Broker-Dealers ETF Vulernable After Swiss Shake-Up

The Swiss National Bank’s sudden monetary policy shift left many foreign exchange brokers in a bind, weighing on broker-dealers-related exchange traded fund.

The iShares US Broker-Dealers ETF (NYSEArca: IAI), which tracks U.S. investment banks, discount brokerages and stock exchanges, fell 2.0% Friday and declined 6.9% over the past week. IAI is now testing its 200-day simple moving average.

The sudden surge in the Swiss franc currency wiped out many small-scale investors and brokerages that facilitate their bets, with retail broker Alpari UK filing for insolvency Friday and FXCM Inc (NYSE: FXCM) warning that it may be under-capitalized after clients lost $225 million, Reuters reports. [Swissie Surge Felt Across ETF Landscape]

The move “caused by the SNB’s unexpected policy reversal of capping the Swiss franc against the euro has resulted in exceptional volatility and extreme lack of liquidity,” Alpari said in a statement. “This has resulted in the majority of clients sustaining losses which exceeded their account equity. Where a client cannot cover this loss, it is passed on to us. This has forced Alpari (UK) Limited to confirm that it has entered into insolvency.”

FXCM plunged 88% in premarket trading after stating that its clients’ losses threatened the firm’s capital, reports Katrina Bishop for CNBC. FXCM makes up 2.1% of IAI.

After the tumult, investment bank Jefferies, a subsidiary of Leucadia National (NYSE: LUK), was reportedly in talks for a $300 million rescue of FXCM, reports Johanna Bennett for Barron’s. The PowerShares Global Listed Private Equity Portfolio (NYSEArca: PSP) includes a 3.3% tilt toward LUK.

Citigroup (NYSE: C) also reportedly lost $150 million on Forex trades Thursday due to the Swiss move.