What Are Alpari's Forex Options Down Under?
In the first of our series of interviews with senior figures from the Forex industry following the release of the final version of the new CFTC regulations, I spoke yesterday with Daniel Skowronski, recently installed Chief Executive Officer of Alpari (US) as well as Chief Commercial Officer of the Alpari Group. Daniel was also Managing Director of Currenex before moving to Alpari. I started off asking the question on everyone's lips these days about the effect of the new regulations on retail forex in the US, including their impact on introducing brokers. We then went on to discuss Alpari's plans to broaden the range of it's product offerings, whilst also expanding into new areas of the globe.
Firstly I pointed out that FXCM had just announced the repatriation of their US domiciled customer's accounts from offshore here in the UK back to the United States. I was slightly surprised when Daniel told me that Alpari (US) would be doing the same thing for a small number of their customers, and that this would also take place before the CFTC's October 18th deadline. It seems that some time after my interview with Alpari (UK) around this time last year a few of Alpari's US customers had insisted on moving their accounts offshore, and Alpari had acceeded to those requests. I imagine those very same customers are now extremely unhappy to find their funds flowing westwards once more. I expect FXCM's customers feel that way too. The question is who will they blame!
That led us on to another vexed question, the one about the effect of the new CFTC regulations on introducing brokers. Daniel said that he thought the majority of IBs, particularly those with only 10 clients or less, would find it very difficult to become registered by October 18th. However Alpari (US) would do what it could to help. Alpari (US) would consider guaranteeing IBs on a case by case basis, and for suitable candidates would also pay any fees incurred by the IB during the registration process. Despite that it still seemed likely the majority of US IBs would be forced to shut up shop or alternatively to refocus their business offshore. Daniel "kind of hoped" the NFA would grant some kind of extension to the draconian deadline, but thought it unlikely to happen. He had also hoped that when the final CFTC regulations were released they would include mandatory segregated accounts for retail forex in the United States, but that had not come to pass. That issue was still therefore a compelling reason for anyone willing and able to do so to open an account in a jurisdiction (such as over here in the UK) which does insist on them.
We then moved away from regulation and on to Alpari's expansion plans. Daniel told me Alpari (US) now consists of 3 separate divisions, retail forex (which we're all familiar with!), futures and options, and institutional. The futures division would be demonstrating a new combined OTC forex/options platform at the end of this month, and anticipated going live with it in the fourth quarter of 2010. The institutional side of things would bring benefits to Alpari's retail clients too. For example their Pro account utilised "in-house" MT4/Currenex bridge technology developed with the assistance of Currenex during his time there. I said that sounded to me like a boon for retail clients familiar with some of the shortcomings of the Boston Technologies MT4/STP bridge. Daniel agreed with me, and suggested Alpari's solution had some advantages over the Gold-i Gate bridge also, though we didn't have time to go through those in any detail. That brought us back to retail, and the transition from MetaTrader 4 to MetaTrader 5. Daniel said Alpari would continue to support MT4 for as long as the demand was there. He expected that to be at least 5 years. Daniel then told me that the CEOs of Alpari Group and MetaQuotes are in fact "best friends". Adding that to the Currenex dimension, he felt confident that Alpari's MetaTrader 5 offering would be one of the first, as well as one of the best, in the retal forex marketplace.
In addition to more divisions and more platforms, Daniel told me that Alpari would also be expanding into more countries. They would be looking to increase their presence in Asia, Europe and South America, but the first new office would be opening in Australia.
By this time Daniel had already extended our conversation once, so I thanked him for sparing me so much of valuable time and hung up.
By now we should all have a good idea of what the CFTC's plans are, and what Alpari's plans are. The next obvious question to be asked is what plans do all Alpari's competitors have? Not least of which is the Chicago Mercantile Exchange!