The WFE's Women Leaders 2021 - Yan Sha, President & CEO, Shenzhen Stock Exchange

By: The WFE Focus Team Mar 2021

Nominee’s name: Yan SHA

Member: Shenzhen Stock Exchange

Nominee’s job title: President & CEO


1. - Brief description of nominee’s role/job:

Appointed by the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), I currently serve as President & CEO of Shenzhen Stock Exchange (SZSE). My main official responsibilities include: formulating and organising implementation of SZSE's strategic plans, reviewing business rules and market regulations, presiding over SZSE’s daily operations, and other responsibilities stipulated by the Board of Directors and in the articles of association of the exchange.

As my appointment mandates, I am responsible for improving fundamental systems of the SZSE market. At a practical level, I was charged with the task of leading ChiNext reform and piloting the registration-based IPO system with simultaneous implementation on both incremental and existing issuers. The reform required systematic coordination of fundamental mechanisms such as stock issuance, listing, information disclosure, trading, and delisting. The reform has served to enhance SZSE’s function to allocate resources more effectively and efficiently to the innovative and entrepreneurial sectors, facilitating the self-sustaining cycle of flow among capital, technology and industries.

I am also tasked with SZSE's market structural reform, where the Main Board and SME Board will be merged. The reform will create a more concise market structure with clearer segment positioning and more distinctive features while offering differentiated financing platforms for enterprises of different types and at different growth stages.

By leveraging the registration-based system and delisting reform, I am leading the exchange in an effort to improve the quality of listed companies by continuously enhancing the fundamental mechanisms, guarding market entrances and exits, staying focused on information disclosure and corporate governance as the two drivers for improving supervisory efficiency and effectiveness, and developing a market-based ecosystem of perpetuation and elimination.

My responsibility also focuses on diversifying product lines including equity, fixed-income, fund, index and derivative products. In support of industrial, supply and innovation chains, SZSE keeps enriching its diversified product lines to offer balanced investment and financing opportunities.

I also make a special point of promoting capital market connectivity. SZSE continues to optimise the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect. The Shenzhen-Hong Kong ETF Link was launched last year and the China-Japan ETF Connectivity Programme is scheduled for launch in April this year. Direct investment scheme for foreign institutional investors in the exchange’s bond market is being prepared. And QFII and RQFII rules have been revised for smooth overseas investment in the SZSE market.

I also emphasize market infrastructure cooperation with other markets. SZSE has significantly increased clientele for its Financial Data Exchange Platform, a financial information communication hub in Hong Kong. SZSE will complete development and installation of trading and surveillance systems for Pakistan Stock Exchange this year. SZSE has upgraded its data to offer cloud computing, data and co-location services for clients from home and abroad.

2. - Short bio (career highlights, education, interests/hobbies):

I assumed office as President & CEO of SZSE in June 2020.

Previously I served various executive roles at the CSRC including:

- Director-General of the Department of Fund and Intermediary Supervision;

- Deputy Director-General of the Department of Fund and Intermediary Supervision;

- Deputy Director-General of the Listed Companies Supervision Department; and

- Deputy Director-General of the Listed Companies Supervision Department II.

During my work experience with the CSRC, I implemented a number of institutional reforms and projects in securities and fund industries including development of the risk control and compliance system, expansion of business scope, two-way opening-up, promotion of equity fund development and long-term investment philosophy.

I received Doctoral Degree of Business Administration in Accounting from Xi’an Jiaotong University.

3. - What were your professional highlights and challenges of 2020?:

In June 2020, I was appointed by the CSRC as President & CEO of SZSE. At that time, SZSE was ushering in an unprecedented opportunity and challenge to comprehensively deepen capital market reforms in conjunction with development of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and Shenzhen as a demonstration pilot zone. I was charged with the important task of implementing ChiNext Market reform and piloting the registration-based IPO system. The reform exerted extensive market influence with its wide coverage and numerous innovative measures. It was a complex and arduous systematic project. The ChiNext Market reform experienced unprecedented complexity involving simultaneous reforms on both existing and upcoming issuances. ChiNext Market’s 800 pre-existing companies and 50 million active investors offer a glimpse into the enormous scale and complexity of the reform. As a result, a series of pilot arrangements were made for the adaptation and coherence of old and new rules to guarantee smooth transition and synergy.

Since assuming office, I have been holding in reverence the essential spirit of registration-based IPO system, global best practices and characteristic realities of China’s capital market. At the same time, I uphold principles of “open-mindedness, transparency, honesty and rigorousness”. The successful listing of the first batch of companies under ChiNext Market registration-based reform on August 24th marked a new milestone of the profound transformation of China's capital market. Since then, the market has witnessed stable operation, and its regulatory and IT infrastructure systems stood the test of pressure by offering felt service improvements and unfelt underlying changes. Preliminary results of the reform are welcomed by all market participants. The relevant work provides a solid foundation, extensive experience and practical mode for expanding the registration-based system to cover the entire market. By the end of 2020, the number of IPO applications submitted by companies under registration-based system stood at 533, among which 74 companies were successful registered and 63 companies were listed, indicating the improvement of the overall inclusiveness and coverage of the capital market.

In the meantime, spearheaded by the registration-based IPO system reform, SZSE has implemented a series of reform and opening-up policies, enhancing fundamental rules and regulation including trading, delisting and investor protection, improved the quality of listed companies, increased participation by long-term and value-oriented institutional investors. 2020 saw ChiNext Index and Shenzhen Component Index rise 65% and 39% respectively, ranking at forefront among major market indices in the world for the second consecutive year.

What makes me so proud is the fact that the China’s capital market provides a broad platform for women like myself to develop and grow in their careers. In SZSE, listed companies, brokerage firms and fund management companies, female executives play an increasingly important role. For an example, female executives account for 50% of the management board at SZSE. These women leaders not only offer an indispensable contribution to their organisations, but also offer a role model for aspiring young women to follow suit and continue to promote gender equality.

4. - What and who inspires/has inspired you to achieve your professional success:

Along with the historical course of reform and opening up, China's capital market has emerged from ground zero to become the world’s second largest in leapfrog development in the last three decades. My personal work experience is inextricably bound to the speedy growth of China’s capital market.

What inspires me most was the commitment to the public interest kept by generations of capital market professionals in China. I am grateful for my management board members, half of whom are women, for co-steering challenging market reforms with me. And I always encourage my colleagues to remain true to this original commitment to safeguarding public interest.

China has 180 million retail investors, the world’s largest individual investing population. Capital market stability is of vital interests of the millions of families, including women who play a crucial role in family life. As a market organiser and regulator, SZSE must stay firm against market manipulation and other irregularities, and effectively protect the legitimate rights and interests of investors. We must think on behalf of investors and respond to investors’ needs and concerns, and constantly maintain investors' confidence and trust in the market.

The 30-year capital market development inspires me to stick to the direction of market-oriented, law-based and internationalisation reform. Reform and opening-up offers the fundamental driving force for the sustainable development of China’s capital market, helping create a more fair, just and open market environment.

A sound capital market offers opportunities for enterprises, job creation and personal development. It supports men and women to give full play to their talent and innovative powers and enable them to pursue their dreams.

Women play a crucial part in the development of the China’s capital market. I have witnessed my female peers’ persevering spirit. During the past 30 years, China’s capital market has provided an innovation and entrepreneurship platform for women. From the regulators to market participants, from the stock exchange to listed companies, an endless stream of female professionals have been providing crucial leadership to initiate, promote and participate in major reform and development projects of the capital market. The number of SZSE-listed companies with female directors and supervisors continues to grow, while more and more female scientists rise in high-tech companies.

Throughout my career, I have been entrusted with important tasks of reform and opening-up of the capital market. I have also made effective contribution to important projects. It is a grand systematic project to build and develop the capital market, which combines economic, cultural, social and other factors. It requires deep insights, far-sighted vision, strict discipline and great courage. I believe that the capital market serves to align different interests to create cohesive social objectives. I am inspired and encouraged by the trail-blazing spirit, prudence and determination of many women leaders in financial regulation and industry in China and the world. They exhibit universal commitment to justice, reason and service. They heal and unite while achieving excellence in their professional careers.

In my role as a woman leader of an exchange, I follow the fundamental laws of the capital market, strive to maintain stability and progress and exercise good value judgments. As SZSE establishes a standardised, transparent, open, dynamic, and resilient capital market, it also speaks for gender equality and social cohesiveness.

5. - What advice do you have for other women who aspire to be in leadership positions:

Along with the progress of human society and new technology, women are presented with more opportunities to realise their own professional and social value than ever before. I would like to share my personal advice with those women pursuing accomplishments in their careers.

Firstly, keep faith in yourself and your lofty ideals and don’t be held back by gender bias. Aspiring for the high and grand will help stimulate one’s potentials. Girls and young women should look at all career possibilities available to them. Don’t be discouraged or intimidated by gender bias. Society needs women talents who can contribute to the public good. Setting lofty goals is the first step of initiation for women to realise personal and societal value.

Secondly, embrace the spirit of creativity. In today’s knowledge society, women are strengthened in a sense compared with previous ages when physical power dominated. It’s essential for us women to overcome gender stereotype and maintain independent and creative thinking. Entrepreneurial success knows no gender boundaries.

Thirdly, forge ahead with strong social commitments. It requires a great sense of responsibility to tackle major challenges, risks, obstacles, and conflicts ahead. In an age of uncertainty, women hold in their hands the power of love, healing and unity. We women can exert great influence on society through career and social participation, knowing that we hold up half the sky.