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New NYSE president: Iconic trading floor is not going away

The new president of the New York Stock Exchange, Lynn Martin, wants to dispel the long-time rumor that computers will put an end to the humans still working on the iconic institution's trading floor.

"The trading floor is not going away," Martin told Yahoo Finance in an interview from that very floor, which was packed with its typical trader and market-maker buzz (though it's far quieter than back in its pre-computerized trading heydays). "We saw that just two weeks ago when we saw those spikes in volatility right before the Fed meeting. Stocks on the New York Stock Exchange opened with two times less volatility and closed with three times less volatility than our peer group. So the role of the human is incredibly important. It's something that is near and dear to my heart, and I look forward to further evolving the way the floor is used."

Evolving how the trading floor is used is only one of many things on Martin's new to-do list.

On Jan. 3, Martin walked through the door of the New York Stock Exchange as the 68th president of the storied 226-year-old institution, succeeding trading floor staple Stacey Cunningham. Martin is credited with turning NYSE parent company Intercontinental Exchange's (aka ICE) fixed-income and data services business into a financial powerhouse, which she has led the last several years.

The business hauled in $1.9 billion in sales in 2021, up 6% from the prior year.

"I was floored. I was asked to meet with my boss Jeff Sprecher, CEO and chairman of Intercontinental Exchange. And I thought we were going to talk about the future of fixed-income markets and the data services... I was floored at the opportunity mainly because I understood the gravity of what it meant to be a woman to be asked to have that opportunity and given the non-traditional background that I had. But I was incredibly excited at the opportunity," said Martin, recalling when she received the nod for the top NYSE job late in 2021.

Behind the scenes with new NYSE president Lynn Martin.
Behind the scenes with new NYSE president Lynn Martin.

Martin told Yahoo Finance her mission as NYSE president is pretty straightforward.

That is to harness her extensive tech resume (she is a computer programmer by trade, and her first job out of college was at NYSE-listed IBM) and focus on ESG disclosures to take the NYSE further into the future as it battles with Nasdaq for fees and new listings.

Nasdaq raised a total of $191.4 billion from IPOs in 2021, surpassing the $109.3 billion raised by the NYSE, per data from Dealogic.

Martin said IPO volumes are likely to pick up later this year. And she plans to play up NYSE's tech chops to persuade companies to list on the NYSE instead of the tech-focused Nasdaq.

"There's a lot of technology [in our building]. But importantly, the most tech forward companies are ones that use technology, coupled with human oversight, allowing you to get better outcomes much more efficiently," Martin said. "And I think, given the business I ran previously, which did that, given the way our floor model works, we're innovators there, and we can help companies navigate this use of technology to improve efficiency."

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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