Best Banks Awards: Barclays

Barclays has been voted the winner of the Best Bank for GBP/USD, Best Bank for EUR/GBP and Best Bank for FX in London categories at the 2018 FX Week Best Banks Awards

rudi-alexis-barclays
“Our stringent suitability framework has proved very robust, so we feel comfortable selling more complex derivatives solutions,” says Rudi Alexis, global head of FX distribution at Barclays

Barclays is on a mission to regain market share in foreign exchange. In a survey of FX liquidity providers based on volume, Barclays took third place in 2015, before slipping to seventh in 2017. This year, the UK bank was not listed in the top 10 in the same survey.

The foreign exchange scandal has not been kind to Barclays, forcing it to rethink its strategy and come up with an investment plan that puts transparency at its heart. Now, some three years after the start of this philosophy change, the dealer is ready to start the fightback.

“We put in place a strategy to grow market share and 2018 was very much a continuation of that plan,” says James Hassett, who until July was head of FX trading at Barclays, but has now assumed the role of global head of emerging markets macro trading.

The bank saw its client volumes rise “quite appreciably” in the first half of this year, with the growth in flow outpacing the rate of the broader uptick in activity taking place in currency markets during that period. In the second part of this year, the bank has maintained its stronger position in trading volumes.

“As part of our strategy, we want to get closer to clients. We continue to invest in our technology and our people in sales, trading and technology roles to achieve those goals,” says Hassett.

To drive forward its strategy, Barclays has made several senior hires this year. Mauricio Sada-Paz joined as global head of electronic fixed-income, currencies and commodities (Ficc) sales in July, from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, where he held the dual role of head of electronic Ficc sales and global head of electronic FX sales.

As part of our strategy, we want to get closer to clients. We continue to invest in our technology and our people in sales, trading and technology roles to achieve those goals
James Hassett, Barclays

Fabio Madar joined in July, from Deutsche Bank, to become global head of G10 FX trading and distribution, reporting to both Michael Lublinsky, global head of macro, and Guy Saidenberg, global head of distribution and structuring.

Barclays has also hired traders across different product areas, including: Jim Coulton as global head of spot trading, based in London; and Jeremy Monnier, who joins from Deutsche as a senior FX structurer.

The sales team for e-FX offerings has also been expanded with five to six new additions in Europe and Asia, while the US corporate sales team has received a boost. In Europe, hedge-fund sales has been an area the bank has targeted, adding Ross Sellwood from Goldman Sachs and Mark Rossi from Nomura.

“It’s the full spectrum that we’re putting the investment [in],” says Hassett.

Barclays has been voted the winner of the Best Bank for GBP/USD, Best Bank for EUR/GBP and Best Bank for FX in London categories at the 2018 FX Week Best Banks Awards.

Investment has not restricted to the people side. To improve client access to the market, Barclays has rolled out several new products and solutions over the last year. It put the finishing touches on a portfolio-management tool for its forwards clients and will soon go live with options on multi-dealing platforms to provide clients with more venues to transact on.

The bank has also revived its offering of more complex FX derivatives, which it sidelined several years ago, because it questioned the suitability of this type of product for its customers. It now concludes several dozen complex FX derivatives contracts such as target-redemption forwards (Tarfs).

“Our stringent suitability framework, which has been in place for several years, has proved very robust, so we feel comfortable selling more complex derivatives solutions to the right clients,” says Rudi Alexis, global head of FX distribution at Barclays.

Brexit bites

But the macro environment has also been good for the dealer, as it helps clients to navigate the turbulent waters of Brexit.

Throughout 2018, the Brexit negotiations between the UK and the European Union have yielded very little in the form of clarity as to the possible outcome of a divorce deal between the two sides, with conflicting reports sometimes being released simultaneously on the state of play of discussions, much to the dismay of corporates in particular.

“We have some of our best traders on GBP/USD and EUR/GBP books,” says Hassett. “We update our clients on liquidity flows in real time so they may better understand what the challenges are.”

Sada-Paz, meanwhile, is optimistic about the role of London as a financial centre.

“For G10, if you look at the volume charts, the peak in liquidity is when both London and New York are here. London plays a major role between New York and Asia time zones, and that will never change,” he says.

Overall, Barclays is ready for a comeback – and, if possible, even faster than before.

Next year is going to be about client diversification and deepening the bank’s emerging markets offering.

“From a business perspective, we’re looking to accelerate things; because we’ve validated the strategy, the opportunity continues to present itself. Different banks and competitors are in different phases of transition. We view this as an ideal time to continue to grow and we’ve aligned the investment to match that,” Hassett adds.

 

Interviews with the 2018 FX Week Best Banks Awards winners

 

JP Morgan

Best Bank Overall for Foreign Exchange Dealing

Best Bank for FX for Banks

Best Bank for FX for Investors

Best Bank for Spot FX

Best Bank for FX Forwards

Best Bank for EUR/USD

Best Bank for USD/JPY

Best Bank for EUR/JPY

Best Bank for E-Trading

 

Citi

Best Bank for FX for Corporates

Best Bank for Currency Options

Best Bank for Structured Products

Best Bank for FX Prime Brokerage

Best Bank for FX in North America

Best Bank for Emerging European, Middle Eastern and African Currencies

Best Bank for FX Research and Strategy

 

HSBC

Best Bank for FX in Asia-Pacific

Best Bank for Renminbi

Best Bank for Emerging Asian Currencies

 

Deutsche Bank

Best Bank for FX in the Eurozone

 

ANZ

Best Bank for Australian Dollar

 

Barclays

Best Bank for GBP/USD

Best Bank for EUR/GBP

Best Bank for FX in London

 

UBS

Best Bank for Swiss Franc

 

NatWest Markets

Best Bank for FX Post-Trade Services

 

360T

Best Professional e-Trading Venue

Best Vendor for Dealing Technology

 

Refinitiv

Best Broker for Forward FX

Best Broker for Emerging Markets FX

 

LCH

Best FX Clearing House

 

EBS

Best Broker for Spot FX

 

Bloomberg

Best Market Data Provider for FX

 

Danske Bank

Best Bank for Scandinavian Currencies

 

Standard Bank

Best Bank for South African Rand

Best Bank for African Currencies excluding ZAR

 

BMO Capital Markets

Best Bank for Canadian Dollar

 

Banco Santander

Best Bank for Emerging Latin American Currencies

 

kACE

Best Vendor for Risk Management/Options Pricing Software

 

Saxo Bank

Best Prime-of-Prime House

 

BGC (no interview)

Best Broker for Currency Options

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