Cooperation to Power New Canadian Trading System

Cooperation to power new Canadian trading system
by Marc Foreman

When I was getting my first glimpse of the world of public market trading in the 1950s, the Vancouver Stock Exchange was much like its counterparts in Alberta, Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal. It was a regional marketplace where men like my dad, a trader, literally sat on his firm's "seat" on the exchange floor, buying and selling BC mining stocks with the air of a gentleman at his private club. A market innovation in his day was the move from chalk to black felt marker pens for writing up trades.

The story of how the VSE and the rest of the industrialized world moved from felt markers and provincial concerns to a global community bound together by an electronic highway would be hackneyed today if so many organizations weren't right now in the grip of climactic change. The climax for Canada's capital markets came on March 15,1999, when the country's four major stock exchanges announced their agreement to restructure along the lines of market specialization, with Toronto taking all senior equities, Montreal all derivatives and a merged Vancouver/Alberta exchange forming the basis for a new exchange for junior equities.

Until March 15, Canada's capital markets advanced pretty much by individual effort so that today we have three viable trading systems. The VSE's Vancouver Computerized Trading (VCT) is to be the interim trading system of the junior exchange. This was a tactical choice that keeps open the long-term strategic choice between a refreshed VCT, Alberta's newly-developed Horizon and Toronto's new TOREX. This positions us to create a single trading system powerful and reliable enough to assure our place among international financial markets.

In the electronically integrated market we are entering, it won't matter to emerging companies where capital is located. With an efficient market, supported by effective regulation and reliable technology, they'll tap the growth capital they need wherever it resides.

The coming months will find the Canadian exchanges cutting and sizing the cooperative mantle we'll wear in the 21st century to support the coming explosion of Canadian participation in international markets.

Marc Foreman is vice-president, trading and market information services, at the Vancouver Stock Exchange.
Transcontinental Media G.P.