New Members and Services, Continued Growth and Efficiencies, Additional Business Segment and Appointments
February 6th, 2019: The Financial Commission today announces the results of its 2018 annual report. From the creation of a new business segment for digital asset firms to the expansion of its existing member services for FX and CFD brokers, the Financial Commission proves its ability to diversify and the vital role it continues to play supporting international market participants.
Accordingly, Financial Commissions continues to be one of the fastest-growing and most recognized independent SRO and EDR body in the global retail Forex industry.
- Seven Forex broker members added
- Record number of 945 complaints filed
- 23% increase in processed complaints YoY
- $784,380 awarded to broker member customers
- Value-added services launched for broker members
Financial Commission’s 2018 annual report shows sustained growth in many of its key business drivers, surpassing some previously achieved records. While the amount of total compensations awarded to broker member clients in 2018 moderated to $784,380, down from $1,564,700 YoY, the number of total new complaints rose to a record 945. Likewise, the number of resolved complaints increased 23% YoY to 816, up from 629.
Financial Commission services – including assisting with disputes – continue to see significant demand and interest from the broader trading community. The amount of complaints registered against non-member brokers totaled 129, with a majority (82) related to funds withdrawal issues. Furthermore, the amount of trading-related complaints for the non-member segment increased 3x as compared to 2017.
As the number of filed and processed complaints increased by 20% and 23% respectively for the calendar year, the timeframe of resolving the average complaint increased by nearly 20% to 7.9 days, as compared to 6.59 days in 2017. The Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC) of the organization attributes this rise to the increased number of processed complaints and the complexity of submitted cases that require additional time for expert input to ensure a balanced and transparent resolution.
The Dispute Resolution Committee continued to see increased geographical diversity among broker clients who submitted complaints or otherwise inquired with questions to the organization. Specifically, a significant amount of complaints were received from Asia, Latin America and The Middle East, as compared to prior years. Likewise, only 21% of all complaints were submitted in English, highlighting the Financial Commission’s multi-language capabilities of handling disputes.
The Commission remained steadfast in improving its core business in 2018 with the launch of additional “Value added” services for broker members. Provided at little or no cost depending on the needs of the member, the services include a virtual dealer platform, multi-asset liquidity, a community-driven registry of client watchlists and an order execution quality certification from partner Verify My Trade.
The Verify My Trade order execution quality certification is similar to the “best execution” requirements in major international jurisdictions, providing an added layer of transparency for brokers and their customers by highlighting the quality of trade executions. In 2018, nine broker members were certified by VMT.
Further to Financial Commission’s core business, the organization launched new a self-regulatory effort in response to cryptocurrency market developments, with the establishment of a Blockchain Association, and guided by a newly formed Blockchain Expert Committee (BEC). Membership in the Blockchain Association will extend the free dispute resolution service already available to a new segment digital asset (cryptocurrency) traders and Blockchain firms. The Association and BEC aim to solve common issues and questions arising from physical exchange of digital currencies by customers, storage of digital assets on the Blockchain, and regional regulations and compliance in key global markets where digital currencies are in high demand. In 2018, the Association added 4 approved member firms and appointed 11 experts to the BEC.
Financial Commission also took proactive steps to improve trader education and regulatory insights for its broker members. In September 2018 the Expert Opinion column was launched on the organization’s official website providing free articles from industry experts, including members of the DRC and BEC.
The organization’s cross-border synergies with national regulatory bodies continued in 2018, including participation in several meetings with the Association of Forex Dealers (AFD) and Russia’s State Duma Committee on Financial Markets by Financial Commission Chairman, Peter Tatarnikov, where Mr. Tatarnikov consulted committee members on variety of areas, including the regulation of CFDs, improvements to the current Forex legislation and KYC requirements for broker clients, advising on forex and derivatives trading.
In step with its strategy of expanding into digital assets and Asian markets, Financial Commission attended numerous events and participated as an exhibitor, and on a panel at key industry gatherings in 2018 across the globe, including in Europe, Asia, Israel and the US providing ample interaction with the public including gauging hearing industry sentiment.
Financial Commission 2018 Results in Review
On the backdrop of significant regulatory changes in key Forex market geographies including ESMA-related changes in Europe, as well as volatile trading conditions, Financial Commission was strategically aligned with the needs of the industry in 2018, as evidenced by its results and record achievements. Furthermore, with the expansion into digital assets and Blockchain, the organization also expanded its reach to cryptocurrency traders, investors and tech firms.
Even in mature and electronic markets, it is natural for disputes to arise from time to time, yet the process for resolving disputes between counterparties, including broker-to-client trading, is not always straightforward. Financial Commission’s mission is to assist the industry in overcoming these inevitable challenges, by providing fair and efficient dispute resolution as a core service.
When grievances cannot be amicably resolved between member brokers and their customers, a formal complaint is filed with Financial Commission – where it is then examined using a systematic approach and is fully investigated before being reviewed by the DRC to render a non-bias decision. Using a proven dispute resolution process, Financial Commission achieved another exceptional year across some of its key operating metrics during 2018, including the following highlights:
- A total of 7 new members were approved by Financial Commission – as well as 2 fintech providers and 1 education provider certified, which brought the total number of members to 33 (including certified technology providers). During the year, all existing members upgraded their category of membership to A level.
- There were 3 new appointments made to bolster the Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC) bringing its total to 21 committee members.
- Fincap Advisors and FDCTech, Inc. (formerly known as Forex Development Corporation) were both added to the Partners section.
- There were 945 complaints filed with Financial Commission, a nearly 20% increase compared to 764 complaints filed in 2017.
- Over $784,000 in compensation was awarded in 2018, with a total of $3,184,932 sought by broker member clients.
- All Category B broker members upgraded their level of membership to Category A, increasing their customer’s protection up to €20K from the Compensation Fund.
- Value-added services were introduced to Category A members providing complimentary and discounted access to important services from the Financial Commission’s network of partners.
- The launch of the Blockchain Association and BEC provided a first of its kind dispute resolution mechanism for digital asset traders and investors with 4 approved member firms and 11 appointments to the BEC.
- An Expert Opinion column was launched on the organization’s official website providing free education materials to traders and valuable regulatory insights for members.
- Financial Commission provided a comprehensive report on types of trading bonuses offered by brokers, and continued to actively update its warning list, helping to deter the public from potential online scams.
- The organization launched Arabic language support on its website and processed incoming disputes from Arab speaking traders starting in April 2018.
- Chairman Peter Tatarnikov participated in meetings of the Expert Council of the Association of Forex Dealers (AFD) – a leading SRO in Russia and attended several key events, including the III International Conference on the Protection of Investors Rights in Moscow.
- Financial Commission participated in key industry events across the globe, meeting with clients, members and the public at important industry conferences in New York, Miami, London, Israel, Cyprus, Hong Kong and Shanghai, and held important meetings with industry regulatory bodies in Eastern Europe.
2018 Statistics in Review
Below the Commission presents further details of its Annual Report for 2018, with statistics on the number of complaints handled and key metrics regarding processing and mediation results. The statistics information is insightful to our members and their clients, the public, and for brokerages and technology developers that are considering the benefits of obtaining membership with the Financial Commission and/or are interested in learning about the organization’s structure.
As market participants continue to demand best execution and fair dealing, the need for transparency continues to grow and brokers that are willing to voluntarily demonstrate transparency by becoming members.
Building trust is crucial and using fair and neutral 3rd party dispute resolution – that Financial Commission provides – is an effective solution in cases where clients or brokers cannot resolve matters together and seek an independent channel and wish to avoid often complex legal or costly arbitration alternatives. The Financial Commission continues to achieve this objective by providing brokerages and technology firms with the benefits that accompany membership status, as seen in the statistics results for 2018.
As the number of new member continued to grow, there was a significant increase in the total number of complaints received in 2018 (945 complaints filed), compared Year-over-Year from 2017 (764 complaints filed). This nearly 20% increase was driven from the addition of new members reflecting the increasing credibility and positive reputation Financial Commission has been earning since its foundation, and coupled with market volatility from major geopolitical events during the year.
The monetary amounts for complaints filed during 2018 ranged from as low as $100 to as much as $76,800, and the total amount of compensation that was paid out was $784,380 from a total of 945 complaints filed. The six-figure total compensation sought highlights the increased monetary significance of the complaints processed by the DRC and broker client’s reliance on the Commission in getting disputes resolved (as opposed to, in some cases, resorting to other regulatory bodies and legal channels including costly arbitration).
The geographical reach of the Commission, as well as language options for traders continue to diversity the pool of traders who submit complaints for review. Thus, while the Russia & CIS region continues to be the prominent geographic origin of trader disputes, Asia, the Middle East and Latin American now account for 11%, 9% and 8% of all disputes files in 2018, respectively. Likewise, 4%, 5% and 6% of complaints were processed in Asian, Latin and Arabic languages, respectfully.
Overview of 2018 Complaints Statistics:
- Total Complaints filed 945 (100%)
o Complaints filed against Members 816 (86%)
o Complaints filed against non-Members 129 (14%)
o A record 945 Complainants sought $3,184,932
- Total amount of compensations $784,380.00
o Maximum complaint amount awarded $260,240.00*
o Minimum complaint amount awarded $10.00
- Total amount of resolutions (against Members)
o Resolutions in favor of client 153 (19%)
o Resolutions in favor of broker 373 (46%)
o Out of jurisdiction 290 (36%)
*Includes account trading bonuses
Types of Complaints
Trading complaints are directly related to the process of trading on the market and the affect of execution of orders, payment of margins, calculation of commissions, forced liquidation of positions and other parts of the trade cycle. These complaints are considered by the Dispute Resolution Committee and included in the statistics.
- Total amount of trading complaints 231:
o against Members 228
o against non-Members 3
Financial complaints are related to transactions on the account, and in majority of cases involve delays in withdrawals. Such complaints do not fall under dispute resolution process; however, the Financial Commission never rejects such complaints and helps advocate the payment process with clients till the end. We do not record cases of non-payment of funds to the clients by Member-companies. Nevertheless, in cases when such complaints are received against non-member companies providing of a refund to the client from the broker is often very problematic.
- Total amount of financial complaints 365:
o against Members 283
o against Non-Members 82
Non-trading complaints are often clients’ complaints about the facts of losses incurred as a result of cooperation with the administering traders and sales consultants. To a lesser extent these are complaints for automatic copying transactions systems and signaling services. Such complaints do not fall under the dispute resolution process; however, we always analyze the contract, risks warning, correspondence and negotiations with the client and also give our assessment of the situation and recommendations for a possible settlement of the dispute.
- Total amount of non-trading complaints 349:
o against Members 305
o against Non-Members 44
Geographies and Languages
Disputes processed by language:
|Asian (Thai, Indonesian, Chinese, etc.)||4%|
|Latin (Spanish, Portuguese)||5%|
Disputes processed by region:
|Russia & CIS||62%|
Blockchain Association and Blockchain Expert Committee
Financial Commission first engaged with blockchain technology providers in 2015 and recognized the importance of developing best-practices for crypto exchanges which share many parallels to foreign exchange markets and technology used by forex brokers. This is partly because existing laws do not recognize digital assets yet or regulations have not yet been created in many parts of the world. Even in places where guidelines and guidance exist from regulators, consumer protection mechanisms are still evolving.
Given these circumstances, the Financial Commission developed effective solutions for digital asset traders and investors to increase self-regulatory efforts in the absence of government-sponsored mechanisms. The Blockchain Association relies on the Blockchain Expert Committee (BEC) which is comprised of Blockchain industry experts, including those that have participated in independent 3rd party dispute resolutions in the past, and have studied the facts of each dispute and the processes in place to reach an official resolution. Because the dispute resolution process is not currently based on established market regulations, the resolutions provided are non-binding on the customer and their service provider yet provide significant value in the form of recommendations for both parties.
The BEC is led by Steven Hatzakis, the Global Director of Research, Forex & Crypto for ForexBrokers.com, a Reink Media Group brand. Steven is an active fin-tech and crypto industry researcher and advises blockchain companies at the board level.
Blockchain Association Members
In 2018 the Blockchain Association added 4 approved members.
Blockchain Expert Committee
In 2018, the Financial Commission appointed 11 experts to the BEC. To find out more about the business profiles of each expert, please visit our website.
Steven Hatzakis – Global Director of Research, Forex & Crypto for ForexBrokers.com
Simon Grunfeld – Founder & Executive Director – Ibinex
Dmitri Turkevich – Director of Business Development at Rambler&Co.
Aleksey Kutsenko – CEO Tools4Brokers.com
Bryan Feinberg – CEO and Founder of Etheralabs, Zephyr and P2Primex
Pavel Salas – CEO Tokenbox
Stanislav Shamayev – Crypto and Blockchain Business and Corporate Attorney
Vasily Alexeev – СТО Serenity, CEO UpTrader
Clark Hogan – Founder Byzantine Works
Rika Khurdayan – Dilendorf Khurdayan PLC
Max Dilendorf – Dilendorf Khurdayan PLC
Katerina Troshina – Co-Founder SmartDec
2018 Events, Meetings, Developments, and Cross-border Collaborations
Continuing into commitment to the APAC region, Financial Commission exhibited at the 2018 iFX Expo in Hong Kong which took place at the end of January, followed by the 2018 Asia Trading Summit in Shanghai in March, followed by the 2018 iFX Expo in Cyprus in May, as well as participated in the 2018 IFINEXPO in Beijing. In November 2018 the organization also exhibited at the Finance Magnates London Summit.
Echoing its strategy of expansion into digital assets and Blockchain in 2018, the Financial Commission participated in the 2018 Trading Show New York, Blockchain Shift 2018 in Miami and the Next Block Blockchain Conference in Tel Avil in December.
Continued interaction with government regulators included consultations by Financial Commission Chairman, Peter Tatarnikov at important meetings of the Expert Council of the Association of Forex Dealers (AFD) at the Committee on Financial Markets of the State Duma, as well as the III International Conference on the Protection of Investors Rights in Moscow. Mr. Tatarnikov assisted the AFD in a variety of areas, including the regulation of CFDs, improvements to the current Forex legislation and KYC requirements for broker clients.
Public feedback continued to be supportive of the role that Financial Commission holds in the industry and these views were supported by the increased number of new members and other key areas of growth experienced during the year.
New Member Announcements in 2018
Appointments Made to the DRC in 2018
A total of three persons were appointed to Financial Commission’s DRC in 2018, bringing the total current number of committee members to twenty one.
Demetrios Zamboglou – Chief Business Developer Officer in Lykke AG
Demetrios is a multi-award winning executive and academic financial market specialist, holding a Fellow Charter Membership from the Chartered Institute of Securities and Investments (CISI) and he is the recipient of the European Commission (2017), Microsoft Research Grant (2016), the Amazon Web Services Award (2014) and the 30 under 30 prize by Square Mile Magazine in 2011. Dr Zamboglou obtained his MEng in Computer Systems Engineering with concentration in Formula Engines from Lancaster University, and his MSc from CASS Business School, where he specialised in IPOs and financial markets. Dr Zamboglou holds a PhD from King’s College London in Behavioural Finance. Demetrios Zamboglou is the Chief Business Developer Officer of Lykke AG, a financial technology company, responsible for the Firm’s International Business. Dr. Zamboglou joined the Firm in November 2016 from FXTM, where he led the firm’s UK operations. Prior to that, he held progressively senior roles as a corporate executive, risk manager, and quantitative analyst. Before Lykke, Dr. Zamboglou held Executive leadership roles at FXTM, zebrafx and FOREX CLUB specialising in issues including business development, strategy, risk management, market-making, and compliance.
Roland Gemayel – Chief Dealer in Lykke
Roland Gemayel holds numerous degrees, including a PhD in Finance from Kings College in London, as well as a Master of Science with distinction from Cass Business School. Prior to joining Lykke, Roland was the Chief Dealer at Maximus FX and is also the founder of eSocialTrader – a financial resource on the topic of social trading, where Roland publishes opinions, experience, and research findings on the growing phenomenon of social trading. His work is published in top academic finance journals. Roland is a senior finance professional with over seven years of international experience in risk management, market making, financial modeling, consulting, product development, business operations, and strategy. His current work at Lykke as the chief dealer involves developing market making algorithms and building performance metrics and risk systems to ensure steady growth of trading operations.
Pavel Khizhnyak – Founder of Tradefora
With Bachelor degree in Oriental science, MBA in Project Management, vast experience in Asian markets, and being fluent in Mandarin Chinese, Pavel is a frequent guest speaker at regional industry events and roundtables. In 2013 Pavel founded Trade Exact Consulting, which provides market entry and business development services for brokers expanding into Asian markets. In 2015 Pavel became a Founding Partner of Tradefora PLC – OTC industry’s first fully automated TCA and trade execution analytics engine for retail FX, CFD, and margin crypto traders.
Current Members of the Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC)
- Anatoly Bulanov – Head of Dispute Resolution Committee
- Simon Grunfeld – Founder, Gallant Partners
- Ilan Azbel – CEO, AutoChartist
- Lior Nabat – CEO, Tradency
- Aleksey Kutsenko – CEO, Tools4Brokers
- Juan Pablo Jutgla – CEO, Better Way FX Consulting
- Akin Abbak – Managing Partner, Abbak Attorneys at Law
- Kristina Nettles – Vice President, Integral
- Nir Porat – Co-Managing Partner, Ben Basat, Porat & Co.
- Peg Reed – COO, Forex Development Corporation
- Dr. Anna Becker – Founder, Sherpa
- Ran Cohen – Founder, Traders Education
- Carl Elsammak – CEO, Kammas Trading
- Maor Lahav – COO and co-Founder, Panda Trading Systems
- Quinn Perrot – GM, TRAction Fintech
- Brian Phillips – Founding Partner Argosy Global Advisors
- Alexey Sidorov – Chairman, Financial Market Development Association of Belarus (ARFIN)
- Valery Dolgov – CEO IndigoSoft
- Demetrios Zamboglou – Chief Business Developer Officer in Lykke AG
- Roland Gemayel – Chief Dealer in Lykke
- Pavel Khizhnyak – Founder of Tradefora
Technology & Education Certifications
The Financial Commission certified the trading technology of FDCtech, Inc. (formerly Forex Development Corporation) and Binomo, as well as the trader education provider Trader’s Education. This brings the total number of certified providers to 12.
Closing Remarks from Financial Commission Chairman
“We are pleased with Financial Commission’s many achievements in 2018, and are continuing to take steps at improving and expanding our services into 2019. On the backdrop of highly dynamic conditions last year for financial markets and the financial services industry, Financial Commission experienced significant growth in some of our core operating metrics, including a record number of complaints received and processed for the second year in a row. Notwithstanding the addition of new FX broker members and certified firms, we have achieved so much in improving and expanding our core business, as well as launching a completely new venture for digital asset traders. Our Blockchain Association quickly gained traction and attention from industry participants, helping us onboard 4 member firms within just the first month of operation and assemble a group of experts to assist us going forward. We thank all of our members and supporters dedicated to helping foster transparency with their commitment to our rules and use of Financial Commission’s services, as we now enter our 7th year of operation. We continue to welcome new members and encourage new and existing brokerages, technology developers, digital asset exchange and Blockchain firms, whether regulated, unregulated, or self-regulated, to submit their membership application to Financial Commission, and review our requirements to see if your firm will qualify for approval. Members that become approved show their customer their willingness to be open and transparent and, Financial Commission will stand by both sides in cases where a complaint is filed through our EDR system, and with the aim to bring it to resolution fairly and swiftly. We look forward to continuing to improve our core services for FX traders and continue building out our digital asset and Blockchain-focused segment. Likewise, we hope to continue to provide valuable education and resources to help them determine the best way forward in their trading.”