It’s hard to believe that 10 years have slipped by since 2008’s financial crisis; the wounds are still fresh for many people. Jobs and homes were lost and even large corporations, seemingly immune to market hiccoughs, closed their doors. No-one would have predicted that behemoths like Lehman Brothers would file bankruptcy, and stalwarts like Merrill Lynch, AIG, and the Royal Bank of Scotland would need a bailout.
While it was a time of distress and disbelief for individuals and corporates alike, many of the initiatives that emerged in the aftermath have made the global financial system more resilient to systemic flaws. After the global meltdown in 2008, a flurry of legislation was passed to protect consumers and ensure that the gross misconduct by those in power could not be repeated. In this improved regulatory environment, more top-level firms are applying for appropriate licensing to give their clients reassurance. Following this trend, award-winning global forex broker FXTM applied for and earned its UK FCA licence, and opened its doors to traders on April 4th 2018.
Martin Couper, a director at FXTM, says, “Applying for the FCA licence was a logical next step for our brand. We are regulated in several jurisdictions, but the UK is an important milestone for us. We want our clients to have peace of mind knowing that they are dealing with a fully compliant and regulated broker.” Another motivator, argues Couper, is the uncertainty around Brexit in terms of passporting rights between the EU and UK. “We applied for the licence even before the outcome of Brexit was known; we wanted to ensure that regardless of any decisions made, the services we provide to our customers remained consistent and uninterrupted.” How international companies will operate post-Brexit is unclear, but applying for and being awarded the FCA licence helps ensure that it’ll be business as usual.
The FCA has its roots in the now-defunct Financial Services Authority. The FSA was the judicial body responsible for the regulation of the financial services industry in the United Kingdom between 2001 and 2013. As a response to the financial crisis and the FSA’s failure to mitigate it, the UK government disbanded the FSA and split its functions into two, more stringent, agencies: The PRA and the FCA. The Prudential Regulation Authority of the Bank of England is tasked with ensuring that banks operate with sufficient capital and liquidity. The remit of the Financial Conduct Agency (FCA) is to protect consumers who use financial services firms, primarily by enforcing corporate transparency and clearer communication.
Because regulators are now taking a much more active approach to vetting products and services, earning the appropriate licences is of the utmost importance to all financial services firms. The FCA licence represents the gold standard for firms looking to operate in the UK.
Over 56,000 business are currently registered with the FCA, along with 125,000 approved persons. Together they generate about 12% of the UK’s GDP (gross domestic product). It’s not an insular organisation, however. The FCA operates in close association with other regulatory bodies in Europe, particularly ESMA (European Securities and Markets Authority). This ensures that the standards applied in the UK are equally as rigorous and helpful to the consumer as those applied elsewhere in Europe.
FXTM already hold licences to operate in other jurisdictions: in Cyprus under CySEC (the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission) and in South Africa under the FSB (Financial Services Board). Being licensed in the UK broadens FXTM’s scope and allows access to a wider market, as well as complementing its existing operations in Cyprus and other countries.
As a brand, FXTM showed remarkable growth over the past 12 months, with a 77% year-on-year increase in client base and a 64% boost in active users. We have also won several coveted industry awards for our service, including Forex Broker of the Year and Best Customer Service Global, both in 2017. We credit this success to our market-leading, client-centric approach and peerless customer service in more than 30 languages.
We are also exceptionally proud of our ambitious programme of educational initiatives, held around the world. “We have a firm belief that an educated client is our best client, so we strive to constantly develop materials that will enhance their knowledge of trading and markets. We look forward to providing our UK traders with the same standard of services and education as our existing global clients,” Couper explains. “Financial services companies now operate under the weight of a significant compliance mandate. We are thrilled to have qualified and are looking forward to operating in the UK.”