Op Ed: A night out with BMFN

In the FX industry, as a result of news sources and the now very instrumental industry conferences, many influential executives know the majority of their peers, and are a phone call away from the leadership of most brokers and financial companies.

The entire business, across both the retail and institutional sector is a highly technological industry, and in some respects, one of the most advanced business sectors in existence, the need for continual evolution pushing the limits of technological development exponentially.

The human aspect of the business, whilst becoming more familiar via industry gatherings and conferences, however, is most certainly alive and well, and it is clear that socially, us FX industry executives are urbane, sophisticated and, quite simply, excellent company.

One of the facets of the business is indeed its electronic, online nature, and another is that it is a totally global business, however the very lively social element is most certainly alive and well, a factor which was very much apparent in the recent quality time spent with a number of firms overseas, as I value the importance of conducting industry research and reporting from within the nerve centers of companies across the spectrum, and maintaining a relationship with the industry’s leaders in multiple contexts.

The FX industry as a way of life for dedicated senior executives

How often do we get to witness or experience first-hand how such executives like to live, what they like to do, how they think, or how they express and experience themselves in their own ordinary environment, hour-to-hour, or day-to-day? It is most clearly apparent that the leaders of this industry are committed, and very much dedicated to what is more than a career, but indeed a way of life. This is a fantastic attribute of the FX industry which serves to compliment the innovative nature of the business.

How often do we get a less obstructed glimpse or deeper look behind and beyond the title of “executive” and beyond the name or ‘brand’ of the company?

The answer to such questions is simple: We have moved from the very remote nature of the business a few years ago, however the social circle outside of industry events is still relatively distant.

Why? Most simply: time constraints. These are very busy people, literally traveling all around the world, while managing companies, with little time to spare for engaging in prolonged socializing. Perhaps even more importantly, beyond such time constraint, there is another inhibiting factor: letting or inviting outsiders ‘in’ to view experiences beyond just facts and allowing the embodiment of a more full three-dimensional accounting of a person or a company requires a willingness to be open, to be vulnerable, and to demonstrate trust.

This trust is built on uncommon confidence and must extend not only between the executive and other party, whether it be a journalist or industry research professional, but also to the process of letting the world see what things really look like on the inside, feeling 100% self-assured that sharing this visibility is a good thing for everyone, as transparency enables deeper understanding and appreciation.

This brief article is demonstration of such rare transparency and trust. The words that follow pull back a curtain, just a little bit more than usual.

This short exposition comes from a unique point of view. Here we have the chance to experience executives, beyond and behind the role of daily call of duty, as well as to experience an associated company beyond and behind its role as simply an anodyne corporation or gray-suited brokerage.

BMFN offered me the opportunity to share two days and one night with them in Geneva, Switzerland, fully immersed in their own social experience. I had the privilege to enter into what can be considered a close circle of executives from a company of significant size.

Everyday life as an executive meets high luxury social environment

An early breakfast together at a hotel with a group of executives, managers sharing casual words over a spread of croissants and espresso options began the day.

Minute by minute, in venues varying from traditional but quite luxurious conference rooms to simple or gourmet restaurant sites or private homes for meals and drinks, I noticed that among those around me, work-focused meeting content organically threaded together with light-hearted conversation about our everyday lives.

BMFN CEO Luis Sanchez offered a particularly rare invitation to his home in which BMFN senior management Borden James, Noam Stiekema and UniTrader CEO Patrick Oerer convened along with me to enjoy a culinary experience.

Luis Sanchez has spent several years in Switzerland and has built up cast iron relationships with the finest venues in the city of Geneva, therefore had organized the days’ and night’s events, setting all up with his notable efficiency.

Personality and the human aspect of our business

Narrating a compelling intention to unite the team in a bonding experience, Luis Sanchez explained: “This is a dinner where we will interact, and each of you will cook yourselves your meal,” and it was immediately a different and unique experience.”

Luis Sanchez’ idea encompassed not just the facilitation of a great evening meal, but also our enjoying it in an interactive way, accompanied by the sharing of some drinks and good music. This was very conducive to us all just being ourselves.

Over the next two days, we shared time and engaged in discussion about the industry and how each leader, individually and collectively, drives his business, the particular way that BMFN as an entity was established, and the way that this particular company operates.

It was of great interest to learn about how this group values its IBs, aligned with valuing retail clients. Particularly we discussed the method by which this group builds systems to help Ibs develop their businesses and how deeply these executives appreciate the job on a professional and personal level that IBs are doing to expand the overall business.

It was clear that, away from the industry’s eye and in private surroundings, these executives spoke freely and can consider their IBs to be a part of the family and central to a multi-faceted partnership.

I could understand with more depth why this field is filled with expansive and expanding relationships and why there are more than 5,000 IBs thriving and serving people across nearly 40 different countries. I gained visibility into new developments which included products, services, partnerships, concepts, and approaches that are in the current pipeline, and what strategies will be needed to advance each of these.

The discussion moved to the subject of growing an existing brokerage business and also expanding new business into territories not yet mature, namely most Latin American markets. In due course, I will report more about this as I was recently with BMFN in Lima, Peru to cover this team’s penetration into that region, spending four nights there sharing in culture, haute cuisine, focused work, and future business development, including collectively and individually meeting and engaging with IBs and clients and prospects.

We all know the saying; once the drinks flow, the truth comes out. After a sufficient imbibement of Zacapa Guatemalan rum, the barriers came down. The live music flowing at Geneva’s exclusive Leopard Room, a casual dance, and one too many laughs.

Paul Belogour, BMFN’s founding director, whom I once met in China said: I have worked to help many in this industry to grow at a certain point, with people ranging from brokers to executives, individuals who have worked with and for me. Today, I am here to help everyone who wants to enter this business and, even more, everyone who wants to become a broker for BMFN. Our family only gains strength as we grow together.”

Photograph: BMFN senior executives Paul Belogour, Noam Stiekema, Luis Sanchez and UniTrader CEO Patrick Oerer with Andrew Saks-McLeod

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