FX Markets Asia Awards 2020: FX house of the year, Australia and FX house of the year, NDFs – ANZ

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ANZ found its conventional working practices upended by the Covid‑19 pandemic, but its access to global pools of liquidity in straitened times allowed its highly motivated personnel to act quickly in response to client demands

Luke Marriott, head of electronic fixed income, currencies and commodities, ANZ
Luke Marriott, head of electronic fixed income, currencies and commodities, ANZ

In a year when FX markets were disjointed and unprecedented, and uncertainty arose from Covid-19, ANZ successfully managed pockets of scattered liquidity to present opportunities to clients.

From government actions to event risks, ANZ identified the key trigger points and how they would affect clients, and provided strategies to address concerns, manage risks and strike when the opportunity was there.

“The challenging conditions not only increased volatility across exchange-traded, over-the-counter and funding markets, but also had an impact on the day-to-day operations of many businesses,” says Shayne Collins, managing director of ANZ Markets.

After the initial Covid shock to markets and the liquidation of bond portfolios, there were many opportunities to manage favourable entries and exits for clients as strong demand for its minerals promoted a mining-led recovery for Australia. The government’s increased bond-issuing programme to finance its Covid fiscal stimulus continues to be oversubscribed.

For example, the Australian dollar dipped to US$0.55 at one point, and ANZ was able to help a number of clients to restructure their hedge portfolios. “That provided clients with increased access to cashflows, which provided much-needed liquidity through the challenging Covid period,” says Luke Marriott, head of electronic fixed income, currencies and commodities.

Yeoh Herr-Ling, head of principal FX, and head of markets for South-east Asia, ANZ
Yeoh Herr-Ling, head of principal FX, and head of markets for South-east Asia, ANZ

In this highly volatile environment, clients increasingly turned to their trusted banker of choice to provide best execution and minimal slippage. ANZ is one of the few local and regional banks to have a full co-location strategy across London, New York and Tokyo, allowing it to access and aggregate global pools of liquidity.

Operationally, technology was important to ensure a seamless transition to working from home and develop new connections to facilitate client execution capabilities from various locations. ANZ’s application programming interface-led strategy for FX liquidity distribution meant the bank was well placed to respond to changing client trends instantly.

“We needed to think of many operational permutations and build contingencies into our plans, with some hubs being used for overlap – such as staff in New Zealand working on Saturday mornings to cover Friday New York hours,” says Yeoh Herr-Ling, head of principal FX and head of markets for South-east Asia. “We also worked to having multiple centres being on backup, tiering staff into categories and building buffers with some so-called ‘designated survivors’ who are decked out at home too.”

This was especially difficult as different working arrangements and multiple split sites challenged the bank’s conventional centralised model. Throughout, the bank had to cope with the pandemic on a human level, motivating staff to stay focused. “Personal and family issues have become more pronounced and have to be factored into our new norm,” says Edmund Tan, head of FX Asia sales.

ANZ is prepared for further market opportunities, particularly when volatility is heightened. “Knowing the clients, understanding the industries they operate in and being engaged helps us not only stay ahead of the competition but also gives us synergies,” says Yeoh. “The only constant is change.” 

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