FNG Exclusive Interview… Paul Jackson, Sales Director at IS Prime, part of the ISAM Capital Markets Group, talks to FNG about the firm’s products, growth plans and diversification.
FNG: What is IS Prime’s focus at the moment?
Paul: We continue to work to maintain our position as a market leading Prime of Prime, leveraging our in house quant team’s expertise and building on our strengths in liquidity, technology and risk management. The core of this is our investment in enhancing our products and services, with a focus on offering even better pricing and quality of execution across assets.
Being client focused is an absolute priority for us – it’s how we’ve built our business. For us, it’s about looking at what each client needs to make their business a success and providing tailored solutions for them whilst also maintaining sensible risk controls.
Retail brokers worldwide are very much our key audience. However, we have diversified our client base to include funds, asset managers and prop trading firms and this is an increasingly growing sector for us.
IS Prime recently moved to larger premises in the City, doubling our square footage to accommodate the growth we foresee across the ISAM Capital Markets Group. It makes a real difference to work with people face to face again – it’s far easier to discuss growth strategies and draw up roadmaps when we are sharing an office together and can meet in person. We are also reaping the benefits of attending industry events and networking in person, too. These events, combined with our ongoing marketing activity, provide the opportunity to communicate our strengths and continue to work more closely with our clients.
In line with our focus on growth, we are also growing our team and introducing new technology to boost efficiencies.
FNG: Which products and services are you focusing on?
Paul: Spot FX, metals, indices and oil are the group’s core products and we are able to stay ahead of our competition by working across the ISAM Capital Markets Group to improve our pricing and optimise our technology and infrastructure globally. One such example is the recent announcement of our liquidity solution in indices and commodities, with variable spreads in the major indices and US and UK crude starting from zero during liquid market hours.
We are in the process of developing and rolling out a range of new products to add further value and provide greater choice to brokers, hedge funds and professional trader clients. We also have a number of alternative products in the pipeline – watch this space!
IS Risk Analytics (ISRA), also part of the ISAM Capital Markets Group, offers what I believe are the very best risk services in our industry. Jeff Wilkins, ISRA’s Managing Director and his team have oversight of over $1.5 trillion per month in notional volume and have access to a vast amount of data analytics. They understand patterns of trading and so can make a significant difference to clients in terms of maximising P&L across a wide range of asset classes. We work in partnership with ISRA on risk services and Jeff and his team also provide MT4/MT5 white labels.
And finally, our Agency Desk is going from strength to strength. They have restructured liquidity pools and increased efficiency, resulting in significant growth over the last six months.
FNG: IS Prime prides itself on its technology? What investments has the firm recently made in technology?
Paul: Our technology is key to our offering and is a big differentiator for us. IS Prime’s major shareholder is a systematic hedge fund manager and, as such, we have benefited hugely from their sophistication, relationships, and experience.
Over the last year we have made significant investments in our technology, including MT5 white labels, our in-house order flow analytics and rolling out a web-based multi-asset trading and risk system with Reactive Markets. The majority of our clients use a FIX API for trading with us but we wanted to provide an option to enable clients to hedge out manually themselves and Reactive Markets. This product supports both FIX API and Rest API provides a very professional alternative, with analytical tools tailored to our clients. It’s ideal for FX hedge funds and asset managers.
FNG: Do you see the hedge fund market as a key market moving forwards?
Paul: Definitely. We continue to diversify our client base and funds, asset managers and prop trading firms now make up a large proportion of our overall business. Using a Prime of Prime can be a great entry into the interbank space, allowing clients to better utilise their capital elsewhere.
Whether a fund is able to get a direct Prime Broker relationship or not, these firms are realising that what we offer to them is far more competitively priced, with better commercial terms, than they are able to get from these institutions directly. They can leverage our buying power because IS Prime’s volumes enable us to negotiate exceptional pricing that may not be possible for them to achieve themselves. Partnering with us rather than a Prime Broker is also significantly less operationally demanding for them, enabling them to focus on research and performance.
The clients we have in this space are already seeing the benefits of partnering with us and this is certainly a key market sector moving forwards.
FNG: What next for IS Prime?
Paul: We have very ambitious growth plans and are looking at investing in new hires throughout the Group, operationally, technically and in terms of business development.
There are significant opportunities for us to grow the business in new territories and we are currently identifying the most suitable areas to focus on.
Ultimately, we are in a strong position moving forward and have a very impressive client base. In terms of attracting new clients, there’s definitely a trend in favour of clients wanting to make more quantitative and data driven decisions and we are ideally placed to help with this.