Embarking on a strategic APAC expansion
Vantage, the multi-asset broker, is leveraging its APAC-adjacent headquarters and emerging markets expertise to further increase its presence in the Asia-Pacific region. We interviewed Thomas Chang, Regional Business Director for the Asia-Pacific, to explore what this move means for the business and the region’s markets.
Let’s start with the basics. What is Vantage FX and what’s your current positioning in the Asia-Pacific landscape?
Vantage is a global business headquartered in Sydney, Australia. Although our origins are in FX, we’re a multi-asset broker with more than 300 instruments. As a brokerage, our goal is pure and simple: to provide a best-in-class trading platform to our clients. We also develop targeted tools for local Introducing Brokers to enable best execution. While we do provide clients with objective educational resources where needed, we don’t advise on trading strategy, or give directions for them to trade.
It’s one of our foundational missions to open up equal investment opportunities to those who may have previously not had access. The Asia Pacific (APAC) is a prime example of an extremely promising market which has historically been overlooked and underserved in terms of the financial services available to them. For this reason, it was one of the first regions in which we made a real name for ourselves. Our location and historic expertise in emerging markets helped us to make positive traction early on, and about 20-30% of our whole business is now based in the region.
What’s your role at the company? Why were you drawn to being Business Director for this region in particular?
As the Regional Business Director for the Asia-Pacific, I’m constantly thinking about and planning for future business inroads. My philosophy – and one of the main reasons I was drawn to Vantage – is that you should never enter a new market with the purpose of seeking profit out of it until it’s depleted. We want to build up an ecosystem in the Asia-Pacific that is just as fruitful for our clients and partners as it is for us. It’s for this reason that, while lots of brokerages are looking for short-term profit, Vantage FX is investing long-term in the future of emerging markets like APAC.
Over the last two to three years, we’ve been really honing in on the exciting new generation of brokers and investors in Southeast Asia. We are also looking towards expansion in East and Central Asia.
Why the focus on the Asia-Pacific, and Southeast Asia more specifically, as a region for expansion?
Traders in the Asia-Pacific are young and hungry. There is a new generation coming through that is wealthier and more business-savvy than their predecessors and the earning potential is high, with more high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) meaning more people looking for investment opportunities.
At the same time, there is a lack of awareness around what best execution looks like – something which scammers have been quick to exploit.
We saw that the existing brokerage landscape wasn’t serving local needs; while there are a bunch of smaller local brokerages and a handful of internationals, they rarely have local teams or provide local language services. We knew we had to get on the ground early on to make a name for ourselves and build trust with both clients and partners. So, the opportunity for us here was very different to, say, Europe; there are a lot of historic brokerages over there, and Europeans like history. While we’ve got a solid, loyal client base there, competition is tighter.
We’re focused more specifically on Southeast Asia because, at this moment in time, the FX market is more developed over there compared to the wider Asia-Pacific, as is our presence.
And why should Asia-Pacific want you? What makes Vantage FX different from other trading platforms?
Vantage FX is at the cutting edge of trading. At a global level, our offering is competitive in terms of spread, and the range of products and tools we provide our clients and introducing brokers. You can see this in our multitude of management tools, proprietary mobile app, and the fact that we are continuously improving different local payment options and supports. We’ve found our mobile-friendly tools to be particularly attractive in emerging markets where many clients have leapfrogged legacy technology straight to mobile phones. The pandemic has also accelerated the uptake of mobile trading.
The fact that Vantage is a licensed brokerage in the Asia-Pacific also sets us apart from many in the region, reassuring clients that their funds are safe with us. On top of that, as a professional trading platform, we are always trying to provide the best possible trading environment for our clients, which is essential for traders in the region, many of whom aren’t historically familiar with brokerages and don’t know what to look out for in terms of best execution.
We also have a lot of value to add from a compliance perspective, having operated in a number of different regulatory environments. We have a historic understanding of local markets which enables us to anticipate potential compliance challenges. This will be increasingly essential for our APAC clients as the region’s markets evolve and pursue greater regulation.
Comprehensive local language support is another thing that sets us apart from most other brokerages operating in APAC. We have almost 100 people on-the-ground in different regions, including a local country manager, local business team, and local marketing team, all dedicated to providing tailored guidance in our clients’ preferred local languages.
Additionally, we provide customised promotion for different regions, on top of standardised promotion, to make it easier for our Introducing Brokers to get in front of clients. That gets them a foot in the door so clients can see just how good our offering is.
What is the process like for tailoring your offering to meet local needs, especially in such a diverse and expansive market as the Asia-Pacific?
We’ve done extensive research into what traders in different Asia-Pacific markets value. As you rightly point out, trading strategies, styles and requests differ greatly country-to-country. We pride ourselves on listening and responding to partners as flexibly and effectively as we can. There are lots of new traders entering the market and we want to be a valuable source of information, educating our clients at all levels and making their lives as straightforward as possible.
Upon joining Vantage, each client is assigned a dedicated account manager, who is their ongoing point of contact and has access to the details of what the trader has been doing on the platform, providing a simple way to ask questions and troubleshoot any technical challenges. In this way, our offering isn’t just tailored to local needs at a country level, but at an individual client level.
What does the future look like for Vantage FX in the region?
We have a very sustainable business model that involves pushing into new markets and building the reach and quality of our brand name so that, when people are choosing a brokerage, or a way to invest, we are top of mind.
As one of the most developed FX markets in APAC, Southeast Asia is a useful pilot for us for further expansion in other APAC regions – namely East and Central Asia.
We’re also constantly developing new products and tools, with a focus on mobile, app-based integrations. For example, we are in the process of integrating with social trading platform Pelican Trading and improving chat functions by TradingView. This will be especially important once the brand name is established, generating organic traffic which will see people driven to independently find us online. Converting sales from initial interest as quickly as possible as essential at this stage. We want people to be able to be able to open an account with us in under a minute.