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When we merged four years ago, INTL had about people, we had Today we sit at 1, So it wasnt one of those put two together and cut half out; weve almost doubled in size in almost four years.
And thats where the synergies work: We werent into forex and they werent into ag. Its the same thing to a degree of what our swap dealer does but theyre doing it in the securities world.
FM: What about other groups entering the ag business, like hedge funds and private equity downloading land, trading firms download- ing processinghas this been good for your group? PN: Institutional land download is overblown; big farmers incor- porate anyway for tax purposes. I dont see investment banks owning a bunch of ground [a problem], I mean they still have to hedge.
That hasnt hurt us at all. New players in the market? Not a big deal.
What we have to offer as a swap dealer, we can offer a whole suite of services. Thats a big plus for us. Of the original 65 swap dealers, we were the only non-bank.
In talking to people in that world, theyre seeing that, yes, they need to be swap dealers as well. So besides big energy companies, I think youre going to see big FCMs [become swap dealers as well].
FM: Your strength has been agriculture, but youve moved into softs markets? PN: Yes, we felt expanding into Brazil was a core area of growth. So we looked at different firms and continue to do so , smaller niche entities, and downloadd a softs group and now were one of the largest coffee traders.
And piggy-backing off that, we pur- chased a group that just does coffee, so now weve covered both entities. Ill be very honest, when you look at FCMs today the grain markets for the last two to three years: Weve had three years, almost four years of smaller crops, theres no carrying charge market, low open interest and we dont have the carry for the elevators.
So what [FCStone has] done is disperse ourselves, and now all of a sudden were a large player in coffee, sugar, palm oil, cotton all the other areas that are agricultural baskets that arent Midwest-, U. We had to [get out of being too focused on grains] because if thats your only card on the table, youre not going to survive [because] youre at risk of weather, and youve got other parts of the world that are going to be as big or bigger than the U. FM: What are three biggest changes in clearing and broker- age over the last 30 years?
Theres a lot of repu- tational risk at stake for everybody and the institution itself. So that gets people worried: Is their money really safe, is it really segregated? The lower interest rate environment the last several years; we have to diversify because in the old days we could break even but make money on interest income.
Its really the last four to five years [that have] been the larg- est change. Computers really came in, electronics really came in, Dodd-Franks implementation going on right now, the rule making and then the couple of defaults by FCMs [havent] really helped the case.
FM: Lets talk about that; you folks were using Sentinel as a custodian, and that didnt end well. PN: I cant get into that much because theres still legal issues, but that was a customer seg issue and thats why we have lawyers. Were Midwest-based and I can tell you going way back we carry credit insurance on many firms.
Back when Enron was the soup du jour, and when they went under, we had a small trade we had done with them, nothing major, but guess what? We had insured [ourselves] against Enron.
People asked us why do you do that? Its a very different thought process than some of the other [FCMs].
PN: We take an approach that may be more costly in [the] begin- ning, but weve realized that as we go into new frontiers the bar- rier of entry is either download into it and either be right or wrong real quick, or take your time with some prudence and build up, learn the business, know the local trade and work from there. With no commissions on your trades, no minimum deposits and no account maintenance fees, you get a transparent pricing model and highly competitive spreads.
See what others have traded and get a better view of market sentiment. Execution Quality. Your market order is lled without re-quotes or rejections unless you place upper or lower bounds to protect against price uctuations.
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