Chain reaction

The SA Trade Connect conference will provide valuable insights into the equity market

Chain reaction

The COVID-19 lockdown proved – through its limitations – the value of face-to-face networking and the in-person sharing of ideas and insights. As good (and plentiful) as they were, online and onscreen webinars simply couldn’t replicate events such the JSE’s annual SA Trade Connect conference.

Established in 2019, and then put on ice until this year, SA Trade Connect is SA’s premier equity market structure conference, offering participants a rare opportunity to network with local and international C-suite executives from the buy-side, sell-side, connectivity providers, software vendors, electronic liquidity providers and other participants in the equity market ecosystem. The 2023 event will take place on Thursday 16 February at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

‘We’re looking at all critical aspects that are impacted by competition and fragmentation of the equity market in South Africa,’ according to Valdene Reddy, Director of Capital Markets at the JSE. ‘The speakers and panel discussions will share the latest insights from the current state and future direction of regulation and whether South Africa is keeping up with international market structure developments.

‘We’ll explore the changing nature of liquidity in the market, the increasing concentration of volumes in closing auctions to the rise of block trading and the diversification of the client base – which is especially interesting now, with the emergence of platform-based, retail-facing, low-cost investment platforms. There’s a need for all market participants to stay abreast of these developments, and SA Trade Connect is the perfect space to do just that.’

The list of speakers includes top economists, analysts and market insiders, including JSE Group CEO Dr Leila Fourie; Astrid Ludin, deputy commissioner at the Financial Sector Conduct Authority; and Erica Bruce, CEO of the South African Institute of Stockbrokers.

‘We’ve invited a wide range of local and international speakers to join us,’ says Reddy. ‘From an industry perspective we have representatives from companies and firms like Citi, Investec, Ninety One, Standard Bank, Cowen, Virtu, Absa, IPC and more.

‘It is a unique opportunity to network and share ideas with senior players in the trading and investment firms’ ecosystem.’

The theme for this year’s SA Trade Connect conference is based on ‘the future of South Africa’s equity market in the face of competition and fragmentation’. Reddy expects robust and engaging discussions, led by industry peers and subject matter experts.

Recent developments in retail investment – particularly around innovative solutions such as the JSE’s actively managed certificates – make this an especially interesting space to watch. ‘With regard to the retail market in particular, we’ll be looking at two things at the conference – ease of access, and cost efficiencies,’ says Reddy.

‘It’s important that retail investors are able to access a diversity of affordable products. We have panellists who will be speaking on this topic – Satrix CEO Fikile Mbhokota, who will be talking from a passive funds point of view; Flynn Robson, head of portfolio management and stockbroking at Sasfin Wealth; and Priniel Gungudoo, head of trading at FNB Stockbroking.’ She says that particular panel will be moderated by financial commentator Simon Brown, who hosts many of the JSE Power Hours, and who also runs Just One Lap.

Other topics to be covered at the conference include bringing the buy-side closer to execution to improve alpha; retail flow dynamics in SA; and trends and strategies for trading the closing auction, to mention just a few.

‘If there’s one message to potential delegates, it’s that you need to secure your place as soon as possible,’ according to Reddy. ‘SA Trade Connect is, by design, an exclusive event, so we have very limited open tickets for the sessions.’

By Mark van Dijk
Image: Gallo/Getty Images