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Cementing FX relationship with single dealer portals

FX markets remained open for business throughout the credit crisis, although volume growth may have slowed.

Across the board market participants continue to embrace eFX for many reasons. While risk management, control, best-ex, automation and cost compression are important for buy side firms, high frequency trading houses continue to pursue low latency algo execution. And counterparty risk features high on everyone's agenda.

One could be forgiven in thinking that multi-bank platforms and anonymous ECNs would be the winners, with banks shutting down their own platforms and servicing clients through these venues.

However, in stark contrast to this, we are seeing an e-trading "arms race". Banks are rushing to upgrade infrastructure to effectively e-service clients. Having reduced proprietary risk, banks are re-discovering the value of servicing and protecting their client franchise, with the efficiencies and scale that only e-trading can deliver.

Banks are focusing on the entire trade lifecycle, investing in CEP engines to aggregate liquidity, enabling pricing engines to effectively provide price tiering, spreading and skewing. This enables unique relationship pricing for every client and for every trade.

While banks continue to provide liquidity out to many venues, major investment is being focused on channels that add the greatest value to client relationships, that channel increasingly is their own channel, the banks shop windows has moved centre stage.

The ‘single dealer portal', has become a key component of the etrading 'marketing mix' through which banks showcase their capabilities. Those banks doing it well will be in a position to fully service multiple client segments and provide fully permissionable access to the entire inventory across multiple asset silos.

Additionally, they will be able to provide strong pre-trade decision support, with streaming execution capabilities and efficient post-trade services. That's relationship banking.

The next challenge is to support, in some cases, tens of thousands of simultaneous end users, each subscribing to thousands of real-time executable streaming uniquely permissioned rates over the internet. Not an easy problem to solve, and one requiring hugely scalable resilient low latency connectivity infrastructure.

To service a global franchise, banks are increasingly embracing ‘thin-client' technologies such as Ajax, Flex and Silverlight, providing a zero footprint platforms that run within the browser.

While a few may develop this in-house, most banks tend to buy a customisable and configurable framework that they can easily tailor to exact client requirements, with time to market and ROI being critical deciding factors.

Single dealer platforms and the use of thin-client technologies are certainly proving themselves in helping banks compete in the current brutal environment.



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