View from City Road: Too much red tape at the Exchange

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The Independent Online
Michael Lawrence says he found the Stock Exchange too preoccupied with regulation and not enough with selling itself when he arrived a couple of months ago as chief executive. 'Eighty per cent of the talk around me is regulatory, not commercial. I don't think that is the right balance,' he complains. Mr Lawrence would prefer to cut the regulatory chat to 60 per cent.

Although he is sensibly bringing the exchange's regulatory functions under one boss, Mr Lawrence thinks too much agonising over regulation is bad for business.

He is dismissive of the Securities and Investments Board's recent report on securities market regulation, suggesting it covers much old ground while putting an unnecessary question mark over how well the London markets are regulated. 'I don't think London is badly regulated,' Mr Lawrence says. 'We shouldn't be fussing about trying to fix things that aren't broken.'

The London exchange is competing with other stock exchanges abroad for trading volumes and listings and, like any company, it will only survive if it produces good new products and markets itself effectively.

Regulation is important, but in a negative sense: if done well it is unnoticeable, but if expensive and cumbersome, customers go away.