On the eve of International Women's Day, Elena Berestovaya, CMO UpTrader, shared her prospective on female leadership and fintech trends.
Hi Elena! Thanks for joining us at Fazzaco today! How did you get into the finance industry?
In 2011, a classmate of mine invited me to work at a Forex broker with which her training company was working as a partner, and which needed a Public Relations Officer. I was on the lookout for a job and a new field that would inspire me. After graduating from the university, I worked in public relations in environment protection for a few years but became disillusioned. I encountered many NGOs whose purpose was to make money out of environmental problems, not to solve them. It was not in line with my idealistic view of the fight against climate change. That is why I decided to look for a more honest industry, where the goals of all stakeholders are transparent and the desire to make money is not disguised as something else. So a job offer at a brokerage company was exactly what I needed.
Could you please share with us some highlights from your career with UpTrader?
I was the one to design the corporate identity and marketing materials and to organise the first international exhibition. I met Vasily Alexeev, CEO of UpTrader, when I was working at Grand Capital, their major client at that time. UpTrader was their main contractor, implementing the whole cycle of software development. At that time, UpTrader's management, having gained significant experience in custom development, began to think about cloud services. The company needed a brand, PR, a statement about itself in the professional environment. It began to grow, there was more and more work, and I was offered to head their marketing department. In 2017, UpTrader worked on the ICO Serenity-Financial project, the first blockchain escrow for Forex brokers. We took care of the technical and marketing support for the project. Now UpTrader is one of the major players in brokerage software.
In your opinion, what gives women an advantage over men in the Forex industry?
I would say that the more highly qualified the employee is, the less attention you pay to their gender or any differences at all. An employee in a managerial position at any company requires professional skills, the ability to delegate and lead a team, build relationships with other departments, strategic thinking, and emotional intelligence. However, the advantage of female leadership can be noted in greater caution: men are more prone to risk, which can lead to both ups and downs, while women are often more cautious in decision-making, which allows the company to develop more steadily and avoid unjustified crises. Women are also more receptive to the idea of creating good working conditions, taking care of the team, and motivating employees.
As a female leader, do you think it’s a challenge to get into the finance industry where men are still a majority?
No, I don't think so. On the contrary, there is a clear demand for workforce. According to my observations, there is always a shortage of qualified professionals in the finance industry. There are few of them on the market, so we often hire promising juniors or middles and train them. We do not engage in hiring from competing companies. We work in a small industry, we all know each other, so we do not welcome such behaviour. We have quite a big team in UpTrader, where people of different backgrounds, races, genders, etc. are represented. I think this is one of the strengths of the company. Recently, a 25 years old woman joined UpTrader's team as a main project manager, and she is the best candidate we have ever seen. She has excellent managerial skills and already has good management experience. She knows how to set goals and organise the work process perfectly. She pays attention to individual motivations of her team members, and, what is especially valuable, is able to delegate tasks, which means that she has enough time for management.
Reportedly, the first year of the pandemic knocked 54 million women around the world out of work. Out of the women who lost their jobs in 2020, almost 90 per cent exited the labour force completely, compared to around 70 per cent of men in the same situation. As an experienced female leader, what is your advice to those women who are striving for excellence in their workplace?
The pandemic is a difficult time for everyone. It has been a test for different industries, for employees and managers, and for families too. Judging by my close circle, some of those who have left the job market do not want to go back to a full-time job in an office. Many have discovered a part-time job and are happy in a remote mode. Some people moved to the suburbs during the pandemic, settled there, and do not want to go back to the old rhythm of life. All in all, to each their own. For those who are looking for career development, my advice is to better yourself, read professional literature, and to not be afraid of additional work or work that others do not want to do. And the main secret perhaps is to take responsibility. Being a manager means taking responsibility for both the team and the result. Few people are prepared for this, but this is a real challenge. Even if you are not competent enough, you'll have to get better to get results. Show your management that you are ready for responsibility, and you'll be noticed.
Do you have any role models that have inspired you?
My grandmother was always an example to me. She started working at the age of 15 as an assistant accountant. At the age of 20, she already defended her first report at a district party meeting. In the early years after the war, she was left alone to raise four children, two of her own, her younger sister and her husband's younger brother. She worked as a librarian and also as party secretary. She held all the district meetings where she highlighted the economic and social problems of the area, defended the interests of the townspeople, and demanded the budgets to be increased. This required a strong character and the ability to communicate well with different people. She was not afraid of working and never passed the responsibility onto others. That is why she worked her whole life as a manager.
In finance, my first boss was the model of an ideal manager for me. She had a rare combination of charisma, intelligence, and professionalism, and was willing to share her knowledge without begrudging it. She constantly learned, which made her different from the others. During interviews, she always took an interest in what the candidate was reading. She successfully managed a male team and I never heard her raise her voice or clash with anyone.
What are your thoughts on the fintech industry? Where should it be heading? And what role would UpTrader play in it?
Service development. Now, unlike 10 years ago, a small brokerage company has no problem finding cloud services, like Forex CRM or a copy trading platform. However, all Forex CRMs today have the same drawbacks: they are cumbersome to maintain and install, relatively highly priced for startups, and have insufficient functionality for large companies. At the same time, UpTrader is developing a bespoke cloud service, a kind of a multi-modular construction set consisting of different independent parts that may work together or separately: bonuses, affiliate programs, sales module, investment service, etc. We want large companies, for example, to find everything they need for their business and startups to be able to take advantage of the most basic features with a turnover fee only. We know that subscription fees are a big burden for emerging businesses, so we are working to ensure that such clients pay only based on turnover. It is more profitable for us to support the client at the start so that they succeed and stay with us as long as possible. We are also working on automating the integration of Forex CRM into our MetaTrader 4/5 server, so every client could download a distribution package and connect our free Forex CRM in just 5 steps. We have big ambitions in this niche, since we want to create a truly high-quality, user-friendly, and accessible product for everyone.
It is now possible to log in to UpTrader Trader’s Room via Telegram messenger. Now each broker can set up this feature for their clients in a few clicks in the Admin interface.
“Telegram is known for its strong position regarding free speech protection. That is why it has become the most popular messenger in the crypto community. UpTrader’s clients live in different countries and for many of them free speech means a lot, so they prefer to use Telegram. In the latest months Telegram popularity has been growing among lager groups. In respect to that we have made convenient authorization in the UpTrader Forex CRM.” - commented CEO UpTrader Vasily Alexeev.
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The conflict between Russia and Ukraine revealed a global crisis of confidence and strained relations between countries. The US is talking to any opposition only to imply sanctions: "If you do not do as we say, we will impose sanctions against you, if you do as we say, we will lift the sanctions imposed on you earlier".
This rhetoric cannot help but anger world powers like China or Turkey, who see themselves as entitled to pursue their own policies. Markets react sensitively to each statement; country and sector indices, stocks, and currency are turbulent. While some are rising, others are falling. How does it affect the brokerage business?
Market turbulence and crises always attract investors. Some venture in to preserve their capital, others want to earn more money. In the last month, UpTrader saw an increase in the number of requests from companies in Asia which focus on trading gold and currency pairs. Gold is rising as a safe haven for investors during the storm. Others are looking at the energy sector, as Brent rose to $129.47 a barrel as a reaction to sanctions against Russia. Stock markets are falling. The currency market is far from being calm.
In addition, cryptocurrency and digital currencies are booming. Russia decided to make cryptocurrency legal in January 2022. Taiwan, on the other hand, introduced a ban on cryptocurrency payments, as China did a year earlier. But China's digital yuan is being successfully tested. Experts believe that it can successfully compete with the dollar in international payments in commercial exchange. After all, the dollar is losing the vote of confidence from many countries due to overusing sanctions.
All these developments are encouraging investors to open accounts with brokerage companies. An important trend that we noticed over the last couple of years is that small local companies are earning more trust and interest from customers while the giants are losing ground. As we can see, this is due to the fact that local companies are much more client oriented and aiming to meet the needs of their small target audience. They are also very flexible and quick to adjust to changes in trends, which big brokers do with a big delay.
It is common in Asia for former big Forex broker IBs to start their own brokerage companies. They have a reputation and loyal clients. To open a company, all they need is a MetaTrader server (recently, it seems, everyone only buys MT5) and Forex CRM. Separating from their former bosses allows them much more flexibility to serve clients and not depend on the policies of another company. All Asian clients who came to UpTrader in the past few weeks are asking for MT5 and Forex CRM.
Finally, working with Asian clients has always been simple and straightforward for us. This is another feature that makes working with Asia quite promising. And the time to enter the market is perfect, because it looks like the beginning of a new era.
Does it make sense to buy external forex or crypto liquidity when an internal liquidity model, or so-called B-book, already has a great track record? Some companies decided a long time ago to work strictly by the B-book, others stick to the A-book, while some monosystem partisans are gradually switching to a hybrid scheme. Which option is the best?
Forex or crypto Liquidity
Liquidity is the ability of a currency pair to be sold quickly at close to market prices. That is, liquidity translates into the saturation of supply and demand and the ability to execute trades quickly at the best prices. Liquidity can be internal and external. B-book means internal liquidity, and this liquidity is provided by the company itself or its clients. If a broker has many clients, their trades are mutually covered, and the broker just has to monitor the total sum. As a rule, each individual client does not affect it too much. If the broker acts as a counterparty, they have to pay on profitable trades themselves. This model is rather vulnerable for many reasons. A-book means external forex liquidity. It has high demand/supply characteristics and better prices, since orders are routed to external providers who have a large pool of traders and therefore a greater order execution capacity.
B-book, or internal forex liquidity: pros and cons
Many brokers mistakenly believe that B-book is the most profitable business model, as it provides maximum profit. The orders are never placed on the market, which means that all the money clients lose stays with the company. It sounds very attractive: someone will get that money anyway, why not keep it for yourself? On the one hand, all of it is true, but this model has one significant drawback. If a client earns money, the broker will have to pay it “out of their pocket”. And as we already know, brokers working with B-book offer very high leverage so that the payouts are significantly higher compared to the initial deposit amount. To avoid paying, the broker can dispute the trade and not pay the profit. They can also manipulate the prices to help the trader lose. It is a dirty job that quickly becomes obvious. In these cases, the broker loses its reputation and clients and may as well leave the market for good. That is why in-house crypto or forex liquidity is only suitable for big brokers who have a large order flow, their own wide internal market and enough funds to pay fairly on profitable trades. A small start-up can end up with big financial losses thanks to this model. If they decide to cheat, they can also lose their reputation and clients. Finally, this model has a significant disadvantage in that principal revenue earnings vary from month to month, depending on the market. That is, it may be 30 or 70%... of losses per month.
A-book, or external forex liquidity: pros and cons
A-book is an external liquidity model, i.e., the broker brings all the trades to the market and earns on spread and swaps. They get money from every trade made by the trader. Another advantage is that the broker does not care whether the transaction is profitable or not. They receive the same commission on each transaction. Consequently, the broker is not interested in playing against the trader. The most important thing for a broker in this situation is to increase the trading volume: the more trades are made, the more money they make. It is a classic win-win model with predictable profit and minimal reputational and financial risks. It is the safest choice for a first-time broker: you only pay for the volume, which makes the business manageable and cost-effective. At UpTrader, we also offer a volume-based CRM fee which allows you to start a company with literally a few thousand dollars in your pocket.
Hybrid model: A-book and B-book
Brokers are increasingly opting for a hybrid operations model. After all, from the point of view of financial markets, it is reasonable to keep traders with small deposits on B-book because their profitable deals will not cause the company much financial trouble while unprofitable ones will turn into income. If a client has a lot of funds, however, any of their profitable trades can exceed the broker’s financial capacity. In this case, it is better to transfer that trader to A-book. Alternatively, such clients can be partially transferred to A-book in order to reduce risk exposure.
The advantages of the hybrid model are obvious: first, competent account management allows the company to receive profit both from commissions and from losing trades without risking its own funds. The broker fulfills its obligations to clients, thereby earning loyalty and building reputation. It is important to understand, however, that clients generally do not care whether the trades are brought to the market or not. They pay much more attention to trading conditions and profit payments. If a broker does everything correctly, all parties win. The only downside is that you will need competent risk managers. There are some on the market, but they are usually either employed by other companies or quite expensive. Therefore, you have to choose the hybrid model responsibly.
If have any questions related to forex or crypto liquidity, or if you need liquidity, contact UpTrader team please using our registration form and we will give you the best offer.
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