The iconic doors from the last Luxembourg Stock Exchange office made for a 1995 visit by the Grand Duke
Photo: LaLa La Photo
Delano goes behind the scenes of the Luxembourg stock exchange
Delano takes a tour of the Luxembourg Stock Exchange, three years after its move to Boulevard Joseph II.
Luxembourg’s stock exchange is a far cry from the manic scenes depicted in movies. Touring the spacious building on Boulevard Joseph II, which has housed the LuxSE since 2014, the first thing you notice is there is no trading floor and therefore no traders.
“That was a job that existed until 1996,” says secretary general Maurice Bauer. “Today if you want to make a transaction with LuxSE you would go to your bank to buy shares.”
Transactions are today carried out electronically, a more secure process which leaves an audit trace. It also makes a difference that the LuxSE does little trading and is concerned mostly with listings.
“Today we list 37,000 securities, most of them are bonds. This is definitely where we’ve got the expertise and experience in the market allowing us to become a market leader for listing of international bonds.”
Almost 90 years in Luxembourg
LuxSE began operating with a dozen employees out of a building that no longer exists in Avenue de la Porte Neuve in 1928, a year before the Wall street crash.
It started as an initiative between banks, the chamber of commerce and Arbed, Bauer explains.
But it did not come into its own until 1963, when it issued the first European bond to Autrostrade to build roads in Italy.
“This clearly helped Luxembourg to establish the financial centre because people realised that Luxembourg had something to offer.”
Operations moved to the site in Boulevard Joseph II and continue across two other sites concurrently until LuxSE moved to its current green building.
In designing the office, emphasis was placed on creating a pleasant working environment that is environmentally sustainable—there are large windows letting in natural light.
The building meets Valideo (sustainable) certification, they provide free organic fruit once a week and there are small design elements to encourage staff to move around more. Meanwhile in the garage is an electric car and there are plans to offer electric bikes to staff.
The bull looks up while the bear looks down--handles from the iconic door sit on Bauer's desk
Certain design elements were also conceived to reflect a kind of transparency about how LuxSE operates. “It’s important to offer a clear and transparent view so that everyone, investors and issuers, can access a maximum amount of information.
Relics of the past
In this respect the building offers a refreshing contrast to the closed environment of its last space. Relics of this time remain, however, with the giant coin door with bull and bear handles now a meeting room feature.
“You can ring the bell but nothing will happen,” says Bauer. Another nod to the past is a meeting room named “Autostrade”.
Otherwise, LuxSE prides itself on its forward-looking approach. Today it is a world leader in green bonds.
“We see a clear positive feedback from the market. I think there’s a new awareness. Increasingly, people want to know what’s happening with their investment,” says Bauer.
But the IT revolution has also given rise to new roles and activities. The six-strong market surveillance department, which analyses and verifies activities is an important evolution that replaced the trading floor.
In October, 2016, meanwhile LuxSE issued the first application using blockchain technology to deposit documents. “It’s important for us to show this innovative economy is definitely a path we want to continue along,” Bauer says.