Alex Chehade, Head Of Trading At Elxi Securities

Alex CheadeHoT: Could you summarise your career path?

AC:  I initially started making markets for Liffe euro/dollars at a small firm with ex-Liffe traders.  The idea was to win business away from the CME Eurodollar futures.  The firm used that as a stepping stone for people to learn how to trade and then to trade their own books.  After about six to nine months, I traded my own book, trading EURIBOR and Sterling futures.Later I didn’t want to pigeonhole myself too much. I wanted to branch out and do different things, so I moved into brokerage at ETX and gained a bit more experience in trading.  Being a Physics graduate, my computer skills are quite good, so I helped with the infrastructure and pricing.  I was there for a couple of years, and then moved to other brokers.  I got more into the FX side, as well.  I worked my way up.

HoT: How involved are you in choosing the trading platforms and other technologies for the firm?

AC: Very involved.  Retail clients choose the platform, and we’ve given them what they want. We have an institutional platform built by some guys in Ukraine, we like it a lot.  They’d looked at the retail client platform and decided that they could do a lot better and, so, after a few years, built that.  We have another new platform that trades physical metals.  It collects pricing from about fourteen different exchanges.  We’re always looking at other platforms.  The problem with platforms is you need to market them to clients.  It’s no good having lots of different platforms if nobody is going to use them.  We invest time and effort in the infrastructure, the back office and reporting.  If I invest time and effort on a platform and then don’t promote it, it’s a waste of time.

Retail clients choose the platform, and we’ve given them what they want. We have an institutional platform built by some guys in Ukraine, we like it a lot.

HoT: Tell me about Elxi’s trading and investment philosophy and strategy. 

AC:  As a new firm, we don’t want to be burdened by any legacy issues.  What can make us stand out is that we want to leverage off new technologies to give us an opportunity to undercut our rivals because we don’t have their costs.  My partner and I have set things up before, and we’ve seen what can go wrong.  Investments?  We look to offer our clients quite a wide range of products, from normal equity funds and FX funds to renewable energy bonds and even film bonds, for which there are tax rules in the UK and a lot of gap funding, as well. You have to try to do something you find interesting.

All the reporting is becoming a bit of a headache.  Within EMIR, it seems the regulators have bitten off a lot more than they can chew, taking in far too much data.

HoT: What impact  are new regulations having on your day-to-day activities?

AC:  All the reporting is becoming a bit of a headache.  Within EMIR, it seems the regulators have bitten off a lot more than they can chew, taking in far too much data.  I’m not sure that they’re really going to put it to good use.  It’s not particularly helpful for firms to have to submit vast amounts of data.  MiFID II is going to make everyone’s life difficult.  What they wanted to do was to create something that enabled them to keep an eye on everyone, but, in reality, it’s just muddied the waters.  If you’re a reporting consultant, you’re having a great time.  For everyone else it’s just a nightmare.  You’ve got to export big batch files every day to different people when you could be concentrating on proper risk management, you’re sending spreadsheets to databases you know aren’t even being checked.

HoT: You spend your time travelling between here and Dubai.  If you have spare time, what do you like to do?

AC:  I play a lot of basketball, so I’m looking forward to the winter season in Dubai so  we can play outdoors.  It’s a bit too hot now.  I cycle a lot, as well.  It’s a bit dangerous here in London but I enjoy it.  I’m looking to start kite-boarding in Dubai.