Israeli traders are sharper than traders in the UK
City Index recently opened its Tel Aviv office
Want to be a good trader? Look to Israel. Such a sentiment is sounded by financial expert Meir Velenski, the newly-appointed managing director of leading trading group City Index's Israel office, which launched in September in Tel Aviv.
Mr Velenski, who was born in the UK and has over 20 years experience in financial markets, believes Israeli traders are "sharper" than their UK counterparts. He says: "Israeli traders are bigger risk takers than Brits. Their risk appetite is very high and that makes for a good trader."
What's more, "an Israeli trader will always argue - even if he's right. He will argue just for an argument. They will always look for the best prices. They have always got a complaint and they don't like losing money. UK traders don't like to argue as much.
"Israeli traders are definitely sharper than UK traders. They are on the ball and know what's going on in the market place.
City Index’s Meir Velenski
"They are very price-aware."
A Newcastle-born, former investment consultant, Mr Velenski believes there is a real appetite for both Jewish and non-Jewish businesspeople and firms to invest in Israel, particularly over the past ten years.
He says: "Number one, it is recognised as a central hub to the Jewish world. Number two, the economy is booming. In 2004/2005, the Israel economy was in a bit of a recession but in 2005 it started to come out of recession and in 2008, it was not exposed to the scandal which caused the collapse of the worldwide mortgage market. It has had a strong economy for a few years and it is very attractive for foreign companies.
"Lots of people in Israel speak many languages: the concentration of multi-linguistic people here is one of the greatest in the world. So you can have an operation here that can capture a French market, a German market, a Belgian market, a South American market and so on…"
Why is this? "Financial markets are exciting. Jews and Israelis like to take risks and invest in companies long-term. Jews are investors and they like to look for opportunities and Israel is very opportunistic.
"The typical interest that a Jewish person or Israeli has in financial products is much greater than your average non Jew. It is very much a captive market place."
He adds: "Many many UK companies are looking to set up offices in Israel. Lots of our competition would want to get hold of a good quality sales force to sell their product in Israel and use it as a hub to export to the Diaspora."
Unsurprising then that City Index, a world leader in spread betting and CFD (Contract for Difference) trading (where an agreement between two parties to exchange the difference between the opening price and closing price of a contract is made), has set up shop there as part of its continued international expansion.
It will provide customers with access to 19 CFD markets and 37 spot forex pairs, innovative tools and platforms for which City Index is recognised worldwide, including Advantage Trader, one of the world's most advanced trading platforms, and the City Index App, the first downloadable CFD trading App for the iPhone in the UK. The branch has over 50 clients, adding new clients every week.
"City Index Group's Israel office constitutes a professional sales desk, with extensive industry and regional expertise, set-up to cover the local, international cosmopolitan population associated with Israel," says Mr Velenski, who was headhunted by the firm to set up the Israel Office.
He started his career working for one of the major UK City banks before establishing his own consultancy business, advising several high net-worth individuals on how and where to invest.
He acknowledges that financial markets have "definitely become more home oriented. So many more people trade from their home compared to ten years ago.
"Technology has enabled this penetration. In Israel, people trade after work, between 7pm and 11pm, as a secondary income."
Since relocating to Israel, Mr Velenski has been focused on penetrating the Israel market and using it as a platform to develop contacts and business in the Diaspora, such as the UK.
"I have worked with Israelis living in the UK for the past 10 years and could see that there was a great opportunity to set up a good, organised, strong UK company amongst the foray of possibly disorganised, not-standing-in-line system in Israel, and a regulated UK operation will do great here."
So, how does trading in Israel differ to that in the UK? "Most Israelis will trade worldwide markets, not Israel local markets. We are offering the local population international exposure to UK, European, American and South American shares.
"The Israelis love exposure to other markets. The Israeli market is very small and they want to get involved in the bigger picture.
"In Israel, an average trader likes to trade foreign currency more than trading shares, whereas a UK trader, I believe they prefer shares."
"The Israelis are very enthusiastic about European and North American shares because of Israel's association with the US. And they like to trade foreign currency. They love foreign currency."
Although he can't be too specific, when pressed for trading advice Mr Velenski says: "Go to lots of seminars and do your research."