The image of a group of stock traders shouting and exchanging hand signals to one another has become so iconic that it has its own name: open outcry. While this method of communication is still referenced in popular movies, these kinds of scenes have become less prevalent in recent years. In fact, since the arrival of the first electronic trading system in the late 20th century, the way professionals do business has fundamentally changed.
Wall Street’s relationship with technology goes back far beyond the introduction of the first computers. During the late 19th century, brokers trading on the New York Stock Exchange were able to take advantage of ticker tape stands. These machines were able to transmit stock price information over telegraph lines, giving brokers the ability to track the changing market trends in real-time. Combined with the telephone, this meant that traders were able to buy and sell securities faster than ever before.
Fast-forward to the 1960s, and Quotron become the first financial data technology company to delivery stock market quotes on an electronic screen. This invention would come to define the market for the following decades, with screen-based quotation systems becoming the norm over face-to-face meetings. Around this time, Bloomberg also introduced its Terminal platform which enabled professionals to access the Bloomberg Professional service in real-time for an annual fee. This service remains active to this day, with over 300,000 subscribers worldwide.
It is the advent of the internet that has had the most profound impact on the stock market though. Not only has it given rise to a number of online brokers like FX Pro that more people can use, but the internet itself is also the single largest repository of knowledge that the world has ever known. This means that traders no longer need to pore over financial literature in their local library or pay for expensive subscriptions to make informed decisions.
Nowadays, the most important aspect of any trading platform is a mobile app. Whether we like it or not, smartphones and tablets have turned us all into mobile workers. The latest study from the Pew Research Center shows that smartphones adoption amongst adults in the US has now risen to 68%. Being able to access the market at any time, wherever you might be, is a giant leap over the constraints of the ticker tape stands of the past.
Whatever the future holds, one thing that is for certain is that the financial industry, perhaps more than any other, has always had a strong relationship with the cutting edge technology of its day.