Beyond the hyperbole: The days of the FX industry PR should give way to proper research. Op Ed

Research by FinanceFeeds has concluded that the traditional generic PR releases of the past are indeed a thing of the past. Interaction, understanding of product and service, and comprehensively working with potential partners is key to linking all components, identifying opportunities and maintaining leadership in today’s highly sophisticated FX industry

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“Empty vessels make the most noise” – Plato

There are so many components that form critical parts of the FX industry, one part equally reliant on another, ranging from platform developers for retail and institutional purposes, technology vendors, integration specialists that connect trading systems to Tier 1 aggregated feeds and pricing engines, brokerages, education and service providers,prime brokerages, specialist marketers and indeed the banks themselves just to name a few.

The varied nature of each specialist business whose service forms the entire ecosystem of our complex industry may differ greatly from the core business of the firm that it provides its service to, however one common factor aligns all, that being the online and intangible nature of the entire structure.

philip-tradingfloor-1
Philip Wegloop, Saxo Bank

Due to this, companies must get their message across when launching a new product, highlighting a strategic partnership between one firm and another for the greater refinement of the experience eventually enjoyed by the end user, in a very concise and attention-grabbing way, whilst ensuring that they have presented the importance of the subject.

This is a very competitive industry, and the development cycle is so short nowadays – often just three months from design to market – of new products that PR has become an exercise in separating real research from noise.

From FinanceFeeds recent research among large companies that have their own R&D departments, it is becoming increasingly clear that PR in its traditional sense is becoming obsolete, and real, detailed research and interaction with industry leaders and potential users is the new and most effective means of not only conveying the right message, but ensuring full understanding and market presence of any product, and establishing its manufacturer (if a software product) or provider (if a brokerage) as an industry benchmark is the only way forward now.

Some of the more avantgarde and modern companies with advanced methodologies really understand this and have been majoring on it, standing them out as not only leaders but industry reference points.

At best, generic PRs are not of any value, and at worst, toxic.

Today, James Glyde, Business Development Manager at Spotware Systems, the company that develops the cTrader platform spoke to FinanceFeeds with regard to his perspective on this matter, explaining “I often find occasions where I read an industry news headline which suggests some breaking news has just been dropped or a game changing development has just been announced, when actually working my way through the article I realize that this all sounds very familiar, as if I am hit by a moment of deja vu, I will think, I’ve seen this before.”

“Literally anyone can throw in a few killer buzz words into their PR to make the headline more alluring than simply “This Company has Done Something and You Might be Interested” but really, that’s all most of these articles boil down to” – James Glyde, Business Development Manager, Spotware Systems, Developer of the cTrader platform

“While it is amusing when someone gets on their soap box to tell the world they are awesome and brag about something that someone else has already done months or years ago, there will be someone who will believe it and merit them with an achievement which is entirely baseless. I could say anything too but to save face, I leave to the others” he concluded.

James Glyde cTrader Spotware
James Glyde, Spotware Systems (cTrader)

Among the most vocal in terms of PR generation are low level unregulated shops and binary options fraudsters, whose inane ramblings are copied and pasted verbatim across cyberspace, to the detriment of every upstanding firm in this industry.

From how wonderful the latest binary options scam is, to the establishment of bogus industry organizations run by convicted fraudsters being presented as executives with ‘award winning’ and ‘leading’ services to offer their less than fortunate victims, right through to chest-beating exercises on how football sponsorship has been secured adorn the internet. Yawn.

Indeed, against the fanfare of internet noise about Banc de Binary’s recent securing of a year’s sponsorship with Southampton FC from so many sources, and Banc de Binary itself, FinanceFeeds led a campaign to lobby the football club to drop the sponsorship, assisted by The Times and City of London Police, which was successful, Southampton FC having pulled out of the deal last week as a direct result of our efforts.

This highlighted the importance of proper research. The sports sponsorship agencies that we contacted as part of our campaign were completely unaware of the bogus nature of binary options, and the potential damage such sponsorship could do to the loyal fans of the team, largely because of the loud noise made by PR on the subject, promoting them as dynamic and technologically led financial firms rather than what they really are. This is a very accurate example of PR being used to throw an audience off the realities.

The firms that have gone about matters the correct way have actually invested in the right resources in order to do so properly, present their corporate model accurately to those that matter and gain and further relationships via specific research and interaction.

Saxo Bank last year appointed a Chief Experience Officer, or CXO, that being Philip Wegloop, who joined the company from boutique audio visual manufacturer Bang & Olufsen.

Speaking to Mr. Wegloop at Saxo Bank’s head office in Hellerup, Denmark recently, FinanceFeeds drew the comparison between Bang & Olufsen and a top of the range electronic trading firm in that user experience is critical, and PR and blurb simply will not cut it. “Saxo Bank is the best of both worlds in that the resourcing is very strong and there is an innate will to drive things forward which exists right the way through the company” said Mr. Wegloop.

“We have an incredible foundation in terms of platform and technology which powers the entire trading environment, now we have the self-imposed challenge of how to drive this forward and expand further” he said.

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$100 million proprietary trading platform adorns the reception area at CMC Markets head office in London

“Future proofing is very important, and this is something that cannot be achieved by firms that do not own and develop their own technology. It is very important from a user perspective that a product, whether a trading platform or a top of the range hi-fi system, will still look good and perform well in years to come. This means constant upgrades from within the firm which enhance the system without detriment to the trading environment.”

Indeed, and that requires specific engagement with regard to how to get that across.

“It is no good buying a high end amplifier, and then streaming low-quality MP3 files into it and then listening via low-fi headphones or speakers, for example. In this case, the headphones and MP3 player would be the weakest links in the system and render the amplifier, no matter how good or expensive, effectively worthless” – Philip Wegloop, Chief Experience Officer, Saxo Bank.

There are other firms that understand this well, largely the London-based establishment with good quality institutional divisions and large capital bases, whose entire corporate structure is a triumph of the substantial industry experience of the senior executives over any need to push out endless PRs that provide no insight or accuracy.

ADS Securities, CMC Markets, IG Group, Hargreaves Lansdown – all firms that are veritable giants of the global industry, with in some cases capitalizations into the several billion pounds, their own proprietary platforms which cost hundreds of millions to develop and support, yet all of them provide information that is specific to a purpose, without propagating generic releases.

CMC Markets spent over $100 million developing its new next-generation proprietary trading platform, has over 26 years worth of experience in this industry and operates its entire operations from its head office.

To fully understand the top quality leadership, development and production that goes into the everyday operation of the firm and its products requires research, constant interaction and an understanding of the entire topography of the business would take a substantial period of time inside the company, working closely with its key figures in terms of brokerage, execution and technology. Quality companies such as CMC Markets therefore are a case of finely honed expertise and its status as a pinnacle of the industry over any unnecessary fluff.

Even so, the news wire channels are replete with unresearched PRs about award-winning firms, making generic statements that contribute nothing to the learning experience.

There are also aggregators which repost such PRs verbatim, thus contributing further to the lack of detailed research that should bring the industry’s vital components closer together, advance the cause of how certain firms can work with each other for the greater good, or point out specific attributes that are important when doing business in cross-supplier, multi-regional environments which are technologically complex and inextricably linked to the electronic financial markets. Verbatim aggregation with no research or interaction is nowadays valueless.

 

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