Aquis Exchange; What's Next?
With Alasdair Haynes, CEO Aquis Exchange
During 2013 we had the idea, got a team together, built the technology, raised the finance, got regulatory approval, connected customers and went live. This is a great achievement for any organisation in this economic climate and I commend the team for their extraordinary work. Many firms take much longer than that just to get their regulatory approval, let alone go live.
2014 sees us executing that strategy. We started out with seven or eight customers and we hope to add more and more customers each month. We have an aggressive sales pipeline of over 40 customers that we want on board as quickly as possible. We are doing tiny volumes today, but that’s almost deliberate; if you have a party at home, you don’t turn the music on straight away, you wait until everybody arrives, you serve a few drinks and then you turn the music on! And that’s what we are doing here, we want to get everybody on board first, to make sure they’re all ‘at the party’ and when they are, we can turn the music up. That’s when we will make a difference. And that’s the approach we’ve taken; the major metric we look at is the number of customers we have on subscription each month in the early stages.
The strategy is very simple. We have launched in three markets and over the next few months, we will add more markets in Europe (14 in total), we will add customers and then we will start turning up the volume for the music. We think subscription is really down to critical mass, as much as any new exchange is down to critical mass.
The vast majority of people we speak to like the concept and they appreciate the idea that it’s a strategy that will grow the market. Our plan is not about taking market share from one place to another and just breaking up the pie. We want to grow and adapt the model in order to realise the same effect that we’ve seen in telecoms, television, retail and in leisure. Where these industries have subscriptions, there has been enormous growth. We think the same thing can happen in financial services and that it is basically due to the transparency angle.
We have 12-18 months in order to improve our concept, to get out into the market and to make it happen. We are a private company, not a consortium of banks who could finance this kind of project for long periods of time without profitability. We have a model which we are showing to the industry. The industry is either going to like it, which we obviously hope and believe it will, or it won’t. If it doesn’t like the model, then they won’t get a subscription.
The market is ready for change and the appetite for European equities certainly appears to be growing and we believe we have the technology and the best people in place to implement that technology. It’s still early days but the signs are encouraging, and in any business you do need a bit of luck! But we have a great opportunity as we are in the right place, it’s the right time, and we have the right product and business model.