As an Africa-focused portfolio manager, I spend an inordinate amount of time perusing the obscure websites of African companies and stock exchanges.
So I think I can speak with some authority on which stock exchange websites are exceptionally good and which ones stink.
This is a very serious issue.
Because a website is an exchange’s face to the world. It is where potential investors will form their first impressions of a country’s investment climate. A website that fails to convey professionalism, security, and transparency will likely also fail to attract new investors.
A Good Stock Exchange Website Is Hard to Find
There’s certainly a degree of subjectivity inherent in any ranking such as this, but to keep things as objective as possible, I scored each site with a “Pass” or “Fail” on each of the following ten criteria.
1. The website must exist. In this day and age, there’s no good excuse for a national stock exchange to not have a website. (I’m talking to you Zimbabwe Stock Exchange. And, Namibia. A website that simply says Under Construction is lame. Very lame.)
2. All content on the website must be available in English. This includes financial data from listed companies. (Yes, I realize this criterion makes me sound like an arrogant, ignorant American. But, come on, how many international investors really speak Portuguese, Mozambique?)
3. The website must list the companies that actually trade on the exchange. (Am I asking for too much here, Malawi?)
4. The website must be updated after every trading session. (Cape Verde, investors want to see some sort of bulletin or time-stamped section of the website that shows current share price information.)
5. The website must help me figure out how to open a brokerage account and trade shares on the exchange. Ideally, this information will be prominently displayed on the site. (Whoops, Nairobi. This is really all that you’re missing.)
6. The website must post easily intelligible financial results for listed companies. (I appreciate the effort, Nigeria. But what’s up with the weird format? Can’t you simply post the PDFs that companies submit to you? The format you’re using is painful to interpret.)
7. The website must compile financial reports for all listed companies, all the time. (This is perhaps the most important criterion to a financial analyst. Sadly, relatively few African exchanges receive a passing score.)
8. The website must be easy to navigate. (I know you’re big and all, JSE, but there’s gotta be a way to streamline things. Your website confuses the heck out of me.)
9. The website must look attractive. (I’m talking to you Botswana Stock Exchange. Your website depresses me.)
10. The website must be free of any repetitive, grating sound effects. (Please, Ghana. Make. It. Stop.)
How did the websites stack up? Here’s the report card below. Passing scores are marked with an “X” while failing scores are indicated with a “–.”
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The Runners Up
Two websites earned an almost perfect score.
The Nairobi Securities Exchange website contains a wealth of information and a nice collection of financial reports, but its lack of a clear, concise investor’s guide keeps it from a top grade.
A revamped Nigerian Stock Exchange website also scored top marks. If it could just rethink the way it compiles financial results, it would be an excellent resource.
The Blue Ribbon Website
The Stock Exchange of Mauritius’ website has it all, scoring a passing grade in each of the ten categories.
What Do You Think?
Which website do you think is head and shoulders above the rest? Are there essential pieces of information that you wish more stock exchange websites would incorporate into their designs? Let us know in the comments!