2019 Viewpoints: Bilel Sahnoun, CEO, Tunis Stock Exchange

Published by: The WFE Focus Team Jan 2019

Please outline the three most important macro trends that you believe will impact the market infrastructure industry in 2019.

From my point of view, the most important macro trends are directly related to technology, which is disrupting the market infrastructures landscape by allowing the development of innovative solutions and new business models, to reduce costs and improve operations. There is a very wide consensus on that.

Distributed ledger technology (DLT) will continue its transformative clout and its pressure on regulators. Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and machine learning will also continue to gain prominence in operations, and in operational, cyber or financial risk management and monitoring. Finally, I think shared services will be sought after for better cost efficiency and for risk mutualisation.

The WFE’s Sustainability Principles (launched in October 2018) and its annual environmental, social & governance (ESG) survey show us that more and more exchanges and CCPs are taking a leadership role in promoting the sustainable finance agenda. How is your business taking a more sustainable approach to the financial system?

Regarding ESG issues, the Tunis Stock Exchange is the pioneering institution in the Tunisian financial system. In 2015, we joined the Sustainable Stock Exchanges (SSE) Initiative, a UN partner programme. We are widely acknowledged to be a key promoter of ESG issues and sustainable investment. We are confident about our capability to play a key role in driving ESG and sustainable finance awareness in the financial system. An important law was recently enacted in Tunisia to require companies to earmark resources to fund ESG activities and to report on these activities.

In your view, what’s the technology most likely to disrupt global capital markets in the next 12 months?

I think that big data, analytics and machine learning are most likely to disrupt global capital markets in the coming year. DLT is potentially much more disruptive, but it still faces the mistrust of regulators.

What are the key strategic initiatives you’re working on at the moment?

Our flagship initiative is InvestiaPME, a project conducted in cooperation with other actors in the capital market ecosystem, to help SMEs with technical assistance, cost reduction, and access to non-banking finance (PE, IPO, IBO). We are also working on a project led by the ministry of finance to create an enabling legal and regulatory environment that will support the development of financial markets in Tunisia, and bring it as close as possible to international standards. Also, we plan to launch a Sustainable Voluntary Guidance for Issuers in 2019.