Stock exchange operator NZX has reported a 20 per cent lift in net profit to $17.6m for the 2020 year, driven by a 41.8 per cent rise in market activity.
Operating earnings were up 9.7 per cent at $34.4m while trading volumes hit a record $53.7 billion.
There was revenue growth across NZX's capital markets, Smartshares and NZX Wealth Technologies businesses, the exchange said.
Chair James Miller said that while 2020 presented challenges for many sectors of the economy – the extraordinary year provided the opportunity for New Zealand's capital markets to provide essential capital funding for businesses in need.
"Never before has the value of having access to capital been so evident for New Zealand businesses," he said in a statement.
"We have also seen the most significant re-engagement with equities as an investment class in the past 30 years," he said.
The S&P/NZX 50 (Gross) index finished the year at 13,092 – up a further 14 per cent on the substantial lift the previous year.
The total market capitalisation of all NZX listed securities across equity, fixed income and fund asset classes now exceeds $233 billion and sits at 76.6 per cent of New Zealand's GDP.
NZX declared a final dividend of 3.1 cents per share to be paid on 26 March 2021, contributing to a total year dividend of 6.1 cents per share.
Together with the strong appreciation in NZX's share price, the total shareholder return for the December year was 50.3 per cent.
Chief executive Mark Peterson said global volatility, a low interest rate environment and greater interest in investing helped push trading volumes to record levels.
"The health and vitality of our markets in 2020 is reflected in the 149 per cent increase in the volume traded, and 42 per cent increase in the value traded for the full year to $53.7 billion compared with $37.8 billion the previous year," he said.
Peterson said there was clear evidence of ongoing strategic progress from removing the fixed-fee elements of trade fees, improving rules to support price transparency and attracting new Participants and investors to the NZX.
"This has opened up access to a broader range of investors, lifted on-market activity and delivered improved liquidity to our exchange.
"Alongside the increase in value traded across the NZX, we continue to observe growth in on-market liquidity levels which have now normalised above 60 per cent."
Securities trading and clearing revenues were up strongly, with listing and data revenues also showing good growth.
Higher costs in 2020 were driven by increased spend in technology, alongside investing in people and capability to support the growth and sales opportunities that are being created.
The year had been "incredibly challenging for the entire capital markets ecosystem" and that it had given the exchange pause for thought in how to improve the way it manages risk.
In reference to last year's cyberattack on the exchange, which lasted several days, the NZX recognised the need for further investment in technology, people and systems this year.
Peterson said that while NZX had a strong tail-wind during the year, the results in 2020 had come from the strategic platform established over the past three years.
He said capital requirements in the wake of Covid-19, and the greater attractiveness of equity funding, had seen the value of capital raised for the year total $17.6b.
The price volatility created by Covid-19 did impact new debt market issuance materially from March through to July.
However, the market came back strongly from August through to December with 12 new debt securities totalling $2.7b issued; $825 million of it in green bonds.
Equity listings from Radius Healthcare, Rua Bioscience, Harmoney, Auckland Real Estate and Rural Land Company in 2020 highlighted the breadth of businesses seeking capital for growth and the different pathways to listing.
The new regulatory model for NZX's listed markets (NZ RegCo) was launched in early December, completing the structural separation of the Exchange's commercial and regulatory roles.
Looking ahead, NZX said it expects full-year 2021 operating earnings to be in the range of $31.5 million to $35.5 million, assuming "no material adverse events".
NZX shares last traded at $1.99, having gained 37 per cent over the last 12 months.