Q&A Sessions with Carolina May, CEO of leading industry portal FXStreet.com
Carolina May, CEO of industry portal FXStreet.com, sits down for a Q&A session to discuss her personal journey into the industry and her views on where the industry is headed.
Welcome to an exciting and cutting edge new series on FinanceFeeds. “Industry Influencers” takes a look at the entrepreneurs and companies which are making great steps in the FX and electronic trading industry in terms of innovation, creativity and leadership.
In the first part, FinanceFeeds sits down with the CEOs of this industry to find out more about them, how they got where they are today and what their thoughts are on the way that this business will move forward.
Full name: Carolina May
Time with company: 9 years (2007), 3.5 years as CEO.
Years in the industry: 9 years in total. Came from a project management and online / offline media background.
City of residence: Buenos Aires
Tell us a little about yourself. What are some of the things you enjoy outside of work?
I wake up very early every morning considering that most of the team are based in Barcelona and are already a few hours ahead of me. I start my day off with checking the news on FXStreet and other industry sources to make sure we have not missed anything. Right after this I start my meetings and catching up with the team globally. I have two kids, so that is what keeps me busy my late afternoons.
I am an avid fan of marathons and enjoy running. I’m also big on travelling- I’ve travelled the world but the majority of travelling I do these days is back and forth between Buenos Aires and the office in Barcelona.
What was your journey like to get to where you are today?
I first started with FXStreet in the accounts department taking care of advertising campaigns, as well as being responsible for corporate clients, and quickly moved my way up the ranks focusing more on taking care of projects within the company.
I was responsible for the launch of FXStreet’s product sales area as we moved into providing tools such as our news and economic calendars for brokers. This was a big move for the company and worked with the sales person to promote the tools as an experiment to test the market’s response. It was not long before it really took off and now is a large part of our business.
In 2012, Francesc Riverola, co-founder of FXStreet, offered me the position of CEO. At the time the company was doing well financially but needed a restructure in order to cope with the demand as well as to continue being the leading provider in the sector. I was up the challenge.
One word that describes you?
Energetic… In fact, it’s ambitious!
What was your biggest challenge to date that you’ve had to overcome?
Taking the role of CEO, the restructuring that was required and at the same time pushing into new boundaries. FXStreet was one of the first websites when we launched in this space. It was new, innovative and brought new tools to the market. Our team grew fast and we expanded quickly.
We are still growing, innovating, constantly evolving to suit our customer’s needs. FXStreet will continue to lead from the front. That is my mission.
FXStreet had to go from startup to a mature company. This was the main challenge. The next part was how we can continue being innovators in our field, leading by example. This included working out what our ideal market position would be, what roles we wanted to create to service this position and what projects and tools we had to take on in order to work towards the end goal.
All this had to happen quickly but at the same time it had to be done right. Within a space of a few years, more sites popped up. When you are still new and one of the first in the business, you are preoccupied with maintenance and adding things. I had to think 10 steps ahead as this space was getting busy, quickly.
This was my biggest challenge to date. We are still growing, innovating, constantly evolving to suit our customer’s needs. FXStreet will continue to lead from the front. That is my mission.
What does the future hold for FXStreet? Anything exciting / new coming in the near future?
We recently launched our new site. Considering the changing digital landscape and how content is consumed today, we had to adapt. The recent launch focused on amplifying the company’s products and services for both users and brokers. This includes more seminars, products and tools.
We completely reworked our layout, including the entire site architecture and completely rebuilt and transformed many of our tools from scratch. It is not about just providing tools, it is about providing amazing tools that are in demand and add value.
Since the site restructuring and re-design, we are still optimizing as we changed a lot having to reposition many new and existing pages on search engines. We are still testing new and recent changes to ensure that the offering is user friendly, works well every time and offers the users the information they need.
Moving forward, we are going to look at the mobile challenge- the responsive and adaptive user experiences for mobile consumers. Without saying too much, we are going to lead in the providing innovative and captivating experiences and interactions with our products and services on mobile devices bringing a new level of service to consumers of our content as well as our broker customers.
Advertising in Forex has become absolutely saturated. We want to move to more of an agency model meaning closer partnerships with our brokers
Another part of the business that I am going to put a lot more focus into is languages. Whilst English is our strongest market, I want to diversify into China, Turkey and Russia bringing our new products into new markets and making sure we can differentiate our offerings to what they offer there already.
One of the things we have been working on is partnering with universities in order to offer different courses that are certified. Just about to close another university- you’ll find out soon.
Additionally, we are finding new innovative ways to work with our advertisers in the digital arena. We are currently testing new ways to optimise conversions and optimise relationships between our broker partners and users. Advertising in Forex has become absolutely saturated. We want to move to more of an agency model meaning closer partnerships with our brokers aligning the right brokerages with the right customers. Focusing more on partnerships vs. calling it regular display advertising.
This has been welcomed by the industry and includes good feedback from brokers and clients.
A lot of energy and focus is put into additional services / products such as your tools. What will FXStreet look like in five years?
This is how we see it. Our website is the main channel to communicate through our content, but is also a channel to display our own products. The main thing to note is the website is a product as well.
We specialize in Forex, the tools were born out of a need, our need, our users’ need. For example, we needed to provide a good Real Time economic calendar on our website. What was available at the time was not suitable for our needs so we decided to build our own. This happened with all of our tools and started as a trial and then just grew from there based on feedback.
Tools will become a larger part of FXStreet.com moving forward but the intention and focus is the end user’s benefit.
What are your thoughts on where the industry is heading?
The industry is becoming more specialised. It used to be the wild west- no regulations, brokers popping up and closing down all over the place. The cost, the experience level and requirements to setup a shop today, make it all the harder for inexperienced players to come in thus in turn make a better environment for the traders.
This is also reinforced by looking at the markets as a whole. For many years, the market was volatile and moved all day. Recently, the lack of volatility means we have a reasonably flat market with a smaller range yet we are seeing more “special events” and large spikes which creates a lot of sudden volatility. Think SNB black swan events, Brexit and the like. This becomes a lot harder to manage as a broker and trader.
So I believe that the market will become a specialist market in that companies, traders, employees, service providers and all participants will become a lot more skilled overall in order to remain in the business.