Imagine keeping track of not just a handful of sectors, but sectors relevant to over 5000 listed companies, many of them the biggest firms in the country. Then, imagine that much of the information you handle has a strong regulatory component and a statement put out in response to what the market regulator SEBI says can have an immediate impact on how stocks perform on the world's tenth-largest stock market.
One might just begin to get a sense of the work involved as an official spokesperson and lead of the communication function at the Bombay Stock Exchange.
PRmoment India caught up with Yatin Padia, head of PR and brand communication, BSE to discuss his experience in handling a highly regulated sector. Read on.
The learning never stops
Much like the even active screens at Dalal Street, Yatin Padia says that you have to keep yourself constantly updated. Every statement can affect sentiment and performance at the BSE. Padia shares that at any given time he has the links for RBI, SEBI, and Twitter open on his desktop so that is abreast with all the current issues.
Padia says, "BSE has over 5000 listed companies, therefore the biggest challenge is that you have to keep updating yourself on the capital market, whether it's auto or any other relevant sector. For example, if there is any SEBI announcement you have to be updated within an hour and be ready to respond to queries. You have to be both very prompt and accurate. You have to understand the SEBI and RBI circulars and what they are saying."
A very regulated industry
In the last 25 years, India has seen very strong growth in its stock markets. From a mere 2000 points in the early 90s, the BSE on any given day today trades at over 30,000 points with a market capitalization over 2 trillion US Dollars. The oldest stock exchange in Asia was set up by a cotton and bullion trader under the shade of banyan trees in the 19th century. Driven by economic reforms, it ushered in the equity culture in India.
By the middle of the 90's market regulator, SEBI was firmly in place putting in strict norms for the equity market.
Padia says, therefore, "It's a highly regulated sector. You have to read a lot and know when and what to communicate. You have to be very proactive. Any changes in stock, we are answerable for that. For example, if there is a stock is suspended for trading for a while, we have to be ready to explain why that happened. Was it a compliance issue, some other issues. You also get questions such as what was the loss to the company during the time stock was suspended, again you need clear, data-based answers to these questions.
Learning from BSE's IT systems update
In 2013, the entire trading software for BSE was upgraded, a rare occurrence in the life of a stock exchange.
Yatin Padia describes the crisis that followed when trading was scheduled to begin at 9 AM.
He says, "This was the biggest PR crisis I have ever handled. When the market started at 9 AM, a technical glitch, led to the shut down of the exchange for 3 hours and 2 minutes."
Padia says we were very transparent from the beginning, "We said that there was an issue at our end. I was receiving calls every ten minutes from the media on what is the loss to the economy due to the shutdown, what is the trading average. Once the domestic media calls stopped, I started receiving calls from the international financial media from New York and London. I was able to explain that globally exchanges also do shut down. I was able to offer data on all the questions and plus we were very transparent in admitting our error and the steps to fix it. So, at the end of the day, it was a lot of fun handling a crisis such as this and learning from it."
Padia attributes a lot of success at work to the openness at BSE.
He explains, "I have access to business heads and the CXO suite It is a very open culture. In BSE we understand that the quality of communications matters. And there is access to people and resources to learn what is new, to be aware and educate yourself."
Top tips for PR professionals
Padia who is currently working on a big campaign for International Farmer's Day in December (BSE recently launched trading in cotton futures in February 2019), says he has a few key mantras for being successful in his job.
The first is to keep yourself updated by going on media rounds. The second is to read a lot, track international publications as well.
Thirdly, Padia advises, "Communicate with a strategic limit, don't give any forward-looking statements to the media that is beyond what you are doing."
The third is a problem that, Padia believes, startups often face while communicating.
Lastly, Padia says, "Take your work seriously, don’t take yourself seriously . Have proper time management, don’t keep it pending."