business. Fairer markets are about creating more efficient markets with access for all and that means not only levelling out the playing field but also changing the shape of the playing field too. This involves breaking down previous industry conventions, setting improved standards and bringing new practices to the market that better serve the needs of our clients across geographies and market segments. 

Challenging convention and constantly looking for innovation seem to be part of the DNA of LMAX Group. What would you like to see to improve the current structure and operating characteristics of the markets in which you are doing business?

LMAX Group is one of the few companies in the market which is bilingual and excels in both traditional trading, credit, and settlement and blockchain. We are leveraging our footprint in traditional finance and tokenisation to educate and create solutions and believe that blockchain technology will form the backbone of the capital markets of the future, solving many of the challenges experienced today. For example, blockchain technology provides an immutable and auditable record of transactions, eliminating the need for intermediaries to verify and reconcile records. This transparency reduces counterparty risk and enhances market integrity. 

We continuously focus our expertise on refining and improving all aspects of our technology

The automation and efficiency offered by this technology has the potential to streamline capital markets processes. Smart contracts automate the execution of agreements, reducing manual errors and operational costs. As a result, capital market participants can enjoy lower fees, faster liquidity, and improved operational efficiency, driving growth. 

The convergence of traditional finance and DeFi presents immense potential for the future of capital markets, unlocking exciting possibilities. LMAX Group is well placed to take advantage of these opportunities.

Who are the key members of your executive team and what roles do they each play within the company?

We have a brilliant pool of talent within LMAX Group, and subsequently within LMAX Global.

I am supported day-to-day by our compliance, client services, operations, and regional sales teams. Critical to the business are also several technology specialists and developers who are continuously refining and improving all aspects of our technology and exchange infrastructure.

Within LMAX Group we have a very adaptable and agile global team, and therefore access to pools of talent and expertise across the broader business functions as required, depending on our client needs.

What is the LMAX Global team currently doing to explore and develop new products and services to cater for the evolving needs of your clients?

We are part of a regulated business which has a unique proposition enabled by our robust scalable technology and global exchange footprint. Our unique exchange-broker integrated business model allows us to service clients across all market segments and offer them opportunities to trade in both traditional and digital assets, through the combination of our LMAX Exchange, LMAX Digital and broker businesses. That’s a powerful combination. 

Most recently, we received our Recognised Market Operator (RMO) Licence from the Monetary Authority of Singapore enabling LMAX Exchange to offer Non-Deliverable Forward (NDF) trading in Singapore and London. We are building an increasingly diversified offering in Asia Pacific to support growing demand from institutional investors operating in the region.

For brokers, money managers and professional traders, a central limit order book (CLOB) model offers many advantages

We see significant potential to develop our global footprint, especially as the convergence between crypto and traditional capital markets continues apace. Ultimately, we see a major opportunity to offer FX and crypto trading via one exchange – we continuously look to rethink market structures and challenge the status quo.

You have a great deal of experience in Asia having previously helped to drive the business growth of LMAX Group across that region. How important will this part of world be for LMAX Global over the next few years? 

The APAC region is particularly important for the growth of LMAX Global. We’ve been operating a local exchange in Tokyo 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 opened our regional hub in Singapore in June 2015 and set-up our matching engine there in 2022 which has gained significant traction locally and has a strong pipeline of institutional customers looking to onboard adding significant value for the local financial eco-system. We see further potential to enhance market access to this institutional liquidity by establishing an Asia Pacific corridor between our twin hubs in Tokyo (TY3) and Singapore (SG1).

We are of the opinion that market data is becoming increasingly important within the industry

What do you enjoy most about the work you do and the office environment?

As an independent exchange operator, we’re able to innovate, optimise and roll-out new products more efficiently to serve our global institutional and professional client base across the Group. It also helps to be surrounded by super smart people who like to challenge convention and are constantly exploring innovation. That’s very much the case at LMAX Group. 

In terms of our environment, we’ve just recently completely renovated our offices in London, New York, and Singapore, unveiling collaborative spaces that better reflect the business we are today. It has refreshed our behaviors, mindset and energy and we’re ready to take on the years ahead. 

What are going to be your priorities this year as you and your team work to grow the business further and maintain its market leading position?

We continue to invest in our distribution capabilities and infrastructure globally and deepen our client relationships across the globe. Our ongoing technology investment has ensured resilience, security, and increased capacity of our exchanges.

We are of the opinion that market data is becoming increasingly important within the industry, as businesses such as ours and the other major players in the market seek to capitalise on its availability and potential. The fact that we gather firm liquidity market data from all client segments, often not accessible through primary venues, puts us in a differentiated and advantageous position compared to others. 

Our ability to provide true price discovery and liquidity from all market segments means that we can capture greater insights that help our clients. 

The Group is well positioned to lead in both FX and digital assets due to our unique and complementary triangulation of brands, enabling us to overcome industry infrastructure gaps and cross-sell to our global institutional client base.