by Jeff Kim, COO for CDNetworks US/EMEA
The revenue opportunity presented by emerging market retail investors is growing rapidly, especially for those trading currencies online. Forex trading firms are spending significant shares of their budgets trying to improve their trading IT infrastructure to get as close as possible to zero-latency trading and be able to break barriers for trade with emerging markets. Despite significant IT investment by trading platforms located in the Western hemisphere, retail investors in emerging market regions of the world struggle with poor performance over the WAN.
With a simple improvement to their global content distribution infrastructure, leading trading platforms are significantly boosting revenue from e-Forex trading around the world.
Need for Improved e-Forex Performance in Emerging Markets
Today, more than 75% of Forex traders in the US and UK trade electronically, and approximately half of the Forex market participants in Asia Pacific use electronic systems. These combined trends toward e‐Forex hold significant impact for electronic trading platforms that can extend high‐quality services into emerging markets. The market opportunity is simply too large to ignore when one considers that the retail investor communities in India and China far outpace those of all other countries.
For Forex trading platforms based in North America and Europe to win over retail investors in emerging markets, they must ensure reliable high‐performance when sending and receiving data such as prices, orders, and reference data across networks which they do not control. This places an extreme burden on IT leaders and Global Forex executives as they are tasked with finding ways to minimise latency over the middle mile of the public Internet to provide robust, high‐speed trading capabilities around the world.
Main Barriers for Financial Trading: Latency Points
Web-based and mobile trading platforms depend heavily on the networks that deliver them to provide a solid end-user experience in remote regions. Along the way, points of latency add up to degrade application performance. Three major factors inherent in the public Internet cause latency on trading application performance.
First, latency increases during each of the multiple round-trips required to complete application functionality. For example, in the US, cross coast can take 80ms and applications in London will see 140ms to San Francisco and nearly 300ms to Hong Kong. It is even worse for mobile, where users in the US connecting via 2G/3G networks can expect round-trip times of approximately 200 milliseconds (and 2% packet loss) when using applications outside of a firm’s LAN. On-demand network acceleration services extend a financial firm’s existing enterprise data centre or WAN to geographically dispersed regions and end users. Such services accelerate content moving from an organisation’s internal LAN or WAN for site-to-site and site-to-user connections when applications and content traverse the public Internet on the way to their final destination.
Second, many financial trading applications are based on TCP, which adds latency to application performance. To achieve application reliability, the original TCP designers sacrificed speed. There have been improvements over the years to the protocol’s implementation, but it still suffers from significant slowdowns as distance between sender and receiver increase. To overcome this, several optimisations can be incorporated, either singularly or combined, including window‐size scaling, delayed acknowledgements, Nagle algorithm, selective acknowledgements, limited and fast retransmits, and many others. The ultimate goal is to “fill the pipe” and send/receive data over sometimes unreliable connections the fastest way possible.
Third, many end users access financial trading applications from mobile devices, hard wired branch offices, and even home offices ― all with consumer grade connectivity. Quite often, connections for these users occur at the edge of network coverage zones.This can add more than one full second of latency.
As a result of these three factors, financial trading applications that normally run extremely fast on LANs, or even on WANs in a firm’s home country, suffer severe performance degradation when traversing the public Internet to globally dispersed clients.
Solution: Accelerate Your Content
A current solution helping overcome latency points is on-demand network acceleration services, which extend a financial firm’s existing enterprise datacentre or WAN to geographically dispersed regions and end users. Such services accelerate content moving from an organisation’s internal LAN or WAN for site-to-site and site-to-user connections when applications and content traverse the public internet on the way to their final destination. Delivered as a managed service by leading next generation content delivery networks(CDNs), on-demand network acceleration enables firms to turn services on without incurring additional capital expenditures.
An example of a leading international investment bank that specialises in online global trading and investment, that has made use of a content delivery network service to its benefit is Saxo Bank. In addition to direct services provided to consumers and businesses, Saxo Bank developed a white‐label solution called SaxoTrader that is used by many global financial institutions.
SaxoTrader enables investors to trade Forex, CFDs, ETFs, Stocks, Futures and (Foreign Exchange) Forex Forwards and Options from one, fully integrated online platform. The platform comes in several forms – a Web‐based application, a mobile application for Apple iOS and Google Android, and a desktop application for Microsoft Windows.
Saxo Bank was experiencing significant institutional demand in China for its SaxoTrader platform. While this was great news for the firm’s expansion plans in Asia, the platform suffered performance degradation when serving trading applications between its Denmark‐based datacenter and the China market.
To address application performance issues in Asia, Saxo Bank investigated local managed hosting services but found them to be either cost‐prohibitive or too country‐specific. By contrast, Saxo Bank performed extensive testing of SaxoTrader Web‐based and Client based applications running on CDNetworks’ DNA (Dynamic Network Acceleration) service. “DNA performed extremely fast without the need for costly data center build‐out,” said Ashley Latham, SVP Trading Products at Saxo Bank. “DNA enables us to pursue multiple world regions in a fast and flexible manner.”
Saxo Bank needed less than two weeks to launch the SaxoTrader platform in China. With DNA virtually eliminating latency, broken trades became a thing of the past, saving Saxo Bank millions of dollars per day from lost trading revenue.
Breaking into Emerging Markets
The critical aspect for business success is to maximise performance of flexible Forex trading applications for retail investors, taking into consideration the growing number of users accessing these from a wide variety of places and devices. DNA enables companies to easily and cost efficiently improve service globally, turning every user and device into a high‐throughput application access point. IT leaders and heads of global Forex trading can quickly and seamlessly adjust their financial application delivery strategies as business needs evolve.
How has the online trading landscape changed in 2020?
By Dáire Ferguson, CEO, AvaTrade
This year has been all about change following the outbreak of coronavirus and the subsequent global economic downturn which has impacted nearly every aspect of personal and business life. The online trading world has been no exception to this change as volatility in the financial markets has soared.
Although the global markets have been on a rollercoaster for some time with various geopolitical tensions, the market swings that we have witnessed since March have undoubtedly been unlike anything seen before. While these are indeed challenging times, for the online trading community, the increased volatility has proven tempting for those looking to profit handsomely.
However, with the opportunity to make greater profits also comes the possibility to make a loss, so how has 2020 changed the online trading landscape and how can retail investors stay safe?
Interest rates offered by banks and other traditional forms of consumer investments have been uninspiring for some time, but with the current economic frailty, the Bank of England cut interest rates to an all-time low. This has left many people in search of more exciting and rewarding ways to grow their savings which is indeed something online trading can provide.
When the pandemic hit earlier this year, it was widely reported that user numbers for online trading rocketed due to disappointing savings rates but also because the enforced lockdown gave more people the time to learn a new skill and educate themselves on online trading.
A volatile market certainly offers great scope for profit and new sources of revenue for those that are savvy enough to put their convictions to the test. However, where people stand the chance to profit greatly from market volatility, there is also the possibility to make a loss, particularly for those that are new to online trading or who are still developing their understanding of the market.
The sharp rise in online trading over lockdown paired with this year’s unpredictable global economy has led to some financial losses, but with a number of risk management tools now available this does not necessarily have to be the case.
Protect your assets
Although not yet widely available across the retail market, risk management tools are slowly becoming more prevalent and being offered by online traders as an extra layer of security for those seeking to trade in riskier climates.
There are a range of options available for traders, but amongst the common tools are “take profit” orders in conjunction with “stop loss” orders. A take profit order is a type of limit order that specifies the exact price for traders to close out an open position for a profit, and if the price of the security does not reach the limit price, the take profit order will not be fulfilled. A stop loss order can limit the trader’s loss on a security position by buying or selling a stock when it reaches a certain price.
Take profit and stop loss orders are good for mitigating risk, but for those that are new to the game or who would prefer extra support, there are even some risk management tools, such as AvaProtect, that provide total protection against loss for a defined period. This means that if the market moves in the wrong direction than originally anticipated, traders can recoup their losses, minus the cost of taking out the protection.
Not a day has gone by this year without the news prompting a change in the financial markets. Until a cure for the coronavirus is discovered, we are unlikely to return to ‘normal’ and the global markets will continue to remain highly volatile. In addition, later this year we will witness one of the most critical US presidential elections in history and the UK’s transition period for Brexit will come to an end. The outcome of these events may well trigger further volatility.
Of course, this may also encourage more people to dip their toes into online trading for a chance to profit. As more people take an interest and sign up to online trading platforms, providers will certainly look to increase or improve the risk management tools on offer to try and keep new users on board, and this could spell a new era for the online trading world.
By Paddy Osborn, Academic Dean, London Academy of Trading
Whether you’re negotiating a business deal, playing a sport or trading financial markets, it’s vital that you have a plan. Top golfers will have a strategy to get around the course in the fewest number of shots possible, and without this plan, their score will undoubtedly be worse. It’s the same with trading. You can’t just open a trading account and trade off hunches and hopes. You need to create a structured and robust plan of attack. This will not only improve your profitability, but will also significantly reduce your stress levels during the decision-making process.
In my opinion, there are four stages to any trading strategy.
S – Set-up
T – Trigger
E – Execution
M – Management
Good trading performance STEMs from a structured trading process, so you should have one or more specific rules for each stage of this process.
Before executing any trades, you need to decide on your criteria for making your trading decisions. Should you base your trades off fundamental analysis, or maybe political news or macroeconomic data? If so, then you need to understand these subjects and how markets react to specific news events.
Alternatively, of course, there’s technical analysis, whereby you base your decisions off charts and previous price action, but again, you need a set of specific rules to enable you to trade with a consistent strategy. Many traders combine both fundamental and technical analysis to initiate their positions, which, I believe, has merit.
What needs to happen for you to say “Ah, this looks interesting! Here’s a potential trade.”? It may be a news event, a major macro data announcement (such as interest rates, employment data or inflation), or a chart level breakout. The key ingredient throughout is to fix specific and measurable rules (not rough guidelines that can be over-ridden on a whim with an emotional decision). For me, I may take a view on the potential direction of an asset (i.e. whether to be long or short) through fundamental analysis, but the actual execution of the trade is always technical, based off a very specific set of rules.
To take a simple example, let’s assume an asset has been trending higher, but has stopped at a certain price, let’s say 150. The chart is telling us that, although buyers are in long-term control, sellers are dominant at 150, willing to sell each time the price touches this level. However, the uptrend may still be in place, since each time the price pulls back from the 150 level, the selling is weaker and the price makes a higher short-term low. This clearly suggests that upward pressure remains, and there’s potential to profit from the uptrend if the price breaks higher.
Once you’ve found a potential new trade set-up, the next step is to decide when to pull the trigger on the trade. However, there are two steps to this process… finger on trigger, then pull the trigger to execute.
Continuing the example above, the trigger would be to buy if the price breaks above the resistance level at 150. This would indicate that the sellers at 150 have been exhausted, and the buyers have re-established control of the uptrend. Also, it is often the case that after pause in a trend such as this, the pent-up buying returns and the price surges higher. So the trigger for this trade is a breakout above 150.
We have a finger on the trigger, but now we need to decide when to squeeze it. What if the price touches 150.10 for 10 seconds only? Has our resistance level broken sufficiently to execute the trade? I’d say not, so you need to set rules to define exactly how far the price needs to break above 150 – or for how long it needs to stay above 150 – for you to execute the trade. You’re basically looking for sufficient evidence that the uptrend is continuing. Of course, the higher the price goes (or the longer it stays above 150), the more confident you can be that the breakout is valid, but the higher price you will need to pay. There’s no perfect solution to this decision, and it depends on many things, such as the amount of other supporting evidence that you have, your levels of aggression, and so on. The critical point here is to fix a set of specific rules and stick to those rules every time.
Good trade management can save a bad trade, while poor trade management can turn an excellent trade entry into a loser. I could talk for days about in-trade management, since there are many different methods you can use, but the essential ingredient for every trade is a stop loss. This is an order to exit your position for a loss if the market doesn’t perform as expected. By setting a stop loss, you can fix your maximum risk on a trade, which is essential to preserving your capital and managing your overall risk limits. Some traders set their stop loss and target levels and let the trade run to its conclusion, while others manage their trades more actively, trailing stop losses, taking interim profits, or even adding to winning positions. No matter how you decide to manage each trade, it must be the same every time, following a structured and robust process.
The final step in the process is to review every trade to see if you can learn anything, particularly from your losing trades. Are you sticking to your trading rules? Could you have done better? Should you have done the trade in the first place? Only by doing these reviews will you discover any patterns of errors in your trading, and hence be able to put them right. In this way, it’s possible to monitor the success of your strategy. If your trades are random and emotional, with lots of manual intervention, then there’s no fixed process for you to review. You also need to be honest with yourself, and face up to your bad decisions in order to learn from them.
In this way, using a structured and robust trading strategy, you’ll be able to develop your trading skills – and your profits – without the stress of a more random approach.
Economic recovery likely to prove a ‘stuttering’ affair
By Rupert Thompson, Chief Investment Officer at Kingswood
Equity markets continued their upward trend last week, with global equities gaining 1.2% in local currency terms. Beneath the surface, however, the recovery has been a choppy affair of late. China and the technology sector, the big outperformers year-to-date, retreated last week whereas the UK and Europe, the laggards so far this year, led the gains.
As for US equities, they have re-tested, but so far failed to break above, their post-Covid high in early June and their end-2019 level. The recent choppiness of markets is not that surprising given they are being buffeted by a whole series of conflicting forces.
Developments regarding Covid-19 as ever remain absolutely critical and it is a mixture of bad and good news at the moment. There have been reports of encouraging early trial results for a new treatment and potential vaccine but infection rates continue to climb in the US. Reopening has now been halted or reversed in states accounting for 80% of the population.
We are a long way away from a complete lockdown being re-imposed and these moves are not expected to throw the economy back into reverse. But they do emphasise that the economic recovery, not only in the US but also elsewhere, is likely to prove a ‘stuttering’ affair.
Indeed, the May GDP numbers in the UK undid some of the optimism which had been building recently. Rather than bouncing 5% m/m in May as had been expected, GDP rose a more meagre 1.8% and remains a massive 24.5% below its pre-Covid level in February.
Even in China, where the recovery is now well underway, there is room for some caution. GDP rose a larger than expected 11.5% q/q in the second quarter and regained all of its decline the previous quarter. However, the bounce back is being led by manufacturing and public sector investment, and the recovery in retail sales is proving much more hesitant.
China is not just a focus of attention at the moment because its economy is leading the global upturn but because of the increasing tensions with Hong Kong, the US and UK. UK telecoms companies have now been banned from using Huawei’s 5G equipment in the future and the US is talking of imposing restrictions on Tik Tok, the Chinese social media platform. While this escalation is not as yet a major problem, it is a potential source of market volatility and another, albeit as yet relatively small, unwelcome drag on the global economy.
Government support will be critical over coming months and longer if the global recovery is to be sustained. This week will be crucial in this respect for Europe and the US. The EU, at the time of writing, is still engaged in a marathon four-day summit, trying to reach an agreement on an economic recovery fund. As is almost always the case, a messy compromise will probably end up being hammered out.
An agreement will be positive but the difficulty in reaching it does highlight the underlying tensions in the EU which have far from gone away with the departure of the UK. Meanwhile in the US, the Democrats and Republicans will this week be engaged in their own battle over extending the government support schemes which would otherwise come to an end this month.
Most of these tensions and uncertainties are not going away any time soon. Markets face a choppy period over the summer and autumn with equities remaining at risk of a correction.
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