The Founding of ACI
The ACI was created in the mid-1950s – in the period shortly after the end of the Second World War at a time when economies were starting to recover and cross-border trade was on the increase.
With this growing internationalisation came a recognition, led by the Bank of England and Banque de France, of the value of bringing foreign exchange (FX) market participants together to build a community and to share and promote best practice.
In 1955 representatives of nine European countries met in Paris and in 1956 the decision was taken to unite these respective national associations under an umbrella network called the Association Cambiste Internationale (ACI), or International Dealers Association.
1960s, 1970s and the Committee for Professionalism
As the world became more global during the next two decades so did the ACI. By the end of the 1970s ACI comprised nearly 40 national associations and had evolved from being European-centric to being truly international.
And in 1973 the ACI formed the first of its global committees, the Committee for Professionalism (CFP). The CFP’s remit was to help define basic market rules and support the creation of a level playing field. It became a forum for market participants around the world to come together and discuss the challenging issues of the day. It also established itself as an arbitration service to assist in dispute resolution. Nearly 50 years on, the role and influence of the CFP has changed very little and it continues to actively shape and inform industry best practice.
1980s – ACI’s Remit Expands
For the first 25 years or so of its history the ACI was essentially an FX dealers association however that changed in the 1980s. Trading rooms had become very different places, trading multiple products, and so had the organisational structures needed to support them. As a natural consequence the ACI evolved to reflect the more sophisticated world that now existed.
Products such as Money Markets were incorporated into ACI’s coverage. And it was no longer only dealers the ACI supported and represented but also those involved in pre-trade, post-trade and central / control functions too, for example operational staff.
1990s and the Board of Education
By now the ACI comprised of more than 50 national associations and, consistent with a world that had become metaphorically much smaller due to technology and globalisation, the ACI created a second global committee, the Board of Education, dedicated to the provision of a suite of portable, professional qualifications to enable formal recognition of a person’s competences to perform their respective front or support function role.
These Certificate-level and Diploma-level qualifications have set the benchmark for FX and Money Market professionals for 30 years. Their strength lies in their portability and their practicality. Candidates anywhere in the world sit the same exam and that syllabus is set and updated by market practitioners to ensure candidates can apply what they’ve learnt immediately in their day jobs.
That’s why ACI qualifications are an internationally recognised standard of competence for employers.
ACI Model Code
The first version of the ACI Model Code was published in 2000 and was the first industry-wide code of conduct for FX and related OTC products.
The first ACI Code of Conduct covering FX and euro-currency dealing was in fact published in 1975. The industry then saw alternative but similar publications published in New York (1980), London (1990), Singapore (1991) and Tokyo (1995).
By the late 1990s there had become an urgent need for one international or global code that could cover the essential provisions of all five recognised publications.
It was felt that a Model Code embracing the main provisions of the recognised codes could serve as a valuable guide for the international dealing community. It would also serve as practical reference material for junior dealers and, with an amended syllabus recognising the new structure, for examination candidates.
The need for a Model Code was more pronounced in many of the emerging markets where a professional code was lacking.
Upon its publication, all members of each ACI national association made a statement of commitment to abide by the letter and spirit of the ACI Model Code as a condition of membership.
The ACI Model Code continued to be the definitive reference source for best practice until it was retired in 2017 with the publication of the FX Global Code and UK Money Markets Code.
The 21st Century – Restoring Trust
There is an old maxim in the financial markets – my word is my bond. Unfortunately the early years of the 21st century were marked by too many individuals and institutions forgetting these roots and instead choosing to act in a manner that was the polar opposite of this sentiment.
This unchecked pursuit of money ultimately ended up with the 2007-2008 Financial Crisis. There were many consequences as a result of this period but arguably the most important was the seismic loss of trust in financial services by the general public. Within the markets it supports the ACI has been at the forefront of leading efforts to restore that trust.
In 2010 ACI created a new global committee, the FX Committee, to provide a forum to debate important structural and regulatory issues and provide a cohesive voice on them.
The output of the FX Committee, and the other ACI global committees, were instrumental to ACI’s contributions as a member of the Market Practitioners Group that helped to create the 2017 FX Global Code.
ACI has also created an e-learning code of conduct training portal that takes the principles of codes such as the FX Global Code and UK Money Markets Code and turns them into questions and real-world scenarios to educate indivituals on best practice interpretation.
ACI – As Relevant Today As Its Ever Been
The values and tenets upon which the ACI was founded almost 70 years ago remain as relevant today as they’ve ever been.
The conduct and cultural changes needed will only be achieved through institutional AND individual accountability. The ACI is a global community of professionals committed to the latter.
The ACI informs, educates and represents. It brings diverse perspectives together to shape best practice. It educates and helps make code principles practical. And it uses its platform to speak up for, promote and advance what’s right.
At its heart though it is, and has always been, a community – one that supports the careers and meets the needs of professional people in the FX and Money Markets at every stage of their working life.