From the CEO

From the CEO

The year 2013 closed on a bitter-sweet note, marked as it was by the December passing of former President Nelson Mandela.

My own response was mixed – mourning the person who was so critical to our country’s peaceful journey to democracy and yet strengthened by global recognition of Madiba. This was demonstrated by all the world leaders who travelled to SA to honour him. I feel strongly that the responsibility for us to live to the standards that he showed us is possible.

Moments during the week of his passing that stand out for me include: the JSE team gathering at the front of the building as we paused the markets for five minutes and observed a moment’s silence; the soaring words spoken at the FNB Stadium capturing what Madiba meant to many of us; letters received from each board member of the World Federation of Exchanges recognising Madiba’s global contribution, which we sent to the Mandela family; and the New York Stock Exchange observing a minute’s silence with both the US and SA flag flying at half mast the day after Madiba died. A tremendous sign of respect.

The JSE’s year ahead includes progressing some major projects that will enhance what we deliver to our clients and investors and, we trust, bring plenty to celebrate. Projects include launching co-location (which enables even faster transaction speeds), launching new products, working on a new derivatives trade engine, expanding our post-trade service offering (to improve risk management abilities) among others. These will be critical to the exchange’s success as well as for our reputation in world markets.

Though the efforts of SA’s financial ecosystem (including the JSE) to align with global regulatory changes have been well received so far, these regulatory moves continue unabated. It will require deft focus in 2014 for our financial sector to remain a centre of excellence. It is important for leaders in the financial arena to recognise that we will be judged by what we say as well as what we do, and that both continue to shift sentiment about this market.

The year also brings a major change to the JSE with the retirement of JSE Chairman Humphrey Borkum in March this year. The JSE board and I will miss the quiet wisdom and quick wit of a man who has been in the markets for many decades and whose involvement in the investing world certainly won’t end with this retirement. He hands over to Nonkululeko Nyembezi-Heita, who joined the JSE’s board in June 2009 as a non-executive director following our acquisition of the Bond Exchange of South Africa. We are lucky to have her.

Much lies ahead for the country too this year including the upcoming national elections which, by the nature of elections, bring with them heightened social and political tensions. As a nation we have come to see rigorous discussion about our different views as a healthy part of democratic life. However much soul searching is needed about the impact of our actions and the future direction of this country, it is important that we realise how these conversations impact investor sentiment.

On a policy level, we support moves by government to create a more business-friendly climate in SA. In the long term if we are to succeed as a country, SA needs policy certainty and a regulatory policy environment that is conducive to sound business decision making.

It is with this focus that we tackle the year ahead. I look forward to the achievements and challenges it brings. Here’s wishing all in the markets a happy and successful 2014.

Nicky Newton-King
Chief Executive Officer, JSE

January 2014
Image: Hanlie Huisamen