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UK’s fastest growing fintech company shows route forward for $5.3tn FX market

London, 19 October 2015 - LMAX Exchange, the leading Multilateral Trading Facility (MTF) for FX and the UK’s fastest growing fintech company has today launched a report, Restoring trust in the global FX markets. The report highlights a worrying lack of awareness among market participants about FX trading practices open to abuse, confirms the need for greater transparency in the industry and makes recommendations for change.

Central to the report is a survey of 450 FX institutional market participants undertaken in the light of the continuing debate about fairness and transparency in FX following the Fair and Effective Markets Review (FEMR) report from UK regulators.

The research found that while 85%, of those who were aware of it, identified ‘last look’ as the market practice most open to abuse, but that 22% of all the respondents were not aware of the practice.

This lack of awareness about the practice, identified as most open to abuse, as well as overall concern about the lack of transparency in the market (80% of respondents agreed) throw a sharp focus on the required progress of measures to increase transparency in order to maintain a sustainable and trusted FX market.

While there was consensus among the respondents about the preference to trade on no ‘last look’ prices (73% agreed), there was a striking contrast in views between banks (45%) vs non-banks (85% of proprietary trading firms) as to whether ‘last look’ should be abolished.

As an MTF, LMAX Exchange operates an open order book with no ‘last look’ liquidity supplied by the 30 largest global banks and world’s leading non-bank financial institutions.

In LMAX Exchange’s view, this demonstrates that liquidity providers are comfortable pricing with no ‘last look’ on multi-dealer platforms and that ‘last look’ is out of date and unnecessary.

In addition to the survey, the report points the way forward to an implementation phase and outlines industry changes that mitigate against vulnerabilities in FX and set new standards for good market practice both in the UK and globally.

The report has three key recommendations for the market as it embarks on the implementation phase of the debate:

  • Changes to FX market regulation must have preservation of liquidity at their heart to sustain a healthy FX eco-system
  • Adoption of modern technology for accurate measurement of market analytics will lead to greater transparency without impacting liquidity
  • International regulators must work in collaboration to drive consistency of reforms globally to maintain trust and efficiency in the FX market

David Mercer, CEO of LMAX Exchange, comments, “Liquidity is the beating heart of the global FX market, the world’s largest asset class. Greater demand for transparency and the need to increase trust are huge challenges for the future of our industry. There has been a lot of talk about structural change to address these challenges in the past two years but I think as a market we need to get on with it. ”

“While in the short term opaque trading practices can deliver greater profitability for market participants, in the long term the erosion of trust will permanently damage international capital flows - considering FX is the foundation upon which international trade is built, this could be catastrophic globally.”

“Our report shows that the FX industry needs to embrace greater transparency and fairer practices in order to restore trust and drive greater long-term profitability. As a result, the FICC Markets Standards Board (FMSB) presents a unique opportunity for the FX industry to come together and implement solutions that work for all market participants. If the market doesn’t get together to implement change and continue to be self-regulating then the regulators are going to impose rules that won’t work in FX. It stands for us to start making changes and forge a new global standard.”


LMAX Exchange Restoring trust in the global FX markets survey findings:


Need for increased transparency in FX

Respondents by Segment % Agreed
All 80%
Banks 51%
Non-banks 87%

FX practices open to abuse

FX Practices % Agreed
Use of ‘last look’ 85%
Inconsistent timestamping 83%
Relationship pricing 77%
Bi-lateral trading 69%

Level of market awareness of 'last look'

Respondents by Segment % Aware
All 78%

Preference to trade on no 'last look' prices

Respondents by Segment % Prefer
All 73%
Proprietary traders 87%
Banks 78%
Funds 67%
Brokers 65%
Asset Managers 56%

'Last look' should be abolished

Respondents by Segment % Agreed
All 65%
Proprietary traders 85%
Financial Institutions 65%
Funds 62%
Asset managers 56%
Brokers 47%
Banks 45%

Note: not all the questions were answered by all the respondents, as a result the categories of listed respondents differ from question to question and the survey results for each question only reflect views of the participants who answered the specific question.

Download as a PDF -

Media Contacts

For further information please contact:

LMAX Exchange (London):
Barbara Pozdorovkina T: +44 20 3192 2510 E: press@lmax.com

About LMAX Exchange

Recognised as one of the UK’s fastest growing technology firms, LMAX Exchange is the leading MTF for FX, authorised and regulated by the FCA. Servicing funds, banks, brokerages and asset managers, LMAX Exchange delivers firm liquidity, anonymous exchange quality execution and a secure, transparent level playing field to all market participants, regardless of status, size or activity levels.

The LMAX Exchange open order book is driven by no ‘last look’ limit-order liquidity from top tier banks and non-bank financial institutions. Orders are executed in price/time priority with real time streaming continuous market and trade data published to all members. Offering a comprehensive range of instruments including spot FX, precious metals, commodities and equity indices, LMAX Exchange operates a global FX exchange infrastructure with matching engines in London, New York and Tokyo.

LMAX Exchange - a unique vision for global FX.

Financial technology awards:

2017 Best FX Trading Venue - (ECN/MTF) – Fund Technology and WSL Awards more

LMAX Exchange has been awarded The Fund Technology and WSL Awards “Best FX Trading Venue - ECN/MTF”. The award honours excellence among providers to the institutional trading industry. close

2016 Best Trading & Execution – HFM US Technology Awards more

The HFM US Technology awards recognise hedge fund technology providers that have demonstrated exceptional customer service and innovative product development in the past 12 months. close

2013 Best Overall Testing Project – The European Software Testing Awards more

The European Software Testing Awards (TESTA) recognise excellence and innovation in the software testing and quality assurance across a variety of industries. close

2011 Best Trading System – Financial Sector Technology Awards more

The FST Awards recognise excellence and innovation in the field of information technology within the UK and EMEA financial services sector. close

2011 Innovative Programming Framework – Oracle Duke's Choice Awards more

Oracle’s Duke's Choice Awards celebrate extreme innovation in the world of Java technology and are granted to the most innovative projects using the Java platform. close

FX industry awards:

2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 Best Margin Sector Platform – Profit & Loss Readers' Choice Awards more

LMAX Exchange has been awarded The Profit & Loss Readers’ Choice Awards “Best Margin Sector Platform” for five consecutive years. These awards are voted on by the readers and recognise excellence within the foreign exchange industry throughout the previous year. close

2016, 2015, 2014, 2013 Best FX Trading Venue - (ECN/MTF) – WSL Awards more

LMAX Exchange has been awarded The WSL Awards “Best FX Trading Venue - ECN/MTF” for four consecutive years. The awards honour excellence among providers to the institutional trading industry. close

2014 Best Infrastructure/Technology Initiative – WSL Institutional Trading Awards more

LMAX Exchange has been awarded The Wall Street Letter Institutional Trading Awards “Best Infrastructure/Technology Initiative” in 2014. WSL awards honour excellence among providers to the institutional trading industry. close

2013 Best Execution Venue – Forex Magnates Awards more

LMAX Exchange has been awarded the Forex Magnates Awards “Best Execution Venue”. The awards are granted to the top firms in their categories and announced at the annual London summit. close

Business growth awards:

2016, 2015 Winner – Deloitte UK Technology Fast 50 more

Deloitte UK Technology Fast 50 is a ranking of the 50 fastest-growing technology companies in the UK, based on percentage growth of fiscal year revenues over the last four years. close

2015, 2014, 2013 Fastest Growing Tech Company in the UK – The Sunday Times Tech Track 100 more

LMAX Exchange has been recognised amongst the UK’s fastest growing technology firms for three consecutive years. Tech Track 100, compiled by Fast Track annually and published by the Sunday Times each September, lists Britain’s 100 fastest-growing private tech companies based on sales growth over the last three years. close

2016, 2015 Winner – Deloitte EMEA Technology Fast 500 more

The Deloitte EMEA Technology Fast 500 pre-eminent technology awards program is a ranking of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa's fastest-growing technology companies based on percentage revenue growth over three years. close

2015 Recognised as a Tech City Future Fifty company – Tech City UK Future Fiftymore

LMAX Exchange is part of the Future Fifty programme, focused on accelerating the success of high-growth tech businesses. close

LMAX Limited operates a multilateral trading facility (MTF). Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, FCA Registered no. 509778.