Inside Swissquote: Senior director Ryan Nettles gives FinanceFeeds a full tour of the firm’s Gland headquarters
Rural Switzerland boasts what is most certainly a different landscape to any other central or western European nation, and not just because of the beautiful mountains, picturesque villages, the glistening lake Geneva in the distance or the towering silhouette of the unmistakable vista of Mont Blanc in the hinterland. Differentiating this picturesque landscape from other […]
Rural Switzerland boasts what is most certainly a different landscape to any other central or western European nation, and not just because of the beautiful mountains, picturesque villages, the glistening lake Geneva in the distance or the towering silhouette of the unmistakable vista of Mont Blanc in the hinterland.
Differentiating this picturesque landscape from other scenic locations is the presence of some of the world’s most modern, secure and advanced banking and electronic trading powerhouses for which Switzerland is as equally famous as its stunning countryside.
Today, FinanceFeeds met Ryan Nettles, Head of Forex Trading and Market Strategy at Swissquote Bank SA (SWX:SQN) at its ultra-modern headquarters in Gland, which is in the Vaud canton of Switzerland, some 30 kilometers outside Geneva.
Ryan Nettles is a composed and sophisticated professional. A Director and member of Swissquote’s senior management, he has been with the company since April 2010, at that time based in Swissquote’s Zurich office, before moving to Gland in 2012.
Reminiscing on his inaugural period at Swissquote, Mr. Nettles told FinanceFeeds’ Andrew Saks-McLeod “Swissquote entered the leveraged FX business in 2008 and I knew Swissquote had great potential as a listed Swiss bank which offered online trading across all asset classes and I wanted to help grow its FX business further in Switzerland as well as internationally where it was not well known. I met with the executive management initially as they also shared the same vision as myself for Swissquote. I joined as Head of FX Sales, then was promoted to my Directorship position after the acquisition of ACM.”
The Swiss advantage: Total security, and home-grown trading systems
Looking at Swissquote’s impressive operation, which comprises two substantial and ultra-modern buildings which on one side face Vaud’s mountainous rural scenery, and on the other side, Lake Geneva and Mont Blanc, the company has expanded its Gland facility over recent years, having completed the construction of a brand new building in 2013 which has doubled the size of this particular site.
Taking an extensive tour of Swissquote’s operations revealed that the company is at the very leading edge of sophistication in terms of its trading systems and modus operandi.
A close look at the trading desk demonstrated the advantage in terms of value proposition that Swiss banks hold over some of their overseas peers, as Switzerland’s FINMA has unique rulings as to how the infrastructure of an electronic trading company must be built.
The company builds its own proprietary systems, its own risk management as well as its own liquidity aggregator which connects to liquidity provision from Tier 1 banks and ECNs.
This is all hosted on an internal datacenter which is in the headquarters with some remote backup facilities, the entire system being completely ringfenced in accordance with Swiss regulations.
“Swissquote’s FX trading operation is very special” enthused Mr. Nettles. “Our systems operate in a totally automated manner. Our FX trading operation is managing trading volumes over 4 billion USD per day and is staffed by 9 traders whom have strong technical knowledge as the systems are completely computerized.”
“Rather than trading using traditional manual methods, our traders spend alot of their time purely conducting optimization with the help of our dedicated quant department and supervision as every component of our trading system, from price discovery and distribution to all of our platforms to execution with the clients and liquidity providers including risk management is completely automated. We do have the ability to override the system manually but we never need to do this under normal conditions” he explained.
“Our unique system helped us manage the SNB event well” – Ryan Nettles
“This fully automated, in-house system helped manage the SNB event which occurred on January 15 very well. Our aggregator is better and more advanced than many non-proprietary systems and the full automation allowed it to react very quickly to market conditions.”
Swissquote takes FX trading into algos and themes
Mr. Nettles demonstrated the company’s FX division, which is headquartered in Gland. There are other offices which help distribute our FX services which are in London, Zurich, Bern, Hong Kong, and Dubai.
“I like the lounge concept” said Mr. Nettles. “It is little bit like Starbucks as clients can enjoy a coffee in a relaxed atmosphere, but have something more tangible such as accessing their trading account and learn more about other Swissquote services.”
The establishment of the lounges was somewhat accidental, however, as the firm acquired a premise in Zurich, and the lease stated that the ground floor must be used as a retail unit, therefore the idea came about as a byproduct of this requirement, which has proved to be very successful.
FinanceFeeds asked Mr. Nettles to cast his mind back over the last five years at Swissquote, and recall a moment where he has seen a development and thought “that is genius!”.
He said “This was probably most applicable when we launched our SQore platform which is unique. I have not seen any bank provide such a service for the retail trader, and I am very pleased with its development and function, it is a very sophisticated and successful product”.
Congruently, we had to counter this question with “what was the biggest heart stopping moment over the last five years?”
Mr. Nettles concurred that the Swiss National Bank’s removal of the 1.20 peg on EURCHF was “the biggest shocker. Despite this, our technologies work perfectly” he said.
“The only unexpected thing was the complete lack of any liquidity which I have never experienced before. Due to the reliability of our technology and quick reactiveness of the FX Trading and IT teams we handled it very well, thank goodness. There were some negative client balances due to the gap in the market, but this was an unprecedented event and really shows how quickly things can change.” concluded Mr. Nettles.