The predecessor of the Society of Technical Analysts (STA), the Association of Chart and Technical Analysts (ACTA) was founded in 1968, making the U.K.’s professional body for technical analysts the oldest of its kind in the world.
The prime movers in the founding of ACTA were Teddy Clarke, of Chart Analysis, Richard Lake, a stockbroker, and Alec Ellinger, of Investment Research, who started using technical analysis in 1945 and was thus a real pioneer. As the STA does now, ACTA held monthly meetings, frequently followed by drinks at a nearby pub, and an irregular journal was produced. The library was held by one of the Committee members, who sent out books to members on request, to be posted back after a few weeks.
In November 1986, the ACTA committee, chaired by Philip Gray of GT Management, decided that, in line with the ‘big bang’ changes in the City of London, ACTA should become incorporated and be run more professionally. Other major contributors to the enactment of the change were Elli Gifford, of Investment Research, Bronwen Wood, one of the City’s most eminent equity technical analysts, and Patricia Morris. ACTA was renamed the Society of Technical Analysts (STA), with a Board of Directors. Membership categories were Associate: for those interested but not qualified; Member: those qualified by virtue of their work as technical analysts, and Fellow. The last category of members was to be nominated by its peers, for contributions to technical analysis in general, and/or the Society.
Philip Gray and Bronwen Wood also felt strongly that the STA needed to develop a formal qualification in the technical analysis field. So began the STA Diploma and the courses leading to the examinations. In the early years, Wood wrote and marked all the papers, with a small team who checked any borderline cases. Those first students would not have recognised today’s course. In the beginning, the course took the form of a solid week of evening lectures, and that was all. There are now many more lecturers teaching a much-expanded course – and more examiners to mark the papers.
The STA was one of the founder members of IFTA, the International Federation of Technical Analysts, with the initial meeting held at an MTA (Market Technicians Association) conference in Florida in May 1988. STA board members Robin Griffiths, Elli Gifford, Bronwen Wood and Anne Whitby were all very involved in the discussions about how this new organisation would be set up and run. Subsequently, the first IFTA conference was hosted in Japan in October of that year, followed by one in London in 1989, hosted by the STA. The latter was memorable for many reasons, not least that it had perhaps the greatest number of delegates of any IFTA conference until the 2014 London conference, and also because, during the conference, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Nigel Lawson, resigned. This caused some interesting short-term chart developments for the speakers to handle.
For a number of years the STA also hosted its own annual conference, with the first in 1990 proposed and driven by John Breame, who was Chairman at the time. It was held on HMS Belfast, largely because the Board was keen to keep costs to a minimum. Partly due to the lack of space on the vessel, people were forced together more than usual, and the conference was extremely successful. After some years, and in an unfavourable market environment, the conferences were stopped.
For a few years the Annual Dinner, which in the early days had been a black tie occasion, was also not held. Thankfully this has now been reinstated. Similarly the July and December meetings have always been viewed as more social occasions, with canapés and refreshments. In previous years, the talks at these ‘parties’ were also of a more light-hearted or historical nature, with an emphasis as much on entertainment as education.
Since the early days, the STA has continued to expand and develop. In the UK, this progress is evident in membership growth, steadily improving meeting facilities, world-class technical analysis education and a library housed at the Barbican in London and easily accessible. Since 2014 there is also a reference library at the City Business Library. Overseas, the STA has been a steadfast member of IFTA, with continual representation on the board of that organisation since it began. With the STA now over 50 years old, we can be sure that the founder members of ACTA would be well pleased with the way their project has grown and developed.