With Jeff Ward CEO of FXSpotStream

May 2024 in Cover Interviews

FXSpotStream, a wholly owned subsidiary of LiquidityMatch, provides a multibank price streaming service to clients supporting FX spot, swaps, forwards, NDFs, NDS and Precious Metals spot and swaps. Banks connected to FXSpotStream serve as liquidity providers to clients. FXSpotStream functions as a market utility, providing the technology and infrastructure that supports the multibank GUI and API to send orders from clients to liquidity providers. Clients access a GUI or single API from co-location sites in New York, London and Tokyo and have the potential to communicate with all liquidity providing banks connected to the FXSpotStream solution. We spoke to Jeff Ward, the firms new CEO, to discover more about the records that the company has been breaking and his plans for the future.

Jeff, you are 4 months into your new role and have seen three new ADV records already. What can you attribute this growth to?

Growth is a word that FXSpotStream has become synonymous with in the FX market. It is no secret that volumes have consistently grown at an impressive rate, and I think that what we are seeing is the continued success of an effective and efficient model, a management team that has made important decisions in terms of priorities and a team that works extremely hard every day to make sure that no stone is left unturned.  I think the fact that the spike in volumes coincides with major breakthroughs in terms of our new Ultra Low Latency network migration cannot be overlooked. We have received fantastic feedback from clients and LPs on both the speed and reliability of the network and while there are a lot of factors at play, this has definitely been a key driver for our recent success.

In terms of products, has the growth been mainly spot centric?

In 2023 we changed the way we report our volumes, breaking them out into Spot and Other, in terms of ADV. While Spot is, and always has been, a core part of our business, we have seen significant growth in other products as we continue to diversify our client portfolio. We understand the value of bringing new clients to the service and have a strong pipeline of prospective clients we are excited to work with. However, there is a strong emphasis placed on maximizing our efficiency for our current clients and LPs, as we continue to strive to offer a ‘one stop’ solution for our clients’ needs. While April proved to be a record month in terms of our Spot ADV, the growth this year has been across all products, most notably with NDFs up over 200% and Swaps up over 70% in Q1 2024 when compared to Q1 2023. However, Spot constitutes the majority of our volume. As the service expands – in terms of products, geographical reach, client types and volumes – it is important that we never lose sight of our core business and continue to provide the class leading client service for which we are so well known. 

What are the key benefits for clients considering FXSpotStream?

The sales pitch for FXSpotStream is a simple one, but it is very compelling. We are a relationship driven business allowing clients to connect with as many of the FSS LPs as they wish, (with the LPs agreement of course), via a single API or GUI connection, all at no cost to our market takers. Meanwhile, Liquidity Providers are given the option to pay a flat fee, regardless of their volume, meaning they are not charged on a per-million basis, as their volume increases their $ cost per million decreases. 

We see the model as extremely cost efficient, given that clients will never receive an invoice from FXSpotStream, but also scalable: clients can add products, LPs and currency pairs, with FXSpotStream handling the majority of the work. Whether that is a client with a single end user, or a setup with multiple users each needing their own account. The benefit of letting FXSpotStream’s Onboarding Team handle the go-live process is that much of the heavy lifting has already been done and the client can then save a lot of time and money. 

Additionally, the level of customer support provided by our team is exceptional. There is a high level of pride taken in our ability to communicate effectively when problems arise and work proactively tirelessly to find a solution or help improve the liquidity and execution experience on the platform. 

FX Algos have been a hot topic of conversation for FXSpotStream over the last few years. Has the project met the company’s expectations since its launch?

We launched our support for FX Algos over the API in 2021, adding this to the GUI in 2022, and have been delighted with the reaction since its launch. As with our streaming service, the idea is a simple one, offering the entire algo suite of the participating FSS LPs, over one API or GUI connection. At last count, that was over 70 different algos, customizable by over 200 different parameters. 

Jeremy Rose is Head of Liquidity Management

Last year, however, the team noticed that volumes had started to decline and set about trying to rectify the issue. Fast forward to today and we see volumes have rebounded and in fact, improved, as we now see a 33% increase YoY in algo volumes. And that is the approach with any element of the service here. If we notice something, we act on it, aiming to find the best solution for clients, LPs and, ultimately, the service.

Tom San Pietro (right) is our CTO

On the topic of Liquidity Providers, last year you added two new LPs. What was the motivation behind this, and is there interest in adding more in the future?

There are several factors that must be taken into consideration before adding new LPs. As a service, our focus is to ensure we broadly meet the needs of both our liquidity taker and Liquidity Provider communities to ensure a mutually beneficial environment. The FSS team did an excellent job last year in adjusting the pricing model to make it “friendlier” for new LPs to join the service. As a result, we were able to advance the talks with NatWest and Wells Fargo quickly and we are extremely excited to have them onboard. 

Marc Sini is SVP, Global Head of Client Services and Trade Support

Earlier you mentioned the Ultra Low Latency Network migration. How is this project progressing and what results have clients seen?

We are delighted with the progress we have made thus far with the migration and are close to finishing the market data part of this project leading to best-in-class market data latency and highly predictable performance. Now nearing completion, work has begun on the next stage, migrating the trading execution over to the new infrastructure.

In terms of the results: we set out with a goal to ensure that clients’ market data latency times did not exceed 250 microseconds under any market conditions when they are on our optimum setup. While we are confident that we have hit that milestone, there have been a number of other benefits that clients have seen, including far improved average times. 

The level of customer support provided by our team is exceptional

Now you have had time to adjust, what are your plans for the remainder of the year?

There are three main pillars I have focused on since joining the company. The first would be the community. In addition to the liquidity providers and clients on the service, we should continue to look for partnerships that enhance our service. A good example of this would be our recent partnership with FairXchange, giving our clients access to their award-winning Horizon platform. We will continue to look for opportunities to not only support our trading community, but to provide them with the tools they need to enhance their business. 

The second would be product and technology. As we begin the migration of the trading environment as part of our ULL project, we really see the value in providing best-in-class technology. Alongside the migration project, we have made several enhancements to our UI and in-house reporting tool, FX|Insights. The importance of moving forward has never been higher in what has become a very competitive market. 

Antony Brocksom is SVP, Global Head of Sales and New Business

And finally, the third would be culture. In my eyes, this means continuing the tradition of excellent customer support that this service has been built upon. Whether that be the Sales teams, working to identify new clients, the Relationship Management team that handle our onboarding process as well as identifying opportunities to enhance clients experience on the service, Support who work tirelessly to ensure that no stone is left unturned should a problem arise, to our Product team that have helped us become a robust and reliable solution.

We would not be where we are today without these three pillars working in synergy and it is imperative that we continue to place a strong emphasis on each of these areas.

Eric Zweidinger is SVP Global Head of Relationship Management

You mentioned the partnership with FairXchange – can you give us any more details on that?

We understand the importance that analytics play in any business today. Being able to not only see what you are doing real time and the impact that has made, but also forecast the impact that potential changes could make, is vital. Of course we also offer our clients and LPs access to our internal analytics tool, FX|Insights, allowing them to see real-time data through a series of charts, graphs and tables that can be filtered using a series of metrics. 

We understand the importance that analytics play in any business today

In addition to this, we are always looking to enhance our MIS offering for our clients and LPs. We felt that the addition of FairXchange’s, award winning Horizon platform, would help clients make informed decisions regarding liquidity. It is a tremendous product and we are very excited to see how clients make use of it, alongside their current FXSpotStream offering. 

What stands out to you since joining FXSpotStream?

I had heard the phrase “a small company with a big business mentality” used to describe FXSpotStream, and I think it rings true. Here at FSS, though the volumes have grown and the offering has grown, the attention to detail and level of pride in the work being done remains consistently high. 

I have been very impressed by the culture here at FXSpotStream and that is, I can say with confidence, a huge reason why this business continues to grow. 

The attention to detail and level of pride in the work being done at FXSpotStream remains consistently high