NYSE’s Newest Upgrades Start Right at the Front Door

During the pandemic, the New York Stock Exchange took extraordinary steps to keep its markets open and operating smoothly. At the same time, it was quietly making major upgrades away from the trading floor.

Finding them is as simple as walking through the front door.

Visitors will see the first of these improvements as soon as they step off the cobblestones that line lower Manhattan’s Broad Street and enter the building’s redesigned main lobby. Those who have visited before will witness a stunning transformation. Those entering for the first time will be treated to a sleek, modern experience that marries the exchange’s past and its high-tech future.

A view of the NYSE’s redesigned lobby showing its two 24-foot video displays.

The space that greets visitors is designed to exist in concert with both the exterior of the Greek Revival style building and the recently renovated event floors above, which include the NYSE’s iconic boardroom, home to IPO celebrations, conferences and investor events.
“There is a cohesiveness of look and feel that was achieved by the materials and the finishes and the lighting,” says Jim Katsarelis, who manages NYSE building operations and led the 2-year renovation. “Technology also played a part.”

The NYSE’s Jim Katsarelis is interviewed by Cheddar’s Jon Steinberg about the redesigned lobby.

When it first opened to the public in 1903, the George B. Post-designed building provided more space and convenience for traders and better light and ventilation than the prior structure. The new renovations place a premium on the visitor experience. Two 24-foot-long video displays line one side of the lobby, guiding guests as they move through the expanse toward the elevator bank and the floors above. On the other side, smaller screens describe key moments in the creation of the modern NYSE. One even challenges guests with a trivia quiz that cycles through 100 distinct questions.

Glass-enclosed exhibits curated by the NYSE’s archivists bring to life the listed companies that sit at the core of the NYSE community. There’s a miniature version of NASA’s Orion Space Module, a project led by Lockheed Martin, and a NIO Founders Edition electric car. Items highlighting longtime NYSE issuers like McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Campbell Soup Company welcome visitors as well.

The lobby plays a particularly important role for the NYSE. While news images tend to focus on its colorful floor traders, the exchange’s building at the corner of Wall and Broad streets is a hub of activity for the NYSE community, which includes more than 2,300 listed companies.

The entrance to the NYSE’s redesigned lobby featuring wall displays and freestanding exhibits.

In the last full year before the pandemic, nearly 90,000 guests entered the exchange. They came to celebrate IPOs and direct listings, attend conferences and investor meetings, participate in bell ceremonies and media interviews. They included founders, CEOs, CFOs, board members, executives, portfolio managers, government officials and foreign dignitaries.

Gifts from NYSE-listed companies Coca-Cola and NIO exhibited in the NYSE lobby.

As the reopening in New York and across the nation progresses, the flow of exchange visitors continues to pick up. Importantly, the gatherings they attend have been enhanced, with the ability to hold remote events developed during the pandemic creating a new normal that combines in-person and remote attendance.

“We’ll always have this hybrid, remote option,” says Tina Schippers, who with her colleagues managed about 2,000 NYSE events in pre-pandemic 2019. “People are always going to want to use the technology that we tapped into the past year.”

This will significantly extend the reach of NYSE celebrations and conferences, Schippers explains, reaching many more people than in-person events alone. Activity will ramp up further this summer before reaching a pandemic-era crescendo after Labor Day.

If the NYSE’s upgrades are substantial, the work required to get there was extraordinary. Katsarelis’ lobby renovation began prior to COVID-19 in early 2019, but construction started later that year and ran throughout the pandemic. In fact, the lobby itself has only just reopened, welcoming guests for the first time the week before Memorial Day.

A team of about 80 people from a dozen separate NYSE areas participated in the project. Because the lobby is located directly under the trading floor, work had to be done on nights and weekends to avoid impacting market operations. For example, more than 42 miles of old telecommunications cable were removed during construction, which routinely ran until midnight or 1 a.m.

Further, Katsarelis explains, since construction is not an activity that can be accomplished remotely, team members had to adopt new safety protocols to keep the project moving.

A trade confirmation slip from 1942 found during construction on the new NYSE lobby.

Their efforts did, however, yield some unexpected gems. Workers unearthed historical items that had somehow found their way into the building’s structure, including a remarkably well-preserved trade confirmation slip from 1942.

“We were able to get some pretty cool artifacts,” he says, “that literally fell out of the ceiling.”

This story was initially published on the NYSE website.

The High-Tech NYSE That Nobody Ever Sees

It’s shortly after midnight and the New York Stock Exchange is waking up.

Miles away from its famed trading floor in lower Manhattan, the NYSE’s massive array of servers begins whirring to life. Serge Sheynkman’s system operations team monitors closely as the applications that power the NYSE begin their startup actions, preparing for a trading day that is still more than nine hours away.

The process itself is automated, bringing up system after system until all are ready to trade. Meanwhile, Sheynkman’s team stands prepared if manual intervention is needed.

“They are ready to address any unexpected circumstances,” he says. “They are the best in the business.”

This is the modern-day NYSE, powered by technology remarkable in its scale and capabilities. Visitors and TV viewers never get to see this NYSE, critical to a market that trades more than 1 billion shares a day and lists companies worth a combined $35 trillion.

Serge Sheynkman and his system operations team at work.

The colorful floor traders so familiar to millions around the world may be the public face of the exchange, but they interact regularly with an impressive array of technology that operates far off camera. This high-tech NYSE touches market participants in many ways.

While traders and investors get their last few hours of sleep before heading to work, a second team logs onto the NYSE’s systems. At about 3 a.m., the trading operations group verifies that all business and regulatory data needed for the day’s session have been loaded. This includes the details of upcoming new listings, like IPOs, as well as corporate actions announced late the prior day, such as dividends and stock splits.

At about 6:30 a.m., the floor operations team, located in the historic exchange building at 11 Wall Street, gets involved, powering up the technology that connects the exchange’s floor brokers to the rest of its systems. About an hour later, trading operations confirms that the Designated Market Makers’ systems are ready for trading.

Hope Jarkowski on the NYSE trading floor.

“That technology is really important for a lot of reasons,” says Hope Jarkowski, who leads the NYSE’s equities business.

The ability of brokers and DMMs to seamlessly connect with the NYSE’s main trading engine, Pillar, enables the exchange’s unique model to shine, she explains. Traders can manually jump into transactions when their experience and judgment prompt them to do so, while the NYSE’s systems can execute trades in fractions of a second when no intervention is required. Together, the combination of humans and machines performs far better than either one could alone.

Technology, though, never takes a curtain call.

When everything operates smoothly, there is nothing to see and nothing to hear. This was very much the case during the market volatility that emerged during the early days of the pandemic as well as the frenzied trading during the meme stock boom earlier this year.

NYSE systems activity can be measured by looking at the number of electronic messages processed. These messages include orders, quotes and trades. On March 4, 2021, the combined systems of the NYSE Group, which include the NYSE’s affiliated exchanges, surpassed their early pandemic record of 329 billion in a single day to process a stunning 356 billion electronic messages. Activity at this level had never been seen in the years prior to the pandemic.

Building systems capable of handling all this represents something of an engineering marvel. More than just speed and capacity, the NYSE’s Pillar trading engine, for example, exhibits remarkably little variance from transaction to transaction. This quality, known as determinism, allows traders to place orders more confidently, knowing exactly how long their money will remain at risk before their trades are completed. Traders measure this in microseconds. In today’s market environment, every microsecond represents an opportunity.

Keeping such systems running smoothly requires time and attention.

At about 8 p.m. as after-hours trading ends, the exchange’s systems finally come offline with additional activity ahead. For the next couple of hours, Sheynkman’s team starts preparing for the next trading session. After that, the systems enter their maintenance window, when a variety of changes and updates take place.

“We target to finish all our activities by 11 o’clock at night,” he says. “So, we do sleep.”
But only for an hour or so. Shortly after midnight, the NYSE begins to wake again as a new trading day arrives.

This story was initially published on the NYSE website.