Stellenbosch University
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First female CEO of the JSE speaks at alumni event
Author: Daniel Bugan
Published: 11/12/2019

​Nicky Newton-King, the first woman CEO in the 132-year history of the Johannesburg Stock exchange (JSE), was the special guest at the annual event for alumni and graduates of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences on Monday, 9 December 2019.

Newton-King, an alumnus of Stellenbosch University, is a corporate finance and securities regulation lawyer who joined the JSE in 1996 and succeeded Russell Loubser as CEO in January 2012. She stepped down as CEO on 1 October this year.

In her welcome address, Faculty Dean Prof Ingrid Woolard announced that 1 676 students are graduating this year – a new record for the faculty.

“We are incredibly student-focused and proud of the good results of students in this faculty. We recorded an 85% pass rate in all of our modules, which can be put down to the commitment of our staff and a culture of wanting to learn and to participate among our students," she said.

Woolard thanked the alumni for being good ambassadors for the faculty. 

“We are happy that you continue to identify strongly with the university and with the faculty. It means a lot to us that you go out there to tell people of this extraordinary place for young people to study. We want that message to go out to all communities."

Newton-King then sat down for a question and answer session with Dr Mike Lamont of the Department of Business Management. Below are some of the questions and answers:

Q: If you think of the business of the JSE and other exchanges, it covers many aspects – primary and secondary markets, regulation, data sales, liaison with other stock exchanges such as the London Stock Exchange and, in terms of education, the investment in upskilling of private individuals. Since its listing, how did the business of the JSE actually change?

A: When we listed, it was the best possible thing we could do because what it does for management is that it keeps your feet in the fire. So when other stock exchanges got licensed it wasn't such a big thing for us because we realised that our feet had been in the fire from running a commercial business. The sort of entitlement for business to come to you does not exist in the JSE ether at all. It is all about you competing for business. And who wins when you run a proper business? The clients win. So I am a firm believer in exchanges and the disciplines of listing, because I think that transparency is something that enhances management's accountability.

Q: How does the JSE separate its roles as a for-profit entity and a regulator?

A: I am a firm believer that an exchange should be a regulator. As a regulator, you try to set standards that are objectively verifiable and provide investors with enough information to make investment decisions. As a self-regulatory entity, we regulate trading, listings, and general compliance of participants that fall under our purview.  It is important for regulators to say you no longer meet the standards, but I think there is a space for us to facilitate the financing of entrepreneurs in order to get the economy growing. We are not going to be investing in big companies only, we need to be investing in the smaller companies and there is more risk there.

Q: How do you make AltX (small-sized company board on the JSE) boards work?

A: The issue for the small-cap boards is that, on the one hand, the entrepreneurs do not want to give up control which you need to do when you come to a public market. The second point is that it is expensive to be listed, not necessarily the fee required from the JSE, but the fee from the advisors. In my view, small entrepreneurs need to wise up and consider a technique called a direct listing – often companies can glide onto a stock exchange as smoothly as an expensive fleet of underwriters.

  • ​​Photo by Henk Oets: F.l.t.r. are Prof Ingrid Woolard, Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, Ms Nicky Newton-King and Dr Mike Lamont of the Department of Business Management.