KIG, the new player in Australia & South-East Asia via FairMarkets: Interview with Umit Kaf

Rick Steves

Global Kapital Group’s KIG BV has been growing exponentially in the first 10 months of 2021 with significant acquisitions across the globe, spanning from the US to Europe, Africa, and Australia.

KIG acquired ASIC-licensed FairMarkets in Australia in February, entered the US with FINRA-licensed GK Trade New York, obtained a licence from the FSC in Mauritius, and acquired Işık Menkul, a CMB-regulated multi-asset broker in Turkey, stepping into the MENA region and into South Africa by acquiring Maru Asset Managers, licensed by the FSCA.

Finance Feeds spoke to Umit Kaf, regional director of South-East Asia, about the acquisition of ASIC-authorized FairMarkets to serve as the base in the APAC region and the Group’s ambition.

Umit Kaf talks multi asset trading in APAC

Umit Kaf is the regional director of FairMarkets. A former global strategist and portfolio manager with extensive experience in international markets, money, and risk management, Umit headed a global team of analysts at Garanti Securities and helped clients to manage their portfolios.

Prior to joining Garanti, Kaf’s expertise extended to research, trading, and business development in global assets at Is Investment.

Kaf traded a wide range of assets including FX, futures, options, LME, equities, and ETFs across US, European and Asian markets. Kaf has also regularly appeared on Bloomberg TV and led seminars and training for clients.

Founder of Cinethings (a database of things from movies) and Neyburhud (a multi-category e-marketplace) between 2015-2017, Umit holds a B.Sc in Computer from Bogazici University, and an MA in Finance from Sabanci University. Umit is also a member of the CMT Association, USA, and is committed to the CFA Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct.

First of all, thank you for taking the time to speak with us and, before we proceed any further, can you please tell our readers what is KIG and what services you offer?

KIG BV, Global Kapital Group’s investment platform, is a Dutch holding company which specialises in providing investors with easy access to a large spectrum of financial and investment products from across the globe. These products include listed equities, currencies, commodities from metals to energy, and CFDs for stocks, indices, and over-the-counter derivatives.

Why have you decided to move beyond FX?

The investment market itself goes far beyond FX and as a result the markets are now much more open for everyone, not just for FX traders. When it comes to generating a regular cash flow, whether it be for your retirement, keeping your savings in a safe place, exploiting flash news in a volatility-driven world, or hedging your business; you need more than just FX products. KIG BV is a group of Financial Services companies with a human touch. Our entire business model is built around our clients and our services are perfected to satisfy their everchanging needs.

We understand exactly what an investor needs. Whilst investors are interested in stocks, they may prefer baskets of stocks or ETFs if they are not proficient in investing. Investors need futures or options to hedge their businesses and operational risks; while they can buy products, they should also be able to sell just as easily. Investments have no limits; opportunities are endless, and the ability to diversify your portfolio is a must and that’s why it’s better for investors to have all their products in a single investment house.

In addition, it is also important to us that we can provide our clients a fair price and exclusive service, anytime, anywhere. Investors are sensitive to price and quality of service. There is a plethora of peers out there, and fair price is the one thing that can be understood in a second. A safe place, a secure transaction, and professional service are the qualities that are vital to clients. Thanks to digital transformation worldwide, a broker is seen as highly interchangeable and can be replaced in a minute. To attract clients we offer fair prices, simple and transparent procedures and try to offer the best spreads in Australia and South-East Asia.

KIG acquired FairMarkets earlier this year in a move to enter ASIC territory and increase the footprint across the region. What will that mean for brokers and traders in Australia?

By entering Australia with the acquisition of FairMarkets, KIG has indeed increased its footprint in the region, and this is an important move for KIG as Australia is an attractive, secure, and well-regulated market. Crucially, the Australian economy has a high income per capita, and the market has an attractive pool of more than 1 million active clients and almost $30 trillion annual volume. The Australian market grew 100% between 2017-2019 and has gained significant market share within the FX/CFD industry over the past 5 years, plus it is a population that is well-versed in the type of products and services that we offer.

While the retail market in Australia is already fairly saturated, we believe that there is definitely an opening for us as we are bringing many new offerings to Australian clients that have not been offered before and they will not be able to experience with any of our competitors. One of these exciting new products is our “Aussie Premium”, an exclusive account type which offers tight spreads and zero commission on FX pairs of AUD crosses, Brent and WTI, gold and silver, and ASX 200 index. We designed it for Australians who mostly trade these products in their daily life, who have AUD-sensitivity international business interests and close connections with the oil and mining industry. This is a product that we feel the Australian clients will really value and thus will become a key differentiator for us.

I need to add; FairMarkets was founded on the principle of providing “a safe, fair, and transparent environment for investors”. Everything we do is a result of our company’s core values. With the select range of products, competitive pricing, and transparency, we’d like to position ourselves in Australia as “simple, fresh, fair”.

As I understand, the plan is to grow FairMarkets from a local brand in Australia to an international multi-product investment house in South East Asia. What are the firm’s next steps to achieve that?

That is correct, FairMarkets is a great local brand active in Australia, but our goal is to grow FairMarkets into an international multi-product investment house. As mentioned, we plan to offer a wide variety of products and services to our clients which will ensure all of their trading can be carried out conveniently and securely in one investment house.

Besides, we are bringing so many things to the region; our experience and the Group’s know-how gained from operating in more than 20 countries, our cutting-edge technology, and most importantly, the licences we have in strictly regulated countries like Australia, which establish safe, fair, transparent trading environment for our clients. FairMarkets has been an ASIC member since 2012, and our experience and the trust that we have earned over the years is reinforced each day by our clients, regulators, and business partners in other regulated countries as well. Next steps would be to step into the local markets and pass all these experiences to our clients and partners there, and to enhance our competitivity.

As mentioned above, KIG had a very accomplished year in 2021 as part of its global expansion efforts. What are the plans for 2022 and beyond?

The FairMarkets acquisition benefits the wider group’s long-term ambition to accelerate retail growth as it allows KIG to leverage FairMarkets’ position as a springboard for the South East Asia region and also globally.

KIG is focused on expanding and as mentioned previously, has made four other significant acquisitions to increase its global reach and products in the first 10 months of 2021 alone. Previously, the Group completed an acquisition of FSCA regulated financial service provider Maru Asset Managers in South Africa, entered the US with GK Trade New York by acquiring a FINRA licenced broker-dealer, the Mauritian market with FSC licenced GK Trade International, and the Turkish market by the takeover of Işık Menkul, a CMB regulated multi-asset broker. KIG aims to provide multi-asset services to clients across the world and the acquisitions realised in the last year will help achieve this ambition. In 2022, KIG plans to continue its geographic expansion momentum.

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