Covid boost for spread-betting firm run by ex-Tory party treasurer

CMC Markets, the financial spread-betting firm run by city tycoon Peter Cruddas, said business has boomed in the first quarter this year as the coronavirus wrought havoc on global financial markets.

The company said net trading revenue from its core contract for difference (CFD) business, a form of derivative trading, almost doubled year-on-year to £214m in the 12 months to the end of March.

“As announced in a series of upgrades throughout the financial year, net trading revenue across the group has been strong [throughout the 2020 financial year] and in particular during the final quarter of the year,” the company said.

CMC’s coronavirus–fuelled bumper year comes as more than 20 MPs have called for strict curbs on gambling during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Last week, the Betting & Gaming Council issued a 10-point pledge, promising extra steps to ensure that firms do not exploit vulnerable people and addicts who may be at increased risk due to the inertia inherent in staying at home for long periods. However, in a letter to the government the MPs say the industry’s measures are “very weak”.

CMC chief executive Cruddas, a former Conservative party treasurer who founded the business in 1989, said his betting operation was not dependent on the market turmoil created by the coronavirus.

“We’re not reliant on a sustained period of high volatility in markets,” he said. “Our well invested platform, technical expertise and diversified offering supports us delivering sustainable results not just now but also in years to come.”

Last month, CMC said client trading activity more than doubled in the first 13 trading days in March, as the impact of the virus became a global phenomenon, leading the company to issue a profit upgrade.

At the time Cruddas said the digital nature of CMC’s business meant that since the spread of the virus it has been “effectively able to run it from home and our disaster recovery sites in Hertfordshire and Sydney”.

He added that 99% of London staff are either working from home, or at its UK disaster recovery site, and there is “effectively no limit to the amount of time we can operate this way”.

“During these times of global uncertainty, of course our first priority is to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of our employees and to support our clients,” said Cruddas, a major financial backer of the Brexit campaign, on Friday. “I am impressed by the dedication our teams have shown in preventing disruption while working in unprecedented circumstances.”

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