The Liquidity Game


I remember having a crisis of confidence way back when it was not fashionable to do so.

I was working as an Interdealer Broker and I was wondering what the point of my job was? What did we do for the markets to pay us so handsomely? One of my colleagues turned round to me and said “We create liquidity and the whole market revolves around liquidity”. It was undeniably true: By talking, cajoling, inflating, fabricating, wining, dining, entertaining and probably begging and praying (preying?) too, the proud team at “Stuffem and Leggit” got people to do things that would not otherwise have happened! Yes, it was the late 80s or perhaps the early 90s.

Somehow that conversation has stuck with me. Today, the markets are so much better organised and regulated. E-Trading has come along and transparency has shone its healing light on everything it touches. …Or has it? 

So what has really happened? The first thing that strikes me is that my current line of work is pretty much the same as my old broking one. In the end I am still asking people to deal on a set of prices. The key difference is that they are now much more transparent and being delivered electronically. In so doing BidFX, whilst integrating and accommodating the most complicated of workflows and client demands, ends up offering an extensive choice of e-FX prices to the discerning FX trader, just as I used to do as a broker. Though today ‘best execution’ has replaced ‘best entertainment’ as the main reason most people trade with me. But am I still creating Liquidity? I think the answer to that is most probably a no:  Activity, yes but true Liquidity no.

Banks used to create liquidity through their traders who, in managing the house risk, were given generous limits with which to take positions in the market. Today, where we have not legislated that away, it’s much, much, much, smaller than it used to be. Everyone has now set themselves up to pass the buck to someone else in increasingly smaller time differentials. Trade volumes go up and liquidity appears to be everywhere but in reality it’s just churning around faster and will probably prove not to be there at all in a crisis.

So who is going to create liquidity when the next Financial market crunch comes along? There is clearly a market-making vacuum building up. We all know markets abhor a vacuum, so who or what is going to jump in and fill the void? Erm… we’ve legislated away most of those evil bankers taking risks haven’t we? Doesn’t Liquidity just occur thanks to the divine presence of e?!

Despite the claims of some ECNs, for most players FX remains a relationship driven business. BidFX has been designed with respect to that relationship, it should be thought of as a tool through which Banks deliver on their relationship commitments. Given the wider nature of banking, the speed of the FX markets, tiny spreads, huge sizes and associated risks, it is hard to imagine this relationship element really changing amongst professionals. It is therefore unlikely that the value provided by Bank sales desks to their customers will change. In fact, as speed and risk goes up, it can be argued that the value of strong relationships increase. However that does not necessarily mean that the bank should also be taking market making risks.  

It seems that there is now a market opportunity for some entity to take on some risk. The entity concerned should have access to large amounts of money, understand the nature of risk, be prepared to put their money where their mouth is and have access to good credit lines. Sound familiar? Is this a hedge fund I see before me? Well, sit back and watch the rise and rise of non-bank liquidity and their associated Prime Brokers. Some people may see this as a threat but I think not: Bank traders manage their respective houses risk, the more that they are restricted from taking on risk the more external liquidity they need. That in turn means that new sources of genuine liquidity should be welcomed.

Why? Because in the end the old broker was right “the whole market revolves around liquidity”.

Alan Dweck
Head of Sales: Asia +65 6499 9808

BidFX welcomes Investec Bank PLC


BidFX welcomes Investec Bank PLC; newest liquidity provider on the FX platform

BidFX CRO John McGrath commented ‘We welcome Investec Bank to the BidFX platform. The addition of Investec’s liquidity and pricing will provide BidFX clients greater liquidity and pricing selection for best execution. We are extremely pleased with the immediate response the industry has shown BidFX.  Our impressive ADV growth is a direct correlation to our expanding liquidity provider pool.”

Demitri Theodosiou, Head of FX Trading at Investec Bank PLC commented ‘We are excited to be working with a fast growing platform such as BidFX. Investec hold a niche in the market that gives us an interesting profile in the electronic FX space, particularly in GBP based liquidity and emerging market currencies such as ZAR. We offer competitive pricing through economies of scale and credit reach and look forward to bringing our unique edge to the BidFX client base.”

BidFX, a subsidiary of TradingScreen, is an EMS designed for the $5 trillion daily FX market.  The platform matches the proven SaaS based technology from TradeSmart with the ability to connect to all liquidity provided by Banks, non-Banks and ECNs. BidFX has seen rapid growth in 2017 as it redefines the eFX space.


BidFX CRO John McGrath

BidFX CRO John McGrath

BidFX sponsors Community Youth Football Team

BidFX Football Team.jpg

BidFX is happy to announce its sponsorship of the Community Youth Football Team currently competing in the Tandridge football league.

Chief Revenue Officer John McGrath commented ‘BidFX is proud to be part of the communities we live in and to give something back to these communities where possible. It’s very easy in the Financial Markets to chase profits and forget about some of the other projects that we can influence which have a genuine ethical feel to them. The principles we run BidFX on in terms of integrity and work ethic we think are important to foster in the youth of today who are too easily distracted away from a healthy lifestyle. By sponsoring kit and providing free coaching for the next few years we hope to foster a spirit and team ethic that will serve the community well and help these players, and many more in the years to come, develop as individuals’.

Chief Revenue Officer John McGrath discusses BidFX community sponsorship.

Chief Revenue Officer John McGrath discusses BidFX community sponsorship.

Since sponsoring the team 5 of the players were recently selected for District Trials with 1 player successfully selected for the District A Team.



For more information on BidFX and how it’s driving the eFX market in innovation and functionality in the institutional space please feel free to contact



BidFX Commits to FX Global Code of Conduct

London, October 3rd, 2017 BidFX, a rapidly growing eFX platform, today announced its support and statement of commitment to the Global Code of Conduct.

The Global Code’s purpose is to promote a robust, fair, liquid, open, and appropriately transparent market.

Since the code’s initiation earlier this year, BidFX has focused on aligning its practices to meet and adhere to the requirements. BidFX is proud to announce they have formally committed to the code, making them one of the early adopters in the industry.

BidFX CEO, Jean-Phillipe Male commented, “BidFX was built to create more transparency in the FX markets, understanding it is a direct driver for optimized trading performance. We fully support the Global Code and any initiative with the intention to strengthen the integrity and effectiveness of the FX market.”

BidFX CEO Jean-Phillipe Male

BidFX CEO Jean-Phillipe Male


Through our role as a foreign exchange market vendor, BidFX supports the Code in the following ways:

Risk Management & Compliance: Our data integrity code already meets the best selection and TCA standards

Confirmation & Settlement: With best of breed partnerships and proprietary OMS’ integrations, BidFX enables seamless order staging and real-time straight through processing.

Ethics: BidFX prides itself on working honestly and fairly with all its clients, while remaining consistent and transparent in work practices.

To learn more about how the BidFX platform can benefit your organisation, please contact or visit to schedule a demo.

About BidFX

BidFX is a TS company - the market leading provider of electronic trading solutions for the global financial marketplace.

BidFX has addressed challenges of the FX market head on by introducing a complete suite of negotiation protocols which include Autorouting, Streaming, RFS, Voice and Algos via a cloud- based FX solution incorporating best-execution. Clients have access to cutting edge execution management, encompassing a complete suite of negotiation tools and a hub to all major banks Algo suites. Our TCA solution features Pre-Trade predictive models, In-Trade benchmarking and Post-Trade synopses. BidFX fulfills the ideal as the one truly multi-asset, broker-neutral EMS in the marketplace today.  For more information visit:

BidFX doubles in size

Volumes on TradingScreen’s newly spun-off FX platform have already doubled in size, even as parts of the market have contracted over the same time.

After five years’ operating as a division of TradingScreen, BidFX has emerged as a standalone business focused on delivering a workflow solution for FX.

According to CEO Jean-Philippe Malé, this has opened up opportunities to partner up with new players operating on more advanced technology platforms and with more aggressive business models.

One of the most important aspects in which BidFX’s offering differs from that of other FX platforms is that it sits within a multi-asset class trading system, he says. 

“As well as operating as a software-as-a-service solution – which makes it easy for our clients to use and deploy – we offer customizations such as the flexibility to manage large orders and trade them by using different trading protocols, custom system enhancements and the ability for clients to script their own flow automation logic on top of relationship liquidity or bank algos.”

Malé says more than a dozen clients have been onboarded and that platform adoption and volumes have doubled since the start of this year. “This is especially impressive considering certain segments of the market experienced a contraction over the same period,” he says. “We expect to double in size again over the next 12 months.”

TradingScreen has announced a number of technology partnerships over the last 12 months. When asked how these partnerships have improved its FX offering through its order/execution management system (OEMS), Tradesmart, Malé observes that the front office tie-up with SimCorp is an example of how the company is adding value for the buy side.

“By combining our respective expertise and products in the order and execution management system space, we can deliver cross asset coverage to the global buy side in one workflow management system for use across the entire investment and trading lifecycle,” he says. “Other partnerships – such as the addition of a new liquidity pool or algo provider – help us enrich the liquidity available to our clients and help them obtain better execution for their investors.”

'Sandbox' environment

BidFX is also encouraging more trading activity on its platform by developing a ‘sandbox’ environment. Malé explains that this was developed as a delivery model.

“Our clients’ trading systems are all different and they need a way to test and certify how their internal systems will interface with the rest of the market,” he says. “We wanted to offer our customers an easy way to get a very accurate view of how the system will look and behave when they decide to promote to a live trading environment.” 

Another advantage of the software as a service (SaaS) approach is that it enables the company to take advantage of agile development techniques to speed up the product development process.

A project to create a new product or service typically starts with a research phase, which lasts between one and two months depending on the complexity of the problem, says Malé. “We then hold a series of customer and prospect workshops to present the prototype. The final design is published to the group, which starts designing the technical architecture and estimating the cost of the project.”

Joe Ahearn, co-founder of TradingScreen has previously stated that in many cases banks have curtailed enhancements to single dealer platforms, suggesting that clients are demanding workflow solutions that integrate their start-of-day, intra-day and end-of-day activities and that the limitation of most single dealer platforms is that they are restricted to a single asset class.

Malé observes that BidFX is vendor neutral. “Our clients are on both the buy side and sell side and we don’t feel it is our role to dictate what our customers should use and access to obtain liquidity,” he concludes. “We remain committed to providing an open system.” 


BidFX stand was jam packed at Tradetech FX Barcelona 2017

BidFX stand was jam packed at Tradetech FX Barcelona 2017

BidFX 2018 graduate training programme

Photo by Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media / Getty Images

It is that time of year again. Summer is over, the tree leaves are turning colour and students have started back at university. I drove my son to Bath University this weekend in time for his freshers week. Seeing all those young expectant faces, moving their gear in to their halls of residence, reminded me that some of the students will be embarking on their final year of studies. Their minds will soon be turning to exams and the need to graduate with good class honours. The better organised amongst them will also be considering at this time their life after college. The need to find work and to kick start their career. The milk-rounds will soon be upon them. So now is the time to start looking for graduate jobs in 2018.

Few, if any, students see their final university year as the end of their education. For most, their graduation marks only the transition from building up student debt to being able to start paying it off again. They expect their education to continue post graduation and so look for employers that provide ongoing training and support.

At BidFX we recognise not only the need to recruit top graduates but also the need to train and mentor them. To that end, BidFX are pleased to announce the opening of our 2018 IT graduate training programme. We will start accepting applications this week from IT graduates, from the top universities, who wish to join our training programme starting late summer 2018.

For more details see our careers page.

Radical drive at FX speed race

BidFX branded Radical takes to the track

Foreign exchange trading platforms are pitted against each other in a competition to provide best liquidity for their users. It is a race contested under demanding market conditions. The course involves endless high-speed laps comprising:

  • consumption of executable quotes from many sell-side liquidity providers,
  • streaming quotes in real-time from sell-side to buy-side,
  • waiting to receive buy-side order instructions,
  • return delivery of orders for execution before the quote expires.

There are lots of tight twists and turns en route, plus the occasional hairpin, to intensify the challenge. The parallels with motorsport are apt and we can gain invaluable design inspiration from race engineering. To be competitive, teams in either discipline need to understand the impediments to success and apply radical technical solutions to overcome them. The obstacles in forex are as follow.

The race is crowded. FX is the world’s largest financial market, so publication rates are huge. Platforms disseminate billions of price ticks per day. The volume is uneven, with many peaks and dips that build to a crescendo during the overlap of London and New York trading. Traffic is particularly high during news events, such as non-farm payroll, when it can surge tenfold.

We are up against the clock. Quotes are valid only for a limited time. Orders placed against stale prices are routinely rejected at last-look. The lifetime of an executable quote is ephemeral, and grace periods have narrowed over the years from seconds to fractions of a second.

The road is long. FX dealers are clustered in London, New York and Tokyo but the buy-side clients are globally distributed, necessitating lengthy Round-Trip-Times (RTT). We can shave off milliseconds by keeping to the racing line, and selecting the most direct network routes, but the benefits gained are negligible.

Too much weight is carried at the outset. The FIX protocol is the standard for financial information exchange. Most dealers adopt FIX for both transactions and quote streaming, although it is verbose and too bulky for pricing. Exacerbating this problem are additional fields mandated by MiFID-II.

The infrastructure has bottlenecks. TCP is the principal transport layer for FIX. The maximum throughput of a TCP socket is inversely proportional to RTT, irrespective of how much bandwidth is provisioned (long fat pipe problem). It is therefore impractical to drive high-volume FIX traffic over long distances.

FIX pricing is sustainable only over short hops, so it is essential to ride local links. That requires datacentre collocation with the sell-side price engines. Any solution lacking a setup in LD4, NY4 and TK3 will fail to qualify for the main event. To get smartly over the starting line, forgo leased lines and opt instead the gigabit bandwidth and sub-millisecond latency offered by cross-connects.

The speedway is no place for general purpose vehicles. No one would race a Grand Prix in an SUV, and likewise, no one should contest FX with a message bus or text-based format. The professional racer opts for a light-weight, carbon fibre, monocoque chassis around a turbocharged, fuel injected drive system. FX EMS adopt bespoke binary protocols and processes designed specifically for driving FX data. We might be obliged to use FIX connectivity with brokers but we convert FIX to binary straight off of grid. The binary protocol is the powertrain that delivers momentum through the long sections of the circuit.

Precise handling and control are equally essential to attain poll position. Successful teams custom engineer effective software for streamlining message flows. The common publish and subscribe model fails to cut muster in today’s revved-up market as it is prone to overflow during volatile trading, causing congestion and packet collisions. It also lacks the feed-back that EMS Ops need to analyse real world usage. BidFX engineers developed a real-time price synchronisation algorithm that solves these issues. Rather than driving quotes, hammer-down into stationary traffic, it models the live state of the market and continually synchronises its state with clients. The synch frequency is independent of the quote reception rate. The algorithm uses adaptive conflation to fine-tune its handling for each client and to changing load characteristics. Critically, it also provides all of the telemetry that we need to accurately monitor system performance.  

Race drivers slow down and queue as they negotiate a chicane. Messages queue up when there is network congestion. Whereas chicanes are laid intentionally to enhance the enjoyment of the spectacle, data-queues are often the result of bad programming. Queues are amongst the most misused data structures in computing. They are intended to smooth flows to constrained resources, but we often find them sat inappropriately between real-time components. A queue is a time machine. A DeLorean, if you like, with its transmission stuck in reverse, presenting a moving window onto past events. Old quotes have no value to traders and can result in the ultimate race penalty: order rejection. BidFX use queue-free algorithms to reduce lag and improve fill rates.

Car mechanics fine tune engines to boost their power. FX EMS engineers tune data to improve network utilisation. Best throughput is gained by using fewer, larger network packets. To shed load, we strip unnecessary fields, eliminate duplication and compress aggressively. BidFX apply a slipstreaming technique that aids compression. Just as racers reduce drag when bunching up, so do quotes. Packing several quotes in a single structure gives it the properties of a peloton, where the effort exerted by followers is eased by the leaders. The redundancy found in a large pack of competing quotes, for a subset of currency pairs, is considerable and it affords excellent compression. As a measure of the power of this strategy, BidFX price streams use 80 times less bandwidth than equivalent FIX traffic. Eighty times more throughput puts us on the inside line to a top podium spot.

Further gains can be had by running multiple concurrent synchronisations. If the buy-side is in Singapore and the sell-side, 3300 miles away, in Tokyo then the RTT will be near 80ms. If we waited for the packed peloton to complete a full lap before the next resync, then we could only update the trader’s display twelve times per second. Instead, we could run with five equally-spaced packs, giving 60 refreshes per second. Our engine needs plenty of torque to cope with variable conditions. Course length and capacity differ by client, and congestion changes over time. So, we added the flexibility to adjust the resync interval dynamically as needed to ensure all clients see the latest prices refreshing at the highest rate their infrastructure will bear.

These techniques place significantly less load on networks, improve throughput and keep everyone at pace with the market. Consequently, all clients cross the line to take the chequered flag on the BidFX EMS. To see for yourself, buckle up and take us for spin.

Paul Sweeny

Paul Sweeny (



BidFX, a TradingScreen Company, enjoyed market leading ADV growth of 116% in July YoY.  This was driven by both new client adoption as well as growth from the existing franchise.  EMEA, APAC, and The Americas all contributed to these positive results.

The growth is especially impressive when evaluated against the backdrop of much lower July YoY ADV results announced by other competitor platforms in the space. Also noteworthy is BidFX’s July MoM ADV growth of 15.2% compared to the other platforms’ declining ADV in July MoM.

BidFX continues to differentiate itself through innovation and a nimble response to the FX Market’s continually evolving needs.  We address execution, workflow, and regulatory requirements proactively to keep pace with the changing landscape of the market.

We will remain committed to this strategy and feel it will yield more satisfied clients as well as continued growth in market share and ADV.

Thomas G. Mullooly                         

Head of Sales, Americas

T   +1 212 359 4072

M  +1 917 650 4655

BidFX Algo Hub

Photo by gpointstudio/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by gpointstudio/iStock / Getty Images

BidFX Algo Hub bullet points

·        Best of Breed Hub for Algo Execution

·        No Development and Infrastructure Costs

·        Helps towards regulatory concerns with solutions to increase transparency


BidFX’s recent growth has been exponential in terms of volumes and clients and is driven by innovative solutions delivered to an increasingly complex eFX market. The evolution within the eFX market in conjunction with the increased regulatory framework has led to many of our clients looking for more sophisticated execution mechanisms. We delivered this by working with our Liquidity Providers to provide an Algo Hub service to clients.

BidFX currently has 13 Global Bank Liquidity Providers providing their Algo services on the BidFX Algo Hub and our customised solution is helping clients reduce transaction costs/market impact, address regulatory  and transparency concerns as well as accessing additional liquidity and delivering increased time efficiency. In an increasingly fragmented electronic market Algos are one way we see that can help clients, by giving them tools to address this market, by automating best practices, presenting solutions and reducing time inefficiencies.

For more information on the BidFX Algo Hub and how to access it please contact your local BidFX salesperson

John McGrath discusses the success of BidFX Algo Hub

John McGrath discusses the success of BidFX Algo Hub

Where's the eFX marketplace heading?


As we look back of the days of cigarette smoke filled trading rooms, with arms waving for ‘bids’ & ‘offers’, where a blue shirt just wasn’t ‘cricket’ as they say, we’ll realise just how far we have come with the advent of technology, and just how far trading has evolved as a result. Every coin has two sides though, so whilst processes have become exponentially more efficient, unfortunately there has been a toll taken on sell side headcount in particular, with quants taking the places of elements of sales & trading, as pricing engines take control progressively. That’s all very much known and understood from the sell side, but from the buy side, we’re seeing a steady shift, even from the most traditional sides of the marketplace. The old adage of ‘$500 mine… if you buy me lunch’ clearly has evaporated in the age of regulatory scrutiny, best execution & Mifid II. Instead we’re seeing a shift relatively in line with this: phone –> screen -> Algos -> API -> machine learning -> where next?

Now it seems relatively clear that long only clients are moving towards centralised dealing desks, becoming execution desks that cater for Equites, Futures, FX & Fixed Income as one team, be it multi region or not. Trading technology firms such as ‘BidFX’ (the newly created FX technology firm, wholly own by TradingScreen) have also come a long way, in effectively becoming a type of supermarket, from where a client can go to a shelf and pick and choose what type of solution they want, what deal types they want to trade, what brokers, what algos, what compliance features. In a similar way with the parent firm, TradingScreen’s clients also choose which asset classes, which banks / brokers, what type of workflow, what type of risk & or compliance they want, and what type of TCA (Transaction Costs Analysis). 

The important thing to realise though is that ‘screen’ trading is not the final step in this trading technology ‘evolution’. Indeed our leveraged clients clearly find that a combination of screen & API is becoming progressively more ‘de rigeur’. To that extent I thought it somewhat useful to remind our community that API is an area that BidFX is well versed in, & you’d be surprised to know to what extent & the variety of options that are available, (summarised in the graphic above), so let us know.. In our eyes ‘curiosity never killed the cat’, they have too many lives, so don’t be shy!

FIX migration complete

I am pleased to announce that BidFX have completed the migration of all liquidity provider (LP) FIX sessions to our new, high-tech FIX session management platform. Our teams have been working really hard on this initiative and we are really proud of their achievement in reaching this critical milestone.

FIX session migration task 100% complete

FIX session migration task 100% complete

The new platform is really special. It provides a step change in our capability to adapt to the connectivity needs of sell-side institutions. Naturally, it supports all versions of the FIX protocol, and therefore can service LP needs well into the future. It is fast and nimble too, thus reducing the latency of FX streaming rates. It has a small hardware footprint to minimise operating costs. And it provides improved analytics and monitoring, so we can better react to evolving issues before they impact clients.

That’s not all. What is truly special about the new platform is that developers are not required to write customised software for non-standard FIX specifications. Most LPs tailor their FIX specifications to best fit their integration needs. As a liquidity aggregator, adapting hundreds of lines to custom specifications used to be a real challenge and a drain on development resources. So, occasionally, we would encourage LPs to code to our specification to expedite integration. Fortunately, those days are done. With the new platform, bespoke sessions can be created and/or adapted in hours by one of our FIX integration specialists. Send them a FIX specification and often they will be ready to certify trading workflow the next day.

At BidFX we aim to put clients first. This initiative takes us closer to our goal. And don’t worry, our developers have not coded themselves out of a job. They’re just freed up to build the new functionalities that our clients require.

Paul Sweeny  CTO

Paul Sweeny

BidFX announces record ADV in May 2017

Growth is 40% YoY over May 2016

There’s been a lot of hard work across the BidFX team recently and some tangible gains in market share in the busy eFX market. So what drives this impressive growth in revenue and institutional clients in this changing FX Market?

1)     Breadth of FX product

Streaming Spot, Forwards (inc broken dated forwards), NDF and Metals.

Swaps/NDS available via RFS. As our technology team continue to innovate with our Liquidity Providing partners, this month has seen the release of our first streamed swaps over BidFX. BidFX is committed to produce products that create solutions for clients.

2)     Multiple Client Interfaces

With a Development team based onsite and in close face-to-face liaison with clients' technology teams we continue to offer true partnerships with our clients in developing customised workflow solutions.

3)     FX Transaction Cost Analysis

Pre-trade, In-Trade and Post-Trade with spread and slippage analysis.

4)     Algo Hub

Use the Liquidity Providers Algo’s or build your own strategies.

If you are reading this and are interested in looking at BidFX, or comparing it to your current solution, please feel free to contact me directly or email our sales team on the details below.
John McGrath  Chief Revenue Officer

John McGrath
Chief Revenue Officer