Bio: As CEO Dominic is dedicated to creating agile and innovative solutions for our customers that can compete with larger operations both on price and quality.
Posts by DHall:
- Alerts can now be delivered to your desktop via the website messager service. Wherever and however you access the website you can be alerted to the market price or news movements that you want.
- We have offered price alerts for some time, but following customer feedback we now offer news alerts as well. Simpley set the paramaters you wnat to be alrted on (i.e. copper news) and you will be alerted via either SMS, email or website message depending on the preference you set.
As I plan the year ahead for FastMarkets, it’s not difficult to see the problems in the global economy. We seem to have a state of permanent crisis in the Eurozone, where structural imbalances between the north and south remain clamped in place by the twin strait jackets of the Euro and austerity and unemployment rises – as inevitably something must give. In the USA, the story is of feeble growth under the shadow of mountainous and seemingly unrestrainable debt. In Japan, it’s again a story of huge debts compounded by a demographic implosion. Regional rival China, so often cast by the complacent west into the role of International Rescue, is itself suffering a slowdown as inevitably it must when its customer markets are hurting.
And yet, as Thomas Fuller first said in the seventeenth century, the darkest hour is just before the dawn. Here at FastMarkets, we think there are straws in the wind / green shoots of growth (pick your well worn metaphor) that 2013 just might confound the bears. First of all there seems to be general agreement that the US housing market has in fact bottomed and price rises are being seen in some of the hardest hit cities, spurred on by historically low mortgage costs. Secondly, the corporate sector has amassed a war chest of cash, but has been sitting on the sidelines waiting to see when to deploy it. Thirdly, that illusive but key ingredient that is required to power any recovery; confidence. Anecdotally, confidence is rising; it’s tempered of course, but a poll by the World Economic Forum ahead of the annual meeting in Davos saw confidence approaching optimism. This is a world away from where we were last year. Confidence breeds on itself, so I am guessing that at some point soon we will hit a tipping point, a recovery will be obvious and people will wonder where on earth it came from, since all the news was so bad.
So, here at FastMarkets we have spread out wings globally for this recovery, ready for whenever it comes. However, at the same time, we are not holding our breath. What is unchanging in our market is the need for reliable dissemination of market data, incisive and accurate news reporting and pricing of opaque but important physical markets and insightful research. These needs are impervious to the economic cycle and these are what FastMarkets is about. So we will continue to grow our business in 2013 by delivering on these key needs, but at the same time we, like everyone, will welcome the recovery when it comes – well it would be nice to see wouldn’t it?
Last night, I was privileged once again, as FastMarkets CEO, to be a guest of the London Metal Exchange at its annual dinner. This spectacle demonstrates – as if 2012 hasn’t already done so – what a great show we can put on in London.
What’s more, for the first time I cleaned up on the LME dinner table sweepstake. Let me explain. There has long been a tradition that LME dinner goers bet on the length of the guest speaker’s speech. This year, the guest speaker was Lord Mandelson, perhaps the ultimate “marmite” politician, who was always going to bring out divergent bets. But anyway, I was closest on my table with a bet of 21 minutes and 30 seconds – and so scooped the jackpot.
Would I have won without the accurate sighting shot of a senior LME person on our table? Probably not, but you take your luck where you can get it in this life. There is still the small outstanding issue related to a side OTC – or should that be OTT (over the table)? – option contract, which I think needs to be settled over a pint!
But what of the occasion itself? For me, the erudite Charles Li, chief executive of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd (HKEx) hit the right note: a marriage between what London has for so long done well and the scale, reach and resources that his exchange can deliver.
The business logic of the LME’s sale to HKEx is indeed compelling and, at FastMarkets, we look forward to greater opportunities to sell our FastMarkets Professional service into an ascendant Asia.
And yet at the same time, it was difficult to ignore a sense of wistfulness amid the undoubted enthusiasm. In breaking with tradition and making his speech, Charles Li was signalling the transfer of power from west to east – a baton was tangibly passed. But, as Mandelson reminded us, the UK is “intensely relaxed” about the LME being sold to HKEx.
Surely, as long as Charles Li’s masters in Beijing ultimately come to reciprocate this openness, then such thoughts should be put to one side. For if this marriage proceeds smoothly, everyone who has an interest in the LME, and that includes us at FastMarkets, will have hit the jackpot.
Next week is a big week for us as we welcome a bunch of new sales people – class of 2012? – to FastMarkets for their induction and initial training. Having spent the summer recruiting in three continents for our London, Chicago and Singapore offices, our Sales Director Tim Dennis has done brilliantly to arrange for everyone to fly in and start on the same day. He has also arranged a really interesting and packed training week in all things LME and metal related. It was only when I was commending Tim on how good his training schedule was that I discovered that he had put me down for a one hour presentation on hedging – thanks Tim!
Preparing this presentation has made me stop and think again about the real world problems that subscribers to FastMarkets Professional face, be they miners, primary or secondary producers or final product manufacturers. At the centre of all this activity so often sits the London Metal Exchange (LME), unique in its ability to help manage price risk on non-ferrous metals, through its flexible prompt date system and network of warehouses. So in the end, I rather enjoyed my back – to – basics day. The key point I realised is this; the better these new starters understand why people need to hedge and indeed how they hedge on the LME, the better they will be able to understand the needs of our current and future subscribers. Now, pay attention class!
Read my homework here LME Hedging presentation
Time flies as you get older, or so they say. I’m not sure I necessarily believe that but certainly LME Week seems to have come round again very quickly this year. The annual networking fest of the non-ferrous metals world hits an unsuspecting London on Monday 15th October, kicking off as always with the LME Seminar on the Monday morning. Check out our website here for details of what is happening when and where.
Fastmarkets will be there of course, exhibiting at this event in LME Week for the seventh year running. As in previous years, we look forward to bumping into the familiar and friendly faces of existing FastMarkets Professional subscribers attending the event. We also look forward to meeting new metals people and talking to them about what we do.
Preparing for LME week is always a good time for taking stock or for introducing new changes or products. This year is no exception and we have several developments which will be on show. The most visible of these is that we will be exhibiting as FastMarkets, rather than BaseMetals.com as we have in the past.
This visible change reflects the coalescing of our non-ferrous, precious and minor metals capabilities into a broader and deeper product for the metals markets. Our mission however, namely to provide the market data, focussed news and expert analysis our subscribers need to make sense of today’s volatile markets – and so make better decisions – is unchanged and enduring.
On the product side, we will be showing off our great new mobile service. While we have seen other providers fall over one another in a race to produce an app – seemingly for the sake of having one – I am now very glad that we took our time to get this important development right.
We have been watching our web stats closely and trends in mobile device usage clearly showed us that we needed a solution that catered for IOS devices (i.e. iPhones), Android based devices as well as Blackberry and other smart phones. By following emerging industry best practice, this is exactly what we have achieved.
But to my mind, the best bit of our new mobile service is that it tightly integrates with our full desktop service. This means you get the benefits of fully customisable content, without the drawback of having to do all the hard work on a small screen. If you , like me, have struggled to set up an app just the way you want it, then you will know what a good idea this really is.
A whirlwind week here in Chicago putting everything in place for our new office – and we managed to get it all done! As a result, we now have a great new office in the Loop, right next to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), but more importantly we also have all the team members in place. We have been so impressed by the drive, enthusiasm and work ethic of all the people we interviewed, which of course made our decisions much harder. That said, I know that we have picked some great people to join Kevin Powers on both the sales and account management side.
In fact, the whole process has been a positive experience from start to finish and everyone from recruitment, real estate through to banking and telecoms has been efficient, friendly and helpful. This has been a great advert for Chicago and I am very happy that we are establishing the sales hub for FastMarkets USA here.
Talking to people here, it is clear that how we ran the Olympics made a great impression. I found myself basking in the reflected glory of our national organisational and athletic prowess on a number of occasions. Given my previous lukewarm attitude to the games, this is not without irony as my colleagues in FastMarkets would I am sure agree.
More importantly though, there is a palpable pro British mood in the air. How long this legacy will last is anyone’s guess, but for FastMarkets as a British company establishing a significant presence in the USA, it certainly doesn’t hurt. Thank you LOCOG, thank you Boris and thank you Team GB!
You know the expression “good things come to those who wait”? Well, that’s how I feel about the launch of the new version of our alerts system. In addition to the long standing ability to handle price alerts and periodic price updates, we have now finally added a fantastic news and data benchmark alerting capability. To say I have been looking forward to this release is a massive understatement. Here’s why. About three years ago, we were doing quite a big piece of market research and I set myself the task of interviewing a number of traders, most of whom were FastMarkets subscribers. I was particularly interested in how they worked, what information they used and how they consumed it. One of these meetings turned out to be the eureka moment that sowed the seeds for the new alerts system. Chatting over a beer after having earlier visited his dealing room, the trader – he will I am sure recognise himself if he reads this – made some observations which really resonated.
The first of these was that information consumption is effectively bound by two real life limits; the number of screens a user has and the number of eyes they have – usually two. Subscribing to additional news or analysis services while a good idea in theory (no one has a monopoly of wisdom or insight after all) fails a real world test of these constraints; “which screen do I put them on and how can I pay attention to them when I need first and foremost to keep an eye on the market?”
Recognising this reality, we then discussed how to the square the circle of needing the “right” news – especially when it is breaking and sometimes market moving news – at the same time as not having the time to look for it or monitor it. The answer that suggested itself – perhaps the beer helped – was to have a system that actively alerted the user to exactly the sort of news that they wanted. We discussed how this might work in theory, agreeing that how news was categorised was an important factor in such a system. However assuming that such a system was well constructed and responsibly run, the trader suggested that a single breaking metal news alert once a year that gave a potential advantage would in itself more than justify our annual subscription cost. As you might imagine, I made a note of that last point.
I bumped into him next at the annual LME dinner in London the following year when he asked if we had built it yet. It was frustrating at the time to have to say no, but then again we had hardly been resting on our laurels. Since that first meeting we have designed, built and introduced our third generation ticker plant and data system as well as bringing out our new configurable web delivery platform and our web based in-house editorial system – all in all, a massive achievement The great news however is that our new metals news and data alerts system is now in production and you can read all about it in this white paper.
From now on we will be blogging on a range of interesting and varied subjects, all related to the world of metals news, research and market data. I will be keeping you in touch with developments here at FastMarkets, while my colleagues will cover important market or technical subjects. Martin Hayes, our chief correspondent, who runs the FastMarkets news team and has over 30 years experience of reporting from the floor is impeccably qualified to comment on developments at the LME. This is obviously a hugely important time for the exchange so it will be vital to stay abreast of developments; keep an eye on Martin’s blogs.
Our Head of Research, William Adams, will be contributing analytical pieces on the metals and the global economic situation. At a time when the metal markets seem to react so violently to a range of external factors, often ignoring fundamentals, clear and incisive analysis has never been more important. The FastMarkets Research service provides our customers with a daily package of technical and fundamental analysis of all factors impacting our markets. Watch out then for some great insights from William’s contributions.
Beyond considerations of the markets, there are many other practical problems we all share that are part of the nuts and bolts of doing business in metals. Consider the question of market data. We all need access to metal prices in some capacity, either in real time or simply for settlement purposes. At FastMarkets we have built a really impressive market data capability, capable of delivering the full richness of base metals, precious metals and minor metals prices to a global online audience. Our technical director John Carlyle-Clarke is therefore very well placed to comment on developments in this complex area or offer advice on such matters as XML data feeds or DDE links into Excel for the technically minded of you. In addition we will have observations on the industry from our highly experienced sales director Tim Dennis and also updates on our products.
But why FastMarkets, why a blog and why now, I hear you ask. When I founded FastMarkets in 1999 with Ross Norman (who is now following his other passion of physical gold and silver here), we saw an opportunity to create an information company that stood out from the crowd. By building a team of dedicated experts in metals we sought to become established as providers of authoritative high frequency news and analysis specialising in the rapid interpretation of events. This blog, in conjunction with the new site you have just visited give us a great opportunity to explain what we know and what we do, while adding genuine value at the same time. Finally, the time is right because after the last few years of rapid growth, our position in the market as dependable data vendors and originators of knowledgeable and often breaking news is now consolidating with customers in over 80 countries from every sector in the metals markets.
FastMarkets Ltd and Jon Hunt Associates Ltd, owners of the BullionSupermarket.com platform, are pleased to announce a joint venture. This will see cooperation to build the existing BullionSupermarket.com price comparison platform into the leading precious metals retail portal for the purchase of gold, silver and platinum coins and bars.
The BullionSupermarket.com platform enables users to see prices for bullion coins and bars in a fully transparent way by comparing the price of thousands of bullion coins and bars against the live spot wholesale price of the metals. In this way, site users can for the first time see which offerings are delivering the lowest premium and hence best value. Prices for bullion coins and bars are compared from a number of sources including electronic auction sites and directly from coin dealers.
FastMarkets Ltd, established in 1999, is a leading supplier of expert news and analysis on the global metals markets. This editorial is combined with a full market data service to provide complete market information services for metal market participants through the BaseMetals.com and TheBullionDesk.com products.
Jon Hunt Associates Ltd (JHA), established in 1998 is a UK-based independent software development house providing state-of-the-art technology for a wide range of sectors including financial services, construction, public utilities and motor sports.
Dominic Hall, CEO of FastMarkets, commented “We are very excited to be joining forces with BullionSupermarket.com – we believe the platform has great potential. We will be making BullionSupermarket.com available to the large retail global audience of TheBullionDesk.com as well as our trade partners through close integration.”
Jon Hunt, MD of JHA, added: “Free price comparison services in other sectors have proved enormously popular with consumers and retailers alike. Consumers value the convenience and transparency, while for the trade, there are huge advantages in focussing retail buying interest to deliver a more qualified audience. We look forward to seeing these advantages flow through to the retail bullion sector.”
Fastmarkets have upgraded their existing data alerts service to include the following features: