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Q&A with Darryl Hood, Director for FX Risk Management, UK
Part One

Don Curren October 25, 2018

Q. Can you tell us what you did before you came to Cambridge?

A. I’ve been working in foreign exchange since 2007. I started at a company called WorldFirst. I worked there for four years in a series of roles. I worked in the operations/back office/backend of FX, through middle office, to where I’ve arrived at the moment as the UK Director for FX Risk Management at Cambridge.

As a result of working at WorldFirst when I did, I was exposed to FX options, and my career followed that path. Ever since 2009, I’ve been involved in the options market in some capacity or another, moving through to the front office now.

Q. What was it that brought you to Cambridge?

A. What was it that attracted me to Cambridge? Opportunity for growth. Within the UK, Cambridge Mercantile had revenues of about 200,000 pounds a month. Relative to others in the broker market, that probably put us at the time somewhere around 15th, maybe 20th in terms of revenues – a long way from being top of the trees as it is in North America. There was both the appetite and the resources for growing the business and leap frogging competitors. Cambridge was at the start of applying for the regulatory approval for derivatives, and they brought me on board to start my own business within a business, so to speak.

The appeal was the ability to get in at the start, suffering the initial challenges around regulation to get it up and running, and then work with the existing dealers and salespeople to grow an FX options business offering a wider selection of hedging solutions to existing clients, but also the opportunity to go to market to win new clients, going out face-to-face on meetings with prospects and helping to close those, as well.

Q. Can you tell us about your outside interests – what you do when you’re not working at Cambridge?

A. I have two young children, so they keep me busy for part of my weekend. They’re twin girls and they’re nine years old, and as a result of which there’s normally a club or a party or something going on, and they need to be chauffeured around. The rest of the weekend tends to be sports related – watching, playing, going to the gym. And then obviously eating and drinking, normally whilst watching more sport!

Q. How would you describe your mandate at Cambridge?

A. I think there are probably a couple of statements that spring to mind, to be honest with you. Primarily it’s around growth. More specifically, how can we grow the UK risk management side of the business, from a day-to-day management view, it’s around how can we develop our staff in terms of their awareness, their capabilities and skill sets – it’s a training and education piece. Once you educate your staff, as a business you start to have the ability to educate your clients – providing a better service and creating additional value.

Q. How competitive is the market for the services Cambridge offers, in UK and in Europe?

A. I believe there’s around 180 FX brokers in the UK, and that will range from one-man bands to businesses like Cambridge. If you strip that back and look at our competition, you’re looking at half a dozen banks and about a dozen FX brokers which are licensed and are actively providing FX options, for risk management. They are all our competitors in that respect.

Q. How would you describe the corporate culture at Cambridge?

A. Great question. Certainly, from a dealing point of view – and I think it’s different from sales because there, you’re trying to win new business -, our focus is also on retention. It’s around offering a service and adding value. It means when your customer gets cold-called by an FX broker down the street, they don’t feel any reason to entertain that call.

We want you to feel, as a customer, that you’ve outsourced your treasury department. We work for you to the extent that you don’t feel you need to involve anyone else. That’s our service level and our value proposition – the ability to offer an array of services so that we can cater to anyone at any given moment in time, so you don’t have to look next door.

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