Case Study – Eris FX Ltd
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When did the business start trading:
Established September 2004, first trade June 2006
Who started the business:
Helen Scott and Martyn Redman
Tell us what you do and how you do it:
We provide a foreign exchange and international payments service to businesses and individuals based in the UK. We have developed an online platform which allows customers to see live currency rates and transact on them in real-time. Our service is a cost-effective and efficient alternative to using a bank.
Customers can see FX rates on a live currency converter on our website. The prices that we show include all our costs and we display those costs alongside the currency rates. We charge exactly the same to every customer for the same transaction. This means that small businesses are not disadvantaged in favour of bigger ones.
When the customer wants to transact, they log into the platform and perform the FX deal themselves at the exchange rate they choose. This can be a spot deal (buy now pay now) or a forward trade where the rate is fixed up to a year ahead. We pay the converted currency to their nominated beneficiary account by same-day transfer – all included in the price.
We don’t advertise cost savings compared to the banks, but we always aim to save our customers more money per transaction than we make from them.
Who buys your product / service:
Our customers range from retirees looking for a new life overseas to small and medium sized businesses trying to maximise their import and export revenues. We have customers who did their first transaction with us in 2006 and are still using us today. Our dream customer would be a Yorkshire-based manufacturer exporting local produce. As I’m a big foodie and beer fan, we’d love to get someone like Northern Monk Brewery on board.
What makes your business stand out from your competitors:
We put our customers first and we treat them fairly. We don’t hide anything. We are completely transparent about our prices and we charge everyone the same for the same transaction. Everyone can see our currency rates on our website at any time without having to register with us first or give us any contact information. We don’t sell – we inform and let people make up their own minds.
What are the main strength/s of your business:
We have fantastic customer service. Because our system is highly automated and most of our customers self-serve, we can dedicate our resources to helping with exceptions instead of using our staff for routine administrative functions. This means that customers with questions or anomalies get a personalised bespoke service from someone who understands their particular circumstances and has time for them.
What are the values that drive your business:
I run my business as I believe all business should be run; fairly, for the benefit of customers, to provide colleagues with interesting and meaningful work, and to provide an excellent service. Also, to try to make the world a little bit better. For that privilege, we’re allowed to make money.
What’s your favourite business book and why:
The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss. I only read it a couple of years ago, but I realised I was already operating most of his ideas. My original principle was to make Eris FX manageable from my allotment. The allotment is gone, but our operational practices of high automation, innovative technology and flexible remote access to deal with unpredictability have worked perfectly, particularly in the Covid crisis.
What is the most useful lesson you’ve learned through experience:
In the words of John Quincy Adams: Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish. Do the work. Believe in what you’re doing. Stick with it. Never give up. It might take years but if it’s worth doing it will happen in the end.
What is the main mistake to avoid in future:
Don’t rush. Everything takes longer than you think.
Which business success are you most proud of:
Being the only female CEO of an FCA-authorised payments firm in an absurdly male-dominated industry, and that firm being the only one in Yorkshire. Keeping the same team together for 12 years. Being invited to become an ambassador for the Transparency Task Force.
What are your future ambitions:
To transform the FX industry into a fair, transparent service for the competitive benefit of UK SME’s instead of a profiteering, money-grubbing exercise for the greedy global banks.
If you are a successful or interesting Yorkshire based business or organisation and you’d be willing to share your experiences by completing a case study then please contact us.
Have you any questions?
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