Determination and international leadership: Meet Oksana Remez, Business Development Executive at TradeTech Group
“We started in a small office near Holborn here in London, to provide B2B liquidity and non-bank market making services. We saw TradeTech Alpha as a sort of read across of XTX Markets, but for the very retail focused brokers ” – Oksana Remez, Business Development Executive at TradeTech Group
Electronic trading is a very modern, highly sophisticated and fast-moving business which continues to attract urbane and astute talent across all sectors from experts in specific niches that provide services from cutting-edge digital marketing initiatives, to automated strategies, interactive education packages, ever-evolving retail trading platforms and of course, the brokerages themselves.
Along with the modernity of this industry is the complete lack of a metaphorical ‘glass ceiling’ – therefore without boundaries, it is very much an environment which encourages free thought, innovation and ultimately career mobility, often very quickly, in the upward direction for those with a driving ambition.
It is, of course, the leaders of the electronic trading business that have spent the formative years of their career with an ambitious mindset that has propelled the OTC derivatives sector of the financial services industry toward becoming the leading edge innovator, with very quick development cycles, that forms the path for modern finance in general.
Today, here at TradeTech’s global head office in London’s elaborate Broadgate Tower, FinanceFeeds met Oksana Remez, Business Development Executive at TradeTech Group, a 31 year old senior leader, to look at her journey, and how she has led the development of some of the most important innovations in the FX and CFD sector.
If you’re middle aged, and have achieved senior executive status, that’s normal, but to do so at 31 means standing out from the competition, and let’s face it, the competition is not inconsiderable these days!
Oksana spent her formative years in her home country of Ukraine, and during her education, wanted to expand her horizons, and to have an international career.
“After finishing school, I was offered a scholarship at a well recognized university in Ukraine, however at a young age I preferred to see the world and didn’t think it of a great value to go through university in my home country, hence instead I chose to work in the hospitality industry and travel the world.”
“Once I saved up some money, I searched for universities in the UK offering foundation courses, so that I would be able to gain a place at a university that would accept my formal education. Instead of adding an extra 2 years by having to complete A levels, Regents Business School told me that if I took a foundation course, and then achieved 70 to 80% on that foundation course, they would be able to fast track me to an undergraduate degree after the first semester, so that’s what I did.” she said.
“I entered the program in September of that year, and then in January continued my undergraduate trajectory, took extra modules every semester, and graduated with a 2:1 Financial Management Degree. In order to keep the cost down, I worked in my spare time as the ambassador for the resident committee at the student accommodation in order to get a very good deal on accommodation costs, and two jobs externally as well” explained Ms Remez.
Knowing how to manage things properly and having challenges through that period made later challenges much easier to navigate” – Oksana Remez, Business Development Executive at TradeTech Group
“Looking back at my time in the academic world, I can say that I had a good education at a lyceum in Ukraine, which was merit based. This set the studying discipline for me to achieve overseas. I worked very hard to get into that school at the time and had to pass tests which were based on reasoning, as well as IQ tests” she explained.
Entry into the FX industry
Ms Remez explained that the reason for studying financial management is that she has a great aptitude for numbers. “I am good with numbers, I do not have a creative mind, nor am I artistic. I am more mathematical and scientific, which could be linked in part to the learning ethos that existed in Ukraine during my school years” she said.
“I like everything to be straight and rational rather than arty and creative” – Oksana Remez, Business Development Executive at TradeTech Group
“When I finished school, what did I want to do? I asked myself” explained Ms Remez. “My mother advised me that it would be a good plan to work for the bank. Somehow this translated that I need to go into the banking industry in general, however I graduated in 2010, which was just after the financial crisis, when there were layoffs rather than hiring, and as a result, lots of competition!” she said.
“Fortunately, at that time, trading was becoming popular, so I thought about going for a trading course to become a self-directed trader independently, but eventually drew the conclusion that I should begin a career in this industry instead, working with companies that provide services to traders, to get an extra education” – Oksana Remez, Senior Business Development Executive at TradeTech Group
“During my first steps down this route, I almost got into Bloomberg. I went through the entire five interview stages, and the last stage was with a senior executive in New York via video сall. He said he was happy to offer a position, but really advised me to go into sales. I had never considered sales as a career position before, instead thinking about tangible roles such as risk management or analytics” said Ms Remez, enthusiastically reminiscing.
“On his advice, I started looking for sales positions, and thought perhaps there could be a sales position that would educate me in the detailed aspects of the trading industry. I had a friend who worked at GFT pre-acquisition, based in London, who later recommended me for the role. ” – Oksana Remez, Business Development Executive at TradeTech Group
“The position was telephone based, in the office in Canary Wharf at 25 Canada Square, which was a beautiful office and shares a building with Citigroup. I got in at the right time, when they were offering graduate schemes. It involved one month of intensive training on the psychology of traders, how the platform works, technical analysis, and how trades are executed. It was a detailed course and very valuable.” said Ms Remez.
“As a graduate it was normal to stay after work, come in at weekends to do the customer calls, as many customers would find it harder to speak during work time, so I would go in on the weekend and close some accounts with customers who had more time to speak to me” she said.
“I had to overachieve, as GFT saw enough potential to keep extending my work visa. From time to time, I was asked to help on the B2B side, to translate some emails, liaise with customers, and realized how interesting the B2B side was.” explained Ms Remez.
“I had, however, hit the glass ceiling and needed to go somewhere further. This was around the time of the acquisition by GAIN Capital. At that time, I considered that they would have the Russian speaking team covered much more comprehensively because of the amalgamation of the two companies, so that meant I could progress and go further as the retail Russian team would be scalable without me” she said.
“In the B2B world, life was very male orientated, and often comprised a much older demographic, so any engagement I would go into, many commercial clients would ask if they could speak to my manager. I would say I am the manager, and this was hard but I got through that transitional period. I was fortunate to have a few colleagues around me from whom I could learn about the institutional side of business. I had about 6 months to a year of transitioning, then fully entered the B2B division of GAIN Capital, selling risk management, liquidity, white label partnerships, and services to brokers” said Ms Remez.
“In 2015, I joined Alpha Capital Markets, with a few of my other colleagues. We started in a small office near Holborn here in London, to provide B2B liquidity and non-bank market making services. We saw TradeTech Alpha as a sort of read across of XTX Markets, but for the very retail focused brokers ” – Oksana Remez, Business Development Executive at TradeTech Group
“In 2017 after the Playtech’s acquisition we were able to lean on the balance sheet of a FTSE250 company and expand clientele to the large brokers and banks.” she said.
“This was also during the advent of the implementation of MiFID II regulation, so a lot of brokers began to look at operational efficiency, retaining the clients, being more customer orientated, and technology orientated. In the group we had our own TradeTech technology, end-to-end modular software solution. It allows the broker to control the full cycle of the operation, client accounts and many other aspects of running any specific operation in this industry. The multi-asset trading platform seamlessly interconnected with the back office modules ensures best user experience.
“Sometime later, I’ve learned that the group was looking for a person to push that technology to the market. I had been through the retail side, and knew how it operated and what the customers actually valued, the user experience and how everything should work, and then from the back office perspective, as I used to sell white labels, and liquidity so I thought this was a perfect match for me, therefore packaging all of these skills and adding the advantage of quality technology” she said.
“When I began in my new role, I went to our Tel Aviv office to get full technical training to understand in detail the system’s capabilities. I spent time researching with current partners where the market is moving, and I was a major promoter within the company toward catering for multi-asset trading.” said Ms Remez.
“I realized that a complete system without any option of taking certain components separately would be too big to take on for companies that already has some degree of technology, so we worked on a way to offer a full suite, or specialist components according to brokers needs. The TradeTech 360 system is far more than a CRM. It is an end-to-end enterprise system” she explained.
“The back office solution includes an industry-specific CRM, onboarding and verification tools, compliance tools, finance and payment tools, and a full system for customer retention and support. I believe the system to be unique in that it can manage multiple entities as you cannot mix accounts from different regulated entities of brokerages, so island based divisions of brokerages can organize their structure so they don’t mix with regulated divisions of the same company” said Ms Remez.
“This likely comes from Playtech, and the most probably example TradeTech took from Playtech is the multi-departmental ability to automate and segment how the different regions operate which is one of the clever aspects of our system” said Ms Remez.
“Within the CRM, there are back office modules, and a major component is the marketing solution. The technology is moving toward Artificial Intelligence, trying to understand what clients are doing, what they are trading, or why they are trading in order to build more specific, personalised marketing campaigns. In our solution, we can send push notifications to the mobile, and in-platform messages which is more effective than separately via email. ” said Ms Remez.
“The other module which is super important, firstly from a regulatory perspective, but also from an operational perspective is Report Warehouse, to help track company metrics, employees performance, effectiveness of marketing campaign, and can check the status and performance of affiliates and IBs. Every aspect of the operation, we have the information on” said Ms Remez.
“Brokers can pull these reports and look at patterns for clients and the company. Since our trading platform is interconnected with the back office system, I genuinely believe that our system doesn’t have a direct rival, as we have the full end to end solution, however many of the components of our technology are offered by FX industry specific technology companies, giving overlap, but the holistic solution is to my mind, unique” opined Ms Remez.
A much talked about aspect in the retail FX industry which has become something of a bugbear, and something that FinanceFeeds has been very opinionated on is differentiation. Most are MetaTrader white label brokers, the by-product of this being that there are not many differentiating features.
Ms Remez agrees with our line of thinking, stating that “Clients are asking for far better technology, much better trading tools, comprehensive and proper education and analytics to make better decisions.”
Differentiation has been a huge problem, so now we have various tools which can be integrated including reports from Thompson Reuters, market analytical reports, the ability to look at blogger’s opinions, performance from hedge funds and multi asset trading environments. Traders can see whether CEOs of the companies are selling their shares or not. We are helping the retail clients make more informed decisions and also helping retail brokerages to gain a longer term, loyal client base” – Oksana Remez, Business Development Executive at TradeTech Group
“If you are a broker and you need to create a personalized trading solution, there are a number of tools you can add on. You can create share portfolios, as it is now necessary to get away from just being an also-ran MetaTrader broker” she said.
“There is a strong demand for DMA trading, and we see the regulatory authorities moving that way. We have to consider these matters if we are thinking strategically as we build forward. The first step towards DMA trading is non-leveraged equity portfolio trading directly from our trading platform ” she said.
Back testing, Algo
“On one side, we currently offer risk management, liquidity management and marketing solutions, which can all be plugged into the Central Management System. On the trading platform side, we have Traders Portal, Traders Tools, and the Traders portal, which is integrated also into the Central Management system.
“We can provide corporate clients and brokers with a customized offering each time. We become their outsourced IT and professional services company. Our aim is to take the IT aspect from the brokers, yet still allow brokers to be able to have a fully customized solution for all aspects of their business” said Ms Remez.
“They always need someone to keep advising on what is coming next in the market, and an IT team to execute. Brokers need to find the right partner for technology and outsourcing which will help them drive their business forward. Investing in infrastructure is expensive, but there are a lot of sensible and pragmatic brokers who know they have to move their systems forward and have specific infrastructure to survive in current conditions” said Ms Remez.
“It is great to be able to champion the cause of the leading ladies in the FX and CFD industry, whether in technology or the brokerage business. How we came to speak about this whole subject in the first place, is that I recently signed up for the Be Bold movement for women. It is not a feminist movement, it is a leadership and empowerment group for professional women, and I saw value in this and did not see enough leadership from women during the earlier part of my career” explained Ms Remez.
“Looking back, I was lucky to have a few role models around me to prove that most of the partners judge on approach, quality of work, how I speak and present myself regardless of gender.”
“If I look at the entire industry there still aren’t many ladies, it could be cultural, or it could be an internal voice that stops many women getting into it” concluded Ms Remez.