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He said he was impressed with how many investment bankers the firm had, having no clue that the number of IBs affiliated with MF Global actually meant introducing brokers. The fate of the company was probably sealed introducing broker then and there.
While investment bankers have had their own problems in recent years, it is introducing brokers whose best days seem behind them. A combination of factors, from regulation to technology along with user preferences have changed the structure, relationships and future between futures commission merchants and IBs.
Last year produced the lowest number of new IBs of any year since the firm category was established. And here is what it looks like with what is left. The number of GIBs dropped to infrom in Probably not coincidentally, the number of IIBs rose to at the end of from in FCMs are also taking a much harder look introducing broker new IBs looking for a place to clear.
With the introducing broker in a fine happy mood these days, the risk of taking on someone inexperienced running an IB is amplified. This would allow a firm, or associated persons, with regulatory problems to be able to stay in business.
Or, it would allow someone new to the business to start up a new IB operation. Another factor to look at is where do new IBs come from? With dwindling numbers of FCMs today, that could mean fewer potential sales people willing to start their own introducing broker business. And with the trading floors consolidated in Chicago and essentially closed spare a few options pits, there are introducing broker phone clerks who could become sales representatives while moving off the floor.
The number of FCMs offering the guaranteed status today is very narrow and the industry probably would not have found a place for his new firm from an unknown party. Today, some IBs have been chased out because their production levels were too low. It just did not pay to continue supporting some of the low production IBs. Part of this whole phenomena also has to do with the rise of the house style business of an Interactive Brokers or TD Ameritrade and away from an associated person model.
As an associated person at an IB, I was essentially my own profit center, competing against not only outside competitors, but introducing broker internal competition.
Everyone was a competitor. They pay salaries to employees who handle the customer business, not commissions. Because of the numerous and various separate deals introducing broker at MF Global with in-house brokers and various IBs and FCMs, an increase in volumes traded did not translate into higher profit margins for the firm.
Firing brokers at MF Global would not solve the problem either as many if not most customers are more loyal to their personal broker than they are the clearing firm behind them. In fact, many brokers will change firms multiple times during their careers, with customers following them introducing broker.
That was my experience, my customers mostly followed me wherever I went. But now, there are fewer places for brokers to go and it is harder to get a new IB started.
Part of this is the regulatory cost increase the industry has faced since the introducing broker crisis and the passage of Dodd-Frank. Another big part is the low interest rate environment which has permeated the markets in recent years. FCMs make money on the interest rate of the funds they hold for customers.
With interest rates near zero, FCMs have introducing broker a harder time making money. Another introducing broker is the high cost of being in the customer business from a technology standpoint. We have seen introducing broker consolidation in the last 20 years as electronic trading has introducing broker the dominant platform for order execution.
It used to be the cost of multiple telecom lines going into the exchanges that was the easy rationalization. Now, it is also the high cost of keeping up with the burden the FCMs and trading firms must absorb from exchanges to stay current with new products and their latest technology upgrades.
It was the high cost of lawsuits that saw the creation of the FCM and IB model after the wirehouses complained to Congress nearly 35 years ago. Many wirehouses in the late s and early s had branch offices all over the country and there was high interest in commodities due to the roaring ag and metals markets of the s.
But supervising those two-person offices in the far reaches of the nation was hard introducing broker do for introducing broker wirehouses, who were the deep pockets sued, introducing broker good name besmirched, when the branches misbehaved. The resulting regulatory structure created a layer between the deep pockets of the wirehouses and their good name, and that of the broker in the field. I remember in April of when introducing broker was a massive layoff in the industry due to overcapacity, and the new regulations coming through.
With the NFA established innew rules and structures were being developed for the industry. By there were Infirms like Merrill Lynch closed hundreds of commodity offices around the country amid low grain prices, low volatility and high cost of operations.
Many of those offices, with new names and levels of separation from their previous owners, would become part of the IB industry in the years to come. It was in that we saw the top of the number of IBs, with That same year there were FCMs.
The role of the IB has changed over the years. No longer are they they source of exclusive market information gleaned from the trading floors they once were. Today, anyone with an Internet introducing broker or a introducing broker phone has as much access to information as most IBs.
And with more people comfortable conducting commerce over the Internet, fewer people need an IB to enter an order on their behalf. Of course, some IBs have rolled introducing broker the punches and added new services to continue to connect with clients. This is particularly true in the agricultural, metals and energy areas where Introducing broker specialize. Some IBs have offered more that just introducing broker brokerage services by getting deeper into the cash markets for customers.
Introducing broker, we may have reached a tipping point, where fewer people need an intermediary doing what an IB does in the age introducing broker self-directed and mobile trading. The days of the IB may continue to wane.
One could even throw in the threat of blockchain to completely upset the status quo as a factor introducing broker the fewer number of IBs being created, but that is too far from where we stand today.
Tomorrow is another thing. There is still a core of quality IBs in the industry to keep the traditional structure in place. But with the introducing broker of new IBs waning, and headwinds introducing broker place to keep it that way, the future for the IB category is more uncertain than ever.
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