Apr-2016 Briefing: Nicky Newton-King, JSE

Event date: 13 April 2016

Chamber Members were thoroughly impressed by Nicky Newton-King in conversation with David Dawson at the Inanda Club last night which was sponsored by BT. Nicky’s candour about her background, her position at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, what drives her and what keeps her up at night fascinated a packed audience. She began by filling us in on her jump from a prestigious law career to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Then followed a hugely successful 20 years at the JSE, culminating in her current position as Chief Executive Officer.

Nicky outlined the core business of the JSE with a memorable supermarket analogy of small trolleys and bulk wholesale buys. She outlined that the JSE is an intermediary in the economy – entrepreneurs need capital to grow and the JSE is the place to help fund growth and fund people’s aspirations. The JSE is ten times the size of the Nigerian exchange but ten times smaller than London, so it’s all relative. There are 25 exchanges on the African continent with the JSE handling 300,000 trades per day and Rwanda handling 10 trades per month, so a very diverse range. The conversation veered to the new stock exchange licenses potentially being issued and Nicky underlined the importance of competition and how it makes everyone work better. She also spoke of the importance of partnerships, with one of the oldest being the LSE. The JSE also has a long relationship with FTSE, a deal for partnership finalised over VC from Sandton! Nicky highlighted how critical these partnerships are to ensure that you are always learning best practice from the industry.

Under Nicky’s command, the 500 staff at the JSE comprise of 60% black and 52% female employees, with 70% of the executive being female. Rather than gender, Nicky spoke of diversity being the key to ensure companies are equipped to compete. Through their position, the JSE has a unique voice in society and they try to be a visible example of the transformation in society. Companies need to comply with stringent listing requirements including their company strategy and how they are acting on it.

Questions were asked about the current issues faced by JSE and they are similar to those in other industries so regulations, technology and political/socio-economic factors are the big drivers. For the JSE, change is the only constant! In a final note, Nicky spoke of the rolling mass action in society with people feeling economically marginalised and not heard. The importance of being an enlightened business, engaged with what is going on in society was underlined.

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