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Technology Equity: Ashish Chauhan

Sneha Jha | May 20, 2014
Ashish Chauhan is a man of many talents. In his 22-year career, he has been the CIO of Reliance Industries, run the same company's corporate communications department, started his own entrepreneurial venture, and even managed an Indian Premier League team. Today, he is the CEO of BSE, one of the largest exchanges in the world. Chauhan's motto in life is to be humble and nimble. It's a philosophy that's served him well. It also helps that he reads 35 magazines a week and 18 newspapers a day. Now, as the CEO of Asia's oldest stock exchange, Chauhan is faced with the task of reviving the bourse.

Ashish Chauhan is a man of many talents. In his 22-year career, he has been the CIO of Reliance Industries, run the same company's corporate communications department, started his own entrepreneurial venture, and even managed an Indian Premier League team. Today, he is the CEO of BSE, one of the largest exchanges in the world. Chauhan's motto in life is to be humble and nimble. It's a philosophy that's served him well. It also helps that he reads 35 magazines a week and 18 newspapers a day. Now, as the CEO of Asia's oldest stock exchange, Chauhan is faced with the task of reviving the bourse.

CIO: Can you share your vision for BSE?

Ashish Chauhan:Ashish Chauhan: BSE is an Indian exchange. Our motive is to help India create wealth. Our motive is to help people who want to save, invest in 'productive capital'— by investing in companies that require these funds. These companies will then create new jobs. India needs to create 2.5 crore jobs every year for the next 20 years. Jobs cannot be created without investment. They cannot be created by investments in real estate, gold, silver or other unproductive assets. If you invest in the stock market you are investing in the nation's economic growth, while benefitting yourself. BSE is a catalyst in capital formation and job creation in India. That is our vision for BSE. We want to create profitable returns for Indians and foreigners who invest in creating new jobs in India. It's a vision for India, Indian investors, and companies investing in India. What have you done to make the exchange global? We are a local exchange, but, in a sense, we are global because one in every six humans stays in India. That's a large number, so in a sense, we have a very important international role to play. BSE is one of the largest exchanges in the world by the number of companies listed. It's the fourth largest by number of index options laid, and the fifth largest by number of trades. We are among the top exchanges in the world. In that sense we are a global exchange with a vision for India. Since its inception, BSE has helped India create a wealth to the tune of $1.2 trillion. But the idea is to help India create $12 trillion of wealth. Today, we have 2.5 crore investors. Can we have 25 crore investors by 2030? Can we have a market cap of $12 trillion by 2030? How can we help promote long-term economic growth? How can we allow foreigners to invest in India in a way that is conducive to their investment horizons and objective? These are the questions we ask ourselves. When we are able to create an investment culture which will take the number of investors from 2.5 crore to 25 crore then our vision and objective for BSE will be met. BSE's legacy is something to be proud of, but it can also cause inertia. We try to reconcile the past with the present and then move forward. There are huge benefits of having a legacy but there are also pestering issues that come with it. Being a 139-year-old institution, BSE was a low tech, floor-based bourse. It set up BOLT, its national trading platform, only in 1997. In contrast, NSE, which was established in the mid-90's was armed with superior, screen-based technology. NSE became the first exchange in the world with fully, electronic screen-based training. It generated good traction with investors because it created a transparent trading platform. In less than a decade, NSE entered the ranks of largest exchanges globally in terms of volumes. Its technological prowess challenged the might of BSE and weaned away trade. NSE got this advantage because it was a new institution, a blank canvas, and because it was open to experimentation and risk taking. It could afford to adopt new systems without disrupting routine trades.

 

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