Interview: ICM Capital’s co-founder on the firm’s institutional ECN offering ‘ICM Direct’


Back in May we reported on a new offering from UK FCA regulated FX brokerage ICM Capital, who announced the launch of ICM Direct, a new institutional focused ECN trading environment. With ICM’s new direct technology built in-house to work through the MetaTrader platform traders and institutions of all sizes can access top tier liquidity sources through some of the fastest trading technology available on the market says the firm.

Check out below the full interview to delve more into the ICM Direct service with Shoaib Abedi, who is the director and a co-founder of ICM Capital.

LR: You mentioned earlier that your institutional volumes have grown 6 fold during 2014/15. Who are your main institutional clientele?

Shoaib Abedi: We essentially provide Spot Forex aggregation and liquidity to professional traders and institutional clients such as small and medium sized brokers and financial institutions. Clients can connect to ICM Capital’s large pools of diversified liquidity via direct FIX API or our advanced ICM Bridge technology for MT4.

We developed our sophisticated ECN technology solution in house, completely from scratch, as a testament to our professional clients as well as institutions that are looking to save costs trading with narrow spreads and getting access to excellent execution. Our team has worked tirelessly to eliminate conflicts of interest for professional traders, and from the moment we started the development of our ECN offering they have put the client’s interest first.

LR: Which liquidity providers are connected with ICM Direct?

Shoaib Abedi: ECN aggregates liquidity from multiple liquidity providers, including top Tier 1 banks, hedge funds and others. We constantly monitor our execution to get rid of delays and we are open to agreements with new liquidity providers to further improve our liquidity.

LR: Can you provide more information about your infrastructure and connectivity?

Shoaib Abedi: We made considerable investments into new infrastructure, hardware and connectivity. Our internal matching and execution systems are built with low-level C++ language, which ensures millisecond execution processing time. Moreover, we host our servers in the LD4 London datacenter where all the major banks and liquidity providers are located. Our internal tests show we are able to process hundreds of thousands of bank quotes per second and internal round-trip matching time is less than one millisecond.

LR: How many currency pairs will be available, does this include OTC metals trading?

Shoaib Abedi: From inception people knew about us because of our retail offering but now we are concentrating resources on institutional and professional clients. Right now we offer the same retail products which include over 30 currency pairs, precious metals and futures. On another note, we have considerably improved our technology and internal liquidity. We follow client requirements and will increase the list of available currency pairs and CFD symbols if needed.

LR: Many people will be glad to know the platform environment is MetaTrader through your unique ICM Bridge, will algo traders be able to also utilize this liquidity off the platform or their own custom platform?

Shoaib Abedi: We are typically able to adapt to whatever trading requirements the client has whether it is retail or B2B. The MT4 is the preferred choice for retail traders; this is why we decided to link our ECN connectivity to the world’s most popular trading platform. We do not have any restrictions on auto-trading or EA scripts; moreover we provide unique features to our ICM Direct MT4 clients like zero margin requirement for a fully hedged position, ability to place a pending order within the spread etc.

As we do not have any conflict of interests, we welcome on board scalpers and professional HFT traders. Professional traders can cross connect to our ECN liquidity via industry standard FIX protocol to trade Forex, CFD and Futures offering maximum price efficiency.

There is also no dealing desk intervention, remarkably narrow spreads and very fast and reliable execution. It is also worth mentioning here that we provide full positive slippage, even during fast market movements, which is incredibly rare in this industry.

LR: Will you specially open ICM Direct up to Introducing Brokers and White Labels?

Shoaib Abedi: We welcome our partners to benefit from our ECN technology. We provide fixed commissions plus rebates for our IB’s. ICM Capital caters for all types of partnership programmes whether affiliate, IB’s or white labels, we have a package to suite all. We can also customise solutions for partners if needed.

LR: Can you describe the benefits for the firm to now possess a unique ECN offering, how clients will also benefit knowing they are trading institutional level liquidity with an FCA regulated broker?

Shoaib Abedi: The obvious quality to consider is that we are one of very few FCA regulated brokers who provide an ECN offering. We feel the impact of regulation in everything we do and from the clients we speak to we understand that this is one of the main factors they look for in broker.

Due to our regulation clients can be sure we are completely transparent about trading conditions, including spreads, executions, leverage and the commissions. The fact that we offer client fund segregation is also a huge advantage for our traders.

LR: Please describe what you offer in terms of EMIR reporting?

Shoaib Abedi: We are looking to differentiate ourselves in this market and offer additional services which we know our clients require. The European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR) reporting services are designed to improve the transparency of OTC markets. We support firms who need to meet the requirement of reporting trades, trade modifications or cancellations at the end of each trading day by managing these aspects for them.

LR: What are the main institutional markets currently for ICM Institutional? What markets does the firm have its eyes on?

Shoaib Abedi: We have recently expanded our presence in Shanghai with a new rep office. The Asian market is one which is growing with incredible momentum. We are continuously scanning new markets and are hoping to open at least another couple of offices before the year is out.

We work in conjunction with our traders all across the globe. We now have 6 offices with over 100 staff, therefore we know every professional client is looking for a unique angle in order to separate their offering from the competition. We are proud to say that we will accept and review every request to try to offer the client a unique and customised solution. Larger firms could find it more difficult to be as reactive and accommodating to requirements than we are often able to be.

LR: It looks like you will lend a helping hand to new brokerages looking to enter the market with your reliable ICM Bridge you have built, is this case? What should brokers looking to form a white label know about working with ICM?

Shoaib Abedi: For our white label partners we provide full service brokerage solutions in terms of leverage, currency pairs, specific CFDs and spreads. This can be a one-stop offering starting from the initial consultation right through to the dedicated setup which covers technology with hosting, administration and reporting services.

What’s more we offer incredibly low spreads and commission for professional accounts as we’re looking to build long term relationships and are not interested in just offering a quick solution.

It is easy to test what trading would be like using ICM Direct; clients can request a free-of-charge ECN demo account to experience the ECN environment and witness the real-time transparent quotes they will be trading with in the future.

LR: Finally Mr. Abedi, can you let our readers know more about your career in financial services, how long have you been operating within the FX trading industry?

Shoaib Abedi: My career started 10 years ago when I first set out in the financial service industry. And since 2009 whilst being the Director and board member of UK regulated ICM Capital, I have expanded the company throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Regulation and licensing have always been the most important factors for me and I know it is for our clients as well. I am FCA approved with the Director Function CF1 and I’m proud to say that throughout my trading career I’ve gained expert knowledge of foreign exchange and understanding of what affects the financial markets. I have been approached a lot with a great amount of interest from small and medium sizes institutions since we launched ICM Direct. As I mentioned earlier there are not many firms which offer the combination of ECN execution and the security of FCA regulation.

My vision is not limited to Forex and CFD trading but runs right through to widening the scope of investments as an industry; ICM Direct is a perfect example of this. We’re hoping to reshape the way ECN trading is experienced globally with this new offering.

We want to thank Mr. Abedi for discussing ICM Capital’s new offering ‘ICM Direct’. To check it out, please follow this link. A video promotion of the service you can also view below:

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Interview: ICM Capital's co-founder on the firm's institutional ECN offering 'ICM Direct'

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