IG bounces back from January’s franc exchange

Tim Wallace
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IG GROUP’S revenues fell 5.1 per cent in the third quarter of the trading firm’s financial year, as the Swiss franc’s shock rise in January pushed the group to a small loss that month.

The group, which began in spread betting and has expanded into other sectors, brought in revenues of £91.8m in the three months to the end of February. That compares with £86.7m in the same period a year earlier.

Around 750 clients had positions in euro-Swiss, and 350 of those ended up with debts to IG when the Swiss National Bank unexpectedly scrapped its peg to the euro. That compares with a total client-base of more than 125,000.

More than half of those have settled their debts, but most of the £18.4m in debts remain uncleared.

Some clients have complained they were improperly treated, arguing IG did not close their trades fast enough when the currency was swinging by as much as 30 per cent in the day.

Chief executive Tim Howkins said IG did nothing wrong, and had to chase up clients who had lost out on the currency swings.

“It is human nature, people would like to blame other people, and we’re the obvious person to blame. But we gave the best execution we could give in the circumstances,” Howkins told City A.M.. “We’re being as pragmatic as we can. There is absolutely no point pursuing someone who can’t afford to pay through the courts or to bankruptcy. But we have a duty to shareholders to make ­­sure those who can afford to pay, do pay.”

And he rejected the idea that IG was irresponsible for allowing customers to leverage their positions several times over.

“I don’t think the magnitude of debts was caused by the leverage given – we have clients with debts even in Japan where there are very penal leverage restrictions,” he said.

The firm is set to roll out new technologies in the coming months. Around one-third of its clients trade through smartphone apps, and IG will offer a service for monitoring prices and executing trades through the Apple Watch as soon as that is launched late next month.

The innovation follows its launch of an execution-only stockbroking service six months ago.

IG Group’s shares ended the day down 1.28 per cent.