“Focus”, the first 200 issues
This month, WFE celebrates the 200th issue of its monthly newsletter “Focus”. This article retraces the birth of “Focus”, and summarizes the Federation’s experiences in its attempts to disseminate member exchanges’ news through periodical publications.
“Focus” was not the first newsletter launched by the Federation. In the middle of the 1980s until the end of 1991, the Federation used to disseminate information from its exchange members through a quarterly bulletin, called “FIBV newsletter”. This quarterly newsletter was edited by an external consultant in English, and translated into French as it used to be for all the other Federation’s documents. (The translation into French stopped at the end of 1991). This first newsletter was organized around different general themes, changing each quarter and depending on news received from members. Due to its quarterly periodicity, the purpose of this first newsletter was not to reflect the most updated or the latest news from exchanges but rather to concentrate on specific subjects.
In 1992, a significant change in the Federation’s newsletter took place, announcing what became one year later “Focus”. In January 1992, the first monthly newsletter was issued, but the new publication had no name and was simply called “FIBV monthly newsletter”, a temporary label which survived for one year. A few months after the launch of the new version, the need for a well recognized, specific brand name which could become a benchmark of the Federation emerged. Towards the end of 1992, the name “Focus” was adopted. We felt confident that the name “Focus” would well reflect this publication, and of looking clearly and intensely at exchange news and statistics.
The first newsletter bearing the name “Focus” was printed in January 1993.
The new publication introduced two main changes. From a quarterly, the newsletter became a monthly issue, in order to better reflect the rapid changes occurring in markets and to better respond to members’ and readers’ needs for more recent news and statistics data on securities markets. The newsletter content also changed. The information became more varied, and took on the task of providing more current events. All areas of exchanges’ activities were covered, enlarging the scope of the newsletter, bringing flexibility and a significant change on behalf of this evolving industry.
Soon after, the need to have guidelines for selecting news, organizing them under permanent and specific topics was obvious. The news selection was (and still is) based on a large array of subjects such as corporate news, the development of new market segments, new products and indexes, IT, new services, rules and regulations, news about post trading, inter-market links and consolidation, financial results, etc.
Some headlines have gained importance across the years, such as “financial results”, for example, as many exchanges demutualized or were listed, or “consolidation” as mergers or networks among exchange members became an important item these recent years. The newsletter today is structured around these headlines, although for several years news was presented by exchange member.
All along these years, “Focus” has changed its look and layout several times. Most recently, following the recommendations in the WFE strategy review, more emphasis has been put on communicating beyond the WFE membership. For “Focus”, this meant moving from the first black and white, in-house photocopied documents to issues featuring topics of interest in the industry and reflecting the brand values of Federation.
Since its inception, two main drivers have considerably helped the development of “Focus”. The first one is the expansion of internet and websites. The then-FIBV had one of the first web sites for financial data. The first time “Focus” was put on the Federation’s website was in June 1996, for its 41th issue.
This technology is essential to communicate with a global membership and disseminating its news. The website, www.world-exchanges.org also contributed to dramatically reducing the time of the newsletter’s availability for the public. As soon as “Focus” is ready, it is also immediately displayed on the Federation’s website, allowing all internet visitors to read or download it. Finally, the Federation displays daily updates of Focus news on our website exchange members news.
“Focus” on-line subscriptions have grown by over 70% since October 2008.
A second element has recently helped to considerably change and renew the look and content of “Focus”. WFE membership recognized the need to highlight the importance of regulated markets as part of the communications strategy. “Focus” was a key building block for developing the brand strategy, and the public relations work that have a top priority the past two years. Since the end of 2008, “Focus” has been modernized and shortened to become an integral part of a wider communications strategy on exchanges.
“Focus” has moved on to highlights the Federation’s events, such as the General Assembly and Annual Meeting, workshops, conferences, and has special articles on dedicated themes such as “Regulation at the crossroads” or “Exchanges and dark liquidity” more recently, for distribution at industry events. Distinguished contributors are also invited to produce research papers on specific themes.
“Focus is also the flagship of the WFE statistics work. Over 10 years of market data is available on-line for free. The first monthly market statistics were published in January 1991. At the start, the monthly statistics focused on only 4 main indicators (domestic market capitalization, number of companies listed, share trading and main price index level) compared to 26 indicators presently.
The regular increase in the number of statistic tables throughout the years suggests the increasing diversity of Exchanges’ commercial offer. For example, ETFs were added at the start of 2000, followed by covered warrants (now included in the larger category of securitized derivatives). More basic indicators were added to the statistics quickly after their launch such as the bond trading value or the blue chip index levels. Data on derivatives markets were added later on, too. Today,
“Statistics” is the most visited and downloaded topic on our website.
In 2008, a genuine technological revolution in the way members used to provide their monthly data to the Federation took place with the introduction of a web-based loading interface linked to a database. Now users can interact with the database more responsive than simply downloading spreadsheets. This new system also reduced the delay of the monthly statistics availability on the website, and the numbers are displayed around the 10th or 11th of each month.
“Focus” is today regarded as one of the best known information product of the Federation. It is translated into several languages by exchange members around the globe, and its monthly statistics are often cited in newspapers and used by market professionals and academics.
 At that time, the Federation still held its original first name FIBV (the French acronym for “Fédération Internationale des Bourses de Valeurs”).
About Lorenzo Gallai
Lorenzo joined the World Federation of Exchanges in January 1990 as economist/statistician, the first time this position was created at the Secretariat. Lorenzo helped develop the statistic activities of the Federation and, with the support of his colleagues, introduced the monthly statistics and newsletter. He has contributed to extend the data reporting to new market segments and products, and establish statistic definitions and calculation methodologies ensuring a greater comparability and harmonization of the data collected. In the 1990s, he also took part in the creation of a statistics group, former predecessor of the Statistics Advisory Group. Besides his activities in the statistics field, Lorenzo is also the editor “Focus” since its inception.
Before joining the WFE, Lorenzo joined the United Nations in 1983 where he worked as an economist at the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), headquarter in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. At the UN, he was country economist, responsible for the survey of Central and West African countries. Just before joining the UN, Lorenzo worked at Peugeot company in Paris as economist.
Lorenzo is an Italian national, but he grew up in France and lived in Paris most of his life. He holds a MA in Economics Science from Université de Paris-X Nanterre, and a diploma from the Institute d’Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences-Po), with a specialization in economics and finance. His main hobbies are music, piano, and sport.