Everything Has Changed in 2021

Everything has changed since the Pandemic. Everything seems to be (or should be) under review – from vendors and systems to when, where and how people work.

This is particularly true for online businesses such as brokers who are being forced to question everything, too – for example, should they build technology in-house, should they buy it in and where should they buy it from?

Even their staff are questioning their roles – should they remain with the organisation or look for new opportunities elsewhere? The Great Resignation is impacting all businesses across all sectors.

On top of all of this, there’s an increasing focus on climate change and environmental responsibilities for businesses – something that our industry should be prioritising too.

Gone are the days of thinking, ‘if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it’ which seemed such a commonplace approach until relatively recently. We have entered a new era and need to respond accordingly to grow our businesses in this new world.

Staffing: Get the Balance Right

There are so many different views from employees on how they’d like to work, and the differing views tend to reflect their different levels of experience within the company.

The younger people, such as the fresh graduates or those with one or two years’ experience, tend to want to spend some time in the office. They realise that if they work from home all the time, it’s going to be more difficult for them to progress in their career.

Then there are the middle managers – the ones who tend to be the most vocal – who are perfectly happy working full-time from home and feel they don’t need to be in the office at all.

And finally, the senior management who welcome the return to office-based working. They feel it’s the best way to maintain the company culture, think more strategically and drive the business forward.

So how do you balance these views? The important thing is to listen to them all and come up with a compromise – don’t let the most vocal ones drown out the other opinions. Review this new way of working at least every six months.

Review Your Technology Stack

In terms of technology, brokers are reviewing their whole technology stack from top to bottom. Everything is up for review, from risk management and liquidity management to regulatory reporting software and trading platforms.

It’s time to look at every component and question every part of it. If it’s fit for purpose for today, it’s probably not fit for purpose for tomorrow.

Moving from legacy technology (such as MT4) to new technology (such as MT5) is essential because legacy technology becomes increasingly expensive to support.

It’s also time to move away from excel for key functions – excel can be slow and inefficient. Most risk management systems, for example, are still based on excel. Instead, use dedicated software which gives you real-time information, enabling you to act quickly and minimise risk.

And make sure you have an understanding of market rates – we are aware that with some vendors, clients have been massively overpaying as they’ve never questioned the costs.

There’s also a common misconception that you can’t change vendors because of the complexity of the integrations. But this isn’t the case – in fact, we see more and more movement from the larger end of the market as cost-efficiencies have become such a priority.

Stop Building Technology In-House

Stop building technology that you can buy off the shelf and instead use the money saved to spend on a business differentiator such as AI or education.

If you are buying new technology, make sure that it’s easy to use and easy to set up. Get something that’s preconfigured for the industry but can be tailored to meet specific needs.

Do You Need To Travel?

The return to in-person meetings has returned massively for people in the same country. And it’s been a very welcome return, too.

But what has changed – and I don’t think will ever be the same again – is the large amount of international business travel that was so common in the pre-Pandemic world.

This isn’t just because of Covid. It’s because of costs, time and climate change.

Save Electricity

Everyone who has an office should be thinking about recycling, double glazing, not leaving lights on, cycle to work schemes etc. But we can do more in other ways, too.

Take server hosting, for example. Most people in our industry insist on dedicated servers in expensive data centres in London or New York. These data centres are another area that should be questioned – it just isn’t necessary anymore.

Cloud computing and virtualisation is an increasing trend. Every server uses large amounts of electricity, whether the server is doing a lot of work or not. Server consolidation and Cloud computing can make an enormous difference, reducing electricity by about 75%.

At Gold-i, we’ve just combined eight development servers into one because they weren’t all working simultaneously.

We are seeing a noticeable rise in the number of people opting for this approach – the impact on latency is minimal as you can cross-connect from all the Cloud providers to where the LPs’ servers are based. You can also scale up or down very quickly.

Embrace Digital Assets

The rise in Crypto trading is another huge change we’ve seen, driven recently by demand from the institutional world and the institutional calibre infrastructure that is now in place.

It’s an asset class that’s here to stay – although the Crypto industry has a responsibility to become more environmentally friendly.

Bitcoin is proving to be increasingly resilient, although we will certainly see changes to it. It is currently cumbersome on electricity usage because of how it is mined.

The Crypto industry has evolved from an RFQ (Request For A Quote) model to a streaming model and has developed similarly to how the FX world evolved.

Digital assets are becoming far more mainstream – they provide an excellent opportunity for brokers to diversify and generate new income streams. And that’s why we are seeing so much interest in our Crypto Switch™ product.

Select The Right Liquidity Providers

Many brokers still think that buying liquidity is like turning on a tap. It flows, and it’s all the same. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

The liquidity consumer must be matched to the right Liquidity Provider, and it’s highly unlikely that a single Liquidity Provider will meet all the needs of a broker.

Instead, brokers will need different LPs for different asset classes or different sizes or trading styles. They will almost certainly need a system to combine all their LPs and deliver the liquidity to the relevant clients in the right way.

Review your Liquidity Providers to make sure they are ideally suited to your brokerage and clients.

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