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The CSE – The Exchange for Entrepreneurs
By Hamish Khamisa 

When most people think of a stock exchange in Canada, one name usually comes to mind.  For just over a decade, however, there has been another name working to give Canadian entrepreneurs an alternative venue on which to access capital markets: the Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE).

Despite a relatively high barrier to enter, stringent regulation, and a well-entrenched competitor, the CSE made a calculated bet that Canadian securities markets were looking for choice, innovation and an exchange that focused on helping entrepreneurs succeed. The bet, it seems, is paying off for all at the table.

A History of Managing Change

When the CSE began operating in 2003 as the Canadian Trading and Quotation System (CNQ) financial markets and electronic trading were just easing out of the dot-com bubble aftermath.

Against this backdrop, the CSE (then CNQ) launched with the promise of creating a marketplace that enabled emerging companies to meet regulatory disclosure requirements without compromising investor confidence.   And, while the early stages of growth were modest, the size of the exchange gave it an advantage to evolve more quickly with the needs of capital markets.

In 2007 the CNQ launched Pure Trading as the first trading venue in Canada that offered a continuous auction market to compete with existing venues for trading of Canadian listed securities.  Just over a year later, the technology powering the exchange got a major upgrade as did the name.  In late 2008 the CNSX was officially launched and had 80 participating dealers and oversaw between 5 to 10 percent of daily volumes in many top Canadian stocks.

As with all great growth stories, there was yet another key inflection point.  In late 2012, Urbana Corporation made a decisive investment into the CNSX. Attracting a partner of that magnitude signaled to the market that there was significant value to be had in the exchange.  Not long after, in 2013, additional investment into the exchange followed, this time from Ned Goodman of Dundee Corporation.

In its continued bid to streamline market accessibility, in 2014 both Pure Trading and CNSX platforms were merged enabling securities to trade on a single board with a single market data feed.  As a result of the significant consolidation of trading platforms, the maturing of the business and to better reflect the vision of exchange as a venue for entrepreneurs of all sizes to access capital, the CNSX and Pure Trading were rebranded to the Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE).

From its humble beginnings with just 3 listed issuers to the more than 200 issuers, the CSE has not only seen its fair share of changes to the Canadian securities landscape, it has been an active participant in reshaping it.  With a brain-trust comprised of iconic Canadian investors as well as a seasoned and entrepreneurial team of exchange operators, the CSE is poised to continue gaining momentum from a marketplace that is recognizing the value of what the exchange has to offer.

A Win-Win Model: How Trading on the CSE Works

In order for all public markets to work efficiently, stakeholders need to be able to operate in a trustworthy, transparent and timely fashion.  As a securities exchange, the CSE has a particular focus on ensuring that listed issuers disclose their financial and operating health to shareholders in a way that preserves market integrity without sacrificing company efficiency.

To become listed on the exchange, a company must have at least 500,000 freely tradeable shares worth at least $250,000 in addition to being a reporting issuer in good standing in any Canadian jurisdiction.  As part of the listing requirements, securities that trade on the exchange are required to adhere to the continuous disclosure protocol which involves monthly activity reports, posting of all required disclosure forms and reports on the CSE website as well as ensuring that all documents required by securities laws are filed.

This model, over time, has become one of the major draws for companies listed on the exchange as well as for investors looking to stay informed about the activities of companies they invest in.  That’s good news according to CEO of the CSE, Richard Carleton who stated “we are delighted that so many companies are taking advantage of our listing services, and that their securities are finding a growing audience among investors.”

Accessing the CSE

Trading of shares listed on the CSE is becoming increasingly more accessible at both the retail and institutional levels.

For retail investors, most major Canadian online brokerages enable their clients to directly trade stocks listed on the exchange online. Of those that do not yet have online trading setup, it is possible to place trades on the exchange via telephone orders.

The CSE website ( is also an important resource for individuals interested in doing their research on a particular company.  Detailed information, including stock charts, bid/ask information and company documents are available on the profile page of each listed issue.

Of particular interest to investors is the fact that the CSE is the only major Canadian exchange to provide free real-time data on its listed issues via Google finance (

Institutional investors can access the exchange’s data feed directly and since the integration with Pure trading, are now enabled to trade all Canadian listed securities via a consolidated platform.

Tipping Point

2014 is poised to be a record breaking year for the CSE in terms listings and trading volume.  More compelling than that, however, is the sense that there is a substantial shift underway in the landscape of publicly traded companies.

After the financial crisis of 2008 and the recent pressure on commodity stocks, there is undeniably interest in the CSE from companies that are looking to streamline the cost of being public without sacrificing the access to capital a public listing affords.  As such, the CSE has definitely found a niche amongst operationally minded companies that are looking to adapt to the current commodity environment.

But defensive strategy is only part of what is taking root. Another interesting and continuously growing segment of interest in the CSE is coming from innovative companies seeking strategic growth.

From technology to bio-pharma companies, the CSE is becoming an attractive option to list because both cost and listing requirements are built to enable entrepreneurs to focus their resources on growing their brand and business.

According to Akthem Sumrain, Managing Director of Listings Development at the CSE, “the continued success that CSE is experiencing is further proof that there is in fact a much needed alternative in the Canadian capital markets. We are deploying the needed resources and as a result, are developing a much larger footprint within the capital markets Canada-wide”

Looking Forward

There is still much more to the story of the CSE as it continues to evolve along with the capital markets in Canada and abroad.  One element that appears to remain constant, however, is that focusing on providing an efficient way to do business is a winning strategy.

Certainly lowered fees and streamlined disclosure processes are what get the attention of would-be listings. As more and more companies and investors are demonstrating, however, the ability to choose a trading venue that focuses on allowing businesses to succeed is something that seems much harder to put a price on and yet so valuable to have.

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