By Carlo Versano
Times Square is known as the "crossroads of the world," but tell that to Stacey Cunningham.
The CEO of the New York Stock Exchange, the first woman to hold the job in the exchange's 226-year history, said it's at the NYSE where capitalism, economics, politics and "the world at large" converge.
While the famous floor of the stock exchange has changed with the times ー the hoards of agency brokers converging on a booth to make trades have largely been replaced by computers ー it's still the best place to bring large, complex deals to market, Cunningham told Cheddar.
"The New York Stock Exchange provides the best technology with the best experience for bringing companies to the market," she said, noting that 43 of the last 47 IPOs chose to list on the Big Board.
Cunningham's strategy is what she called "people and technology" ー to "automate the parts that can be automated" in the trading process, without sacrificing human judgment, which is crucial in preserving investor confidence. "We think we've nailed it," she said.
Cunningham was elevated to the CEO position in May, after serving as the exchange's COO. She started on the floor as an intern in 1994, and says that experience is what makes her qualified to run the organization.
As a Wall Street veteran, Cunningham has seen her share of market volatility, and isn't too concerned about the current wild swings. The pace of trading has changed, she said, and that's leading to "a lot more rapid reaction" from retail and institutional investors alike. Often, investors are reacting to the sheer speed of information rather than any underlying fundamentals. That's partly why it's so important to her that the NYSE still has human controls that can catch things that computers and algorithms may miss.
Cunningham also has a message for entrepreneurs thinking about one day bringing their start-ups public: do it at the NYSE. She wants the exchange to be accessible to not just the blue-chip companies that make up the Dow, but the scrappy upstarts that want to unlock some of the massive liquidity in U.S. equity markets.
"When you look at the growth of this nation, it's been driven by companies raising money so they can go out and change the world," she said.
For full interview click here.