by Patricia Lang-Schönberger, RBI |

Founded in 1771, Wiener Börse AG, the company that operates the Vienna Stock Exchange, is one of the oldest stock exchanges in the world. Today, it is a modern, customer and market-oriented company that plays a key role in the Austrian capital market. It is the driving force that contributes substantially to the further development of the local market. We talked to Christoph Boschan, CEO of Wiener Börse, about Austria, CEE and what is essential to be successful in the financial sector.

What are your goals/initiatives for the Vienna Stock Exchange?
We are in the position to further develop all our existing business areas in the coming years. The strong foundation of the Vienna Stock Exchange lies in share trading, which is also the main business area and accounts for around half of our earnings. Other important business pillars are the central market data feed for CEE and the calculation of more than 130 indices, including many major national indices. As a technical service provider, we supply the trading system for five stock markets and IT services for numerous financial institutions in the CEE region. The outstanding trading quality for Austrian shares remains a very important issue. They cannot be traded more efficiently on any other stock exchange than on the Vienna Stock Exchange. To ensure that this remains the case, we will press ahead with measures to strengthen liquidity. We want to increase our international visibility as a stock exchange and strengthen our position in the heart of Europe.

What role does CEE play in these plans?
The Eastern European business was and is a fundamental pillar of the Vienna Stock Exchange. As the CEESEG holding company, the Vienna Stock Exchange is affiliated under company law with the Prague Stock Exchange. With our decades of experience with state-of-the-art trading systems and strict regulation, we also bring technical know-how to the region. The Vienna Stock Exchange makes the trading system available to the stock exchanges in Prague, Budapest, Ljubljana and Zagreb. We calculate the most important Eastern European indices on which the majority of all structured products related to CEE and CIS are based worldwide. In addition, the Vienna Stock Exchange is the central data hub in the region, i.e. the Vienna Stock Exchange bundles the market data of ten stock exchanges and makes it available in a uniform format. A total of 80 trading participants and around 250 data customers across Europe rely on the services of the Vienna Stock Exchange.

In an interview with the German newspaper Handelsblatt in June 2017, you described the Vienna Stock Exchange as a bridge to Eastern Europe. How is that true today?
On the one hand, when international capital is looking for investments in the East, it often goes into a secure, highly regulated market like Vienna. Austrian listed companies operate very extensively in the CEE region. They are therefore often regarded as proxy investors. Thanks to the highest trading quality the Vienna Stock Exchange is the number 1 trading platform for shares of domestic companies. Most of our customers come from Great Britain and the USA. For this reason, we intensively market our services such as the extensive index range and price data on ten markets in the CEE region in Western Europe.

You have been CEO of the Vienna Stock Exchange for around one and a half years, since September 2016. In your experience, what is essential to be successful in the financial sector?
Visibility is very important. For this reason, we are actively working to increase the visibility of the Vienna Stock Exchange as an important hub in the European stock exchange landscape. We market Austrian shares and services internationally and have significantly strengthened our digital presence. At the same time, we increased our offer for domestic investors. With a great stock exchange team and a joint in-house strategy, we have already achieved a lot in the past 1.5 years.

What do you particularly like about Vienna?
I particularly appreciate the good characteristics of Vienna as a location. This naturally includes the central location for Southern and Eastern Europe, the high quality of life, and the fact that Vienna is one of the fastest growing cities in Europe. Austria is also known for high productivity, very well-trained employees, a comparatively low unemployment rate and an excellent infrastructure. All of this was taken into account when accepting the position of CEO of the Vienna Stock Exchange and to relocate the centre of my entire family life to Vienna.