Former Wells Fargo Securities foreign-exchange executive Nick Omirly recently opened a Charlotte office for Bannockburn Global Forex, LLC, a foreign exchange solution provider based in Cincinnati. He has more than 30 years experience in global currency markets, including stints at Bank of America and Barclays Bank. Bannockburn has partners in 10 U.S. offices across the United States serving more than 1,500 clients.
Omirly holds a bachelor’s in Economics from Belmont Abbey College and a master’s in Political History from Duke University, where he focused on the history of Greece. He is a trustee at Belmont Abbey and an avid surfer.
How will your work change going from a Big 4 bank to a smaller company?
Ultimately my work itself remains the same, but the environment is significantly different. Bannockburn was founded in 2009 as a boutique capital markets trading firm focused solely on my specialization – foreign currency advisory, hedge analytics, execution, and processing for global businesses. We have tremendous scale, but also have the benefit of being singularly focused on one very specific and important area of our clients’ businesses. I was also attracted to the opportunity of being a partner at a firm whose ownership structure creates a long term alignment of interests with our clients.
Who is your target market?
Our typical clients are closely held middle market businesses, with a large concentration of private equity managers and their underlying portfolio companies. All of our clients have some international aspect of their business, for instance as importers, exporters, or with overseas plants or offices. Generally speaking, our clients are between $5-10 million in revenues on the low end and $1 billion on the high end. We have large concentrations in manufacturers, distributors and service companies.
Why does Bannockburn focus on middle-market companies?
That is where the need is greatest. Businesses like these are more global today than ever before, and this is a trend that will continue. When I started in this industry, mostly large multinationals were global to a large degree and were well equipped with internal resources to deal with the challenges associated with global operations. Today’s global middle-market businesses often don’t have the internal resources to ensure both efficient FX execution and risk management, but have no less of a need. This is exactly what we provide.
What are the benefits of FX trading? What’s an example of how it works?
A common denominator across our 1,600 clients is that their core business is something other than managing FX risk but their business is nevertheless exposed to it. We serve as an extension of their internal finance and treasury teams as subject matter experts in this area. Most companies exposed to FX risk use the market to hedge underlying currency risks, not to trade speculatively.
A good example would be a company that imports much of their product from Canada and Mexico and has ongoing foreign payables denominated in the Canadian dollar and Mexican peso. Unhedged, the company’s U.S. dollar cost of those payables will continue to fluctuate. The company would engage us to analyze the currency risk, provide strategic advice on how to manage the risk, and then execute the proper FX trade in the market to hedge the risk. The FX market is the world’s largest most liquid market but it’s also the most volatile. Over $5 trillion a day is traded in this market, and small to midsize businesses who are exposed to FX can easily get trampled on if their risks are left unchecked.
Tell us about your master’s in political history? How did that happen?
With my undergraduate education in economics and my career in international trade and finance, I sought a graduate program that would complement my work and challenge me intellectually. Duke’s graduate school offered me the freedom to do just that and the opportunity to study at Oxford. In retrospect, political history was the natural fit, both professionally and personally.
How did you come to be a surfer?
Growing up on the North Carolina coast, I have always loved the ocean, not just looking at it or being on it but always in it. It was natural that I would eventually end up surfing, since N.C. has some of the best conditions on the Atlantic coast. I have surfed on the West Coast and in other Pacific Ocean countries, but my favorite surfing spots are Wrightsville Beach and Masonboro Island in southeastern N.C.