GAIN Capital (NYSE:GCAP) is a multi-national US based company that specializes in FX trading. With a number of business units covering institutional, white-label and retail customers, GAIN Capital’s retail brand FOREX.com is used by self-directed retail traders and professional money managers in over 140 countries worldwide.
But it wasn’t always…
The company, formed in 1999, was the brain child of entrepreneur Mark Galant. A finance M.B.A. from Harvard, Galant saw a gap in the trading markets where retail customers could get into the trillion dollar per day Foreign Exchange markets – yes, trillion.
I was lucky enough to meet Galant in the very early days of this small business and eventually joined him in 2001 as VP, Infrastructure.
GAIN Capital was, at its heart a trading desk. The traders required fast and flexible access to incoming and outgoing phone calls as well as to ring-down circuits from the top-tier AAA banking parters that provided liquidity for GAIN’s trading activities.
A large part of GAIN’s success was down to its nimble construction, small company ethos and Galant’s ruthless drive for efficiency and performance from every part of the business.
In a traditional business PBX design, high-availability, 24hr operation and low cost seldom come together but, this was the mandate handed down to me for the new phone system for GAIN Capital; fast, always-on, self-repairing and low cost.
The company opened its offices in Warren, NJ with a traditional approach to technology and a traditional PBX taking care of communications. The system, from InterTel was, in most respects feature rich and fully able to support the demands of the business. So, why change? Why divert our attention from the myriad of other pressing technology challenges a new small business faces? Very simple – if you invested more than $100,000 in an online trading account and no one answered your calls, what would be your next move?
With the demand for very high availability and a long feature list I began to research options in the PBX space. Reliable, resilient and easy to maintain didn’t seem to gel with low-cost. Don’t mis-understand me, I was prepared to make the investment necessary to ensure reliability over all other considerations but, to maintain our core values of being as light and flexible as we could I quickly centered the search around what was then a new offering; a fully managed, business class hosted PBX solution.
A number of vendors bid for the work but one stood out for sharing the same values as ours – Reynwood Communications. The CEO, Richard Kelly was himself a veteran of the financial markets and was able to train his team to ensure that they understood our particular needs, right down to our almost obsessive desire to keep calls flowing even with significant chunks of our data network in simulated “tatters”.
As the company grew through the decade and entered new markets overseas the communications solution scaled up to suit. Without infrastructure, remote workers in the US, UK and China simply “plugged in”. Remote workers gradually turned into remote offices that became remote branches of the company, all tied into the same platform.
Office-to-office communications ceased to be sophisticated calling plans between disparate systems but instead were effortless three digit extensions on the one and same resilient platform.
In time HD or “High-Definition audio” came in and turned conference calls across time-zones and continents into almost surreal meetings-of-the-mind where the only confusion became tracking who was in the room and who was thousands of miles away – it was impossible to tell from the audio quality – China is surprisingly close when you have HD audio.
Did we save money?
When asked about my experiences choosing a hosted PBX phone solution, I’m surprised how often price is assumed to be the driver. “Did it save money?” I’m asked, “No” is my reply, “Did it make money?” “Yes” is my follow up. As a growing company, our telco costs were always bound to increase. As a regular value or ROI check I could always make a case that our cost was lower than a traditional solution; that’s easy – just factor in the headcount required to support a traditional PBX versus picking up the phone and having your provider take care of it. But, that would miss the point of a hosted PBX solution. Yes, I took valuable resources away from key business initiatives in the early days to replace a perfectly good PBX but, when that was done, it was indeed “Done and Done!” Future moves and changes, expansion, contraction, relocation and refactoring of our business took place un-constrained by traditional infrastructure. We never took our eye off of our core business to deal with the basic plumbing of the phones – that was how we made money. And, how I spent the last decade at GAIN Capital.
Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Michael Thwaite, President, Reynwood Communications and I’d like to introduce you to the idea of a cloud-based, concierge hosted phone service and data solution for your business.