When Charles Li set up the London Metal Exchange User Group, he said it was to ensure that industry views were reflected in the exchange’s future decision-making process.

Now is certainly a time for Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing (HKEx) to be leaning on this group of individuals.

The LME is taking a bashing from all sides at the moment as its members argue over the merits and pitfalls of warehousing, various regulatory bodies on both sides of the Atlantic look more closely at the role of the exchange and its warehouse network in the physical market, and lawsuits from an assortment of disgruntled aluminium consumers pile up.

HKEx has been determined to eradicate criticism that the LME is a closed shop, with the old-fashioned style of a city club.

But with the departure of most of the former LME management – including ceo Martin Abbott, whose role officially came to an end this week – HKEx could do a lot worse than to tap more deeply into the expertise of the User Group. 

The 14-strong committee, which will see its ranks swell through the addition of new LME ceo Garry Jones at its next meeting in November, includes individuals that have spent their entire career in commodities, and mostly in metals.

That’s not to say that executives at HKEx, and those now working at or closely with the LME such as Matt Chamberlain and Rebecca Brosnan, haven’t worked hard to understand the industry and its markets.

Nor is it to suggest that the User Group has no influence.

Yet a number of noses have been put out of joint with regards the fact that the User Group was not aware of the warehousing consultation proposals prior to the notice announcing them.

That decision was made because the group was conflicted, HKEx argues – and that’s fair enough.

But now more than ever it’s important to ensure that the “new LME” doesn’t set itself up for being accused of creating its own HKEx-focused closed shop, that doesn’t listen to its members.