From the CEO

By all accounts, 2020 was a tumultuous year, principally shaped by the outbreak of COVID-19

From the CEO

The pandemic destabilised economies and societies, with millions losing their lives and livelihoods. In the midst of the chaos, we bore witness to record-breaking volumes traded in our market, with the ALSI plummeting 9.7% on 12 March – its largest one-day drop since the Asian crisis in 1997. I’m proud that the JSE remained fully operational during this period and throughout the year to meet market needs.

We also saw discussions about ESG strategies taking centre stage as the pandemic magnified the shortcomings in our societies. Companies recognised the importance of integrating ESG strategies into their businesses in order to build a sustainable future. These are some of the highlights and learnings that we can take with us into 2021.

In August 2020, a new variant of COVID-19 was detected and thought to be the key driver of SA’s second wave of infections. However, I am optimistic that our distinctive resilience as South Africans will carry us through this second wave. We can take comfort that the government, health and science community continue to work towards successfully rolling out a vaccine and advance research efforts that will help aid the current situation.

The virus continues to ravage many communities around the world, disrupting economies and families, and leaving a staggering business impact in its wake, resulting in all-time highs in unemployment. To those who have lost their loved ones to the pandemic, I extend my heartfelt condolences and to those who are battling the disease, I wish you strength and a speedy recovery. The current conditions call for compassionate leadership, driven by the needs of the people to see our country through the storm and into a prosperous future. Implementation of government’s strategies and plans are crucial to the success of our economic recovery but most importantly, to make real change in our societies. With the COVID-19 vaccine being rolled out globally, it is crucial that the roll-out is implemented at scale and speed. In addition, structural reforms, auctioning of high-demand spectrum and infrastructure projects all remain important catalysts for growth.

I believe we can rebuild and grow our economy through collaboration between government, the business sector, labour unions and civil society as we continue to position our country as an investment destination of choice and gateway to the African continent. As a crucial pillar of our economy, the JSE will continue to position itself as a reliable conduit for investors and issuers looking to invest and raise capital in a regulated and transparent market. The JSE will continue to be a pioneering, technologically advanced multi-asset African stock exchange that offers world-class products and services to investors. The business remains focused on pursuing innovative approaches in our diversification strategy as we look at new ways that we can provide our clients and the market with technology of the future and assist companies, both small and large, to raise capital.

This year, our focus will be on growing the acquisitions recently made to enhance investor experience and diversify our service offering. Innovation is at the heart of our DNA and the investments in UK fintech company Globacap Technology and Link Market Services South Africa (now JSE Investor Services) have truly positioned the JSE as a future-fit, tech-focused and client-centric exchange. These acquisitions enable us to further meet the evolving needs of the market while ensuring the sustainability of our business.

Our commercial agreement with Globacap, a leading regulated private-placements and capital-management platform, will assist us as we begin work on a private-placements platform, which will provide access to capital for SMEs and infrastructure companies across the African continent. On the other hand, JSE Investor Services, a leading share-registry business, provides the JSE with an opportunity to introduce new products and services to corporate entities in SA with a focus on shareholder communication and engagement.

I hope that 2021 becomes the year in which we turn the corner in the fight against COVID-19. Looking forward, we must focus on the job ahead of each of us so that we can enter a prosperous future in our country, defined by economic growth, healthy foreign direct and domestic investment and reduced inequality. Now is the time for collaboration and focus. Let’s all get behind the effort to save lives and livelihoods.

Leila Fourie
JSE Group Chief Executive Officer
January 2021