THE OPENING BELL – A Day on the Floor of the New York Stock Exchange with Paula Rezza
By John Harline
The New York Stock Exchange’s opening bell has long been considered an iconic phenomenon. Likely described as the “ring heard around the world,” the symbolic bell marks the beginning of each trading day on the NYSE, and is monitored closely by national and international markets alike. The act of ringing the bell is considered a distinct honor for those fortunate enough to witness the event in person, or to be involved with the listed company’s product launch or first appearance on the exchange.
Such was the case for Paula Rezza, Chief Operating Officer and a founding partner of Elysian Capital Markets Group, LLC, when she was invited to attend the celebration of the listing of QVM (Arrow’s Equity Factor ETF) on the New York Stock Exchange and to witness the ringing of the opening bell. As Rezza describes, “this experience could only be equated to that of a small child being invited to visit Disney World for the first time!”
As she traveled from Chicago to New York with the other invited dignitaries, Rezza recalls the level of excitement for the big event. “All we could do was imagine what our day on the exchange would entail. We expected that it would be exciting, yet probably a bit chaotic on the active floor during the trading day.” For Rezza, a first-time visitor to the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, the entire experience would be awe-inspiring. As she walked with her group to Broad and Wall Streets, the home of the NYSE since 1903, she attempted to take in every moment. “As we approached the massive building, we each noticed something different. There were throngs of tourists and a massive security entrance where we could only be admitted entry if our name appeared on ‘the list’; yet, amidst it all, the breathtaking architecture of the site where history had been made for over a century was something I will never forget.”
Following the arduous security line, Rezza and her group walked through a picturesque lobby where they could see the listing company’s name in lights scrolling across a mirror-like wall. “It was incredibly exciting to see the official listing and of course, every cell phone snapped a million photos, as if it would be the only opportunity to do so! We spent a few minutes in the lobby and were escorted from the elevator into the boardroom where we were presented with a beautiful keepsake, an engraved nametag.”
For Rezza, the surreal nature of the moment continued as she admired the relics displayed in the historic boardroom. “It seemed so hard, yet so easy, to take it all in. I could only marvel at the thought of what had occurred in this boardroom throughout history; the presentations and in-depth discussions that had taken place in this very spot. I was surrounded by gorgeous architecture and found myself admiring historical artifacts about which I had only read. There before me was the Faberge Egg, which was presented in the name of Czar Nicholas II in 1904, commemorating the NYSE’s listing of $2 billion in Russian bonds that went into default. A little further down, the original clock of the New York Stock Exchange. I was in awe.”
As the group awaited the impending approach of the opening bell, Rezza recounts the presentation that took place, honoring her host. “We all grinned as we listened to a special message honoring the hard work behind the listing of QVM. A beautifully framed certificate was presented to Timothy Alward, President and CEO of Ford Equity Research, as Jake Griffith, the President of Arrow Investment Advisors, LLC, and Joe Barrato, the CEO and Director of Investment Strategies for Arrow Investment Advisors, LLC, stood by his side. We were all given a commemorative medallion with a picture of the NYSE on one side and a rendering of the symbolic fight between the ‘bull’ and ‘bear’ on the other. There was an enormous sense of pride in this moment—one that I will not forget.”
As if things had not already reached the ultimate pinnacle of excitement, Rezza and her group were asked to proceed onto the floor of the exchange for what they had all been waiting for. “As we started walking, I noticed the crowd of traders busy at work on their computers, yet quieter than the scurried bustle I expected just before such a big event. There were bright lights everywhere and I could see all eyes looking up at the company names crawling on the moving ticker board above us. We searched for our company listing and the perfect opportunity to snap a picture before it passed. And then, there they were, right before our eyes and in the middle of the trading floor – the CNBC Desk and the familiar faces we see everyday, Jim Cramer, Carl Quintanilla and David Farber. My entire group, sensing that our time was limited, furiously snapped “selfies” in unison with the desk in the background. I found myself happily planted in front of the CNBC desk and taking it all in. It was smaller than I imagined and no one was yelling,” describes Rezza.
“Here I was standing in the middle of the eyes and ears of the financial markets and in this blur of excitement, I hear the opening bell ring! It was surreal to watch the proud moment of those standing on the balcony above me and to feel connected to something so special – something that I will never forget. I think you get a full sense of what the ringing of the opening bell really means while standing on the floor watching those around you,” reflects Rezza. “It is order in a chaotic marketplace; the signal that marks the beginning of the trading day.”
Many people would consider this to be an item to be checked off of a Bucket List; perhaps a once in a lifetime occurrence. For Rezza however, she welcomes the opportunity to relive the experience. “I would love the chance to do it again and to take in everything that I might have missed the first time around. Knowing what I know now, I would have spent my time far more wisely. I would have certainly chatted with a few more traders and asked more questions; shook more hands and spent more time walking around. At the time, I was more concerned with being respectful of those working around me and staying out of their way. All in all though, it was an unforgettable day; an amazing day; a proud day. I am grateful to have been a part of it.”