Day 3: Visit to Tokyo Stock Exchange
August 12, 2019
Tee Xin Yee
What kind of scene would you imagine while mentioning stock exchange or floor trading? A crowd of people standing on the trading floor, holding a phone, staring at different giant monitors, and shouting at each other? Before visiting Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE), I expected to witness a highly intense environment as I mentioned above that we usually see in the movies.
Surprisingly, it was not the case. There were only a few people working in the center of the trading floor and the environment in TSE was incredibly quiet, just as if we walked into an art museum. So, does that mean we were fooled by the Wall Street movies?
Although the reality was quite disappointing, the answer is . . . “No.” We were not fooled and the movies did not lie, in fact, it was just that the image we had on the stock exchange was outdated. In this digital era, every trading is done through the computer. Therefore, people do not have to shout at each other and squeeze in the trading floor anymore. (It is a shame that we would never have a chance to witness such exciting situation by our own anymore).
Other than that, what else has changed or fade away together with the crowded trading floor? The unique sign languages that used to exist in the stock exchange business.
Have you ever wonder how the traders communicate with each other in the chaotic environment without messing up the deal? They had used the sign language. According to Professor Akashi Hongo of Temple University, Japan, people used to have different sign languages for each listed company of the stock market, as well as instructions such as “sell,” “buy,” “hundred,” and “thousands.” In addition to the sign language, there were certain physical requirements to be hired as a floor broker; being tall and having a loud voice. That was to ensure that they would not be drowned in the crowd.
However, all those sign languages lost their value and replaced by the advanced technologies nowadays. At the same time, people like me who is an average height with normal voice volume have less barrier in developing a career as a stockbroker.
Although the visit to Tokyo Stock Exchange was short and brief, we not only learned some basic knowledge about the stock exchange and its history, we also obtained an idea about how the industry has changed over time.