Foreign exchange specialist OzForex has a formula for its projected 30% growth rate this year: keep it high-tech and “high-touch”.
Here is what the OzForex chief executive Neil Helm means.
Within an hour of somebody typing in their details and requesting foreign currency on the OzForex site, they get a call from someone seeking to walk them through what they’ve asked for.
“It does differentiate us from the banks,’’ Helm says. “They might argue their customer service is better or worse or their pricing is better or worse but we think we have the complete package in terms of being able to provide a high-tech, high-touch solution.”
He says nobody gets that sort of personalised service from banks.
“People are often surprised when they register to use the service on a Saturday morning and within an hour someone has called them,’’ Helm says. “If you were to register to use the service online, we will call you within an hour to confirm your first deal. We will get you all set up on the account and do the electronic verification to make sure we know who you are and you are all ready to start trading.
“When a client books their first trade, we will call them to make sure they’re getting the trade right. They can call up any time with questions like ‘I have forgotten my password’ or ‘What’s the status of my transaction?’ That service is available 24/7.
“The aim is to give our clients a better deal than they can get elsewhere; that’s our philosophy. We want to really make it a smart, simple solution for them and we use technology to make the whole experience relatively simple and transparent.”
Sydney-based OzForex, which now employs 135 people around the world, has an $8 billion turnover and is now expanding into the US. Depending on the currency and how much someone is moving, its fees range from .2% to 1%. “On average the margin we make is 50 basis points. When you compare it to some of the banks and other providers, they are sometimes around 2%,” Helms says. This gives the company an estimated revenue of $40 million.
In the beginning
It started as a one-man business – an information site – in 1998. Its founder Matt Gilmour was working on the foreign exchange desk at financial group BT.
The idea for the business came when he saw that no one was providing a foreign exchange offering for small retail clients and small to medium enterprises. The key: create an offering that’s simple to use. And because it was technology-based, there would be lower overheads so customers would pay less than what the banks would charge.