This has been a tremendous year for the JSE. In August, we announced our financial results for the interim period ending June, which noted significant use of our markets and services in most areas of the business and solid operating revenue growth of 16% to R1 billion. We also made progress on delivering the strategic projects that will strengthen the business and serve as the key underpin of the growth of the derivatives, market data and post-trade services businesses.

Throughout the year we have worked hard to make the JSE the destination of choice for raising capital by local, international and companies from the rest of the continent. Our African growth strategy has showed positive momentum: in May we welcomed Choppies, a retailer with a primary listing in Botswana, to the JSE where it now has a secondary listing.

In addition, we announced a consultative process between the JSE and stock exchanges of Nigeria and Kenya, to cross-list ETFs, and in September signed an MOU with the Stock Exchange of Mauritius, specifically focused on working with them to develop a derivatives market.

We continue to work tirelessly to retain our standing in the investment community. For five consecutive years, SA has been recognised by the WEF’s Global Competitiveness survey as the world’s best regulated securities market. Furthermore, we have been rated highly for the ability to facilitate the raising of capital on the equity market, and the protection of minority shareholders.

Even so, we must take stock and learn from our experiences. Constant reflection enables us to not only build on our reputation as a reputable and experienced stock exchange but to also remain relevant to our clients. On an ongoing basis we actively engage with our clients to gain insights into their concerns. Our challenge now is to continue to trend our prices to clients down, while also investing in making our business even better than it is today.

So what can be learnt from 2015? For one, we cannot afford to rest on our laurels. As the JSE is a technology-intensive business, we need to connect buyers and sellers across various markets, quickly and efficiently. Our investment in colocation, which provides low-latency connectivity for trading, has proven to be successful in enabling our clients to do what they want with us, faster. Similarly, our focus on the integration of our trading and settlement technology will not only ensure that we are able to cater to the needs of our clients but also align us with international best practice. While this may be a long process, we are up for the challenge and must ensure that we do it in a considered way to mitigate risks for our members and clients.

Continuous innovation is not a magic bullet for success. Often it is easy to focus on the main generators of revenue and overlook internal stakeholders. An important lesson this year was how crucial it is to invest in our employees. In March, we gave all our employees 52 JSE shares as part of their bonuses – something that was not only very well received by staff but that is also helping us build a deeper ownership culture among our entire team.

This year further reinforced the importance of collaboration with all our stakeholders. We do not operate in a vacuum but are influenced by the environment in which we operate, as well as a range of stakeholders that help us to deliver on our strategic priorities. We have made a considered effort to be involved in the Gauteng City-Region initiative in a bid to bring the National Infrastructure Plan to life. We have worked with Treasury and the Reserve Bank to position SA Inc, and we have tried to create opportunities for our listed companies to engage with various levels of the public sector to see how we can collaborate to create a more robust economy.

The realms of the public and private sectors are not mutually exclusive. The time for the two sectors to operate independently of each other has passed. For sustainable and inclusive growth to happen, we must work together.

I have no doubt that we are set for a challenging 2016. GDP growth rates have decelerated, China’s slowdown is a concern for exporters and our equity market, Brazil’s downgrade is likely to put pressure on other emerging market ratings and the US Federal Reserve may yet increase interest rates. I am confident that at the JSE we have a solid foundation in place to help us navigate a tougher operating environment and absorb the shocks currently affecting the global economy. We intend to remain a key feature of the domestic economy and continue serving as a gateway to the African continent.

Nicky Newton-King
Chief Executive Officer, JSE

October 2015
Image: Cindy Fourie