Exclusive insight from China: LEANWORK CEO Darren Qian on how to bring the Chinese model of broker efficiency to a global audience

In China, there is no doubt that LEANWORK has prosperously evolved into the leading SaaS provider in forex industry. Established in July 2014, LEANWORK has just celebrated its 3rd anniversary and completed two series of financing from strong Chinese VC and Fintech Investors. As one of the forerunners in terms of CRM systems designed for […]

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In China, there is no doubt that LEANWORK has prosperously evolved into the leading SaaS provider in forex industry.

Established in July 2014, LEANWORK has just celebrated its 3rd anniversary and completed two series of financing from strong Chinese VC and Fintech Investors.

As one of the forerunners in terms of CRM systems designed for brokers, Darren Qian, CEO and founder at LEANWORK has an advantage in that he has a comprehensive understanding of the methodology by which Chinese brokerages operate, and hence can marry that knowledge and technological topography with Western firms, giving them a valid reference point when approaching global business, and in particular, mainland China

Speaking today to FinanceFeeds today, Mr Qian explained “What LEAN WORK pursues is providing excellent professional services for global FX brokers as a SaaS company in financial industry.”

Speaking to Mr Qian in detail is extremely poignant, as this is a bona fide Chinese company which has begun to expand its service to a global audience, hence it is quite apparent from his parlance that the firm has its sights set on entering the European market with fighting strength, ambition and resolution, representing an important dynamic in that Chinese FX industry technology companies are bringing their expertise to an international audience.

Making the most of expensive leads, motivating a sales team to be able to gain the maximum remuneration and ensuring efficiency are all matters in which an intelligent and dedicated CRM can be a key component in today’s retail FX brokerage structure. How can expertise from the FX industry powerhouse that is China be leveraged on a global basis to engage Western firms in this level of operational efficiency?

Frankly speaking, LEANWORK is dedicated toward building a leading CRM brand in forex industry, not only in China, but also in the global market.

In China, more than 150 FX brokers use our products, Broker Work and Trader Work, on a daily basis. Among our distinguished clients list, there are not only local brands but also many western brokers who have established local presence in Asian Markets.

With a solid client base and strong product offering, LEANWORK indeed is planning to penetrate the European market. Considering there exists many CRM providers in the market, we intended to provide distinguished service for foreign clients. At the initial stage, we are able to mainly provide two aspects of differentiated services for western brokers as below.

Unique IB Portal

As is well known in the market, Chinese FX market is dominated by IBs.

In that case, if foreign brokers plan to enter China market, LEANWORK’s CRM system can help them to meet all kinds of different and sophiscated requirements from local IBs and settle down quickly.

Our products have enabled more than 150 brokers to set up customized commission plans in accordance with different needs and requirements. Like other IB Management Tools, Broker Work allows IBs to log in at any time to check all reports and commission balances.

The uniqueness of the IB Management solution within Broker Work include the following:

– It supports multiple levels of commission structure;
– It supports all different popular commission plans such as Pip Rebate, Lot Rebate, Commission on Profit, Commission on Deposit etc.;
– It has a unique offering of timely rebate. Lean Work has developed a very strong computing system that enables the brokers to calculate the commission rebate of IBs and update in the IB’s commission account on a real time basis.

This real time rebate calculation is widely regarded in China by many brokers as a unique competitive advantage of IB acquisition. Of course, brokers can also easily set th system to calculate rebates on a monthly or daily basis. – Purely the brokers’ choice and we at LEANWORK simply provide strong support to empower brokers to achieve this.

Data Analysis, Marketing Automation and WeChat Terminal

Data Analysis and Marketing Automation have to this day been our on-going research projects. Apparently, western brokers much prefer digital marketing, and companies like Plus500 have achieved extraordinary results in the field. It’s a compelling necessity for brokers to lower customer acquisition costs and improve conversion rates as much as possible.

LEANWORK CEO Darren Qian with Andrew Saks-McLeod, Limassol, Cyprus

Our Broker Work solution is capable of offering efficient customer management, marketing and data analytics tools to brokers, aiming toward helping brokers to better understand and manage their clients from registration to conversion to retention.

A new project that LEANWORK is putting a lot of development into at the moment is our WeChat Terminal.

WeChat monthly active users, including Weixin, reached 938 million in Q1 2017, representing YoY growth of 28%. WeChat has become an indispensable part of Chinese daily life. WeChat is not only a strong client acquisition tool but also a great retention tool.

Thus, LEANWORK talented R&D Team has put a good effort to develop the WeChat Terminal and soon will launch the WeChat Terminal to both local Chinese brokers and International brokers with a WeChat Appetizer, to access and convert those 938 million users who on average spent hours daily in this APP.

How important is a dedicated CRM that has been specifically designed for the FX industry, and what differentiates it from products, such as Microsoft Dynamics and Salesforce, which are still in widespread use among many brokers?

LEANWORK is one of the first batch of commercial CRM providers for FX industry. At the earlier stage, there were almost no CRM products tailored for the electronic trading business.

In most cases, brokers either chose to purchase generic CRM solutions such as Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics, or spend lots of money to develop their own BO system.

Nevertheless, the weaknesses of these two methods cannot be ignored, largely around the long development cycle and enormous cost if the brokers decide to develop by themselves
and also the specific industrial needs which can hardly be satisfied if brokers choose the very generic CRM solutions.

In contrast, a CRM customized for the foreign exchange industry can meet the specific needs of FX brokers.

Taking the LEAN WORK’s Broker Work as an example, it has successfully served over 200 FX brokers and satisfy over 10000 FX professional’s daily use.

For a new broker to enter the FX market, almost every function that you can put forward with has already been proposed and realized in advance; Broker Work can totally meet the brokers needs at a fairly low cost.

LEANWORK provides SaaS solution, which is relatively standardized; Lean Work invests tens of million RMBs to maintain each category of product each year, but the clients need to spend only apportioned cost to access to the leading technology products. That is great value for money and a good deal for brokers.

What differs within the operations of Chinese IBs and brokerages which are handling far higher volumes, and are responsible for far higher assets under management than Western firms compared to much lower volume and less capital-responsible Western FX firms?

Chinese culture appreciates the great importance of human feeling and relationships. There exists a great number of IBs in China. As a result, you need to be very trustworthy when expanding your business in China and you need to pay extra attention to build and maintain your IB and client relationship.

Currently, the IB module of Broker Work can fuel broker’s business growth in four ways as the following:

-IB multilayer commission scheme (up to 100)-Customer management and strong reporting tools
-Real-time rebate or daily settlement as per Broker’s requirement
-Multiple commission plans as per broker needs

Even though Broker Work supports most possibly sophisticated multiple level IB/Client commercial terms, LEANWORK’s talented programmers have made the user interface extremely easy and user friendly. It empowers each IB manager easily set the commission scheme for each master IBs and their multiple level of Sub IBs. Any question that a Broker Work user needs to ask, a dedicated account manager will be there to help with the full support of the multi-lingual technical support team.

With customer acquisition and retention costs at very high levels in the FX industry, compared to other e-commerce or electronic trading businesses (such as gaming), does LEANWORK consider automation a high priority, in which brokers can operate smaller sales team and use automated tools for acquisition and retention?

In Internet industry, data-driven operations and marketing automation has been well applied. Comparing to the internet industry, it is still relatively backward in FX industry. Lean Work Team, backed with strong VC investors from Internet Industry, is dedicated to bringing more advanced marketing automation to FX brokers.

The growth of LEAN WORK can be divided into two parts.

The first phase – Tools improve efficiency: The value of the product lies in building business processes for brokers start-up from scratch, and support their daily operations through those processes.

The second phase – Data-driven growth: Brokers tend to focus far more on how to realize sustainable growth when stepping into a mature stage, therefore, data-driven growth and more business intelligence tool and automation tools play more important roles.

Can leads be streamlined and the most made of them so that more relevant clients to relevant new products are matched to the data that brokers own?

Yes, certainly. LEANWORK provides Trader Work and Broker Work for brokers.

Trader Work is the client portal exclusively designed for forex and bullion traders. Trader Work helps brokers to get rid of paper-based process and establishes an efficient online customer onboarding and service process by allowing clients to complete operations such like account opening, deposit and withdrawal, and leverage modification easily online.

Broker Work is a customized back office management system designed for forex and bullion brokers.

It includes all necessary modules for broker’s operation including Sales, Retention, Customer Support, Finance, Compliance etc.

It also includes a strong and unique IB Management Module, where brokers can set up Multi-level commission plan for IBs and provide full transparency access for IBs to check online any time the performance report and the commission generated. It’s a complete SaaS solutions to support brokers’ internal users and external IBs and Affiliates.

What is LEANWORK’s recommended method of operating an FX sales team in today’s highly competitive retail sector?

Well, each company has its own style of operation and sales team which differentiate one from another.

Generally speaking, there are two models: sales force driven business growth or marketing/technology driven business growth strategy. If the broker chooses a sales force driven business growth strategy, a highly skilled and capable sales team and strong sales management and an effective CRM management tools are necessary to bring more clients.

If the broker chooses the latter, the broker shall to pay more attention to technology development and implementation so as to drive the company’s growth.

Retail FX Brokers prefer to take the corresponding sales management mode based on their own resources and namely, it’s advisable to focus time and money on superiority resources.

For example, if the broker has strongest sales force and sales network, sales-denominated model will work with well this broker. While if the company’s advantage lies in R&D team, which is capable of creating fantastic product experience and strong at digital marketing, the broker may choose marketing driven model, enables marketing team to carry on more responsibilities and let majority of work be tackled by technology and let growth hackers to play a more important role.

No matter what model the brokers to choose or prefer, Lean Work has developed the appropriate modules and solutions to support the needs of the brokers.

In terms of functionality, how does LEANWORK’s solution integrate with other applications, customer records and improve the ability to keep in contact with customers at critical times; payment processing for deposits and withdrawals and the addition of services and ancillary products to client accounts?

A CRM system is dedicated to boost department cooperation and client management. Generally speaking, a CRM system is a vital part of a company’s operations. To improve business operation efficiency, the broker must use a CRM system as a foundation solution and integrate with other applications seamlessly.

The LEANWORK CRM has already integrated a wide selection of applications to meet and exceed the expectations of brokers. LEANWORK is one of the first CRMs to integrate with MT5, and has also beeb integrated with almost 30 PSPs globally.

It is also integrated with SMS verification system, Voip System, EDM system etc. A new live Broadcast module is under testing and soon be available for brokers to use.

By using this new integrated service, Lean Work Clients can host/manage/broadcast educational webinars and marketing events and live broadcasts etc. from CRMs and do not need to ask traders to register with 3rd party tools such as YY or gotomeeting.

Do brokerages need to use mobile-based CRM systems these days, in order that their sales teams can operate them outside of the office?

Honestly speaking, very few clients raised such requirements. All Lean Work clients can log in iPad and perform relevant operations. However, most clients find themselves more efficient and effective to use CRM system on the PC or Laptops than on the Mobile for the below reasons:

– CRM users access to a lot of data and reports and they prefer an overall review on bigger screens
– A good CRM system integrates with many other solutions such as VoiP, LiveChat, PSP, etc. and it will be easier for user to multi-task on PC than on Mobile;
– Some CRM users make a lot of data entry and prefer big Keyboard than the small one on the mobile; and many CRM users access CRM account during working hours, when and where PCs and Laptops are still dominant.

Even though above, we are likely to consider developing mobile CRM products for our clients such as mobile friendly reporting system and Mobile Notification for CRM users so as for a timely handling of tasks while out of office desks.

In terms of capital cost and ongoing support, how do brokers pay for the LEANWORK solution?

We offer Software as a Service. LEANWORK provides proven effective solutions to brokers; Brokers can choose the relevant models as per needs and pay a monthly fee.

LEANWORK Clients do not need to heavily invest in the R&D; client can save a lot on ongoing maintenance cost; clients can enjoy the high standard of customer service and technical support and keep enjoying the new features and benefits from the ongoing software upgrade of Lean Work. With only a small monthly fee, it is indeed a good deal with great value for money.

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