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Trading Strategies special report 2017

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Service is king in congested retail trading market Brokerages must put the client at the heart of the service if they are to survive in an increasingly competitive landscape I n a highly commoditised and in- creasingly competitive environ- ment, becoming more customer centric is a priority for all finan- cial services institutions. Against a backdrop of regulatory, econom- ic and market change, putting the onus on the customer can help drive both growth and profitability. Not surprisingly, the UK remains home to Europe's largest retail invest - ment market and with this comes a wealth of products, markets and plat- forms all vying for market share. For budding retail investors, the opportunities and abundance of information available in an increas - ingly digitalised world means they can now trade in an unprecedented way, and comparing and switching trading venues has never been easier. With so many players jostling for traders' business, the tide has firmly changed and brokerages must re - think their strategies if they are to stand out. For many, this hinges on personalising the service and focus- ing on customer experience. Brokerage ATFX has pledged its com- mitment to providing the best possible FIONA BOND experience for clients, with a state-of- the-art, mobile-accessible client portal and account management with 24/5 localised support services, which it be - lieves sets it apart from competitors in a vastly homogenous market. ATFX chief executive Richard Cra- ddock says: "We want to be the mar- ket leader in customer satisfaction, and this is driven by experienced, While online interaction has gathered a great deal of pace, it's still important as a business to offer offline support Launched in September 2016, Global Markets Group is one of a wave of new brokerages to emerge in a customer- centric environment and is a clear example of firms embracing change. In little over a year, the firm has built up a client base in excess of 500, and prides itself on offering clients a transparent and secure trading model. With more than 20 years of combined industry experience, the brokerage has a deep understanding of clients, and managing director Nick Cooke says an ongoing dedication to superior client support and interaction has been the cornerstone of its growing reputation. "We have clients based around the world and convenience is absolutely crucial. We have multilingual staff available 24 hours, five days a week and valuable educational resources available to assist traders in multiple languages. "When a client comes on, we take it upon ourselves to gather a deep understanding of how they like to trade. Our clients can interact with us via desktop, web and mobile, and we have live messaging which means clients can receive instant answers to their questions." Transparency and security are key values of Global Markets Group and Mr Cooke says, by providing clients with full transparency, they offer peace of mind. "We don't do any market making and our clients know where their funds are being held," he says. "We offer a fully transparent straight-through- processing or no-dealing- desk execution model. It's about giving proper expectations and being personally available to assist clients wherever, whenever." CASE STUDY GLOBAL MARKETS GROUP In a market dominated by the larger players, it can be even more pertinent for smaller firms to have a differentiator that delivers value beyond their competitors CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE Accenture 2017 capability for their clients then they really have been left behind." Hargreaves Lansdown recently relaunched its mobile app and, for Mr Cox, the focus has been on en - hancing the functions that clients really want rather than creating an all-singing, all-dancing app. The firm also has around 220 peo - ple working on its telephone help- desk, and invests a lot of time and resources in training staff so clients can receive an immediate answer. Mr Cox says: "A lot of the time, peo - ple just want to confirm something they've read and ensure they've un- derstood it properly. While online in- teraction has gathered a great deal of pace, it's still important as a business to offer offline support. We really mould our training and help around what our clients want." With more than a million clients, is it difficult for the larger outfits to retain their personal touch? Not so, according to Mr Cox, who says Hargreaves Lansdown prides itself in providing a personal touch in spite of size. He says: "We noticed through the recession that a lot of the capital flows were coming from pan-Europe - an investors and we have acquired a small team of talented multi-lingual staff to deal with those investors, in- cluding clients from the Chinese ex- pat community who speak exclusive- ly Mandarin and Cantonese." In a market dominated by the larger players, it can be even more pertinent for smaller firms to have a differentiator that delivers value beyond their competitors. There are, of course, challenges; it's not always easy to be heard and smaller firms may have to prioritise resourc - es to enhance their customer service proposition. However, smaller play- ers have the advantage of being nim- ble and progressive, unencumbered by legacy systems and practices. Nick Cooke, managing director of Global Markets Group, believes bro - kerages should look at the proposi- tion through the eyes of the clients, evaluating what it is they want, use and hope to achieve. He says: "The type of client we have varies greatly; some will see trading as a hobby while others will take it very seriously and use it as a second income. When a client first comes long-term professionals who have a true knowledge and understanding of what our clients want." For Mr Craddock, an important as - pect of exceptional service is by pro- viding staff who speak their clients' mother tongue. on, we find it important to have an initial consultation call so we can learn exactly what their needs are and ensure we can tailor our offering to meet their expectations." The rise in technology in recent years has reshaped how customers use and interact with their trades. The days of simply picking up the phone or enjoying long, leisure - ly lunches are of a bygone era, but brokerages have to strike a careful balance between offering a person- al touch and keeping pace with the rapid digitalisation of the markets. Mr Craddock says: "Previously, the most successful sales guys were those who had the best rapport with their clients and that came from face-to-face and over-the-phone contact. That industry has disap - peared now, but it's important not to forget the personal touch be- cause that's what builds loyalty and long-lasting relationships." What is clear is that firms must de- velop an understanding of their cli- ents' trading preferences to tailor their offering and ensure customer satisfac- tion. Those who fail to respond to the changing dynamics will fall behind. Danny Cox, head of communica- tions at Hargreaves Lansdown, says the firm has noticed a significant increase in the number of clients looking to interact on their mobile device, be it a phone or tablet. He says: "We survey our clients and listen to what they want and re - spond accordingly so we can make their experience as desirable as possible. The huge growth in dig- italisation has meant clients have migrated from telephone and post to online. If a firm doesn't allow mobile 76% want a self- directed experience 78% of investment banking clients expected tailored solutions TRADING STRATEGIES RACONTEUR.NET 18 05 / 12 / 2017

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