Interview with K Duker, OANDA CEO

Who is K Duker?
I am the CEO of OANDA Corporation. OANDA is a globally-recognized provider of online exchange rate information and is a trusted foreign exchange market-maker providing currency trading services though the OANDA fxTrade online platform. I am currently based in Singapore, but will soon be relocating to our head office in Canada.k duker oanda finance magazine

I was born in Ghana, did my degree in the UK and then completed an MBA at UCLA.

When did you join OANDA and in what role?
I joined OANDA in 2008 as Managing Director of OANDA Asia Pacific. My first task was to establish the Singapore office and oversee the company’s growing operations in the region.

Who will take up your previous role?
A new Managing Director will be announced shortly.

What is your background prior to OANDA?
During my career, I have been fortunate to have been associated with some of the industry’s leading institutions. Immediately prior to joining OANDA, I spent ten years with Deutsche Bank, heading up the bank’s eFX business in Asia Pacific. During my tenure, I implemented dbFX – the first retail online forex trading platform from a major bank.

In addition to my duties as OANDA CEO, I am the Chairman of FX Architects and serve as a Non-Executive Director of Fidelity Bank in Ghana.

What is your vision for OANDA?
Whilst our longer-term strategies will naturally evolve in response to business and industry conditions, OANDA’s overall strategy of being the world’s best online provider of foreign exchange services remains our primary goal. As such, my vision is very much focused around OANDA’s commitment to superior customer service and the provision of a fair, open and transparent trading platform.

OANDA also has a strong technology pedigree and this has earned the corporation a reputation as an innovator and industry leader.  This will certainly continue as an OANDA hallmark.

Why is OANDA making this change and why now?
In the weeks leading up to the CEO announcement, several large projects were completed, including the addition of CFDs (Contract for Difference) and the launch of the fxUnity social trading platform. Michael Stumm played an important role in guiding both projects and with their successful launch, it seemed an opportune time to formerly announce the change.

Is this the last we will see of Michael Stumm?
As the founder of OANDA, Michael Stumm remains an integral member of OANDA’s Board of Directors and will continue to offer his guidance and vision.

Michael is also a well-respected professor at the world-renowned University of Toronto Computer Science department, so OANDA will continue to benefit from Mr. Stumm’s technological expertise.

What long term changes can the forex industry expect?
I think there are a number of changes coming to the forex industry and these represent some exciting opportunities for OANDA. First off, I believe that forex is growing in awareness as an alternative asset class, and investors are increasingly considering how they can include currencies in their portfolio.

This awareness is partly the result of continued volatility on the equity markets as evidenced last week when the Dow fell to its lowest value since January. Consider also that global growth projections suggest economic expansion will continue to under-perform, likely resulting in a continuation of a near-zero interest rate policy for many of the world’s larger economies.

This means that low yields on fixed income will be with us for some time yet and this is just one more reason why investors are looking more closely at forex as an investment option worth exploring.

I also expect to see retail forex expand into new markets beyond the more traditional American and European markets. Asia Pacific in particular has the potential to become a major hub for forex activity and OANDA’s Singapore office is well-positioned to service this increasingly important market.

One final point I would like to make is how innovation will continue to drive the forex market. OANDA helped define web-based, retail forex trading when it launched the fxTrade platform in 2001.

More than a decade later, OANDA is still changing how the world trades currencies with the release of fxUnity, a new approach to forex trading that incorporates community and social aspects in an engaging, user-friendly platform. Expect to see more exciting innovations as the forex market continues to expand.

What is the best piece advice you would give to those new to forex trading?
The most important piece advice I can offer anyone new to forex trading would be to trade within your means. There is risk in any form of investing, but for those lacking sufficient experience, the risk is amplified. This brings me to my second piece of important advice – practise before trading with your hard-earned money!

For instance, OANDA offers a forex demonstration platform – OANDA fxTrade Practise – that realistically replicates the online forex trading experience. fxTrade Practise depicts exchange rates in real-time and is free to anyone to use to learn more about the factors that cause exchange rates to fluctuate.

Finally, I feel it is imperative that all traders understand the effect that news events can have on exchange rates. News events – often referred to as “fundamental analysis” – can be anything from the latest unemployment reports, to the potential impact storms or other natural phenomena can have on the health of an economy and, by extension, its currency.

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