Interview: Equiti’s Iskandar Najjar on Growth, Regional Expansion, and Future Plans

Recently, Finance Magnates got the opportunity to interview Iskandar Najjar, CEO of Equiti Group. Najjar is an industry veteran with nearly two decades of experience in the global financial markets. Under his leadership, Equiti Group continues to evolve and experience rapid growth and significant expansion.

In the latest discussion, the CEO of Equiti Group opened up about the Group’s recent expansion and the future of the retail and institutional FX market.

 

  • First of all, we are really glad to have you here Mr Najjar, before we proceed further, can you please tell our readers about the kind of services Equiti Group is offering?

 

Sure, we offer multi-asset class solutions across different instruments and across different derivatives as well. We have CFDs trading, and we are expanding out to cash equities, fixed income, futures and options. So, in principle, where we will be in 2022 is truly a multi-asset broker across a wide array of asset classes. Our background was in CFDs trading, but we have evolved. We are also looking at expanding our financial services offering, and we are working on several products that we plan to roll out around 2023.

Our client base today varies from retail traders to high-net-worth individuals, to other brokers, who could potentially require some of our technological solutions, liquidity solutions, as well as banks and hedge funds. We are expanding our network outside FX and CFD trading to wider instruments and wide asset class solutions. Our regions are well diversified. From the retail point of view, I would say Africa and the Middle East are very strong for us. We do have touchpoints in South America and Asia. 

From the brokerage perspective, we are evenly distributed across the globe, all the way from the Americas to Asia. In Asia, we are establishing banking relationships to be closer to our clients.

On the institutional front and the prime brokerage front, we are mainly sitting in Europe and servicing the European market. 

 

  • Retail and institutional trading jumped substantially in 2020 due to global lockdowns. Now that the world is getting back to normal, do you think the online financial trading industry can sustain growth?

 

I think there are two types of growth that the industry saw. One type of growth is related to market volatility, significant market moves, and jumps in commodities like Gold and Oil were in the news, shares were in the news. From the retail side, I think the market is growing significantly year on year regardless of volatility. Another massive wave that made significant noise in the last 24 months is related to crypto. The latest crypto wave has introduced a number of different crypto traders into the online trading market. Naturally, when you open the door for crypto, traders look for alternative asset classes.

 

  • In today’s competitive online trading industry, financial brokers are targeting specific regions to explore untapped markets, how is Equiti Group planning to expand its presence across different regions?

 

The nature with which we move into markets is working alongside a regulator. I think that’s the right way to do it. We see longevity in that structure and more market depth. We believe that the future will be a well-regulated industry. We work on the principle of 70% and 30%. 70% of our product being centralized and 30% being localized for each market that we participate in. Most recently, an example of that came out of Kenya, where we introduced innovative localized financial trading products. So, Africa and the Middle East are the markets that we will be expanding into. We are also looking at Asia from a different perspective.

 

  • Equiti Group recently injected $10 million into Equiti Capital UK to support its strategic business expansion initiatives. How do you think these funds will help Equiti Capital UK achieve its expansion targets?

 

We had significant growth across the Group, the UK being one of those. But, that growth comes at a cost of larger balance sheets and larger credit lines. We reach a stage where we have to expand our credit lines for further growth. We will see further capital injections coming into the UK, coming into the Group on a wider level as well. It’s very normal. The UK being a hub is really important for us. Our banking and liquidity relations are sitting in London.

 

  • The adoption of cryptocurrencies has increased significantly since the start of 2021, how Equiti is planning to meet the growing crypto demand from traders?

 

We are working on different crypto solutions to be a significant provider. We are looking at providing over 1,000 cryptos, and we look to roll that out by Q1 of 2022. We believe that there is still a massive space for regulated brokers such as ourselves to be able to provide the solution to clients for them to speculate on cryptos rather than hold cryptos but in a regulated environment. We are focused on finding gaps and opportunities within the crypto market. Overall, our core focus is to provide online trading services across different assets, so naturally crypto would fall into that space.

 

  • Where do you see the retail and institutional FX industry in the next five years?

 

If we take a look from the retail side, a lot of our focus is on client experience. We are looking to roll out our own mobile platform in November 2021 that is heavily focused on providing a superior client experience. It has been designed by adopting some of the functionality and features of the world’s best-in-class mobile platforms.

Through our subsidiary, AlgoLabs, we are collaborating with computer science PhD students at Royal Holloway University of London (RHUL), one of the world’s leading centers of research in advanced areas of computer science, to build cutting-edge Machine Learning solutions to create something unique that will enhance our client experience. This new autohedge’ model will be rolled out in H1 of 2022.

So, a single one-stop-shop where clients can embed trading into their lifestyle, I think that’s the direction our industry is evolving to over the next three to five years. I would say we are still at an early-stage lifecycle within our Industry.

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