Dominance through trade.
Countless trade routes crisscross the Inner Sea, creating a robust network that channels wealth between numerous cities and through the hands of countless brokers. By merging the independent wealth of Qadiran merchant-nobility and the resourceful cunning of the Sczarni smugglers, the Exchange's board of directors seeks to rule the markets. From the lowliest porter to the richest trade prince, each member can earn a share of the profits and might climb the ranks no matter his race or background. In time the Exchange hopes to rival even the ruthless and secretive Aspis Consortium, which maintains a stranglehold on some of the most attractive ports.
Aaqir al'Hakam and Guaril Karela
Aaqir al'Hakam of House Damaq emigrated from Katheer to Absalom several years ago. He quickly became a major player in the City at the Center of the World's mercantile circles, settling in one of the sizable estates belonging to his second cousin, Lady Nymara, with his longtime partner Emir Thalzar Gaatan and their three adopted daughters. A cunning economic strategist, and skilled negotiator, Aaqir seems to possess a preternatural foresight into the direction markets will take. He has amassed a considerable personal fortune that he uses to finance the Exchange, his newest venture, which involves sending agents to the far corners of the world to establish trade deals. He hopes to train a new generation of entrepreneurs with an interest in maintaining the enterprises they help establish.
Aaqir's partner in this venture is Guaril Karela, the mastermind behind most of the Sczarni activity in and around Absalom. Toppled from power after his ambitions overreached his ability to defend his gains, Guaril remains a suave, sly, and resourceful leader who now maintains a low profile, working the counter at the Pickled Imp curio shop in the Docks. From this strategic location, the ever-smirking charlatan keeps a close eye on lucrative shipments entering the harbor and unguarded warehouses. The constant flow of dingy sailors and visitors from all over Golarion means that Guaril's agents blend in perfectly as they stop into his shop for a tip or to pay their respects for a past job. At least on paper, Aaqir outranks Guaril, and the wily Varisian often defers to his Keleshite colleague. Nonetheless, Guaril maintains considerable influence, and when he raises an objection, Aaqir al'Hakam listens.
The Exchange Pathfinder
It's a rare Pathfinder who can claim to be immune to the lure of wealth, but those agents most motivated by money often ally themselves with the Exchange in its effort to dominate the Inner Sea's markets. Pathfinders who work with the Exchange often have a knack for trade, and most support Aaqir al'Hakam's upstanding and diplomatic approach to building strong business relationships. However, not all deals are possible through good intentions and fair prices: some opportunities are easier to pursue if the agent employs espionage, trickery, and smuggling. Most Exchange faction Pathfinders are neutral-aligned, and those favoring underhanded approaches tend to be chaotic-aligned.
Aiding Your Cause
There are countless ways to earn a fortune, and the Exchange faction rewards Pathfinders for any number of them. The organization's members can increase their standing by negotiating trade agreements, spying on competitors, using travel as an opportunity to scout out new markets or resources, or even smuggling goods in or out of unfriendly ports as part of faction members' everyday adventuring for the Pathfinder Society. Not all of the Exchange's dealings are legal or necessarily honorable—especially while the organization remains new and must acquire a foothold in difficult markets. A member of the Exchange often must choose between a more aggressive approach and a more reputable one, and those choices help to shape the faction and its operating practices.