The success of the "Banii Tăi Expo", when seen from the ground, rather than from the surveillance drone

ADINA ARDELEANU (translated by Cosmin Ghidoveanu)
Ziarul BURSA #English Section / 30 mai 2016

The success of the "Banii Tăi Expo", when seen from the ground, rather than from the surveillance drone

Even though it hasn't realized it, the Bucharest Stock Exchange has received yet another cold shower, on Friday and Saturday, when it organized the second edition of the "Banii Tăi Expo" ("Your Money Fair"), in the University Square. Just like in the previous edition, the biggest crowd was at the booth of the Central Depository, which people beat a path to in order to find out if they owned any stock and how to get rid of it.

But the goal of the fair was to popularize investing in the stock market, providing education, but in that regard, the level of interest was low.

"Banii Tăi Expo" was once again this year a deployment of forces from the Bucharest Stock Exchange, with a stage (even though a modest one, a little rough around the edges), in the middle of Bucharest, tents and pompous speeches. A drone filmed the event from up high, to paint a better picture of the impotence of our capital market.

Public response was almost non-existent, at least on Friday morning. At the opening of the fair, there were about 50 people present, most of them being involved in the market themselves - brokers, bankers, journalists, and many PR people. You could tell them apart based on their badges. Aside from them, a few students, and at the booth of the Central Depository, many owners of vouchers from the former mass privatization program.

Ludwik Sobolewski, the CEO of the Bucharest Stock Exchange said that he is expecting a higher attendance rate than last year, depending on the weather outside. He has indicated a turnover of several thousand participants.

In last year's fair, the Central Depository has issued free of charge 851 account statements, so that it is hard to believe that overall, the dreams of the CEO of the BSE have come true, when he was saying that at the time that there are chances that BVB, who was saying back then that the fair may draw 3-5,000 visitors.

Even though this year's edition was promoted as an event where the shareholders created through the mass privatization program could come in and find out free of charge whether they still owned shares, the ones who visited the booth of the Depository had the surprise that their statements did not specify the number of shares they owned, so they couldn't make any calculations based on their stock holdings. This got the brokers in trouble as well, because after finding out they were shareholders, people would go to the brokers' booths to sell their shares, instead of getting informed about investing on the stock market.

If they wanted a full account statement, they had to take another trip and to pay a fee to the Depository.

In this light, the optimistic statements about the "success" of the fair are simply out of touch with reality.

Silvia Buicănescu, the managing director of the Central Depository, said: "After the success seen last year in the previous edition of Banii Tăi Expo, when it was confirmed that Romanians are interested in the capital market, that they want to get informed, that they want to know more about the stock market and about the benefits that investing on the stock market can bring, the Central Depository joins the fair this year as well and offers attendees a number of free of charge services".

Unfortunately, the shrinking interest in the stock market is seen in the drastic decrease of the daily trading volume on the Bucharest Stock Exchange over the last two years.

Besides, Florin Pogonaru, the president of the Association of Romanian Business People, noted that demand is "the big problem of the Stock Exchange".

He said: "We can't continue to rely on foreign capital. What is happening with the wasting of the Romanian capital is a bad thing. I feel like we are living through a moment of change, of a major ice age, when we look at the change in the Romanian market. We see continuous skirmishes between dinosaurs and cowboys in the stock market, which doesn't help anybody. Demand is the biggest problem that the stock exchange is facing".

The audience asked themselves who were the dinosaurs and who were the cowboys.

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