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ASX story

The story of ASX is long and eventful, full of world-firsts and new technologies, and underpinned by a determination to find better ways to service the market and strengthen investor confidence.

History

The Australian Stock Exchange Limited was formed in 1987 after the Australian Parliament passed legislation enabling the amalgamation of six independent state-based stock exchanges. Each of those exchanges brought with it a history of share trading and exchange services dating back to the 19th century.

In 2006 the Australian Stock Exchange merged with the Sydney Futures Exchange to become the Australian Securities Exchange. Its official name is ASX Limited.

Since its creation, the best and most popular way of referring to the company is by its enduring three-letter code - ASX.

From early 1800s

William Barton

The first company founded in the colony of New South Wales was The Bank of New South Wales, now Westpac Banking Corporation Ltd, in 1817.

From the 1850s, numerous stock exchanges were formed in cities such a Melbourne, Bendigo and Ballarat. All of these were short-lived. 

Early share trading began with Matthew Gregson (1828) and William Barton (1835), the father of Australia's first Prime Minister, acting as share brokers.

1870s

1871 - The Sydney Stock Exchange formed and continued to operate until it merged with the other five state-based exchanges to form the Australian Stock Exchange on 1 April 1987. Early companies listed on the Exchange include AGL and the Bank of NSW (Westpac).

The Sydney Stock Exchange implemented Business Rules for stockbrokers governing their trading and relationships with customers. Other state exchanges followed this example. The original Business Rules comprised 17 rules on 6 pages. Today's ASX Operating Rules book is approxinately 500 pages long.

1880s

1882 - First official call of the newly formed Hobart Stock Exchange.

1884 - The Brisbane Stock Exchange was established, a set of rules drawn up and the first call was conducted.

The Stock Exchange of Melbourne was formed by a small number of sharebrokers following a number of attempts to form a lasting stock exchange over the previous 32 years.

1885 - The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited (BHP) listed in 1885.

1887 - First meeting of the Stock Exchange of Adelaide was held on 3 October.

1889 - The Stock Exchange of Perth opened its doors for trading in July.

1900s

1903 - The first interstate stock exchange conference was held in Melbourne. 

Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide Stock Exchanges were represented.

Meetings were held annually till the 1930s when the arrangment was formalised.

1910s

1915 - The Commonwealth Government began offering government bonds to the Australian public via exchanges. Previously, the government raised its loans from overseas sources.

1920s

1924 - Farmers Service, Sydney's first radio station, broadcast the Sydney Stock Exchange calls twice a day.

1930s

1937 - The Australian Associated Stock Exchanges (AASE), the forerunner to the ASX, was established. The state stock exchanges had met on an informal basis since 1903, but in 1937, Sydney formalised the association. Initially exchanges in Adelaide, Brisbane, Hobart and Sydney were part of the association, with Melbourne and Perth joining soon after.

1938 - Through the AASE, the exchanges gradually brought in common listing requirements for companies, uniform brokerage and other rules for stockbroking firms. Ground rules for commissions and the flotation of government and semi-government loan raisings were also set.

1940s

1943 - Don Bradman, famous Australian cricketer, became a member of the Stock Exchange of Adelaide.

1950s

1953 - Sydney Stock Exchange begins post trading in the Vestibule for oil stocks only to cope with the upswing in demand following the discovery of oil of the Australian coast.

1959 - The auction-based call system of trading was fully replaced with the post trading system at the Sydney Stock Exchange, allowing continuous trading throughout the day. Other state exchanges followed soon after. 

With post trading, brokers gathered at ‘posts’ on the trading floor to deal in specified stocks. ‘Chalkies’ were employed by the Stock Exchanges to record in chalk the bid and offer prices and the sales made. 

25 stocks were initially traded using the new system in 5 daily sessions. All stocks were traded this way by May 1960, except for Government bonds.

1960s

1960 - Also in 1960, the Sydney Greasy Wool Futures Exchange (SGWFE) commenced trading.

The Sydney Stock Exchange moved to Kindersley House. Its innovative new design included media and public galleries where people could watch the ‘chalkies’ at work, thus removing the secrecy of the previous call system and the perception that share trading was an elite activity.

1960 - The Sydney Stock Exchange, in conjunction with the Department of Education, held introductory courses on understanding the share market. Formal qualifications (accredited by the Securities Institute of Australia) were required for brokers.

1962 - Introduction of three letter company codes for listed stocks.

1964 - Sydney Stock Exchange receives its first computer, an IBM 1460, the first to be installed an at Australian exchange. It arrived from Canada in 7 sections, with the heaviest section weighing almost three-quarters of a tonne. It was used to streamline clearing house functions and broker-client accounting. 

1966 - Australia adopted a decimal currency with chalk boards in all exchanges being updated to reflect the new currency.

1969 - The electronic price dissemination system, Stockmaster, enabled stockbrokers to receive bids, offers and last prices in their offices. 

1970s

1972 - Uniform listing standards was adopted across all state stock exchanges. 

 SGWFE changed its name to Sydney Futures Exchange (SFE).

1975 - Jean Gordon, a stockbroker, became the first female member of the Sydney Stock Exchange. Gordon qualified in accountancy in 1959 and held senior roles in the Women’s Accountants Group and the NSW Council of the Australian Society of Accountants.

1976 - The Australian Options Market was established by the Sydney Stock Exchange in February 1976, providing the first marketplace outside North America for a new investment instrument – Exchange Traded Options (ETOs). ETOs over four stocks were initially traded: BHP, CSR, Western Mining Corp. Ltd and Woodside-Burmah Oil NL.

Mary Vernon - one of the first women to become a member of the Sydney Stock Exchange - was awarded Stockbroker of the Year, blazing a trail through a male-dominated industry.

1977 - Joint exchange trading began between Sydney and Melbourne, enabling brokers to trade on interstate markets.

The Sharemarket game was introduced into schools by Perth Stock Exchange in cooperation with the Education Department of Western Australia. It was known as Capitaliser and is now played by 70,000 students in 900 schools across Australia.

1979 - The Sydney Futures Exchange was the first exchange outside of the US to offer a financial futures contract (90 day bank bill).

The Governor General, Sir Roden Cutler, activated the new Trans-Lux electronic display board streaming market transactions to observers in the public gallery. Share ownership was becoming understandable and accessible to ordinary people.

1980s

1980 - The SFE commences trading in US dollar futures, the first futures contracts in the world to incorporate cash settlement.

1983 - The first stock index futures product outside the US – the All Ordinaries share price index (SPI) contract – is introduced by the SFE, 45 years after the publication of the first equity market share price index.

1984 - Deregulation of Australian securities industry.

SFE introduced the two-year Australian Treasury bond futures, the first bond contract outside the US.

1986 - Share Ownership Study finds that 9% of Australian own shares on an Australian stock exchange. Today 37% own shares or other listed investments.

Regulated short selling was introduced.

1987 - The Australian Stock Exchange Limited (ASX) was formed on 1 April, through incorporation under legislation of the Australian Parliament. This involved the amalgamation of the six independent stock exchanges that had operated in the states’ capital cities.

ASX’s Stock Exchange Automated Trading System (SEATS) was introduced in October, the day before the global stock market crash. SEATS handled the trading deluge without issue and to much acclaim.

1988 - 3yr Commonwealth bond futures, launched by the Sydney Futures Exchange, were an immediate success, trading more than 3000 contracts a day. Options on the 3yr bond futures were introduced a month later.

1989 - SFE launched SYCOM, the world's first after-hours electronic trading platform in the world.

The introduction of SEATS led to the end of floor trading in all Australian stock exchanges. In 1990, the 6 capital city offices closed their floors.

1990s

1991 - Sydney Futures Exchange bought New Zealand Futures and Options Exchange (NZFOE).

1994 - First phase of the Clearing House Electronic Subregister System (CHESS), replacing manual settlement of trades commenced.

1996 - Implementation of CHESS Phase 2 completed within budget and won the 1996 Australian Information Industry Association award for excellence through information technology. 

Listing rules simplification process introduced.

CHESS is fully operational.

1998 - ASX became the first exchange in the world to demutualise and directly list on itself on 14 October.

Share certificates are completely replaced by electronic clearing and settlement of trading, a process called dematerialisation, on 31 December. 

1999 - A new primary data centre is established at the new ASX Bridge St offices. 

ASX’s interest-rate market began retail trading, broadening the investment options for retail investors.

ASX introduced third-party clearing which enabled market participants to operate exclusively as traders or as clearers. ASX transformed from offering trade only services to offering the entire process of trading, clearing and settlement under one roof.

2000s

2000 - Sydney Futures Exchange merged with Austraclear, Australia’s leading OTC clearing house, settlement and depository provider for wholesale securities.

Standard & Poor’s took over the production of ASX indices.

2002 - ASX listed Australia's first ETFs, including funds tracking the S&P/ASX 200 and S&P/ASX 200 A-REIT indices. Listed funds such as ETFs, REITS, Listed Investment Trusts and Listed Investment Companies have since become a popular option for investors to build wealth.

2003 - ASX released the first edition of its Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations. The Principles were revised and updated in 2007, 2014 and 2019 following market consultations. 

2006 - ASX and Sydney Futures Exchange merger (executed by a scheme of arrangement) was signed off and announced to the market – expanding ASX’s product range to include index options, interest rate securities, energy and agricultural commodities. 

As a result, ASX changed its name from Australian Stock Exchange to Australian Securities Exchange to reflect the diversity of financial and investment products available.

2010s

2010 - From 1 August, the Australian Securities Exchange is now known as ASX Group.

Competition introduced to the Australian equities market. As a result, ASX's role in market supervision passes to ASIC.

New data centre opened at Gore Hill.

2012 - The Australian Liquidity Centre (ALC) began operations in 2012. The ALC, a state of the art data centre, houses ASX's core trade execution and post trade platforms along with other financial market participant and service provider technology.

2013 - ASX to offer enhanced global network connectivity, ASX Net Global.

2014 - Introduction of mFund, allowing investors to buy, hold and sell units in unlisted managed funds through a process similar to buying and selling shares.

2015 - Opening of the Customer Support Centre at the Australian Liquidity Centre (ALC).

2016 - ASX announced that it will work with Digital Asset Holdings to design a new post-trade solution for the Australian equity market to replace the 20 year old CHESS system. ASX is re-envisioning how a best practice clearing, settlement and asset servicing system can work.

T+2 settlement of sharemarket trades commenced. Settlement times have been continually improving since the early 1900s, when it took a couple of weeks for a trade to settle. 

ASX was appointed as the new Bank Bill Swap Rate (BBSW) administrator, replacing the previous over-the-counter service.

2017 - New trading platform for ASX24, our derivatives market, is launched, supporting ASX customers’ needs by offering enhanced functionality and performance as well as ease of connectivity. 

2018 - ASX partnered with Australian Technology Innovators,  parent company of InfoTrack, to form a new company, Sympli, to enter the national electronic property settlement market.

2019 - ASX continues to invest in contemporary technology, such as DataSphere, to drive efficiency and innovation. Richer and timelier data sets mean better operational functionality and system resilience.  

Almost 150 years since the first continuously operating Exchange was formed in 1871, 2,200 entities from Australia and around the world are listed on ASX.