Charting The Future: Hisham Mansour, Co-Founder And Managing Director, CFI Artificial intelligence is the way forward, according to the entrepreneur behind the MENA's leading broker

By Devina Divecha

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CFI
Hisham Mansour, Co-Founder And Managing Director, CFI

Offering significant advancements in efficiency, accuracy, and decision-making capabilities, artificial intelligence (AI) has become a pivotal component in the field of online trading. One such company aiming to fully utilize the benefits of this technology is CFI Financial Group, a global financial markets provider with regulated entities in several jurisdictions. And at the helm of this enterprise is co-founder and Managing Director, Hisham Mansour, who has helped the company grow over two decades, and also expertly navigated the storm that was the COVID-19 crisis, emerging triumphant on the other side.

The milestones the company achieved in 2023 are thus a testament to the efforts of Mansour and his team. "It truly was a remarkable year, even by our high standards," Mansour says. "In 2023, we opened five new entities in the MENA, allowing us to continue building our regional footprint, and setting our position as the MENA's leading broker, being the broker with the most regulated entities in the region. Our new branches in Egypt, Kuwait, Palestine, and Oman -which add to our existing regulated entities in countries like England, Cyprus, UAE, Jordan, Lebanon and Mauritius- bring CFI's award-winning trading services to these local regions, and allow clients to see our offices, experience personalized services, talk to the CFI team, shake hands with them, and establish a real human connection… Expanding into new markets is a natural progression that complements our technological advancements, allowing us to tap into diverse trading ecosystems, address a broader audience, and meet the increasing demand for sophisticated yet user-friendly online trading solutions. Together, these initiatives are the core of our mission of democratizing trading, and ensuring that CFI remains at the forefront of the digital finance revolution."

CFI's expansion went beyond just physical locations in the last year- it also made substantial strides in technology. "We worked relentlessly on introducing cutting-edge AI tools for traders, partnering with Capitalise.ai, and launching the beta of our own AI trading assistant," Mansour notes. "We are committed to adopting AI technology in every way that will serve our traders best, while staying close to clients to provide them with exceptional, personalized support." According to Mansour, AI's impact can be likened to that the internet had not too long ago. "At CFI, we think of AI today as people thought of the internet 30 years ago," he says. "Whether you liked or disliked it back then, the internet made things easier and became an integral part of our everyday lives. It revolutionized everything, including trading. Now, we see AI as the next trading revolution, which is why we have chosen to focus and lead specifically in this area."

Hisham Mansour, Co-Founder And Managing Director, CFI. Source: CFI

On the CFI platform, AI tools like Capitalise.ai's code-free trading automation streamline market analysis, backtesting, and trade execution, thereby eliminating human emotions from trading, and enhancing market efficiency. "By leveraging the capabilities of AI, we can enhance our platform's decision-making processes, and ensure a competitive edge in predictive analytics and risk management," Mansour adds.

This commitment to the balance of trading excellence and technological innovation has led to the company's success, affirms Mansour, as he outlines how the last 12 months have been greatly positive for CFI. "Over the past fiscal year, we witnessed substantial growth across key metrics, including a notable surge in trading volume, robust revenue figures, and an expanding user base," Mansour reveals. "Our most recent statistics point toward a 73% increase in active clients compared to last year, as well as a 94% rise in daily transactions. These positive trends underscore the strength and vitality of CFI, and show the fruits of our incredible collective team effort."

Introducing cutting-edge tools that prominently feature advanced AI capabilities also helped position the company as a powerhouse in the financial industry. "We don't follow at CFI; we lead," Mansour declares. "We have positioned CFI as the vanguard of online trading by consistently introducing industry-leading tools and staying ahead of emerging trends, ensuring that our clients benefit from the latest advancements, solidifying CFI's standing as a powerhouse in the financial industry."

Complementing technology, people also play a huge role. Mansor states, "At CFI, fostering a positive workplace and cultivating a strong company culture is paramount, laying the foundation for our long-term success." He proudly mentions the accomplishments of achieving seven Great Place to Work certifications across the company's global offices, and almost doubling the team in the past year.

But while all these factors come into play, it would be fair to say that behind the scenes of all this success is Mansour's entrepreneurial drive, which has been rooted in a passion for innovation and commitment to excellence. "Entrepreneurship is a mindset more than anything," Mansour says. "It comes with risk, ambition, dedication, and the drive to succeed." Mansour reveals here that he had a rather early start in the world of business. "I have always been entrepreneurial from a young age," he shares. "My father certainly played a role as well. He was a trader in the financial markets with a company based in London, and he wanted to teach me about entrepreneurship and business. So, he opened an account for me to manage when I was 16. We didn't have the internet then, so I used my phone to trade, and a pager to follow up on the markets, when I was away from television or the Reuters screen."

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When discussing individuals who played an important role in his entrepreneurial success, Mansour also highlights how his partnership with Eduardo Fakhoury -a customer at Mansour's previous startup, MIG Bank, and now a valued friend and business partner- led to the inception of CFI Financial Group in 2015, which until then, had been an expansionary project to Beirut-based Credit Financier Invest SAL that launched in 1998. "Today, our results speak for themselves," Mansour says. "The CFI Group comprises 12+ global entities, 350+ employees, and a client base spread over 100 countries. There are many reasons for our success. However, at the base of it is the partnership and business relationship Eduardo and I first built together. The moral is that choosing who you enter business with is one of the most important decisions you can make as an entrepreneur. Selecting the right partnership extends beyond mere business acumen; it necessitates trust, shared passion, and a unified vision. And with the right people by your side, there is no limit to what you can accomplish."

Hisham Mansour, Co-Founder And Managing Director, CFI. Source: CFI

However, Mansour adds here that facing challenges is inevitable for any entrepreneur. But he says it's essential to view them as opportunities for growth and learning, rather than setbacks. "The same applies even with failure," he adds. "Consider how many famous entrepreneurs failed before finding the idea that took off. Before, I talked about my first entrepreneurial venture, managing my first professional trading account. It was something I took seriously. I would follow the financial news on CNBC, and constantly check prices from the pager. But, ultimately, I didn't make any money from this, and I actually lost some. However, it gave me experience from which I benefited. This is a philosophy I carry with me until today at CFI."

Such lessons have thus paved the way for the fruitful journey Mansour has had with CFI. "Witnessing the growth and success of the company, reaching our 25th anniversary, expanding into new markets, and stamping our name as the MENA's leading broker have all been immensely gratifying," he says. "However, the true success lies in making our clients happy, and empowering them to navigate the financial markets with confidence and trust."

But while all of his accomplishments have been exemplary, Mansour is not resting on his laurels. Looking ahead to 2024 and beyond, the entrepreneur anticipates that the industry at large will shift towards an increased reliance on AI-driven solutions. "But even as more firms adopt AI as their technology develops, CFI is strategically positioned to lead this charge," he adds. "By staying ahead of the curve, investing in research and development, and continuously enhancing our AI tools early on, we aim to set new standards and redefine the possibilities within the online trading landscape. CFI's vision involves leveraging AI's power to revolutionize our clients' trading experience. The cornerstone of this vision is our AI Trading Assistant, a groundbreaking tool designed to empower traders by integrating this technology into their decision-making processes. As we move forward, we are committed to refining and expanding the capabilities of this AI assistant, ensuring that it becomes an indispensable asset for traders seeking efficiency, precision, and a competitive edge."

All of this highlights CFI's commitment to technological innovation, strategic expansion, and client empowerment. "As an entrepreneur, my ultimate goal revolves around our vision of empowering serious trading," Mansour concludes. "I want to see CFI become the leading broker worldwide, not only in the MENA. I believe that everyone should have access to cutting-edge tools, superior conditions, robust platforms, comprehensive resources, and a trusted partner that empowers them to confidently navigate the financial markets. For CFI, the ideal long-term outcome aligns with our mission to be at the forefront of the financial industry, setting new standards for excellence and innovation. I envision CFI as a global leader in the online trading industry, and a trusted partner for traders and investors worldwide, offering unparalleled services, and fostering a community of empowered individuals achieving their financial goals."

'Trep Talk: Hisham Mansour's advice for entrepreneurs in 2024

Embrace innovation and technology "In the rapidly evolving business landscape, embracing innovation and leveraging technology, especially AI, can provide a competitive edge."

Understand the local dynamics "Entrepreneurs should have a deep understanding of the local market dynamics, cultural nuances, and regulatory environment to tailor their strategies effectively."

Build strong networks "Establishing strong connections within the business community can open doors to opportunities, partnerships, and valuable insights."

Adaptability is key "Given the dynamic nature of markets, the ability to adapt to changes swiftly is crucial. Stay agile and responsive to evolving trends."

Invest in continuous learning "Entrepreneurs should prioritize continuous learning to stay ahead of industry developments, new technologies, and emerging market trends."

Prioritize customer experience "Focus on providing exceptional customer experiences. Satisfied customers become advocates and contribute to sustainable business growth."

Related: The Futurist: H.E. Ohood Al Roumi, UAE Minister Of State For Government Development And The Future

Devina Divecha

Writer, editor, emcee, and media consultant

Devina Divecha is an independent writer, editor, emcee and media consultant, specialising in the hospitality and F&B industry. With more than 10 years of experience under her belt, her work has appeared in a number of publications including Skift, SUPPER, HOTELSmag, Destinations of the World News, Spinneys Magazine, Entrepreneur Middle East, and more. She holds a BSc in Business from the London School of Economics and an MA in Magazine Journalism from the University of Sheffield.

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