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Urbane, eloquent and highly sophisticated, Luis Urquiza is an entrepreneur who is performing a critical and important role in shaping the retail FX industry in Latin America.
From artist, to banking executive, to calm, collected and organized pioneer of online trading in Latin America, Luis Urquiza spent an evening with LeapRate’s Andrew Saks-McLeod in Miraflores, an upscale neighborhood in Peru’s capital city of Lima, where he charismatically explained his journey, and its destination.
Well, I’m not your typical guy with a finance background first of all. I am actually a TV and movie director, and classical music guitarist. After finishing my university studies, I traveled to Belgium to follow a masters degree in business. Once living there, I fell in love with the one that is my current wife…and with Belgian beer (shame on me I know), so ended up living there 9 years.
During that time, I worked at GDF SUEZ, which is one of the biggest world players in the utility sector. As I am a Spanish speaker, they realized they could find me very useful as a business developer of financial derivatives linked to the energy sector.
At that moment I was pretty much thinking what you are thinking right now: “What on earth were they thinking on by using an artist to do that kind of job?” but that is life, always full of surprises, and it seemed that this move was the right one, as that was the door that opened my passion towards the financial industry.
It was impossible not to be sucked to trading, when you had shark traders shouting orders all over the trading room, and having 8 screens staring at you the whole day (don’t forget the coffee break with the big boss asking how my portfolio was doing. In Spanish, portfolio means suitcase, so I always answered “the leather is still ok” and always received a puzzled face in response).
Anyway, I ended up in FX as an extension of futures and stock trading. As with every other novice trader, I blew some accounts until I could actually start showing some profits in a consistent way. After the European financial crisis, I felt it was time to come back to the developed side of the world (!), and so I came back to Peru. I started a FX blog, which became a website, which led me to conferences, courses, money management opportunities, and other business ventures around this industry.
With regard to my experiences as a trader in Peru, the FX industry is quite new here. When I arrived in 2011, there were no brokers around. I remember the first time I organized a conference, I only had 8 people showing up.
Nowadays things are much different. Although the industry is not that developed, you can find brokers with local presence, and you will find more and more people investing in this market. I am happy to be part of that change.
As far as my career in the banking sector and how I came from banking to retail FX trading, and subsequently mastered it, I can explain that when I came back to Peru, I was working as a key account manager in corporate banking. I did keep trading on a personal basis, but my day to day job was more financial oriented.
After three years in the banking industry, I realized that the market was ripe and ready for new financial products rather than the typical ones (bonds, stocks, deposits, mutual funds, among others). Although FX had begun to gain some presence, most brokers in the markets were purely market makers, and there was a lack of a voice that could bring some authority and organization to FX and CFD trading.
I realized there was no real face to whom people could relate, and so I made my target to become that face. The FX Trader (El Trader FX in Spanish) was thus born.
I then had to really concentrate on establishing a real business here and engender IBs and partners, as well as bring on board clients whilst remaining a trader.
I quit my banking job at the end of 2014 to become a full time trader and money manager, and explore any other possibilities that could arise on the way. Currently I am negotiating a deal with a large, international and well established FX brokerage to further my IB possibilities and bring Latin American customers a well established and trustworthy name.
I am happy to say that I will take a significant role in the near future of new projects, which involve main partnerhips with global broker houses in the FX and precious metal world. My approach is simple: I work on persuasion and honesty rather than on short term sale.
For example, the key account managers of one particular FX broker in the region which is a firm of Chilean origin, will call potential clients and tell them “Invest in FX because you can double your account in two months”. I will call them and explain them that I offer a product which carries a high risk, but if learned properly it can also mean an interesting income. We also do a whole assesment of the risk profile of the client, and we even make suggestions about how to structure their portfolio (with a mix of fix and variable income).
I won’t have an issue refusing an account of $10,000 from a client that cannot afford to lose that money, because in the long term I have built confidence and trust from that customer, and when he is ready I know I will be the first person he will come to. Maybe this is an approach that in the short term wont work, but I am quite confident that I will be a massive hit in the long term.
At this point, I would like to give my opinion on building an entire FX industry in Latin America that can span the entire continent, what a massive and detailed job that is, and who to choose to support that move, mainly in terms of partners, industry leaders, and of course brokers.
You can either look at the glass being half full or half empty. For me the glass only has a couple of drops in it and therefore the potential is amazing! Latin American people have actually a perfect mix for these kind of products: people are entrepreneurial, and hence more risk taking.
People are open to new things, and they look up to experts who have an authority on their industries. The language plays an important role, that is why it is of utmost importance to have local players who know the market, and know how to spread the message in the right an honest way. Some years from now, when the market is developed, I will be happy to say that I was one of those that made this happen.
This is a guest editorial which was written by, and represents the views of Luis Urquiza, Founder & CEO of The FX Trader.
Photographs: Featured: Luis Urquiza, a master of music, television and electronic trading. Right: Luis Urquiza shares industry anecdotes with LeapRate’s Andrew Saks-McLeod in Lima’s upscale Miraflores district