World Economy

UK Banks Losing Share in Corporate Forex Trading

UK Banks Losing Share in Corporate Forex TradingUK Banks Losing Share in Corporate Forex Trading

Small and medium-sized British companies are increasingly looking outside banks for foreign exchange in search of better rates and services, a survey showed on Sunday.

Research company East & Partners’ survey of more than 2,200 UK firms with annual revenues of up to £100 million ($143 million) showed roughly 10% use at least one of the dozens of brokerages specializing in payments in and out of foreign currencies, NewsNow reported.

It listed the top six brokers in the space by market share as Western Union, Monex, CMC, American Express, Alpari and UKForex.

More than 8% of those that trade in the more sophisticated currency options market also use brokers instead of banks, the survey showed.

By offering companies currency at much tighter “spreads” between buy and sell prices than the rates banks give each other and their biggest clients, the brokers have been instrumental in making forex trading as a whole more competitive.

The biggest brokers say they have grown strongly by watching over the currency needs of company managers too busy to notice that, say, the dollar has hit levels where they would like, or need, to buy or sell.

That has made millions for a generation of forex entrepreneurs but has also begun to draw a response from banks. A number of them have tightened the spreads offered on ordinary corporate transfers and some, such as German lender Deutsche Bank, have invested in new client service centers in cheaper locations outside London to help address the challenge.

The survey showed Barclays, HSBC and Lloyds all still enjoy double-digit percentage shares of the spot trading market, at respectively 14.7%, 13.6% and 10.8%. Citi and Deutsche dominate on options with 11.9% and 11.1% respective shares.

“While high street banks continue to perform strongly, there are clear examples of other FX providers gaining market share, particularly in the Micro and SME segments,” said Graham Buck, senior analyst at East & Partners.

“Newer market entrants that differentiate their offerings by service quality or value for money can capitalize on any complacency from their more established competitors and gain ground across market, mind and wallet share,” he said.