NEW YORK – The New York Stock Exchange underwent the biggest change in its 213-year history Tuesday as its owners voted to acquire electronic rival Archipelago Holdings Inc. and turn the not-for-profit institition into a publicly traded corporation.
Some questions and answers about the $9 billion transaction and how it will affect one of the most well-known symbols of American capitalism.
Q: Since the NYSE took over an electronic trading system, does that mean there won't be any more brokers crowding around those posts on the floor of the exchange?
A: Despite the march of modernization, floor brokers and the open-outcry auction system they use will remain an integral part of the NYSE, according to exchange officials. Floor brokers already use handheld computers, which replaced those ubiquitous slips of paper that littered the floor in years past. The NYSE will continue to computerize trading, and some floor brokers are certainly fearful that more computers will mean less business for them. But for now, the crowds of brokers shouting out their trades will remain a fixture on the floor.
Q: Will floor brokers be able to use Archipelago's computerized trading system as well?
A: Yes. The exchange has promised its floor brokers access to Archipelago, which means those brokers can not only trade stocks listed on the NYSE, but also trade stocks listed on the rival Nasdaq Stock Market. That could help brokers squeezed by modernization find different avenues to help build their businesses.
Q: What does this mean for individual investors?
A: For the average stock investor, there's very little immediate impact. Stocks will continue to trade on the floor of the NYSE, as well as on Archipelago and other electronic systems. But as competition between the new NYSE Group Inc. and the Nasdaq increases as time goes on, the two will likely lower their transaction costs to attract stock trades. So as computerization increases and fees fall, investors could ultimately see faster and cheaper stock trades.