Christian Reuss, SIX Swiss Exchange has successfully defended its title as ‘Exchange of the Year’ at the FN Trading & Tech awards. What do you think made the difference again?

First of all, I’d like to express my gratitude to everybody who has contributed to this achievement of winning another ‘Exchange of the Year’ award. It is a true team effort which not only includes everybody at the Swiss stock exchange and at SIX, but just as much our clients and stakeholders with whom we foster a very close dialogue, to ensure that all our services and improvements – both incremental and innovative – are geared towards market needs. As for the reasons why we could convince the jurors again, we can only assume that they shared the above claim.

Winning the ‘Exchange of the Year’ award is a true team effort.

What specific examples do you have of such services and innovations?

In the listing space, the biggest milestone was certainly the introduction of Sparks, a new equity segment for SMEs which are the backbone of many economies – also in Switzerland. This dedicated market support their growth and visibility; however, it is not just attractive for companies, but also for investors looking for new opportunities. Contrary to other growth markets in other jurisdictions in Europe, Sparks is a fully-regulated exchange segment – so transparency and investor protection are ensured.

Meanwhile, in the trading space we launched services that offer unique benefits to our members such as Swiss EBBO and SwissAtMid Block orders. With Swiss EBBO investors can access three orderbooks instantaneously to improve their execution outcome, and with the conditional Block orders additional liquidity can be found. This is a truly unique offering in Europe.

We’ve just passed the mid-year mark – how was the first half of 2022?

The past six months were dominated by geopolitical uncertainty, inflation putting pressure on interest rates, and the disruption of global supply chains. Hence, markets have dropped significantly. Trading volumes, at least in Q122 increased as a result, since Exchanges allow investors to react to volatile and uncertain markets especially when times are critical. This was also reflected in a strong market share in Swiss equities. In other words, competition between primary Exchanges and alternative trading venues always seems to be strongest when markets are calm. Particularly in times of crisis, reference markets show their importance with regard to price formation.

Given the volatile environment, it’s almost surprising how many listing activities we have seen: Four new company listings, five new product issuers joined, and our standing investment product portfolio reached new milestones: over 1,600 ETFs, over 600 Sponsored Funds and over 50,000 Structured Products.  

In the trading space, three new participants joined our Exchange and we expanded Europe’s largest Microwave Network by adding routes to Bergamo, Euronext’s new data center location. To round things off, our industry-wide recognized trading analytics publications, the by-now famous “InfoSnacks” received excellent market traction and we also contributed to various whitepapers e.g. on Voluntary Carbon Markets or the Future of SME Financing.

And what do you expect for the second half of 2022?

While we have seen increased market activity in Q1, I expect that the broader implications of the above mentioned changes and challenges will call their toll. Valuations came down, volatility increased – both are factors that put especially Primary Markets, or Listing activity under continued pressure. In addition, the difficult market environment led to lower trading volumes as we head into the Holiday season. It is difficult to foresee where it will come out after the Summer. So we expect a rather difficult market environment.

A reliably functioning stock exchange is crucial for the financial markets, the economy, and even for society as a whole.

But especially in such times, a reliably functioning stock exchange is crucial for the financial markets, the economy, and even for society as a whole, by enabling capital raising in the primary market and price discovery in the secondary market. We can’t make the uncertainty disappear, but by enabling orderly price formation we enable market participants and investors to react to price movements and better manage market developments.

Christian Reuss, thank you for this interview.