As electronic trading volumes continue to pick up in Asia on both exchanges and alternative venues, banks are committing more resources to the sector.

Citi has appointed Endre Markos as Asia-Pacific head of electronic markets and platforms for its securities and fund services business. The role has been created to provide a more integrated and transparent offering for institutional investors, broker/dealers and other intermediaries, as hedge funds are already well covered on this front.

Based in Hong Kong, Markos reports to David Russell, Asia-Pacific head of securities and fund services, who is also based in Hong Kong, and to New York-based Curt Brill, global head of electronic markets. 

Markos was previously with technology provider Bloomberg for some 15 years, the past seven of which he has been in Hong Kong. For the past two years he has run the Asia-Pacific data solutions business, and he was involved in building up the vendor’s execution management platform for Asia in 2005 and 2006.

“That was when people were starting to talk about transaction cost analysis; the early days of dark pools,” says Markos, adding that Bloomberg built up a leading position in e-trading on a broker-neutral network in Asia.

Citi already has salespeople who can advise on traditional securities and fund services across the board, says Russell. The aim of Markos's hire, he adds, is to capitalise on the growing demand for and importance of e-trading and to provide a central point of contact for securities/fund services clients on the bank’s electronic offerings.

“In Asia, there are several different languages at the front end,” says Russell. “Endre will bring all the platforms – such as [messaging services provider] Swift – and services together to make things more transparent for our customers.”

This offering will be provided at a branch, rather than sub-custodian level, meaning each customer will receive individual attention locally. As a result, it may be difficult for other firms to match Citi’s level of branch coverage in the region, says Russell.

The bank is likely to add a further five or six staff to support Markos in the coming year, and is providing more training to existing client sales managers.

This is all part of “an electronic markets transformation programme”, that has the objective of increasing the number of knowledgeable and experienced information industry professionals in client-facing roles, says Citi.

Markos will also be working with the bank’s intermediaries group to expand Citi's on-exchange clearing platform in the Asia-Pacific region, with a focus on the changing roles of local exchanges, clearing and securities depositories.

Such services have typically been focused on connectivity with and trading on traditional exchanges, says Russell, but the rise of alternative venues such as dark pools is boosting demand for electronic offerings. Citi runs dark pools in Australia, Hong Kong and Japan, as well as in Europe and the US.

“More than ever before, operational efficiency, integrated technology and local presence are becoming essential in all areas of the financial community, but certainly in the asset-servicing arena,” he adds.