Dear Business Editor
Three months ago, I suggested that the Bahamas International Securities Exchange (BISX) remove the pricing restrictions that reduce trading in our local market. Those restrictions remain in place, but BISX did accede to investor requests to widen the trading band for Arawak Port Development Company, the Bahamas Property Fund and Benchmark Bahamas. This caused a resumption of trading and significant price changes in all three stocks. In view of BISX’s welcomed flexibility and responsiveness, I would like to suggest two more changes they can implement today that would increase trading.
First, BISX can update the day’s trading results throughout the day on its website, perhaps at 15-minute intervals, rather than only once per day after the market has closed. Knowing which stocks have already traded gives an investor an idea of what is available to buy and sell “in the moment”. The more information an investor has, the more likely he or she is to trade.
Second, BISX can update their open order books every morning when the market opens, so that all investors have access to this crucial information at the same time. The open order books list all the unfilled buy and sell orders for a security, and it is the most direct way for investors to know what the market is for any particular stock. BISX should also show the full list of buy and sell orders, not just those priced within ten percent of the last closing price. By only showing orders within this band, as it currently does, BISX gives investors the false impression that there is no demand to buy or sell a stock outside of the band.
Along with these two changes, BISX should improve their website design. Instead of having to click through 20 stock pages to find each order book, a simpler solution would be to have all 20 order books displayed on a single page.
It is true that the various broker/dealers also have access to this information and can update their clients themselves. But there is wide variance in how well the broker/dealers inform their clients. The largest broker sends a daily morning email with the entire order books. The second largest broker only sends the order books once a week. The smaller broker/dealers, to my knowledge, do not send this information at all. Perhaps, in a perfect world, the broker/dealers would better take on this responsibility. But, after 18 years of low trading, BISX should move on from the strategy of hoping the brokers stimulate the market by themselves. BISX alone can provide the market with fast and equal access to information, increasing transparency and stimulating trading. They should not wait for anyone else to do it for them.
BISX regulators at times seem like anxious parents watching their child take the car keys for the first time. They say the right things, but they do not really want to let that car out of their sight. Well, the market is now 18 years-old. Many of its investors are experienced, both locally and internationally. It is time to remove the restrictions and increase transparency. BISX, let the market show you what this car can do.
December 6 2018