Kim Fournais
Chief Executive Officer
Saxo Bank

It’s a little lonelier at the top of Hellerup, Denmark–based brokerage and trading innovator Saxo Bank. Longtime co-CEO Lars Seier Christensen stepped down at year-end 2015 (though retaining his 26 percent ownership stake), leaving the reins to Kim Fournais. “Some things become slightly easier when you’re one person,” quips Fournais, 50, who founded the firm with Christensen in 1992, converted it to a bank in 2001 and assembled an extensive menu of online products and platforms for a global retail and institutional clientele. The past year was notable for “a new platform, new technology, new partnerships” revolving around SaxoTraderGO, a multiasset trading system available in 27 languages. In the system’s first 12 months, it delivered more than 55 percent of the bank’s revenue from private clients, Fournais says. SaxoSelect, an open application programming interface launched in January 2016, allows various trading and portfolio management vehicles, ranging from a generic robo-adviser to an actively managed long-only fund, to run on SaxoTraderGO. The bank, which has €13 billion ($14.4 billion) in client deposits and wealth assets under management, partnered with BlackRock this year to combine Saxo’s investment models with iShares exchange-traded funds, also on SaxoTraderGO. Key to the arrangement: Saxo is not offering retail products of its own. “We have only one aim: to service clients in the best way possible,” Fournais asserts. In the spirit of fintech disruption, he adds, “we are not hesitant to distribute products that would cannibalize” those of traditional institutions. Saxo has also gone the partnership route to boost its presence in China; one is with financial news provider Wallstreet CN to deliver content and trading services on mobile devices. “These digital distributors are coming in with much better services than existing banks,” says Fournais, who sees Saxo promoting a “democratized” future that will provide efficient tools for people to control their financial destinies.

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