The following posts provide a snapshot of the principal U.S., European and global financial regulatory developments of interest to banks, investment firms, broker-dealers, market infrastructures, asset managers and corporates.
UK Financial Conduct Authority Elaborates on its Mission and Consults on Approaches to Competition and Authorization
The UK Financial Conduct Authority has published two consultations, seeking feedback on draft documents setting out its regulatory approach to authorization and competition. The two documents, once finalized, will form part of a series of formal approach documents explaining the FCA's approach to regulation in more depth. They should be read alongside the FCA's Mission document, which was first published in October 2016 and most recently updated in November 2017.
In the consultation on its approach to authorization, the FCA explains the public value and purpose of requiring authorization to conduct regulated financial services activities and the FCA's current approach to authorizing firms and individuals. The FCA seeks feedback on four questions: (i) understanding of the Threshold Conditions that firms and individuals must meet for authorization, and any areas where the FCA might be more specific; (ii) how the FCA might improve its approach to supporting firms and individuals to meet the minimum standards and how the FCA might better promote competition; (iii) whether the FCA has suggested the correct commitments to firms making authorization applications and what other commitments could be made; and (iv) whether the FCA has prioritized the right strategic goals, and, if not, what additional goals could add the most public value to the FCA's work.
UK Financial Conduct Authority Publishes Measures to Improve the UK Financial Advice Market
The Financial Conduct Authority has published a Policy Statement setting out new Handbook rules and guidance to implement some of the recommendations arising from the Financial Advice Market Review launched by the FCA jointly with HM Treasury in August 2015.
European Commission Consults on Improving Supervisory Reporting
Following its 2015 Call for Evidence on the EU regulatory framework for financial services, the Commission has issued a report on progress on the targeted follow-up measures to the Call for Evidence, which was set out in a November 2016 Communication. Alongside the progress report, the European Commission has launched a consultation on supervisory reporting requirements. Some of the respondents to the Call for Evidence had highlighted overlaps and inconsistencies between reporting requirements in certain pieces of financial legislation, a reportedly excessive number of requirements, as well as, at times, insufficient clarity as to what needs to be reported and an insufficient use of international standards. Other respondents also highlighted the costs (including IT costs) of implementing reporting requirements and a number of respondents had mentioned that many EU Member States gold-plate the requirements.
The consultation seeks feedback in a number of areas, with the aim of gaining evidence on the cost of compliance with existing EU level supervisory reporting requirements, as well as on the consistency, coherence, effectiveness, efficiency, and added value of those requirements. The feedback from the consultation will provide important guidance to the Commission when preparing, if considered appropriate, a formal Commission proposal.
Comments on the consultation are invited by February 28, 2018.
View the Consultation Paper.
View Progress Report on the Call for Evidence.
View the November 2016 Communication.
View Press Release.
UK Court of Appeal Grants ENRC Permission to Appeal Widely Criticised Privilege Ruling - and Law Society Seeks to Intervene
On October 11, 2017, Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation was granted permission by the Court of Appeal to appeal the High Court's ruling articulating a significant restriction on the scope of legal professional privilege (in particular, litigation privilege). The Law Society of England & Wales - which has expressed concern about the High Court's ruling and its implication for when and how companies and their employees are protected by privilege - has since announced that it has applied to the Court for permission to intervene in the appeal.
Although the ENRC case was brought by the UK Serious Fraud Office, the High Court's ruling - and the future decision by the Court of Appeal - will impact upon the way investigations are conducted in the context of (prospective) criminal prosecutions by the UK Financial Conduct Authority as well.
European Commission Legislative Proposals for Enhanced Powers for European Supervisory Authorities and the European Systemic Risk Board09/20/2017
The European Commission has published legislative proposals designed to strengthen and further integrate the supervisory framework of the European Union. The proposals build on contributions to the Commission's public consultation in autumn 2016 on the European Systemic Risk Board and its public consultation in spring 2017 on the European Supervisory Authorities – the European Banking Authority, the European Securities and Markets Authority and the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority.
European Commission Launches Consultation on Further Reducing Barriers to Post-Trade Services
The European Commission has launched a consultation seeking views about the current state of post-trade markets, the main trends and challenges faced by post-trade services providers and their users, the existence and scale of remaining or new barriers to post-trade services used in financial transactions, the risks associated with such barriers and the best ways to address them.
Alongside the consultation, the Commission has published the report of the European Post-Trade Forum (EPTF), an expert group established by the Commission in early 2016 to assess the evolution of the EU post-trade landscape and the progress made in removing the "Giovannini barriers" to post-trade services. The EPTF report identifies those Giovannini barriers that have been successfully addressed since 2001 but cites further barriers that have arisen due to technological and market developments in the intervening fifteen years, in particular developments in derivatives markets, securities finance activities, collateral management and post-trade reporting.
The Commission consultation seeks stakeholders' views on a wide ranging set of questions, including: the relative importance of trends in post-trade in the EU; technological advances (such as distributed ledger technology and other FinTech developments); financial stability concerns arising from the susceptibility of post-trade areas to systemic risk; the means by which EU post-trade markets could become more attractive internationally; the near and longer term strategy for EU post-trade services and the challenges the markets are likely to face.
European Securities and Markets Authority Consults on Guidelines on Internalised Settlement Reporting Under the Central Securities Depositaries Regulation
The European Securities Markets Authority has published a consultation on proposed guidelines to ensure common, uniform and consistent application of the provisions of the Central Securities Depositaries Regulation that apply to internalized settlement reporting and to the exchange of information between ESMA and national regulators.
G20 Leaders Outline Action Plan Following Hamburg Summit
The G20 Leaders met in Hamburg, Germany on July 7-8, 2017 and have published a Leaders' Declaration and an Action Plan setting out the G20's strategy for achieving strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth. The Action Plan includes ongoing and planned work on financial sector regulation and development.
European Commission Consults on Conflicts of Law Rules for Securities Ownership
The European Commission has published a consultation paper on conflicts of law rules for securities ownership, addressing so-called third party effects of transactions in securities and claims. The consultation relates to the Commission's Capital Markets Union and the objective of creating a single market for capital by facilitating cross-border investment.
Prime Minster Theresa May Triggers Article 50 Brexit Negotiations
UK Prime Minster Theresa May formally notified the European Council of the UK's intention to withdraw from the European Union in accordance with requirements set out in Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union. Prime Minister May sent a letter to the President of the Council, Donald Tusk, which sets out the approach the UK Government seeks to take in discussing its exit from the European Union over the next two years.
View the letter.
You might like to view our Brexit resource page, which is available here.
European Securities and Markets Authority Publishes Research Report on EU Securities Financing Transactions and Haircuts
The European Securities and Markets Authority has published a research Report on securities financing transactions in the European Union and the use of collateral haircuts by firms. The purpose of ESMA's research is to outline the current level and calculation methodologies of haircuts used in the EU by SFT market participants with the overall aim of informing future discussions in the context of global regulatory policy.
US Federal Reserve System Publishes Annual Financial Statements
The US Federal Reserve System released the 2016 combined annual audited financial statements for the Federal Reserve Banks, as well as statements for the 12 individual Federal Reserve Banks and the Board of Governors. An independent auditing firm engaged by the Federal Reserve Board has issued unqualified opinions on the financial statements and on the Federal Reserve Board’s and the Federal Reserve Banks’ internal controls over financial reporting.
The audited financial statements provide a significant amount of information about the assets, liabilities and earnings of the Federal Reserve Banks and the Federal Reserve Board as of December 31, 2016, including information about the composition, fair value and earnings related to the $4.4 trillion of US Treasury securities, government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) debt securities and federal agency and GSE mortgage-backed securities acquired through open market operations.
View The Federal Reserve System financial statements.
G20 Leaders Publish Communique
The G20 Leaders have published a Communique from the Summit held in Germany. The G20 Leaders reiterated their commitment to finalizing the remaining elements of the financial sector reform agenda and to conducting a post-implementation evaluation of the reforms. The G20 Leaders have endorsed the Financial Stability Board's recommendations to address structural vulnerabilities arising from asset management activities and have asked the International Organization of Securities Commissions to prepare measures for timely implementation of those recommendations. Monitoring of those risks is to continue and, for the July 2017 Summit, the FSB is to assess the adequacy of monitoring and policy tools to address risks from shadow banking and to consider whether any further policy is needed. The G20 Leaders have called on their members to complete their implementation of the OTC derivatives reforms. The FSB is due to review the implementation and effects of these reforms.
European Commission Launches Portal for Better Regulation03/06/2017
The European Commission launched a new portal through which feedback can be provided on proposed EU legislation and initiatives. The portal is part of the Commission’s Better Regulation agenda. The portal is intended to provide individuals and stakeholders with the opportunity to provide input on new EU legislation from the preparation phase through to proposals for new laws and evaluations of how existing laws are performing.
View the European Commission’s portal.
European Commission Requests Technical Advice for Prospectus Regulation Implementation
The European Commission has published a request to the European Securities and Markets Authority for technical advice on possible delegated acts under the Prospectus Regulation. The Prospectus Regulation has been agreed but is yet to be published in the Official Journal of the European Union. It will enter into force 20 days after publication and apply two years after publication - currently expected to be June 2019. The Prospectus Regulation will replace the existing Prospectus Directive and sets out the requirements for a prospectus to be published when securities are offered to the public or admitted to trading on a regulated market. The Prospectus Regulation aims to simplify the rules and administrative obligations for companies wishing to issue shares or debt on the market and reducing the costs of preparing a prospectus, thus fostering cross-border investments in the single market, while at the same time still enabling investors to make informed investment decisions.
US Department of Labor Proposes Extension to Fiduciary Rule Applicability Date
The US Department of Labor proposed to extend the applicability dates of the fiduciary rule and related exemptions, including the Best Interest Contract Exemption, from April 10, 2017 to June 9, 2017.
US Securities and Exchange Commission Approves Rules to Ease Investor Access to Exhibits in Company Filings
The SEC adopted rule and form amendments to make it easier for investors and other market participants to find and access exhibits in registration statements and periodic reports that were originally provided in previous filings. The final rules will take effect on September 1, 2017.
The amendments will require issuers to include a hyperlink to each exhibit in the filing’s exhibit index. Currently, someone seeking to retrieve and access an exhibit that has been incorporated by reference must review the exhibit index to determine the filing in which the exhibit is included, and then must search through the registrant’s filings to locate the relevant filing.
View the final rule.
US Securities and Exchange Commission Seeks Public Comment on Possible Change to Industry Guide 3 – Statistical Disclosure by Bank Holding Companies
The SEC published a request for public comment on disclosures called for by Industry Guide 3 - Statistical Disclosure by Bank Holding Companies. Stating that the financial services industry has changed drastically since Guide 3 was originally published, the SEC is soliciting public input on whether Guide 3 continues to elicit the information that investors need for informed investment and voting decisions. The SEC also seeks comment on whether there are new types of disclosures about the activities of bank holding companies that investors would find important.
The request for comment is published on the SEC website and in the Federal Register. The comment period will remain open until May 8, 2017.
View the request for comment.
European Commission Publishes White Paper on the Future of Europe
The European Commission published a White Paper on the future of Europe. The White Paper outlines possible drivers of change and scenarios in which the current 27 member states could evolve by 2025. The White Paper reviews possible changes that could occur over the next decade, such as the impacts of new technologies on societies and jobs, doubts about globalization, security concerns and the rise of populism. The White Paper outlines a non-exhaustive list of five possible scenarios by which the EU could evolve, entitled: (i) Carrying On; (ii) Nothing But the Single Market; (iii) Those Who Want More Do More: (iv) Doing Less More Efficiently; and (v) Doing Much More Together. The White Paper forms part of the Commission’s contribution to the Rome Summit. Following the Summit, the Commission, the European Parliament and interested Member States will host a series of “Future of Europe Debates” across Europe.
View the press release.
View the Annex summarizing the scenarios.
View the White Paper.
Financial Conduct Authority Proposes Changes to UK Equity IPO Process
The Financial Conduct Authority launched a consultation on proposed changes to the availability of information in the UK equity IPO process. The consultation follows the discussion paper published by the FCA in April 2016. The FCA's view is that diverse and independent information is not available early enough in the IPO process. To address this issue, the FCA is proposing to amend the order in which the approved prospectus and connected research is made available to investors and to ensure that analysts from firms not supporting the IPO are provided with access to the issuer's management. In particular, the FCA is proposing that an approved prospectus or registration be published and unconnected analysts have access to the issuer's management before any connected research is released. In addition, the FCA is proposing to clarify, through supplemental guidance, that it would regard any interaction between analysts and issuers or their representatives to be participation in investment banking pitching efforts until the firm has accepted a mandate to carry out underwriting or placing services for the issuer and the firm's position in the syndicate has been determined.
The consultation closes on June 1, 2017. The FCA expects to publish a policy statement setting out the final changes, if any, before the end of 2017.
View the consultation paper.
View the discussion paper.
UK Regulator Concerned that Loan-Based Crowdfunding Platforms may be Facilitating Loans to Lending Business that are not Properly Authorized
The Financial Conduct Authority has published a letter addressed to the CEOs of firms operating a loan-based crowdfunding platform about concerns that the platforms may be facilitating loans to lending businesses that do not have the requisite regulatory permissions. According to the FCA, a lending business that borrows through a platform and then lends that money to others may be carrying on the regulatory activity of "accepting deposits". If the lending business does not have the regulatory permission to accept deposits, it would be in breach of UK legislation and may be committing a criminal offense. The FCA's view is that a loan-based crowdfunding platform that facilitates this type of behaviour is "acting in a manner inconsistent with [the FCA's] expectations for regulated firms" and may be in breach of regulatory requirements, in particular, breaching the FCA's Principles on treating customers fairly, the threshold conditions and business model requirements. Firms operating loan-based crowdfunding platforms have been asked to assess whether they are facilitating the relevant behaviour, and if so, to desist and consider the appropriate steps that should be taken to avoid facilitating such actions in the future. The FCA also requests the CEOs provide, by March 6, 2017, the details of the firms that they have concluded are accepting deposits without the requisite permission.
View the FCA's letter.
UK Definition of "Financial Advice" Set to Change from 2018
HM Treasury published its response to its late 2016 consultation on amending the definition of regulated advice under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Regulated Activities) Order 2001 to bring it in line with the definition of "investment advice" set out in the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive. HMT is proceeding with the change as consulted on and will lay draft legislation before Parliament to give effect to the change. The Financial Conduct Authority published a statement about the change, setting out what the change will mean for firms advising on investments or providing a personal recommendation.
European Commission Publishes Roadmap for Addressing National Barriers to Capital Flows
The European Commission published a report on accelerating the Capital Markets Union by addressing national barriers to capital flows. The report is addressed to the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union. It focuses on issues that may impede investors' cross-border operations throughout the investment cycle. The report identifies what it sees as the main barriers to investment and sets out a suggested roadmap for Member States to address these barriers, most of which are actionable in 2017. The issues identified in the report include marketing requirements, administrative arrangements, regulatory fees for cross-border marketing, different approaches to crowdfunding, residence requirements, insufficient financial literacy, differences in insolvency regimes and withholding tax relief. Member States are invited to agree on the actions set out in the roadmap although the Commission may also consider whether any legislative proposals are appropriate.
Member States have also been invited to identify other barriers in CMU-relevant areas, such as national reporting requirements imposed in addition to existing EU legislation, barriers to the online distribution of investment funds, obstacles for smaller institutional investors ineligible for a passport under the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive and challenges involved in the distribution of retail financial products.
View the Commission's report.
US Securities and Exchange Commission Issues Guidance Update and Investor Bulletin on Robo-Advisers
The US SEC published information and guidance for investors and the financial services industry on the use of robo-advisers, which are registered investment advisers that use computer algorithms to provide investment advisory services online. Because of the unique issues raised by robo-advisers, the SEC’s Division of Investment Management issued a Guidance Update for robo-advisers that contains suggestions for how they can meet their disclosure, suitability and compliance obligations under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. Robo-advisers, as registered investment advisers, are subject to the substantive and fiduciary obligations of the Advisers Act. The Guidance Update notes that there may be a variety of means for a robo-adviser to meet its obligations to clients under the Advisers Act, and that not all of the issues addressed in the Guidance Update will be applicable to every robo-adviser.
UK Regulator Proposes Changes to UK Listing Rules
The Financial Conduct Authority has published a consultation paper proposing amendments to the Listing Rules of the FCA's Handbook. The FCA is proposing to, among other matters, (i) clarify the premium listing eligibility requirements and introduce new technical notes and additional guidance to give more context to the rules; (ii) introduce a new concessionary route to premium listing for certain property companies that cannot meet the track record requirements so that a property valuation report may be used to assess the company's eligibility for a premium listing; (iii) introduce new technical notes on the concessionary routes; (iv) amendments to the profit test within the class tests which are used to determine which governance requirements a premium listed issuer must comply with for certain large transactions; and (v) in the context of reverse takeovers, reversing the assumption of insufficient information being available to the market where a target issuer cannot provide that information so that the assumption will be that the market can operate smoothly on the basis of information that listed companies make publicly available as part of their disclosure of inside information requirements under MAR.
The FCA's discussion paper on the review of the effectiveness of the UK primary markets should be read in conjunction with the consultation paper. Responses to the FCA's proposed rule changes are requested by May 14, 2017. The FCA intends to publish its final rules in a Policy Statement in the second half of 2017.
View the consultation paper.
View the discussion paper.
UK Regulator Launches Review of UK Primary Markets
The Financial Conduct Authority launched its review into the effectiveness of primary markets by publishing a discussion paper on the UK primary markets landscape. The FCA is seeking views on how the UK primary capital markets can meet the needs of investors and operate effectively. It includes an overview of the UK's primary markets, how the listing regime fits in, the FCA's regulatory role and key trends in the UK's primary equity markets.
UK Regulator Proposals to Amend Client Money Distribution Rules
The FCA published a consultation paper on proposed changes to the client money distribution rules in the Client Assets Sourcebook of the FCA Handbook - CASS 7A - as a result of the special administration regime review. The client money rules govern how client assets are to be distributed by an insolvency practitioner managing a failed investment firm. The proposals focus on rule changes following the introduction in early January 2017 by the Government of draft regulations to improve the regime in line with the Bloxham Report's recommendations, i.e. The Investment Bank (Amendment of Definition) and Special Administration (Amendment) Regulations 2017, the Amending SAR Regulations.
UK Legislation Implementing the Bank of England and Financial Services Act Comes into Force
The Bank of England and Financial Services Act 2016 (Commencement No 4 and Saving Provision) Regulations 2017 came into force. The Regulations set March 1, 2017 as the date on which certain provisions of the Bank of England and Financial Services Act 2016 will apply, including, those provisions which will transfer the functions of the Prudential Regulation Authority to the Bank of England. Those functions will be exercised through the Prudential Regulation Committee.
View the Regulations.
European Commission Holds Public Consultation on the Capital Markets Union Mid-Term Review
The European Commission launched a public consultation on the Capital Markets Union program and how it could be updated and completed, building on the initiatives that the Commission has presented so far, as part of the mid-term review. The mid-term review of the CMU action plan is scheduled for June 2017. The CMU Action Plan was published in September 2015 and set out priorities for putting in place the building blocks of a CMU by 2019. The Commission also published a Communication in September 2016 reaffirming its commitment to the CMU, calling for an acceleration of reform and outlining steps to increase the rate of completion. The Commission has completed 15 of the initiatives set out in the Action Plan (approximately half), including making progress on core legislative initiatives such as the proposed Prospectus Regulation and Securitization Regulation. Several more initiatives are expected to be launched in the coming months, including a proposal for simple efficient and competitive personal pensions, promotion of the FinTech sector with an appropriate regulatory environment and sustainable finance.
US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency Launches Web-Based System for Licensing
The OCC launched the agency’s new web-based Central Application Tracking System (CATS). The system will assist authorized national banks, federal savings associations and federal branches and agencies with drafting, submission and tracking of licensing and public welfare investment applications and notices. CATS also allows OCC analysts to receive, process and manage those applications and notices. CATS replaces e-Corp and CD-1 Invest, the current OCC electronic filing systems.
The OCC plans to roll out institutions’ access to CATS in three phases. The first phase includes banks that are frequent electronic filers with the OCC. The second and third phases of the roll-out of CATS are scheduled to begin in spring 2017. OCC staff will notify institutions regarding the date of their access to CATS several weeks before such access is available.
View OCC bulletin regarding the new system.
US House of Representatives Passes Securities Exchange Act Reform Bill
The US House of Representatives passed H.R. 78, the SEC Regulatory Accountability Act, sponsored by Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO). The Act would require the US Securities and Exchange Commission to justify the costs and benefits of a proposed regulation prior to its issuance of the same. In addition, before issuing a regulation, the SEC would also be required to do the following: (i) identify the nature and source of the problem its proposed regulation is meant to address; (ii) identify and assess available alternatives; and (iii) ensure that any regulations are consistent and written in plain language. The legislation also contains language requiring the SEC to conduct a retrospective review of its regulations every five years and to perform post-adoption impact assessments of major rules.
View text of the bill.
Draft UK Legislation to Amend the Special Administration Regime for Investment Firms Published
The UK Government published draft legislation to amend the Special Administration Regulations, i.e. The Investment Bank (Amendment of Definition) and Special Administration (Amendment) Regulations 2017, the Amending SAR Regulations. The purpose of the draft legislation is to improve the return of client money when an investment firm fails. The changes are in line with the Bloxham Report's recommendations which aim to minimize the market impact of a failed firm's entry into special administration. The draft Amending SAR Regulations amend the scope of the SAR Regulations to include firms that manage an alternative investment fund or Undertakings for the Collective Investment of Transferable Securities or who act as a trustee or depositary for an AIF or UCITS. The Amending SAR Regulations will make the transfer of client assets from a failing firm to another financial institution easier because restrictions on transfers will be removed, including removing any restriction affecting what can or cannot be assigned as well as any requirement to obtain client consent. The draft Amending SAR Regulations also improve the bar date mechanism and provide for continuity of services for the safe custody of client assets. The draft Amending SAR Regulations are subject to Parliamentary scrutiny. They are expected to come into force in February 2017.
View the Amending SAR Regulations.
View the Bloxham report.
Members of EU High-Level Expert Group on Sustainable Finance Appointed
The European Commission announced the membership composition of the High-Level Expert Group on sustainable finance. The purpose of the Expert Group is to provide recommendations for a comprehensive EU strategy on sustainable finance as part of the Capital Markets Union. The Commission will draw on such recommendations when determining how to integrate considerations of sustainability into the EU’s rules for the financial sector. The Group’s advice will outline how the EU should design appropriate and proportionate financial policies, incentives and signals for financial institutions, corporate capital-raisers and markets to direct capital towards sustainable finance and to take operational steps to protect the stability of the financial system from risks related to the environment. The Group will start meeting as of January 2017. An interim report is expected around the middle of the year and a final report in December 2017.
View the announcement.
European Banking Authority Recommendations for the EU Covered Bonds Framework
The European Banking Authority published recommendations for harmonizing the EU framework for covered bonds. For banks investing in covered bonds that meet certain criteria, the Capital Requirements Regulation sets preferential risk weights to be applied. The recommendations are set out in a report which builds on the EBA's 2014 Report on EU covered bond frameworks and capital treatment. The aim of the recommendations is to ensure that only financial instruments which comply with certain harmonized structural, credit risk and prudential standards are capable of being covered bonds, and as such have access to the special regulatory and capital treatment provided. Harmonizing the EU framework on covered bonds is part of the Capital Markets Union initiative launched by the European Commission in September 2015
Final EU Agreement on Draft Prospectus Rules as Part of Capital Markets Union
The Council of the European Union announced that it had reached an agreement with the European Parliament on prospectuses for the issuing and offering of securities. Finalization of the agreement comes after the provisional agreement reached on December 7, 2016. The draft Prospectus Regulation is part of the EU's Capital Markets Union plan. The proposed Prospectus Regulation will replace the current EU Prospectus Directive, revising the regime for companies to raise money on public markets or by public offer to potential investors. The aim is to simplify the rules and administrative obligations for companies wishing to issue shares or debt on the market and reducing the costs of preparing a prospectus, thus fostering cross-border investments in the single market, while at the same time still enabling investors to make informed investment decisions. Some compromise has been reached in the final agreement, such that no prospectuses will be required for capital raisings and crowdfunding projects up to EUR1 million. It has also been agreed, among other things, that the threshold beyond which the issuance of a prospectus is mandatory be increased from €5 million to €8 million in capital raised. Below that threshold, issuers can raise capital in accordance with rules set for local growth markets. The Council expects Parliament to approve the regulation at first reading, with the final text then to be submitted for adoption by the Council.
View the Council's press release.
You may like to view our client note on the European Commission's proposal for a Prospectus Regulation.
European Supervisory Authorities Consult on the Use of Big Data by Financial Institutions
The Joint Committee of the European Supervisory Authorities launched a consultation paper on the use of big data by financial institutions. The ESAs are the European Banking Authority, the European Securities and Markets Authority and the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority. Big data refers to the collection, processing and use of high volumes of different types of data from various sources, using IT tools and algorithms. Big data is used to reveal patterns or correlations, to generate new ideas or solutions or to more accurately predict future events. The objective of the consultation is for the ESAs to better understand the impact of the increased use of big data on the financial industry and to assess whether any supervisory or regulatory actions are needed. The ESAs do not consider that the existing EU legislation on data protection, competition, consumer protection and sectoral financial services regulations explicitly addresses big data. The discussion paper seeks feedback on whether there is sufficient flexibility in the existing legislation to cover big data, whether there are any gaps and how the existing legislation impacts the use of big data by the financial services sector. Responses to the consultation are requested by March 17, 2017. The ESAs expect to publish their decision on next steps, if any, before the end of 2017.
View the Discussion Paper.
International Organization of Securities Commission Publishes Final Report on Benchmark Regulation
The International Organization of Securities Commission published its final Report outlining Guidance on reporting in compliance with its Principles for Financial Benchmarks. The purpose of the Guidance is to increase the consistency and quality of reporting by Benchmark Administrators on their compliance with the Principles, which were published in July 2013. The Principles outline a set of recommended practices that should be implemented by Benchmark Administrators and Submitters. The Report follows a survey of 29 benchmarks conducted by IOSCO, to identify any relevant challenges and issues, on topics such as the status of their implementation of the Principles and the number of benchmarks they administered. IOSCO developed the Guidance on the feedback received.
View the Report.
View the Principles.
Provisional EU Agreement on Draft Prospectus Rules as Part of Capital Markets Union
The Council of the European Union announced the conclusion of a provisional agreement with representatives of the European Parliament on new rules on prospectuses for the issuing and offering of securities. The draft Prospectus Regulation is part of the EU's Capital Markets Union plan. The proposed Prospectus Regulation will replace the current EU Prospectus Directive, revising the regime for companies to raise money on public markets or by public offer to potential investors. The aim is to simplify the rules and administrative obligations for companies wishing to issue shares or debt on the market and reducing the costs of preparing a prospectus, thus fostering cross-border investments in the single market, while at the same time still enabling investors to make informed investment decisions.
View the Council's press release.
You may like to view our client note on the European Commission's proposal for a Prospectus Regulation.
FICC Markets Standards Board Final Guidelines on Surveillance and Training in Wholesale Markets
The Fixed Income, Currency and Commodities Markets Standard Board published guidelines on surveillance and training in wholesale markets. The guidance is outlined in the FMSB's Statement of Good Practice for Surveillance in Foreign Exchange Markets and Statement of Good Practice for Conduct Training. The Statement of Good Practice for Surveillance highlights the FMSB's Core Principles that firms should consider in advance of designing and implementing their surveillance measures in the foreign exchange markets, such as ensuring that: (i) the surveillance function is independent of front office; (ii) there are effective governance controls; and (iii) there is a regular review of surveillance systems to ensure that they are fit for purpose given the element of constant change in risk. It also identifies emerging practices to combat the risk of insider dealing and market manipulation, including the use of automated voice surveillance systems using techniques such as Natural Language Processing.
G20 Priorities for 2017
The G20 Leaders published the Priorities for the 2017 G20 Summit in Hamburg on July 7 and 8, 2017. The document sets out the areas in which the G20 will build on previous work and further areas. The priorities include improving global financial resilience with a focus on cross-border capital flows, continuing work on monitoring and regulating market-based finance (including shadow banking activities) and progressing the global and comprehensive implementation of the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force on combating terrorist financing and money laundering, including a review of the FATF's structure and governance.
View the document setting out the G20 priorities for 2017.
UK Financial Policy Committee Post-Brexit Referendum Financial Stability Report
The Bank of England published its latest Financial Stability report. In the Report, the Financial Policy Committee explains the key risks affecting the UK financial system, how it is addressing these risks and the developments since the Brexit referendum. The Report also includes a summary of the results of the Bank of England's 2016 bank stress test.
The first part of the Report outlines in detail the Committee’s analysis of major risks posed to the stability of the UK economy and the action it is taking in light of such risks. The second part of the Report contains a summary of the Committee’s analysis of those risks and of the resilience of the financial system. The Committee comments that since the Referendum, financial stability in the UK has been maintained despite a challenging period of uncertainty around the domestic and global economic outlook. For example, there have been significant movements in asset prices, including a 12% fall in the sterling exchange rate index. The Committee also comments that the outlook for financial stability in the UK remains challenging as the economy has entered into a period of adjustment. Since July, vulnerabilities that stem from the global economic environment and financial markets have further increased, such as the expected expansionary fiscal policy that could follow the recent US election. The Committee comments that the UK banking system is capitalized to sustain the provision of financial services when faced with severe stresses. Since the global financial crisis, UK banks have built up capital resources with the aggregate common equity Tier 1 capital held by major UK banks now at 13.5% of risk-weighted assets (as at September 2016).
European Commission Reports on Feedback to the Call for Evidence on the EU Regulatory Framework for Financial Services
The European Commission published a Communication to the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union on the follow-up to its Call for Evidence on the EU regulatory framework for financial services. The European Commission launched its Call for Evidence on the EU regulatory framework in September 2015 alongside its Action Plan for a Capital Markets Union. The Call for Evidence sought feedback on unnecessary regulatory burdens, inconsistencies, gaps and unintended consequences of EU financial services legislation. Following an analysis of the feedback received, the Commission has concluded that targeted action is required to address some of the shortcomings that have been highlighted. Where possible, the Commission has integrated the feedback into existing initiatives such as the review of the Capital Requirements Regulation and the European Market Infrastructure Regulation or the future development of the CMU but there are some instances where new policy action will be needed. The Communication includes an action plan indicating how the issues are intended to be addressed.
View the Communication.
FICC Markets Standards Board Consults on New Issue Process Standard for the Fixed Income Markets
The Fixed Income, Currency and Commodities Markets Standard Board launched a consultation on a proposed New Issue Process Standard for the Fixed Income markets. The FMSB was established in 2015 in response to the Fair and Effective Markets Review conducted by HM Treasury, the Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority. The FMSB has created Standards to improve conduct in the FICC markets. The draft New Issue Process Standard is intended to improve existing practices so that the new issue process is further streamlined for all participants, including issuers, investors and lead managers. The proposed Standard builds on the ICMA recommendations for Investment Grade primary markets issuance. However, it is wider in scope as it will apply to syndicated offerings of fixed income bonds in the wholesale markets, including investment grade, high yield, securitization and emerging market debt offerings. Once published in final form, the Standard will apply to FMSB member firms who are expected to comply with it on a global basis, subject to regulatory restrictions in certain jurisdictions. Responses to the consultation are due by January 17, 2016.
View the proposed New Issue Process Standard.
US Commodity Futures Trading Commission Issues Proposals to Automated Trading Regulations
The CFTC approved the issuance of a notice of proposed rulemaking, seeking to enhance the CFTC’s previous notice of proposed rulemaking for automated trading regulation, which proposed a series of risk controls, transparency measures and other safeguards applicable to automated trading on all designated contract markets. Among other things, the supplemental proposal revises the proposed risk control framework of Reg AT to require pre-trade risk controls at two levels, with all so-called “AT Persons” and with futures commission merchants, rather than three. In addition, the proposed rule would limit access to source code by the Division of Market Oversight to special calls issued by the Commission itself. CFTC Chairman Timothy Massad and CFTC Commissioner Sharon Bowen each issued statements in favor of the supplemental proposal. Commissioner J. Christopher Giancarlo issued a statement of dissent, asserting that the supplemental notice does not go far enough in simplifying and streamlining the regulation.
UK Financial Conduct Authority Seeks Input in Developing its Future Strategy
The Financial Conduct Authority launched a consultation on its approach to regulation. The consultation document, entitled 'Our future mission', asks a number of questions about the FCA's approach to regulation and aims to obtain feedback to assist in developing the FCA's future strategy. The consultation covers a wide range of topics, including, amongst others, consumer protection, the interaction between public policy and regulation, competition, the scope of regulation and whether the FCA Handbook should be reviewed. The consultation closes on January 26, 2017.
View the consultation document.
US Federal Reserve Board Approves Fee Schedule for Federal Reserve Bank Priced Services
The US Federal Reserve Board announced the approval of fee schedules, effective January 3, 2017, for payment services the Federal Reserve Banks provide to depository institutions (priced services). The Monetary Control Act of 1980 requires that the Federal Reserve Board establish fees to recover the costs of providing priced services, including imputed costs, over the long run, to promote competition between the Reserve Banks and private-sector service providers.
The Reserve Banks project that they will recover 100 percent of their priced services costs in 2017. The Reserve Banks expect to fully recover actual and imputed expenses, including profit that would have been earned if a private business firm provided the services. Overall, the Reserve Banks estimate that the price changes will result in a 3.2 percent average price increase. In particular, the Reserve Banks estimate that the price changes will result in: (i) a 5.3 percent average price increase for FedACH® customers; (ii) a 3.3 percent average price increase for Fedwire® Funds customers; (iii) an 18 percent average price increase for Fedwire Securities Service customers; and (iv) an 8.1 percent average price increase for FedLine® customers. The fees will remain unchanged for the Reserve Banks’ National Settlement Service and check service. The 2017 fee schedule for each of the priced services is available on the Federal Reserve Banks’ financial services website at FRBservices.org.
View the Federal Register notice.
UK Regulator Cancels Proposed Secondary Annuities Market
The UK Government announced that it would not be taking forward its plans to create a secondary market for consumers to sell their annuity income. The market was to extend the recently introduced pension freedoms and flexibilities to individuals, who retired prior to April 2015. In December 2015, the Government announced that tax changes would come into effect from April 2017, which would allow individuals to receive all of the proceeds following the sale of an annuity as a taxable lump sum, arrange for the buyer to pay all of the proceeds into a flexi-access drawdown fund or arrange for the proceeds to be used to buy a new ‘flexible’ annuity. In April this year, the UK Government and the Financial Conduct Authority consulted on the proposed regulatory framework for the secondary annuities market. The UK Government’s view is that a balance between creating conditions for a competitive market with multiple buyers and sellers of annuities combined with sufficient consumer protections could not be achieved.
View the press release.
View the HM Treasury consultation.
View the FCA consultation.
Final Report on Investment and Corporate Banking Market Study Published by UK Regulator
The Financial Conduct Authority published its final report on the investment and corporate banking market study. The focus of the study was on primary market activities in the UK, including equity capital markets, debt capital markets and merger and acquisition services. The FCA published its interim report in April 2016, consulting on its proposed remedies to the deficiencies identified. The FCA does not consider the feedback received an indication that there is any reason to change its interim findings. The FCA concludes that whilst there are a wide range of banks and advisers active in the provision of primary markets services and despite finding that a number of clients, in particular corporate clients, believe that they are well served by such providers, there are some practices undertaken by certain providers that could have a negative impact on competition, particularly for smaller clients.
The FCA is proposing a ban on restrictive contractual clauses in investment and corporate banking engagement letters and contracts where the clause covers future corporate finance services carried out from a UK establishment. Some banks use clauses in agreements that oblige clients to award or offer future services to that same bank. The FCA considers the most restrictive of these the “right of first refusal” and “right to act” clauses - which the regulator proposes to prohibit. The FCA is proposing to exclude engagement letters relating to bridging loans from the prohibition; because the nature of this type of loan means that banks are unlikely to offer such a loan if it cannot confirm whether it would be instructed to provide the longer term financing. Responses to the consultation are due by December 16, 2017. The FCA aims to publish a policy statement early in 2017 and is proposing that the rules would also apply from early in 2017.
US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency Releases Risk Reevaluation Guidance for Foreign Correspondent Banking
The OCC issued risk management guidance to national banks, federal savings associations and federal branches and agencies regarding the periodic reevaluation of risks in connection with providing correspondent banking accounts for foreign banks. The guidance provides a collection of best practices for banks to consider when undertaking such periodic reevaluations and when determining whether to retain or terminate certain accounts. Such practices include, among others, communicating these decisions to bank senior management with consideration given to potential international financial inclusion impacts, considering mitigating information obtained from foreign financial institutions and ensuring a clear audit trail of the reasons and method used for account closure.
The guidance restates the OCC’s supervisory expectation that banks assess risks associated with foreign correspondent banking as part of their on-going risk management and due diligence practices. As a general matter, decisions to retain or terminate banking relationships reside with the bank. The OCC does not direct banks to open, close or maintain individual accounts without regard to the risks presented by an individual customer or the bank’s ability to manage the risk.
View OCC guidance.
EU Authority Publishes Model Arrangements for Benchmark Colleges
The European Securities and Markets Authority published Model Written Arrangements for Benchmark Colleges (dated September 30, 2016). The Benchmark Regulation requires the national regulator of a benchmark administrator that provides a critical benchmark to establish a college of regulators. ESMA will be a member of each of the colleges. The Model Written Arrangements are intended to provide a framework for establishing a college and for the exchange of information between the relevant regulators.
View the Model Written Arrangements.
US Federal Reserve Board Survey Finds that Commercial and Industrial Loan Standards Unchanged, Residential Mortgage Loan Standards Eased
The US Federal Reserve Board’s October 2016 Senior Loan Officer Opinion Survey revealed that, in general, banks did not change standards on commercial and industrial loans while they tightened standards on commercial real estate loans over the third quarter; banks also reported easing of standards on residential mortgage loans, whether or not the loans were eligible for purchase by government-sponsored enterprises. Banks also noted a weakening of demand from middle- and large-market firms for commercial loans and stronger demand for construction and land development loans in the CRE space. The Federal Reserve Board also asked special questions on commercial and industrial loan demand, and banks indicated that they do not expect changes in demand.
View the Federal Reserve Board’s survey report.
Proposed EU Technical Standards Under the Benchmark Regulation
The European Securities and Markets Authority published for consultation the draft technical standards it is required to prepare under the Benchmark Regulation. The Benchmark Regulation sets out the authorization and registration requirements for benchmark administrators, including third country entities and requirements for governance and control of administrators. It provides for different categories of benchmarks depending on the risks involved, imposes additional requirements on benchmarks considered to be critical and gives powers to national regulators to mandate, under certain conditions, contributions to or the administration of a critical benchmark.
US Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen Testifies Before House Committee on Financial Services
Janet Yellen, Chair of the Federal Reserve, testified before the Committee on Financial Services of the US House of Representatives. Yellen began by discussing the Federal Reserve Board’s efforts to strengthen regulation on the largest financial institutions, specifically efforts to strengthen the resiliency and provide for the resolvability of large and complex institutions. She discussed several changes to the Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review program that have been made or are being contemplated by the Federal Reserve Board. She also highlighted efforts to reduce and streamline regulatory requirements applicable to community banks and proposed that Congress consider carving out community banks from the Volcker Rule and the incentive compensation limits of the Dodd-Frank due to the lower likelihood of the presence at community banks of the sorts of risks those provisions guard against. Yellen closed by briefly discussing current conditions in the financial system. She highlighted the improved financial conditions and funding positions of US G-SIBS, as well as the facts that large and regional banks are well capitalized and increasing in profitability and that community banks are significantly healthier and returning to profitability.
View FRB transcript of Chair Yellen's testimony.
Bipartisan Policy Centers Releases Report on Financial Regulation
The Bipartisan Policy Center, a US-based non-profit organization, issued a paper entitled “Did Policymakers Get Post-Crisis Financial Regulation Right?” The paper analyzes the effects of financial regulation post-financial crisis and reported that, as a general matter, consumers are better protected than before the crisis but that there were increased barriers to affordable credit. In addition, the paper reported on unintended consequences of increased financial regulation, including the curtailment or shift of certain activities from banks to nonbank providers and a lack of coordination on rulemaking. Finally, the BPC recommended that the next president and Congress instruct regulators and appoint an independent commission to conduct a formal assessment of the post-crisis financial regulatory structure.
View BPC paper.
US Treasury Secretary Testifies before US House Financial Services Committee
The US Treasury Secretary testified before the US House Financial Services Committee regarding the 2016 FSOC Annual Report. Secretary Lew’s remarks included a discussion of the forward-looking approach taken by FSOC and its efforts to engage with stakeholders and the public and to avoid “one-size fits all” regulations. Members of the House Financial Services Committee questioned Secretary Lew on a variety of topics, focusing on the categorization of “Too Big to Fail” and the designation of systemically important financial institutions. In addition, the committee asked Secretary Lew for his views on the joint Federal Reserve Board, FDIC, and OCC report to Congress which recommended repealing the authority for bank holding companies to engage in merchant banking activities. Secretary Lew distanced himself from the report, stating that the Treasury was not involved in its preparation.
View Secretary Lew's opening remarks.
Bank of England Deputy Governor for Markets and Banking to Leave the Bank
The Bank of England announced the departure of Minouche Shafik, Deputy Governor for Markets and Banking. Ms. Shafik will relinquish her position in February 2017, taking up the role of Director at the London School of Economics in September 2017. Ms. Shafik's successor has not yet been named.
View the news release.
UK Regulator Consults on Qualification Standards for Financial Advisers
The Financial Conduct Authority published a consultation paper on proposed updates to the current appropriate qualification examination standards. Individuals within regulated firms that, for example, advise on securities, derivatives or retail investment products, are required to have appropriate qualifications. The FCA will seek to amend the appropriate exams standards to ensure that exam content is current and reflects the knowledge that the FCA considers necessary for individuals to perform their roles competently. The proposed changes do not alter the FCA's policy on appropriate qualification requirements, introduce new appropriate qualification requirements or change the level of achievement required to meet the FCA rules on appropriate qualifications. The FCA is also proposing amendments to the Training and Competence Sourcebook of its Handbook to clarify how to read and use the appropriate qualification tables as well as seeking views on a standalone equity release qualification which relates to the UK mortgage market and the provision of advice on alternative sale and lease back arrangement (home reversions) accounts. Responses to the consultation are due by December 13, 2016.
View the consultation paper.
European Commission Calls for Acceleration of Capital Markets Union
The European Commission published a Communication calling for implementation of the Capital Markets Union to be accelerated. The CMU is part of the third pillar of the Commission Investment Plan for Europe. The CMU Action Plan was published in September 2015. It outlined a program for implementation by 2019 and set out changes to strengthen EU capital markets. The Commission stated that due to the changing political context in the EU, it would be taking forward priority areas to complete the CMU and undertaking a mid-term review in 2017. Priorities include proposals to reduce differences in European insolvency regimes, the removal of withholding tax barriers, simplification of the EU personal pension products, improving the use of European savings and increasing the performance of the EU economy. The Commission called for European Parliament and Member States to do everything within their power to deliver the measures proposed under the CMU Action Plan as soon as possible.
View the Commission press release.
View the Communication.
View the Action Plan.
US Federal Reserve Bank Presidents Testify before US House of Representatives
US Federal Reserve Bank Presidents Esther George (Kansas City) and Dr. Jeffrey Lacker (Richmond) testified before the US House of Representatives Financial Services Subcommittee on Monetary Policy and Trade, in a hearing entitled “Federal Reserve Districts: Governance, Monetary Policy, and Economic Performance.” Addressing the appearance of conflicts of interest arising from the presence of bankers on Reserve Bank boards of directors, President George noted that the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, D.C. is ultimately responsible for bank supervision and that Reserve Bank directors do not participate of bank supervisory matters. President Lacker noted that Reserve Bank directors have no formal role in crafting banking regulations. Each president also addressed the structure of the Federal Reserve System in the context of the role played by monetary policy in the economy.
View Details regarding the hearing.
G20 Leaders Publish Communiqué
The G20 Leaders published the Communiqué from the Hangzhou Summit. The G20 Leaders reiterated their commitment to finalizing the remaining elements of the financial sector reform agenda, including, for example, finalization of Basel III by the end of 2016, full implementation of the OTC derivatives reforms and removing legal and regulatory obstacles to the reporting of OTC derivatives trades, developing effective cross-border resolution regimes and implementing the total loss absorbing capacity (TLAC) standard. The G20 Leaders also noted the importance of monitoring emerging systemic risks including those derived from shadow banking and asset management. For the continued protection of the global financial system, and with a focus on anti-money laundering, counter terrorism and tax evasion, the G20 have asked the Financial Action Task Force and the Global Forum to prepare initial proposals by October 2016 to improve implementation of transparency standards in the international financial system, including the collection of beneficial ownership information of legal persons and legal arrangements and international information sharing arrangements.
View the Communiqué.
EURIBOR Categorized as a Critical Benchmark under EU Legislation
A Commission Implementing Regulation establishing a list of critical benchmarks used in financial markets under the Benchmark Regulation was published in the Official Journal of the European Union. The Benchmark Regulation provides for different categories of benchmarks depending on the risks involved, imposing additional requirements on benchmarks considered to be critical, including the power of national regulators to mandate, under certain conditions, contributions to or the administration of a critical benchmark. The Commission Implementing Regulation stipulates that the Euro Interbank Offered Rate is a critical benchmark on the basis that it is important for credit loans and mortgages in the EU. EURIBOR is the first benchmark to be listed. The Commission Implementing Regulation entered into force on August 13, 2016. For the most part, the Benchmark Regulation will apply from January 1, 2018. Certain provisions, giving powers to the European Securities and Markets Authority to prepare draft technical standards and to the Commission to adopt delegated legislation, applied from June 30, 2016.
View the Commission Implementing Regulation.
US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Requests Comment on Bank Appeals Guidelines and Third-Party Lending Guidance
The US FDIC requested comments on updates to its guidelines for institutions to appeal certain material supervisory determinations, as well as comments on draft guidance regarding third-party lending. The two items are part of a package issued by the FDIC to improve the transparency and clarity of the FDIC’s supervisory policies and practices, and to ensure that institutions have clear and fair avenues to pursue when there are differences of opinion regarding supervisory matters.
US Federal Banking Agencies Release Results of Shared National Credit Review
The US Federal Reserve Board, the FDIC and the OCC released the results of the Shared National Credit (SNC) review. The review showed that the level of adversely rated assets remained higher than in previous periods of economic expansion, raising the concern that future losses and problem loans could rise considerably in the next credit cycle. The elevated level of risk observed during the recent SNC examination stems from the high inherent risk in the leveraged loan portfolio and growing credit risk in the oil and gas portfolio.
US Office of Financial Research Releases Biannual Update of Risks to Financial Stability
On July 25, 2016, the US Office of Financial Research issued its biannual update of the risks to US financial stability. The report finds that, overall, risks to US financial stability remain in the medium range but have been pushed higher by the UK vote to exit the EU. The OFR notes that, “[t]he result surprised financial markets and was a negative shock to investor confidence. It introduces months or years of uncertainty about the rules governing the UK’s investment, financing, and trade relations . . . . Because the UK economy and especially the UK financial system are highly connected with the rest of Europe and the United States, severe adverse outcomes in the UK could pose a risk to US financial stability.” The OFR report observes that the key vulnerabilities addressed in the OFR’s 2015 Financial Stability Report issued last December also persist, adding that: (i) credit risks in US nonfinancial businesses and in some major foreign markets are still elevated; (ii) long-term US interest rates have declined to ultra-low levels, which can motivate excessive risk-taking and borrowing, and many key foreign interest rates are now negative, with uncertain consequences for financial stability; and (iii) uneven resilience persists in the US financial system.
View The OFR Financial Stability Monitor.
UK Regulator Reports on Thematic Review on Equity Market Dark Pools
The Financial Conduct Authority published the findings of its thematic review of the UK equity marketplace, focusing on dark pools and broker crossing networks. The FCA examined promotional activity and the identification and management of conflicts of interest by dark pool operators, as well as issues of governance, oversight and controls. The report is based on the definition of “dark pool” as a trading venue with no pre-trade transparency, such that all orders, prices and volumes are anonymous.
US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency Releases Its Semiannual Risk Perspective for Spring 2016
The OCC released its Spring 2016 Semiannual Risk Perspective, reflecting bank financial data as of December 31, 2015. The report identifies credit, strategic, operational and compliance risks as top concerns from a safety-and-soundness perspective. Specifically, strategic risk remains high as banks struggle to execute their strategic plans and faces challenges in growing revenue, and credit risks have increased as banks search for yield in an environment of strong loan growth and easier underwriting standards. With respect to operational risk, greater cyber security threats and increased reliance on third-party service providers have caused operational risk to remain high. Further, as banks struggle to comply with new rules, such as the integrated mortgage disclosure requirements, and the mandates of the Bank Secrecy Act, compliance risk management also continues to pose challenges. Risk issues identified in the Spring 2016 report are largely consistent with those identified in the Fall 2015 Report.
View The OCC Semiannual Risk Perspective for Spring 2016.
US House of Representatives Passes Three Bills Aimed at Combatting Terrorist Financing
The House of Representatives passed three bills aimed at combatting terrorist financing.
H.R. 5594, the “National Strategy for Combatting Terrorist, Underground, and Other Illicit Financing Act,” would require the President, acting through the Treasury Secretary, to develop and submit to Congress annually a national strategy to combat money laundering and terrorist financing and related report. The bill requires the Treasury Secretary to consult with various heads of state and the Federal banking agencies to develop and integrate this terrorist financing strategy into the broader counter-terrorism strategy of the US.
UK Regulator Launches Review of Crowdfunding Rules
The Financial Conduct Authority launched a call for input into its review of the implementation of its crowdfunding rules. The FCA implemented rules regulating FCA-authorized firms operating crowdfunding services on April 1, 2014 and committed to reviewing these rules in 2016. The FCA is seeking views on changes in the market since the rules were implemented, emerging risks for consumers, and areas where the FCA might consider adapting its rules.
US Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council Releases Revisions to the Consolidated Reports of Condition and Income
The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council approved revisions to the Consolidated Reports of Condition and Income (Call Report) that will take effect on September 30, 2016 and March 31, 2017. The revisions were proposed by the three US federal banking agencies in September 2015 (see FIL-39-2015, dated September 18, 2015), and included certain burden-reducing changes, a number of instructional clarifications and certain new and revised Call Report data items (e.g., a new item on “dually payable” deposits in foreign branches of US banks). After considering comments received on the proposal, FFIEC and the banking agencies are proceeding with most of the proposed reporting changes, with some modifications.
The Call Report revisions are part of an initiative launched by the FFIEC in December 2014 to identify potential opportunities to reduce burden associated with Call Report requirements for community banks, such as the costs arising from the Call Report preparation process.
View summary of the revisions.
US Federal Reserve Board Releases Annual Determination of Aggregate Consolidated Liabilities
The US Federal Reserve Board released its annual determination of the aggregate consolidated liabilities of financial companies as required by section 622 of the Dodd-Frank Act, which prohibits a financial company from combining with another company if the resulting company’s liabilities would exceed 10 percent of the aggregate consolidated liabilities of all financial companies.
Financial companies subject to the limit include insured depository institutions, bank holding companies, savings and loan holding companies, foreign banking organizations, companies that control insured depository institutions and nonbank financial companies designated for Federal Reserve Board supervision by the FSOC.
As of July 1, 2016, aggregate consolidated liabilities equal $21,786,571,865,000, which is the average of the year-end financial sector liabilities of the preceding two years and will be the measure of aggregate consolidated liabilities for purposes of section 622 of the Dodd-Frank Act for the time period from July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017.
View Federal Reserve Board announcement.
US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Finalizes Updates to Frequently Asked Questions on Brokered Deposits
The US FDIC finalized updates to its Frequently Asked Questions regarding identifying, accepting and reporting brokered deposits. In general, brokered deposits are treated less favorably than nonbrokered deposits for various supervisory purposes, including a prohibition on accepting such deposits if an insured depository institution’s capital falls below certain thresholds under the Prompt Corrective Action (PCA) framework.
In November 2015, the FDIC released for comment proposed updates to the FAQs that were originally issued in January 2015. After consideration of the comments received, the agency retained a majority of the proposed updates, with certain clarifications and the addition of new FAQs.
The FAQs are based on the statute, regulation and explanations of the requirements for identifying and accepting brokered deposits provided to the industry through published advisory opinions and the FDIC’s Study on Core Deposits and Brokered Deposits issued in July 2011, as well as on comments received since publication of the FAQs. The FAQs provide plain language information about categorizing brokered deposits.
Key updates since the FAQs were issued in January 2015 address matters related to: (i) business professionals and deposit referral programs; (ii) deposits gathered through “dual hatted,” “dual” and “call center” employees (as explained in the FAQs) or contractors; (iii) deposits underlying government-sponsored prepaid or debit card programs; (iv) whether certain non-maturity deposits are brokered; and (v) actions an insured depository institution should take if it holds certain brokered deposits and falls below “well capitalized” for PCA purposes.
View updated FAQs.
European Commission Reports on the Appropriateness of Credit Claims as Collateral
The European Commission published a report on the appropriateness of the inclusion of credit claims as collateral in the Financial Collateral Directive, including the appropriateness of the restriction on member states to require any formal act for the creation of or validity of such collateral unless the formal act was necessary for the purposes of perfection, priority, enforceability or admissibility in evidence against the debtor or third parties. The Commission assessed the laws that member states implemented across the EU and concluded that, although there is not full harmonization on implementation of the option, the option to include credit claims as collateral should not be removed from the Financial Collateral Directive without further work being undertaken to assess the related impacts. In addition, the Commission considers that action taken within the Capital Markets Union to remove barriers to cross-border clearing and settlement will likely improve the current uncertainty in cross-border exchange of collateral.
View the report.
US Financial Stability Oversight Council Votes to Rescind Designation of GE Capital as a Systemically Important Financial Institution
The FSOC announced the rescission of its designation of GE Capital Global Holdings LLC (GE Capital) as a systemically important financial institution (SIFI). The FSOC unanimously decided that GE Capital no longer meets the standards for SIFI designation. Therefore, GE Capital will not be subject to enhanced prudential standards or supervision by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.
FSOC originally designated GE Capital as a SIFI in 2013 after identifying a number of key concerns, including the company’s reliance on short-term wholesale funding and its leading position in a number of funding markets. Since then, GE Capital made strategic changes to decrease its total assets by over 50%, reduce its interconnectedness with large financial institutions and have more stable funding. In order to become less systemically important, it has undergone a corporate reorganization, a series of divestitures and a transformation of its funding model.
View the public explanation of the basis for the FSOC’s rescission.
View FSOC press release.
EU Regulation on Benchmarks Finalized
The final EU Regulation on Benchmarks was published in the Official Journal of the European Union. The Benchmark Regulation has been introduced in response to the numerous instances of benchmark manipulation that have emerged in recent years. In addition, the Benchmark Regulation is intended to harmonize across the EU the rules that have implemented the International Organization of Securities Commissions Principles for Financial Benchmarks and Principles for Oil Price Reporting Agencies.
The Benchmark Regulation sets out the authorization and registration requirements for benchmark administrators, including third country entities, requirements for governance and control of administrators, provides for different categories of benchmarks depending on the risks involved and imposes additional requirements on benchmarks considered to be critical, powers of national regulators to mandate, under certain conditions, contributions to or the administration of a critical benchmark.
US Federal Reserve Board Governor Powell Delivers Speech on the Impact of Brexit
US Federal Reserve Board Governor Jerome Powell delivered remarks to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, highlighting the impact of Brexit on the outlook for the US economy.
Governor Powell voiced concern that the Brexit vote has the potential to create new headwinds for economies around the world, including the United States. He noted that while it may be “far too early to judge the effects of the Brexit vote,” it will be important to assess implications for the US economy, and for the stance of policy to foster continued progress towards the objectives of maximum employment and price stability in the United States.
Governor Powell noted that for some time, the principal risks to the US labor market recovery and economic growth have been from abroad. Due to the high and continuously appreciating trade-weighted value of the US dollar, the economy inevitably “imports” trading partners’ weak economic performances and financial volatility. Powell stated that to successfully contain the impact of the British referendum, the Federal Reserve Board is “prepared to provide dollar liquidity through existing swap lines” with central banks to address pressures in global funding markets. Powell also noted that while financial conditions have “tightened” since the Brexit vote, markets have continued to function in an “orderly” manner and the US financial markets remain resilient.
View Governor Powell’s speech.
US Supreme Court Denies Writ of Certiorari in Madden v. Midland Funding
The US Supreme Court elected not to review a Second Circuit decision that found debt purchased from a national bank by a non-national bank entity to be subject to state usury laws.
US Financial Stability Oversight Council Releases Sixth Annual Report
The FSOC released its 6th annual report to Congress. The FSOC reports annually to Congress on a range of issues, including significant financial market and regulatory developments, potential emerging threats to the financial stability of the United States and the activities of the FSOC. The report also makes recommendations to promote market discipline, maintain investor confidence and enhance the integrity, efficiency, competitiveness and stability of US financial markets.
This year, in particular, the report focused on cyber security, as well as risks associated with asset management products and activities, capital and liquidity, central counterparties and reforms of wholesale funding markets. The report also made recommendations about promoting market discipline, maintaining investor confidence and enhancing the competitiveness and efficiency of the US financial markets.
View the Report.
Director of US Office of Financial Research Discusses Financial Resilience
Director of the US Office of Financial Research (OFR) Richard Berner spoke about financial resilience, including how to define, measure and monitor financial stability or resilience. He noted that resilience has two key aspects: the system’s shock-absorbing capacity and incentives that are aligned to limit excessive risk taking. He noted that the OFR has helped promote financial stability by developing tools to assess and monitor threats to financial resilience and improving the scope and quality of data to measure such threats, including, for example, the Financial Stability Monitor, a tool the OFR uses to measure macroeconomic, market, credit, funding and liquidity, and contagion risk. While in the OFR’s assessment, overall threats to financial stability remain at a moderate level, Berner highlighted macro risks (i.e., low growth rate and inflation), cybersecurity and credit risk as key areas of vulnerability.
View the speech.
Chairman of the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Provides Remarks on the Impact of Post-Crisis Reforms on the US Financial System and Economy
FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg provided remarks on the improvements to the US financial system and the economy as a result of the regulatory reforms that have been implemented since the financial crisis. He noted that there has been strong loan growth at US banks, and that it is outpacing GDP growth and other measures of household and business credit, suggesting that banks would be better positioned to extend credit in the event of economic distress. Gruenberg further noted that bank earnings have improved since the financial crisis and that almost two-thirds of all institutions reported higher earnings in 2015 as compared to 2014, despite economic challenges that the industry has faced, suggesting an improvement in bank profitability. Despite changes in the way corporate and Treasury bond trading is conducted, Gruenberg suggested that post-crisis market liquidity for such bonds has not declined and that liquidity conditions are strong. Gruenberg insisted that bank loan growth suggests the relative importance of banks as the ultimate holder of the credit risk associated with loans despite the increase in nonbank lending activity. He stated that banks are better capitalized and better able to absorb losses, and thus that the financial system is more resilient and more stable than before the crisis.
View the speech.
European Securities and Markets Annual Report 2015
The European Securities and Markets Authority published its 2015 annual report. The report reviews ESMA’s mission and objectives for 2015 and measures its achievements against its 2015 objectives. The report also provides information on ESMA's operations, budget and structure. ESMA is charged with enhancing the protection of investors and promoting stable and orderly financial markets, with various roles under legislation such as EMIR and MiFID. The report states that ESMA has made significant steps in realizing its mission by assessing risks to investors, markets and financial stability, completing a single rulebook for EU financial markets, promoting supervisory convergence and supervising credit rating agencies and trade repositories.
View the report.
EU Regulation Proposal for Program to Enhance Consumer and End User Protection and Involvement in Financial Services Policy Making
The European Commission published a proposal for a Regulation to provide funding for two financial expertise non-profit organizations: Finance Watch and Better Finance. The Commission initiated at the end of 2011 a pilot project aimed at providing grants to support the development of a financial expertise center to the benefit of consumers and other end-users and to enhance their capacity to participate in EU financial services policy making. As part of these efforts, operating grants were awarded to Finance Watch and Better Finance. Finance Watch seeks to defend the interests of civil society in the financial sector and Better Finance focuses on the interests of consumers, individual investors and shareholders, savers and other end users in the financial sector.
US Securities and Exchange Commission Adopts Amendments to Form 10-K
The US Securities and Exchange Commission approved a final rule, implementing a provision of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, amending Form 10-K disclosure requirements. The interim final rule allows Form 10-K filers to provide a summary of business and financial information contained in the annual report, provided that the summary also contains hyperlinks to the more detailed disclosure in the form.
The SEC also requested comment on whether the interim rule should provide more guidance on the form and content of the summary as well as the applicability of the amended rule to other annual reporting forms.
Comments on the interim final rule must be received on or before 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.
View the full text of the interim final rule.
European Securities and Markets Authority Consults on Draft Technical Advice for the Benchmarks Regulation
The European Securities and Markets Authority launched a consultation on its proposed technical advice to the European Commission on delegated acts due under the EU Benchmarks Regulation. ESMA consulted in February this year on its initial approach to the technical advice and the draft technical standards that it is required to prepare. The consultation on draft technical standards will be held separately in the second half of 2016. ESMA’s advice will cover: (i) certain definitions, including the definition of benchmarks and “use”; (ii) criteria for the identification of critical benchmarks; (iii) endorsement of a benchmark or family of benchmarks provided in a third country; (iv) the measurement of the use of critical and significant benchmarks; and (v) transitional provisions.
First Phase of Global FX Code Released
The Bank for International Settlements published the Phase 1 materials for a global Code for the FX market. The Code is a set of principles providing common guidelines to promote the integrity and effectiveness of the global wholesale FX markets and has been prepared as a result of the recent spate of misconduct cases in the FX markets. The Code covers governance, risk management and compliance, ethics, information sharing, execution and confirmation and settlement processes. The final Code is expected to be published in May 2017. In the meantime, the authors hope that market participants will begin to embed the Code into their day-to-day activities. The Code does not impose any legal or regulatory obligations on market participants and is intended to supplement local laws, rules and regulations by identifying global good practices and processes.
View the Code.
View the update on adherence to the Code.
UK Legislation Implementing Regulatory Powers for HM Treasury on Financial Collateral Arrangements
An Order was published implementing provisions in the Banking Act 2009, providing powers to HM Treasury to make regulations about financial collateral arrangements. The relevant provisions come into force on May 25, 2016. Financial collateral arrangements are arrangements under which financial collateral is used as security in respect of a loan or other liability, such as cash and securities. The scope of regulation HM Treasury can make is not restricted purely to provisions required in order to implement the Financial Collateral Directive. This is presumably a prelude to restating the Financial Collateral Arrangements (No. 2) Regulations 2003 in light of recent Supreme Court decision, The United States of America v Nolan, expressing doubt as to its enforceability owing to such regulations arguably going beyond EU laws in some respect and therefore not being made validly under the European Communities Act 1972. The relevant provisions of the Banking Act provide that HM Treasury can make any provision it deems necessary or desirable for the purpose of enabling financial collateral arrangements, whether or not with an international element, to be commercially useful and effective. The regulations may in particular make provision for the enforcement of financial collateral arrangements, and includes matters relating to the rule of law about formalities or evidence, insolvency, administration and receivership.
View the Order.
View the Supreme Court Decision.
US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency Issues Bulletin Regarding Compliance with Compliance with Securities and Exchange Commission Money Market Fund Rules
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency issued a bulletin to highlight actions that national banks and federal savings associations should take and factors that banks should consider based on the US Securities and Exchange Commission's revised money market fund rules. Although these rules directly apply only to MMFs, the rules indirectly affect: (i) banks that make MMFs available to their customers through their fiduciary and custody activities; (ii) bank programs that automatically sweep funds between deposit accounts and MMFs; and (iii) banks that invest in MMFs. The MMF rules were revised in 2010 and again in 2014, and the 2014 rules are currently being phased in with a final compliance date of October 14, 2016.
The bulletin describes how the SEC's MMF rules are likely to affect banks and addresses the product and process changes that affected banks should consider. The bulletin also highlights how banks that are involved in any of these activities will likely be affected by compliance, liquidity, operational and strategic risks related to the SEC's revised rules.
View the OCC bulletin.
US Securities and Exchange Commission Adopts Amendments to Implement Provisions of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act and Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act that Revise Exchange Act Registration Requirements
The SEC approved amendments to revise the rules related to the thresholds for registration, termination of registration and suspension of reporting under Section 12(g) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. These amendments implement provisions of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (JOBS Act) and the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act).
To implement the JOBS Act, the SEC proposed amendments to Exchange Act Rules 12g-1 through 4 and 12h-3 to reflect the new thresholds. The SEC also proposed to establish thresholds for savings and loan holding companies consistent with those for bank holding companies, as well as to revise the definition of “held of record” in Exchange Act Rule 12g5-1.
Subsequent to the SEC’s proposed amendments, the FAST Act revised the thresholds for savings and loan holding companies and the statutory changes were effective upon enactment of the Act. The final rules will become effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.
View the SEC press release.
View the final rule.
European Commission To Promote Crowdfunding under Capital Markets Union
The European Commission announced that it would not, at this stage, be proposing legislation to regulate crowdfunding. The Commission pledged to report on whether crowdfunding should become regulated at EU-level as part of its Capital Markets Union Action Plan. The CMU aims, amongst other things, to broaden funding sources for small and medium sized enterprises as crowdfunding has become an important source for such funding. The European Commission has assessed national regimes and best practice across the EU and found that the crowdfunding sector is currently fairly small and is concentrated locally. Some Member States have implemented local rules to regulate the sector. However, the European Commission found that the outcomes are generally aligned and that national regimes aim to protect investors whilst allowing the development of this source of funding. However, the Commission noted that the sector is changing rapidly so it will continue to monitor the sector and assess whether regulation is required in the future to harmonize the approaches taken across the EU and ensure investor protection.
View the Commission’s press release.
View the Commission’s report.
UK Regulator Proposes Improvements to UK’s Wholesale Debt Listing Regime
The Financial Conduct Authority, in its capacity as securities listing authority, published a report on proposed changes to improve the UK’s wholesale debt listing regime. The report comes following an initiative launched by the FCA, the UK Debt Market Forum, where a series of meetings were held stakeholder groups of the UK primary debt capital markets. The purpose of the Forum was to seek expert feedback to assist the FCA in developing practical measures to increase the effectiveness of the UK’s primary listed debt markets without negatively impacting current standards. The report outlines proposed measures that the FCA has implemented following the feedback received. The FCA has proposed an extension of its “Wholesale Debt Approach”.
US Securities and Exchange Commission Seeks Public Comment on Plan to Establish Consolidated Audit Trail
The SEC released a plan for a proposed national market system that would create a single database, the Consolidated Audit Trail, to track all US activity in the equity and options markets. The establishment of the CAT will allow regulators to be better positioned to identify and investigate market misconduct, and will increase the effectiveness of market research and monitoring. The CAT would be conducted through a Delaware limited liability company that the self-regulatory organizations would own jointly, and participating self-regulatory organizations and the SEC would have access to the data in the CAT for regulatory and oversight purposes. The plan sets out the record keeping and reporting information that SROs and broker-dealers would be required to submit at various stages in the lifecycle of an order or transaction. Public comments on the plan are due within 60 days of the plan’s publication in the Federal Register.
European Commission Assesses Progress on Capital Markets Union
The European Commission published a status report on progress made since the adoption of the Capital Markets Union Action Plan. The European Commission's Action Plan, published in September 2015, set out the steps for the medium and long term in five priority areas: (i) providing more funding choices to EU businesses; (ii) ensuring an appropriate regulatory framework for long term investment and financing of Europe's infrastructure; (iii) increasing investment and choices for retail and institutional investors; (iv) improving bank lending capacity; and (v) removing cross-border barriers and developing more harmonized capital markets for all Member States. The Commission's Status Report details the actions taken to date, the key steps planned for the rest of 2016 and measures that will be delivered in 2017-18.
View the Status Report.
View the Action Plan.
UK Regulator Consults on Regulation of Secondary Annuity Market
The Financial Conduct Authority published a consultation paper on its proposed rules and guidance for the secondary annuity market due to start in April 2017. The consultation is aimed at parties interested in pensions and retirement issues, including providers and distributors of annuities, retirement income and planning products, sponsors of occupational Defined Benefit and Defined Contribution Schemes and firms providing advice in this area. The consultation discusses how consumers will be able to sell their annuity incomes on the secondary market. The changes proposed will primarily affect consumers who hold or will hold annuities in their name and contingent beneficiaries with an interest in such annuities.
HM Treasury Consults on Legislation for Secondary Annuities Market
HM Treasury published a consultation paper on the UK Government’s proposed secondary market due to be introduced in April 2017. The market would extend the recently introduced pension freedoms and flexibilities to individuals, who retired prior to April 2015. In December 2015, the Government announced that tax changes would come into effect from April 2017 which would allow individuals to receive all of the proceeds following the sale of an annuity as a taxable lump sum, arrange for the buyer to pay all of the proceeds into a flexi-access drawdown fund, or arrange for the proceeds to be used to buy a new ‘flexible’ annuity. The consultation invites comment on the draft secondary legislation which creates (i) new specified activities for firms intending to purchase annuities or act as intermediaries in the secondary market; and (ii) a new specified activity for annuity providers who are intending to buy back annuities that have been issued. The consultation also discusses proposed amendments to the Appointed Representative Regulations which would exempt appointed representatives, acting under the responsibility of an authorized principal, from needing regulatory authorization to act as intermediaries in the secondary market and to buy back annuities. The consultation also proposes amendments to the By Way of Business Order to make clear that those buying rights to annuity income streams will be subject to the requirements to be authorized or exempt under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 and the Regulated Activities Order. HM Treasury stated that regulation of the specified secondary market activities will enhance the Financial Conduct Authority’s supervisory oversight in this area. Responses to the consultation are due by June 2, 2016.
View the consultation paper.
Financial Conduct Authority Publishes Results of Assessment of Behaviour of High Frequency Traders
The Financial Conduct Authority published an Occasional Paper which assesses whether high frequency traders, on a systematic basis, foresee when trading orders are going to arrive at different trading venues and trade in advance of other traders by using their speed to their advantage. The FCA used a novel dataset with full order-book data on 120 stocks traded on lit venues in the UK in 2013. The results show that HFTs cannot systematically trade ahead of other market participants at a millisecond frequency but that HFTs are able to anticipate order flow over longer time periods (seconds and tens of seconds). However, it is uncertain whether HFTs are able to react quicker to new information due to their lower latency, or are able to better anticipate order flow (because, for example, other market participants are predictable when placing orders).
View the Occasional Paper.
Governor of the US Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System Addresses Challenges of Distributed Ledger Technologies
Federal Reserve Board Governor Lael Brainard, in a speech given at the Institute of International Finance Blockchain Roundtable, discussed the key challenges involved in the use of distributed ledger technologies in payment, clearing and settlement. In her comments, Governor Brainard discussed some key concerns inherent in distributed ledger technologies, including the challenge of balancing confidentiality and security of firm and client records with the effort to effectively manage access to transaction records for faster and more efficient clearance and settlement, and stressed the importance of fully understanding how different distributed ledger technologies interoperate with each other and with legacy systems.
View the full text of Governor Brainard’s speech.
Interim Report on Investment and Corporate Banking Market Study Published by Financial Conduct Authority
The Financial Conduct Authority published its interim report on the investment and corporate banking market study, which includes proposed remedies to the deficiencies identified. The FCA proposals include removing the practice of banks using contractual clauses to restrict client choice, reducing barriers to entry for non-universal banks without undermining the efficiency benefits of cross-selling and improving the credibility of league tables for investment and corporate banking. The FCA also intends to investigate further whether individual banks whether there are any issues in conflicts management in the allocation of Initial Public Offerings.
Industry Associations Publish Format for Information Statement Under EU Securities Financing Transactions Regulation
A form of information statement for usage by collateral takers was jointly published by five industry associations. This is aimed at facilitating compliance with disclosure requirements under the European Union's Securities Financing Transaction Regulation. The relevant industry associations are the Association for Financial Markets in Europe, the International Capital Market Association, the International Swaps and Derivatives Association and the International Securities Lending Association. The SFTR will affect all existing and future title transfer and security collateral arrangements from July 13, 2016 and require disclosure to collateral providers where a collateral taker uses title transfer or has a right of use, with respect to a security financing transaction, such as a repo or margin loan. The purpose of the statement is to outline the general risks and consequences that may be involved in consenting to a right of use of collateral provided under a security collateral arrangement or of concluding title transfer arrangements.
View the information statement.
US Department of Labor Finalizes Rules to Impose Fiduciary Duty on Financial Advisors Who Provide Retirement Advice to Retail Customers
The US Department of Labor announced final rules that will, for the first time, subject investment advice to IRA and other non-ERISA plan clients to ERISA’s fiduciary standards and remedies. Currently, brokers and dealers and other advisers to retail retirement clients are required to adhere to a “suitability” standard with respect to their investment advice. Under the new rule and related prohibited transaction exemptions, which will be applicable beginning in April 2017, these financial professionals must act in the “best interests” of their client in order to continue receiving common forms of compensation (such as commissions, third party payments and other forms of variable remuneration). In eliminating certain compliance requirements, the final rule is less stringent than the proposed rule issued in April 2015, but it still represents a major departure from the status quo.
View Shearman & Sterling's client memorandum discussing the new rule and related exemptions.
View the final rule.
View the fact sheet released by the White House.
US Internal Revenue Service and US Treasury Department Issue Anti-Inversion Regulations
The US Internal Revenue Service issued a proposal under Section 385 of the Internal Revenue Code with respect to the treatment of instruments issued by corporations in related-party transactions as debt or equity for federal tax purposes. On the same day, the US Treasury Department also took action to limit US corporate “inversions” and to restrict earnings stripping aspects of such transactions.
Specifically, the US Treasury regulations would, among other things, limit corporate inversions by disregarding foreign parent stock attributable to certain prior inversions or acquisitions of US companies. Additionally, debt issued by a US subsidiary to its foreign parent would be treated as equity under certain circumstances. The proposals have raised concerns with respect to the impact on US subsidiaries of foreign banking organizations, specifically intermediate holding companies subject to the Federal Reserve Board’s total loss absorbing capacity (TLAC) requirements. These new proposals add further complexity regarding the tax treatment of TLAC debt.
View the IRS proposed regulations.
View the Treasury Department press release.
UK Treasury Committee Commissions Maxwellisation Review
The UK House of Commons Treasury Committee wrote to the Chancellor of the Exchequer informing him that it had commissioned a report into the Maxwellisation process. Maxwellisation allows those who are going to be criticized in a public report an opportunity to respond to such criticisms and comment on relevant texts prior to their publication. The Treasury Committee's view is that one of the reasons for the delay in the publication of the UK regulators report into the collapse of HBOS was that Maxwellisation was applied, which took some 14 months. The HBOS report was published in December 2015 - seven years after HBOS failed. The Treasury Committee has asked Andrew Green QC to prepare a report on the legal requirements for, the issues that arise in the application of, Maxwellisation and to make recommendations on how Maxwellisation can be applied in a fair and proportionate manner in future public financial enquiries. The report will focus on the financial services sector only.
View the Treasury Committee's letter.
View the Terms of Reference of the Maxwellisation Review.
US Federal Reserve Bank of New York President Discusses the Role of the Federal Reserve
US Federal Reserve Bank of New York President William Dudley addressed the role of the US Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and its structure and governance. He provided a detailed overview of the history of the creation and evolution of the Federal Reserve through the 20th century. He defended the Federal Reserve's actions during the financial crisis, noting that critiques of regulators should focus on shortcomings that led to the economic and financial instability of the crisis and not the Federal Reserve's intervening actions to mitigate the consequences. Dudley discussed the significant changes the Federal Reserve has taken since the financial crisis, including establishing the Large Institution Supervision Coordination Committee to look at the largest institutions and the Office of Financial Stability Policy Research to focus on the financial system at a holistic level. He also noted that the Federal Reserve has taken steps to improve transparency, including more speeches by FOMC members, regular testimony, press conferences and public notices after FOMC meetings. He cautioned against making changes to the structure of the Federal Reserve and the implementation of a formal rule for the Federal Reserve to adhere to in setting monetary policy.
View President Dudley's speech.
UK Government Body on Financial Sanction Implementation Established
A new “Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation” (OFSI) was established within Her Majesty’s Treasury, with responsibility for ensuring that sanctions are “properly understood, implemented and enforced in the UK”. Despite an expansion in the number of sanctions programmes in the EU in recent years, as well as increasingly complex rules, there have not been any significant enforcement actions in the UK, a situation which contrasts with the enthusiastic enforcement practices of US sanctions enforcement agencies. OFSI is expected to work closely with other regulatory authorities, such as the FCA, to apply a more effective sanctions enforcement regime than has previously been the case. To this end, the government is also legislating to ensure that suitable remedies are available for sanctions enforcement. Provisions in the Policing and Crime Bill outline new administrative penalties, monetary penalties and an increase in the maximum custodial sentence for breaching financial sanctions to seven years on conviction on indictment (or six months imprisonment on summary conviction).
Financial Stability Board to Consult on Addressing Risks Posed by Asset Management Activities
The Financial Stability Board announced that it would publish proposed policy recommendations to address structural vulnerabilities in asset management activities. The recommendations will aim to address several risks that such activities present: funds' liquidity mismatch, leverage within funds, operational risk and challenges in transferring investment mandates in a stressed situation and securities lending activities of asset managers and funds. The FSB intends to finalize the recommendations by the end of 2016. The announcement was included in a press release which summarizes the outcomes of the FSB's recent meeting in Tokyo. The FSB will also be focusing on CCP resolution this year and intends to publish guidance on CCP resolution by September and consult on standards or guidance on issues relating to CCP resolution before the end of the year.
View the FSB announcement.
European Commission Seeks Views on Harmonizing EU Insolvency Regimes Under its Capital Markets Union Action Plan
The European Commission launched a consultation seeking views on key insolvency principles and standards which could ensure that national insolvency frameworks work in a cross-border context. The consultation is part of the Commission's Capital Markets Union Action Plan which aims to remove barriers to the free flow of capital. Responses will be used to identify which aspects could be included in a legislative initiative or other related actions. It takes the form of various multiple choice questions and one open question, which seem to be aimed at initial framing of how this initiative should be taken forwards. The consultation is open until June 14, 2016.
View the consultation website.
Final Guidelines on Product Oversight and Governance Arrangements for Retail Banking Products Translated Into Official EU Languages
The European Banking Authority published translations of its final guidelines on product oversight and governance arrangements for retail banking products. The retail banking products included are mortgages, personal loans, deposits, payment accounts, payment services and electronic money. The guidelines are addressed to EU national regulators and financial institutions and require the establishment of product oversight and governance arrangements for the design, bringing to market and review of retail banking products over their lifecycle. The guidelines will apply from January 3, 2017, to all products brought to market after that date as well as to existing products that are significantly changed after that (the EBA has not provided clarification on the meaning of "significantly changed").
View the Translated Guidelines.
UK Legislation on Unregulated and Regulated Activities
The Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) Order 2016 was made. The Order amends legislation relating to the regulation of activities connected with lending, primarily the Financial Services Act and Markets Act (2000). The Order extends the scope of regulated activities for certain types of activities which previously did not qualify as a regulated activity, for the purpose of the FSMA, are now deemed a regulated activity. For example, it provides amendments to the regulated activity of operating electronic systems in relation to lending. The amend states that the activity is regulated whether the operation collects interest or not under the lending agreement, and where a person carrying on that activity, facilitating another person transferring their rights under an agreement to a third party, is a regulated activity. The Order also serves partly to implement the Mortgage Credit Directive Order. For example, the Order extends the scope of the regulated activities of arranging and advising on regulated mortgage contracts so that mortgages entered into before October 31, 2004 (which are regulated as consumer credit agreements before March 21, 2016) are included within the activities from that date. The Order came into force on March 17, 2016.
View the Order.
US Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Evaluates Membership Application Rules
The US Financial Industry Regulatory Authority released a report evaluating the NASD Rule 1010 Series which rules govern FINRA’s Membership Application Program (MAP). The MAP rules are used by FINRA to evaluate the proposed business activities of member firms, including the applicant’s financial, operational, supervisory and compliance systems. FINRA staff conducted a comprehensive assessment of the rules, including seeking input from, and conducting a survey of, firms that are subject to the rules and non-member firms that assist in MAP submissions. FINRA staff concluded that the rules are generally effective in achieving their objectives of protecting investors. The report notes areas for improvement or clarification that FINRA will consider addressing through a combination of guidance, proposed rule modifications, process and administrative changes and technological updates to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the rules.
View press release.
US Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System Governor Brainard Remarks on US Economic Outlook, Market Liquidity and Financial Resilience
US Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System Governor Lael Brainard provided an outlook on US economic conditions, an overview of the importance of financial market liquidity and the resilience and resolvability of large interconnected banks. With respect to liquidity, Brainard noted that day-to-day liquidity has not declined notably but that there have been changes to the characteristics of liquidity, including increased segmentation. She also noted the importance of recent proposals by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission to understand the use of algorithmic trading and its impact on trading markets. With respect to improving the resilience and resolvability of systemic banking organizations, she noted that as a result of capital and liquidity regulations and stress tests, US banking organizations are now holding $800 billion more in high-quality liquid assets than they were in 2011. She noted the capital surcharge for global systemically important banks and that she would hope to see it eventually integrated into the Federal Reserve’s Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review. Governor Brainard noted that the Federal Reserve will be reviewing comments to its proposed rule on total loss-absorbing capacity, and that the long-term debt requirement in the proposed rule is a critical component of ending “too big to fail.”
UK Regulator Consults on Client Money Rules and the Special Administration Regime
The Financial Conduct Authority issued a discussion paper on client money rules (CASS 7) and the Special Administration Regime Review. The discussion paper is relevant to all regulated firms that hold client assets or money for investment business. Client money rules govern how client assets are to be distributed by an insolvency practitioner managing a failed investment firm. The discussion paper is in response to the recommendations made in the Bloxham Final Report which aims to improve the speed of return of client assets and minimize the market impact of a failed firm's entry into special administration.
Regulatory Technical Standards Amending the EU Prospectus Regime
A Delegated Regulation on regulatory technical standards for publication of prospectuses and the dissemination of advertisements was published in the Official Journal of the European Union. The RTS stipulates amendments to the EU Prospectus Regime, including: (i) arrangements for approval of prospectus by a regulator; (ii) arrangements for publication of a prospectus; (iii) the dissemination of advertisements relating to a public offering of securities or an admission to trading on a regulated market; and (iv) requirements regarding the consistency between information disclosed about an offer to the public, or admission to trading on a regulated market, and the information contained in the relevant prospectus. The RTS enter into force on the March 24, 2016.
View the Delegated Regulation.
UK Regulator Consults on Proposed Changes to Payment Accounts Regulation
The Financial Conduct Authority published a consultation paper on proposed changes to the FCA Handbook following the implementation of the EU Payment Accounts Regulation. The consultation is aimed at entities that provide payment account services in the UK, such as banks and building societies. The EU Payments Directive was implemented in the UK through the UK Payment Accounts Regulations which come into effect on September 18, 2016. The FCA is obliged, under the PAR, to submit data to HM Treasury relating to payment accounts. The consultation outlines the draft changes that the FCA has proposed to enable it to carry out its obligations under the PAR. Proposals include: (i) issuance of guidance on the definition of a 'payment account' within the context of PAR; (ii) issuance of guidance on the implementation of the provisions on packaged accounts; (iii) the introduction of new regulatory requirements in relation to switching and payment accounts with basic features; and (iv) minor changes to the FCA Handbook to reflect the new PAR provisions regarding packaged accounts and switching of payment accounts. Responses to the consultation are due by May 3, 2016. The FCA aims to publish final guidance and changes to the FCA Handbook by the end of August 2016.
View the consultation paper.
View the response form.
Regulatory Technical Standards for the Submission and Content of Notifications to EU Regulators Published
The European Commission adopted a Delegated Regulation, in the form of Regulatory Technical Standards, detailing the content of the financial instrument reference data that must be supplied to regulators. The adopted RTS will be made under the Markets Abuse Regulation and Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation. They establish requirements for regulated entities to provide instrument reference data to regulators, which are then transmitted by regulators to the European Securities and Markets Association. The adopted RTS details which financial instruments are to be included as part of the reported instrument reference data. The adopted RTS also outlines ESMA's responsibility to review, assess, consolidate and publish the data on its website using automated processes. This adopted RTS will apply from July 3, 2016.
View the adopted RTS.
View the Annex.
Financial Stability Board Publishes its 2016 Priorities
The Financial Stability Board published its letter, dated February 22, 2016, to the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in advance of the G20 meeting in Shanghai. The letter sets out the FSB's priorities for 2016 which are: (i) to support the full and consistent implementation of the agreed regulatory reforms by reporting on progress and assessing whether reforms result in their intended outcomes; (ii) analyzing structural vulnerabilities in asset management activities, including developing policy responses on liquidity mismatch in funds, leverage within funds, operational risks in transferring investment mandates and securities lending activities of funds and asset managers; (iii) to publish a peer review on the implementation of the shadow banking framework; (iv) reducing misconduct risk, in particular, the role of incentives in preventing misconduct; (v) addressing the decline in correspondent banking (about which the FSB published a four-point plan in 2015); (vi) disclosure of climate-related financial risks; (vii) CCP resilience and recovery; (viii) assessing macro-prudential policy frameworks and tools; (ix) completing the regulatory capital framework for banks; (x) assessing implementation of resolution reforms including the total loss absorbing capacity (TLAC) framework published at the end of 2015; (xi) removing legal and regulatory barriers to reporting of derivatives trades; and (xii) assessing the implications of financial technology for financial stability. The G20 published a Communiqué following the Shanghai meeting which refers to the FSB's work and notes the progress made on implementing financial regulatory reforms.
View the FSB letter.
View the G20 Communique.
US Securities and Exchange Commission Chairwoman's Speech Notes Risk-Taking Essential to Macroeconomic Growth
US Securities and Exchange Commission Chairwoman Mary Jo White addressed the annual “SEC Speaks” program, noting the critical role capital markets play in the US economy and the importance of risk-taking as part this process. White argued that regulators should not seek to eliminate risk altogether but rather safeguard the investment and capital raising process from unacceptable risks that dilute, distort or disable the fair playing field that is integral to robust free financial markets.
View the speech.
UK Regulator Calls for Input on Retained Provisions of the Consumer Credit Act
The Financial Conduct Authority issued a Call for Input on the retained provisions of the Consumer Credit Act. Responsibility for regulating consumer credit markets was transferred to the FCA in April 2014. The aim of the review is to simplify the regime and provide appropriate protection for consumers without burdening firms disproportionately. The FCA is seeking input on three key areas: (i) whether any specific retained provisions should be prioritized for review; (ii) the timeline of the review; and (iii) the manner in which the review should be undertaken. Responses to the Call for Input are due by May 18, 2016. The FCA is expected to establish a stakeholder's consultative group and to finalize the scope of the review in the next few months. The regulator will publish an update on progress in the fourth quarter of 2016. The FCA is required to report its recommendations to the Treasury by April 1, 2019. The report could outline legislative change and whether repealing any of the retained provisions in the CCA could have an adverse effect on the appropriate level of consumer protection. The report must also consider whether any of the retained provisions of the CCA could be replaced by FCA rules. In making the review the FCA must have regard to the principle that a burden imposed in relation to the carrying on of an activity should be proportionate to the benefits.
View the Call for Input.
European Securities and Markets Authority Second Peer Review Report on Money Market Fund Guidelines
The European Securities and Markets Authority published a peer review report on the implementation by national regulators of the Committee of European Securities Regulators' Guidelines on a common definition of European Money Market Funds. The Guidelines specify a common definition of MMFs and establish a list of criteria that funds need to comply with should they wish to be categorized as a "Money Market Fund". The Guidelines aim to improve investor protection and apply both to: (i) collective investment undertakings subject to the Undertakings for the Collective Investment of Transferable Securities Directive; and (ii) non-harmonized collective investment undertakings regulated by the national laws of a Member State, which is supervised and complies with risk-spreading rules. The peer review follows the initial peer review published in April 2013 which identified that numerous regulators had at that time failed to implement the Guidelines. This second review updates the first review and covers 8 out of 30 countries which at the time of the previous review had not fully or in part implemented the guidelines. The 8 countries are Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta and Portugal. The review states that the guidelines are or are about to be fully applied in all these jurisdictions apart from Hungary, where some failings have been identified.
View the Guidelines.
View the 2013 peer review report.
View the 2016 peer review report.
European Securities and Markets Authority Discussion Paper on Proposed Benchmark Regulation
The European Securities and Markets Authority published a discussion paper on the proposed EU Benchmarks Regulation and its technical implementation. ESMA is seeking views on initial proposals it intends to make in the form of draft Regulatory Technical Standards and Technical Advice. This follows on from the European Commission's mandate sent to ESMA on February 11, 2016, requesting technical advice on potential delegated acts on the Benchmark Regulation. The areas on which ESMA is seeking views include: (i) the definition of benchmarks; (ii) what constitutes administering arrangements for determining a benchmark, taking into account different existing business practices; (iii) what constitutes the issuance of a financial instrument for the purposes of defining the use of a benchmark; (iv) the measurement for the nominal amount of financial instruments other than derivatives, the notional amount of derivatives and the net asset value of investment funds for a benchmark within a combination of benchmarks relating to the assessment of benchmarks; and (v) transparency requirements for benchmark methodology. The exact entry into force of the Benchmark Regulation is still unknown, though it is expected to enter into force in June 2016. ESMA has been asked to provide its technical advice four months after the Regulation enters into force. Currently, the Regulation and delegated acts are expected to apply 18 months after the Regulation enters into force. ESMA aims to analyze the responses to the discussion paper before July 2016 and to publish a consultation paper later this year. Comments on the discussion paper are due by March 31, 2016.
View the discussion paper.
Final EU Guidelines for Cooperation Agreements between Deposit Guarantee Schemes
The European Banking Authority published its final Guidelines relating to cooperation agreements between Deposit Guarantee Schemes in accordance with the EU Deposit Schemes Directive. The Guidelines provide the minimum content for cooperation agreements between DGSs. The EBA has also provided a multilateral framework cooperation agreement in an attempt to minimize the need for numerous detailed bilateral agreements to be executed between multiple DGSs. The framework offers scope for DGSs to enter multilateral and bilateral agreements with more detailed terms than those provided for in the Guidelines, if necessary. The Guidelines stipulate minimum specifications to be included in cooperation agreements, including the means for: (i) repayment of depositors by the host DGS at branches of banks established in other Member States; (ii) the transfer of contributions from one DGS to another where a bank ceases to be a member of a DGS and joins another DGS; and (iii) mutual lending between DGSs. The EBA has attempted to cater for depositors in EU branches of firms headquartered in other Member States, so that they are treated in a similar fashion to depositors in home Member States by providing direction on the sequence and timing of events when the host DGS pays out depositors on behalf of the home DGS. The Guidelines will come into effect six months after their publication in all official EU languages.
View the Guidelines.
US-EU Financial Market Regulatory Dialogue Meeting
The European Commission published a joint statement following a meeting that took place on February 3, 2016 between the participants of the US-EU Financial Market Regulatory Dialogue. The group met to discuss key regulatory topics including recent developments in bank capital and liquidity measures, bank resolution, cross-border bank supervision, CCP resolution, derivatives reforms and benchmarks reforms. Amongst other things, US and EU participants outlined the progress made on: (i) the common approach on requirements for central clearing counterparties and the equivalence of US trading platforms under the EU Markets in Financial Instruments framework; (ii) the proposed European Benchmark reform; and (iii) resolution frameworks for CCPs. The participants included representatives from the European Commission, European Central Bank, US Treasury, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Securities and Exchange Commission. The next meeting will be taking place in Brussels in July 2016.
View the joint statement.
European Commission Request for Technical Advice on Proposed Benchmark Regulation
The European Commission asked the European Securities and Markets Authority for technical advice on potential delegated acts due under the proposed European Benchmark Regulation. The proposed Benchmark Regulation aims to ensure that benchmarks produced and used in the EU are robust, reliable, fit for purpose and free from manipulation. The Commission's mandate requests technical advice from ESMA on matters including: (i) what constitutes administering arrangements for determining a benchmark, taking into account different existing business practices; (ii) what constitutes the issuance of a financial instrument for the purposes of defining the use of a benchmark; and (iii) the conditions under which a national regulator may decide that there is an objective reason for the provision of a benchmark or family of benchmarks in a third country. In response to the Commission's request, ESMA published a discussion paper on the Regulation and its technical implementation. The proposed Regulation is expected to enter into force in June 2016. ESMA has been asked to provide its technical advice four months after the Regulation's entry into force. Currently, the Benchmark Regulation and delegated acts are expected to apply 18 months after the Regulation enters into force.
View the Commission's request for technical advice.
View the Commission's covering letter to ESMA.
View ESMA's discussion paper.
UK Regulators Consult on Regulators' Complaints Handling and Procedures
The Bank of England, Prudential Regulation Authority and Financial Conduct Authority jointly published a consultation paper on how complaints about them are reported and responded to. The regulators operate a Complaints Scheme that investigates complaints against them. The scheme has recently been revised. The revisions require the Complaints Commissioner, which is the investigator of complaints against the regulators, to produce an annual report on such investigations and send a copy of the report to the regulators as well as the Treasury. If the Complaints Commissioner makes recommendations or criticisms about the handling of a complaint against a regulator, the regulator must respond to such recommendations or criticisms and send its response to both the Complaints Commissioner and Treasury. The Regulators are seeking views on the proposed revisions to the Complaints Scheme, following the legislative amendments. The regulators are also obliged to review the operation of the scheme after three years, which may lead to a further consultation in 2016. Responses to the consultation are due by March 8, 2016.
View the consultation paper.
UK Regulator's Internal Audit Reports Scrutinized
The Treasury Select Committee published three of the Financial Conduct Authority's internal audit reports dated October 2014. The Treasury Committee, on behalf of Parliament, has committed to scrutinize the FCA more rigorously since the financial crisis. In 2014, the Committee decided that its scrutiny would also extend to reviewing the FCA’s internal audit reports, to ensure that the audit reports are of a reasonable standard. The Treasury Committee published the FCA's audit reports from the first half of 2014 in October 2015. The latest audit reports are on: (i) the identification, handling and management of market sensitive information; (ii) the FCA’s incident response and crisis management capability; and (iii) the design and effectiveness of the FCA’s external communications strategy. Whilst the Treasury Committee is of the view that the FCA's processes are improving overall, it believes that there is still work to be done.
View the Treasury's February 2016 press release.
View the Treasury's October 2015 press release.
New York State Department of Financial Services Extends Comment Period on Anti-Money Laundering Proposal
The New York State Department of Financial Services announced that it is extending the comment period to March 31, 2016, for its proposed anti-terrorism and anti-money laundering regulation, known as the Transaction Monitoring and Filtering Program.
The regulation, proposed on December 1, 2015, requires maintenance by each regulated institution of: (i) a transaction monitoring program for the purpose of monitoring transactions after their execution for potential BSA/AML violations and suspicious activity reporting; and (ii) a watch list filtering program to prevent transactions, before their execution, that are prohibited by applicable sanctions, including OFAC and other sanctions lists, politically exposed persons lists and internal watch lists. The proposed regulation also includes an annual certification requirement under which senior financial executives must certify that their institutions have necessary systems in place to identify and prevent illicit transactions.
View the proposed Transaction Monitoring and Filtering Program regulation.
UK Regulator Consults on Segregation of Client Money for Loan-Based Crowdfunding Platforms
The Financial Conduct Authority issued a consultation paper on loan-based crowdfunding platforms and the segregation of client money. Current FCA client money rules (CASS 7) require that investor monies held by a firm under a Peer-to-Peer agreement (i.e. money that is to be lent or received in repayments) is segregated from the firm’s own money. Money relating to unregulated Business-to-Business lending (i.e. B2B agreements) must also be segregated from investor monies held by a firm (but not from the firm's own money). The FCA's proposals would allow firms to hold client monies in relation to both P2P and B2B agreements together. This change would be less burdensome to firms, as some do not have systems in place that can distinguish between monies held for P2P and B2B agreement purposes. Firms would then be able to segregate P2P and B2B monies from the firm's money, but keep them together, without breaking the FCA rules. Responses to the consultation are due by February 11, 2016.
View the consultation paper.
International Central Bank Committees Report on Structure and Liquidity of Fixed Income Markets
Two international central bank committees published reports on the structure and liquidity of fixed income markets. The Committee on the Global Financial System's report is on fixed income market liquidity whilst the Markets Committee paper is on electronic trading in fixed income markets. The CGFS report identifies liquidity conditions to be prone to disruptions, with signs of fragility, as fixed income markets are seen to be in a period of transition following the effects of ongoing regulatory, technology and market structure changes. The report states that whilst it is difficult to identify the drivers of such fragility, the changes could be due to: (i) a rise in algorithmic trading in fixed income markets; (ii) banks reducing their trading-related exposures in response to lower risk appetite; and (iii) crowded trades and one-sided risk expectations for market participants. The Markets Committee report focuses on the rise in algorithmic trading, which tends to facilitate the matching of buyers and sellers and in turn usually improves market quality, but can also result in liquidity conditions that are less resilient in times of stress.
View the CGFS report.
View the Markets Committee report.
UK Regulators Announce New Bank Start-up Unit
The Prudential Regulation Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority announced the launch of their new joint initiative, the New Bank Start-up Unit, which will provide information and support to newly authorized banks and those wishing to become a new bank in the United Kingdom. This initiative will help new banks through the regulatory authorization process via the use of dedicated PRA or FCA staff members, a dedicated website, helpline and email address. Case officers will be allocated to firms during the authorization process. The PRA and FCA have also published a guide on the New Bank Start-up Unit which includes useful information for those aiming to set up a bank.
View the Guide.
US Securities and Exchange Commission Reopens Comment Period for Access to Data Obtained by Security-Based Swap Data Repositories
01/15/2016The US Securities and Exchange Commission reopened the comment period for proposed amendments to rule 13n-4 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1945. The Dodd-Frank Act added sections 13(n)(5)(G) and (H) to the Exchange Act, requiring security-based swap data repositories to make data available to certain regulators and other entities, subject to certain conditions. The SEC proposed rules to implement those data access conditions on September 14, 2015. As part of the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015 (Public Law 114 94) signed into law on December 4, 2015, certain of those conditions were revised, including, most notably, eliminating a requirement that the recipient of such data agree to indemnify the swap data repository and SEC for expenses arising from litigation relating to the information provided. The law also clarified that the data access was limited to security-based swap data, and not all data maintained by the repository, and added “other foreign authorities” to the list of entities that the SEC may determine it is appropriate to provide access to. Comments may be submitted for 30 days, following the publication of the proposed amendments in the Federal Register.
View the proposed amendments.
US Securities and Exchange Commission Announces 2016 Examination Priorities
The US Securities and Exchange Commission issued its Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations’ 2016 priorities. Areas of focus for this year include liquidity controls, public pension advisers, product promotion, and two investment products – exchange-traded funds and variable annuities. The priorities also provide for continuing emphasis on protecting investors in ongoing risk areas such as cybersecurity, microcap fraud, fee selection, and reverse churning. The examination priorities address issues across a variety of financial institutions, including investment advisers, investment companies, broker-dealers, transfer agents, clearing agencies, and national securities exchanges. The priorities may be adjusted in light of market conditions, industry developments and ongoing risk assessment activities. OCIE selected the priorities in consultation with certain SEC policy divisions and regional offices, the SEC’s Investor Advocate, and other regulators.
View the SEC press release.
View the SEC examination priorities for 2016.
US Securities and Exchange Commission Issues Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Regarding Regulation of Transfer Agents
The US Securities and Exchange Commission issued (i) an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking, seeking public comment for new requirements for transfer agents and (ii) a concept release on the SEC's broader review of transfer agent regulation. Among other requirements, the ANPR proposes to impose on transfer agents revised registration and annual reporting requirements, and revised requirements relating to the safeguarding of funds and securities, antifraud requirements in connection with the issuance and transfer of restricted securities, and to impose new guidelines relating to cybersecurity and information technology.
The SEC concept release addresses a broader range of other issues and it is possible that the various proposals will be acted on separately by the SEC. Issues addressed in the concept release include the processing of book entry securities, recordkeeping issues, administration of issuer plans, outsourcing, the role of transfer agents to mutual funds, and crowdfunding.Comments on both the ANPR and the concept release must be submitted within 60 days of publication in the Federal Register.
View the SEC ANPR and concept release.
European Commission Consults on Long-Term and Sustainable Investment
The European Commission launched a consultation which seeks to collect information on how institutional investors, asset managers and other service providers in the investment chain take into account, for the purpose of investment decisions, sustainability information and performance of companies or assets. The consultation is linked to the Commission's Communication on Long-Term Financing of the European Economy as well as the action plan for building a Capital Markets Union. The consultation is open until March 25, 2016.
View the consultation.
European Banking Authority Consults on Draft Regulatory Technical Standards on Information Sharing Between National Regulators under Revised Payment Services Directive
The European Banking Authority published a consultation paper on draft Regulatory Technical Standards on the framework for cooperation and exchange of information between national regulators for passporting under the revised Payment Services Directive (known as PSD2). The aims of PSD2, which focuses on electronic payments and payment services within the EU, include making payments between Member States as secure, easy and efficient as those made within a Member State, regulating new types of payment services and payment services providers which are currently unregulated and stimulating competition in the electronic payments market. The RTS aim to ensure that: (i) information about those entities that carry out business in EU Member States is exchanged between national regulators in a consistent way; (ii) there is clarity for payment institutions about their regulatory requirements; and (iii) the information that is to be shared between national regulators is specified. Comments are due by March 11, 2016.
View the consultation paper.
UK Regulator Publishes Thematic Review on Treatment of Confidential and Inside Information
The Financial Conduct Authority published its thematic review on flows of confidential and inside information, presenting the results of an evaluation into how a sample of investment banks manage the confidential and inside information that they receive and generate. The review outlines good and poor practices mainly in the Debt Capital Markets and Mergers & Acquisitions departments of small to medium investment firms and is aimed at all FCA-regulated firms, to assist them in considering how efficient their procedures, systems and controls are. The review is aimed at senior managers as well as front office staff and all staff that make up the first, second and third lines of defense at UK firms that are FCA-regulated. Ultimate responsibility however remains with senior management and the FCA expects senior managers to be aware of their obligations and of the risks of handling confidential and inside information in an inappropriate way. The review states that all UK FCA-regulated firms should ensure that their arrangements are fit for purpose so that they meet the standards of the review, and make suitable improvements where necessary. These arrangements should be consistently reviewed from both a market abuse and conduct of business viewpoint, taking into account any new risks that may arise due to external factors such as market practices or macroeconomic issues.
View the review.
Financial Stability Board Progress Report on Principles and Recommendations for Enhancing Risk Disclosures of Banks
The Financial Stability Board published a progress report from the Enhanced Disclosure Task Force on the implementation of the EDTF's recommendations for enhancing risk disclosures of banks. The report, which covers 40 global or domestic systemically important banks, includes updates based on 2014 annual reports as well as self-assessments by banks and assessments made by users of financial disclosures. The report states that the self-assessments provided by banks show disclosure of 82% of the information recommended by the EDTF. This represents an increase of 7% from the previous year. The report also states that there are still significant opportunities for banks to improve credit risk disclosures and that credit risk disclosures vary significantly across different countries, with UK banks having the highest implementation rates.
View the report.
European Supervisory Authorities Discussion Paper on Automation in Financial Advice
The European Banking Authority, European Securities and Markets Authority and European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (known as the Joint Committee of the European Supervisory Authorities) published a discussion paper on automation in financial advice. The paper addresses the various ways in which consumers can use automated tools, mainly websites, without human intervention to receive financial guidance. The discussion paper aims to assess what regulatory or supervisory action may be required to mitigate the risks associated with automation whilst still being able to harness its potential benefits. Potential benefits of automation are a decrease in the costs of providing advice, provision of more consistent advice and potentially wider market access for consumers. However, the potential risks include consumers possibly misunderstanding advice provided to them through automated tools, consumers receiving unsuitable advice and the potential for errors in automated tools. The discussion paper seeks views on the ESAs observations on automation in financial advice across EU jurisdictions. Comments on the discussion paper are due by March 4, 2016.
View the discussion paper.
Payment Systems Regulator Consultation on European Interchange Fee Regulation
The Payment Systems Regulator published a consultation paper on the application of the Interchange Fee Regulation in the UK. The European Regulation which was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on May 19, 2015 is directly applicable in the UK. The Regulation introduces caps on interchange fees on debit and credit card transactions where the issuer and acquirer are both located in the EEA. The consultation, which will be conducted in two phases, seeks views on how the monitoring of compliance with the IFR provisions should be approached. The PSR has therefore published draft guidance alongside the consultation paper, setting out the proposed approach to the provisions of the IFR that come into force on December 9, 2015. The second phase of the consultation will follow in due course and will cover the remaining provisions that come into force on June 9, 2016. Comments on the consultation paper are due by January 29, 2016.
View the consultation paper.
View the draft guidance.
New York State Department of Financial Services Proposes New Anti-Terrorism and Anti-Money Laundering Regulation
The New York State Department of Financial Services proposed a new anti-terrorism and anti-money laundering regulation, known as the Transaction Monitoring and Filtering Program regulation. The main requirements of the proposed regulation include maintenance by each regulated institution of (i) a transaction monitoring program for the purpose of monitoring transactions after their execution for potential BSA/AML violations and suspicious activity reporting and (ii) a watch list filtering program to prevent transactions, before their execution, that are prohibited by applicable sanctions, including OFAC and other sanctions lists, politically exposed persons lists, and internal watch lists. The proposed regulation sets forth additional minimum requirements for each institution’s Transaction Monitoring and Filtering Program and also includes an annual certification requirement, modeled on Sarbanes-Oxley, that senior financial executives must certify that their institutions have necessary systems in place to identify and prevent illicit transactions. The regulation will published in the New York State Register, commencing a 45-day notice and comment period.
View the press release.
View the proposed regulation.
European Supervisory Authorities Publish List of Identified Financial Conglomerates
The Joint Committee of the European Supervisory Authorities published a list of identified Financial Conglomerates for 2015. The list indicates that: (i) 78 FCs' heads of group are located in a EU or EEA country; (ii) one FC head of group is located in Australia; (iii) one FC head of group is located in Switzerland; and (iv) two FCs' heads of group are located in the United States. The list is updated and published annually by the ESAs and shows figures as at 31 December 2014.
View the list.
UK Government Policy Paper on Boosting Competition in the UK
HM Treasury published a policy paper on boosting competition in the UK which, amongst other things, states that the UK government aims to boost competition with the establishment of a New Bank Start-Up Unit which will make it easier for new banks to enter the market. The new unit will be launched by the Prudential Regulation Authority and Financial Conduct Authority on January, 20 2016 and will provide firms with named case officers at both regulators that will be able to assist new banks wishing to enter the market and through the early stages of authorization.
View the policy paper.
European Banking Authority Publishes Results of 2015 EU-wide Transparency Exercise
The European Banking Authority published a report setting out the results of its 2015 EU-wide transparency exercise. The results provide data on capital positions, risk exposure amounts and asset quality on a bank-by-bank basis for 105 banks from 21 EEA countries. The report is based on existing supervisory reporting data submitted to the EBA and shows that capital levels have strengthened through banks raising additional equity and retaining earnings. The report also shows that quality of assets and levels of profitability have improved since 2014 and that there has been a general increase in the resilience of the EU banking sector since December 2014.
View the results.
Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures Reports on Digital Currencies
The Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures published a report on digital currencies. The report aims to address the various impacts that digital currencies may have on financial markets and the wider economy, such as potential disruptions to business models and the creation of new economic interactions. The report, amongst other things, deals with regulatory issues and approaches for digital currencies such as: (i) consumer protection; (ii) prudential and organisational rules for different stakeholders; and (iii) specific operating rules as payment mechanisms. The report states that coordinated approaches for regulation at a global level may be important in addition to ones taken at national level, and lists five possible categories of actions: (i) to highlight the risks towards users and investors and influencing the market through moral suasion; (ii) to regulate specific entities; (iii) to assess whether existing regulatory arrangements can be applied to digital currencies; (iv) to seek a broader approach to regulation, for example, by national regulators making consumer protection arrangements that apply to other payment methods used by consumers also apply to transactions conducted with digital currencies; and (v) national regulators banning the use of digital currencies in their respective jurisdictions.
View the report.
Review on Failure of HBOS plc Published By UK Regulators
The final Review on the failure of HBOS plc was published by the Prudential Regulation Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority. The Review assesses the strategy adopted by HBOS, how HBOS failed (focusing on asset quality, reliance on wholesale funding and capital), the role of management, governance and the culture of HBOS and the Financial Services Authority's (the UK regulator at the time of the failure of HBOS) regulatory approach. The HBOS group was formed by the merger of the former Halifax Building Society and Bank of Scotland. Recommendations include: (i) a bank's Board is responsible for ensuring a firm has a sustainable business model and for embedding the principle of safety and soundness in a firm's culture. The Review notes that directors will have specific accountabilities for this under the Senior Managers Regime from March 7, 2016; (ii) the non-executive directors of a bank must have diverse experience and the capacity to challenge key business issues; (iii) senior managers should proactively seek to identify threats to the safety and soundness of their firm and notify the regulators when issues arise; (iv) regulators must be willing and able to intervene where necessary, free from undue influence; (v) the UK regulators should understand the scope of oversight provided by a local regulator for globally active banks to understand the extent of the reliance that they can place on local regulatory authorities; and (vi) UK regulators should be aware of potential conflicts of interest arising from the composition of their boards.
View the Review and related documents.
Final Report on the Enforcement Actions Following the Failure of HBOS Published
The final Report into the Financial Services Authority's enforcement actions following the failure of HBOS plc, prepared by Andrew Green Q.C., was published by the Prudential Regulation Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority. The Report assesses the reasonableness of the scope of the FSA's enforcement investigations in relation to the failure of HBOS from October 1, 2008 to September 12, 2012 and concludes that the scope was not reasonable, that the FSA's decision-making process was materially flawed and that the FSA should have conducted a wider investigation or series of investigations into the conduct of the HBOS Corporate Division and Mr Cummings, CEO of the Corporate Division at the relevant time. Recommendations include: (i) the regulators should have a system for pre-referral decision-making through which they identify and record the potential individuals that could be the subject of enforcement action related to an event/s, including reasons. One individual at the regulator/s should be made responsible for the pre-referral decision-making process; (ii) there should be an ongoing dialogue between Supervision and Enforcement, including discussions on the appropriateness of the scope of the investigation and any decisions should be recorded; (iii) the Memorandum of Appointment of Investigators issued to individuals by the regulators should include a summary of the potential breaches and an explanation of the matters that give rise to those alleged breaches; and (iv) the minutes of a regulators' Executive Committee meetings should be subject to review and approval. The Report also recommends that the PRA and FCA consider whether to investigate other former senior managers at HBOS with a view to prohibition proceedings.
View the report.
US Securities and Exchange Commission Propose to Enhance Transparency and Oversight of Alternative Trading Systems
The SEC proposed rules that would require Alternative Trading Systems that trade stocks listed on national securities exchanges, including “dark pools”, to make certain detailed disclosures regarding their operations and the activities of their broker-dealer operators and affiliates. The proposed Form ATS-N would, among other things, require disclosure of: (i) information regarding trading by the broker-dealer operator and its affiliates on the ATS; (ii) 7 FINANCIAL REGULATORY DEVELOPMENTS FOCUS November 25, 2015 Issue 44/2015 the types of orders and market data used on the ATS; and (iii) the ATS’ execution and priority procedures. The proposed rules would make Form ATS-N disclosures publicly available on the SEC’s website. The SEC will accept public comment on the proposal for 60 days after its publication in the Federal Register.
View the text of the SEC proposed rule.
Financial Stability Board Publishes Finalized Standards For Global Securities Financing Data Collection
The Financial Stability Board published its finalized standards and processes for global securities financing data collection and aggregation. The report sets out the data that national regulators are to report as aggregates to the FSB, for financial stability purposes. The standards, amongst other things, define the data elements for repurchase agreements, securities lending and margin lending that national regulators will be asked to report to the FSB. The report also sets out recommendations for national regulators on the collection of data from market participants, so that timely and comprehensive visibility into trends and developments in these markets can be obtained.
View the FSB's standards and processes.
US Federal Reserve Board Governor Delivers Speech on Central Counterparty Clearing
US Federal Reserve Board Governor, Jerome H. Powell, delivered a speech at The Clearing House annual conference discussing progress made in strengthening CCPs and expanding central clearing for repurchase agreement markets. Governor Powell touted global regulatory efforts to strengthen CCP resiliency, but noted that there is still work to be done due to the concentrated risks inherent to CCPs. His remarks focused largely on repurchase agreement transactions, where he enumerated the benefits of executing these transactions through a CCP. He noted that the use of a CCP provides market participants with greater transparency into potential risks by aggregating and standardizing market data. Additionally, CCPs may stabilize the financial system in the event of a defaulting counterparty by transferring defaulting positions to solvent parties, or otherwise managing such defaults, thereby reducing the risk of “fire sales” by non-defaulting counterparties. Finally, Governor Powell noted the risk-sharing benefits of utilizing CCPs. He concluded by urging regulators to consider implementing greater clearing solutions in markets with highly liquid assets, such as repurchase agreement trading for government and agency securities.
View the speech.
G20 Leaders Publish Communiqué Further to Antalya Summit
The G20 Leaders published a communiqué about their recent summit in Antalya. The press release, amongst other things, refers to enhancing the resilience and stability of financial institutions and systems, noting that core elements of the financial reform agenda have been completed, such as the finalization of the Total Loss-Absorbing Capacity for Global Systemically Important Banks. Further work is however going, in particular on: (i) CCP resilience; (ii) recovery planning and resolvability; (iii) the decline in correspondent banking services; and (iv) the implementation of OTC derivatives reforms. The G20 leaders will next meet in Hangzhou, China, in September 2016.
View the communiqué.
International Organization of Securities Commissions Report on Standards for Custody of Collective Investment Scheme Assets
The International Organization of Securities Commissions published its final report on standards for the custody of Collective Investment Schemes' assets. The report seeks to develop guidance for the custody of CIS assets consistent with the IOSCO Objectives and Principles of Securities Regulation. The report sets out standards that aim to identify core issues that require consistent review to ensure investors' assets are well protected. The key risks identified by the report are: (i) operational risk; (ii) misuse of CIS assets; (iii) risk of fraud or theft; and (iv) information technology risk. The report sets out the role and responsibilities of custodians and examines the ways in which key risks associated with the custody of CIS assets can be managed and mitigated.
View the report.
UK Government and Regulators Jointly Publish Policy Statement on Implementation of Transparency Directive Amending Directive
HM Treasury and the Financial Conduct Authority jointly published a policy statement on the implementation of the directive amending the Transparency Directive, setting out final rules and summarizing feedback received on their previous joint consultation on proposed amendments to the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 and Disclosure Rules and Transparency Rules (known as DTRs) for such implementation. The policy statement sets out the responses to the previous consultation, including on the requirement to disclose voting rights arising from holdings of financial instruments that have a similar economic effect to holding shares, as well as on the extension of deadlines for the publication of half-yearly reports and the period of time for which financial reports are publicly available. The policy statement also includes the FCA's new DTRs Sourcebook (Transparency Directive Amending Directive) Instrument 2015, implementing the changes as set out in the policy statement. The new rules enter into force on November 26, 2015.
View the Policy Statement.
US Banking Regulators Release Results of Annual Shared National Credit Review Noting High Credit Risk and Weaknesses Related to Leveraged Lending
The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the FDIC and OCC released results from the annual Shared National Credit review. The SNC review has been conducted by the banking agencies since 1977 to assess risk in the largest and most complex credits shared by numerous financial institutions. A SNC generally includes large loans or formal loan commitment extended to borrowers by a federally supervised institution, its subsidiaries and certain affiliates and is shared by three or more unaffiliated supervised institutions. According to the release, leveraged lending continues to be a key issue in the SNC portfolio. Specifically, the agencies noted that leveraged transactions originated over the past year continue to show structural deficiencies, an issue that has persistently been cited by US regulators as problematic, including the 2013 interagency guidance on leveraged lending. The release notes that there seems to be a discrepancy between industry practices and safe and sound banking expectations when looking at leveraged transaction structures. The review also pointed out weaknesses related to oil and gas credits.
View the press release.
View the SNC Review.
US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Revises Provisions of its Securitization Safe Harbor Rule10/22/2015
The US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation approved a final rule and a notice of proposed rulemaking that revise certain provisions of its Securitization Safe Harbor Rule. The final rule pertains to the treatment of financial assets transferred in connection with a securitization or participation. The rule clarifies the requirements of the securitization safe harbor as to the retention of an economic interest in the credit risk of securitized financial assets in connection with the effectiveness of the credit risk retention regulations adopted under Section 15G of the Securities Exchange Act. The final rule will be effective on the date that is the later of (i) 60 days after publication in the Federal Register and (ii) January 1, 2016. The notice of proposed rulemaking intends to align the Securitization Safe Harbor Rule with US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau regulations dealing with the servicing of residential mortgages that became effective in January 2014. Specifically, the proposed rule would clarify that the requirement that a servicer take loss mitigation action within 90 days of delinquency does not necessitate that the securitization documents require a servicer to act contrary to the CFPB's mortgage loan servicing requirements as set forth in Regulation X. Comments on the proposed rule will be due 60 days after the rule is published in the Federal Register.
View the FDIC’s final rule.
European Securities and Markets Authority Publishes Standard Forms and Updated Documents in Preparation of Transparency Directive Entering into Force
The European Securities and Markets Authority published, as part of the preparations for the revised Transparency Directive entering into force on November 26, 2015, the following: (i) a new standard form for issuers to disclose details of their home member state to relevant national regulator; (ii) a new standard form for the notification of major holdings to relevant national regulators; (iii) an updated indicative list of financial instruments subject to notification requirements; and (iv) an update to its Q&As on the Transparency Directive.
View the ESMA documents.
Abu Dhabi Global Market Opens for Business
The Abu Dhabi Global Market announced that it was officially open for business and that the Financial Services Regulatory Authority was ready to accept applications for a license from financial institutions. The ADGM is the newest international financial centre and it has adopted English common law by applying it in its jurisdiction for civil and commercial law. The application of English common law will govern matters such as contracts, tort, trusts, equitable remedies, unjust enrichment, damages, conflicts of laws, security and personal property.
Shearman & Sterling helped develop ADGM's world-class legal and regulatory regime to be in line with international standards to provide the sophistication and certainty found in the world’s top financial centres. The firm drafted all the Financial Services and Markets Regulations and Financial Services Regulatory Authority Rules as well as legislation governing matters such as companies, insolvency, interpretation, commercial licensing, arbitration, courts, employment, limited liability partnerships, real property and strata title.
View the ADGM press release.
European Supervisory Authorities Consult on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorist Financing Guidelines
The European Supervisory Authorities published two consultations on proposed joint guidelines for: (i) financial institutions on the factors for financial institutions to consider when assessing money laundering and counter terrorist financing risks associated with individual business relationships or occasional transactions and the extent to which a firm's customer due diligence can be adjusted based on the risk identified; and (ii) national regulators on the supervision of AML/CFT on a risk sensitive basis. The guidelines are required to be prepared by the ESA's by the Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive, also known as 4AMLD, which Member States must transpose into national law by June 26, 2017. The proposed guidelines would apply to banks, investment firms, insurers, insurance intermediaries, money brokerage firms, collective investment undertaking marketing its units or shares and to branches of those firms (regardless of whether their head office is located in an EU Member State or a third country) and to national regulators of those financial institutions. The consultations are open until January 22, 2016 and the ESA's expect to finalise them in Spring 2016. The final guidelines will apply from June 26, 2017.
View the proposed Risk Factors Guidelines.
View the proposed Risk-based Supervision Guidelines.
Regulatory Oversight Committee Proposals to Include Branch Data into the Global Legal Entity Identifier System
The Regulatory Oversight Committee launched a consultation on its proposed approach to incorporating data on branches into the Global Legal Entity Identifier System, known as GLEIS. The ROC is proposing that only branches that meet the following conditions would be eligible for an LEI: (i) the branch is an international branch; (ii) the branch is registered in a publicly accessible local business registry or local regulatory registry in its host country; and (iii) the head office of the branch already has an LEI so that the two entities could be linked through their respective LEIs. Responses to the consultation are due by November 16, 2015.
View the consultation paper.
UK Supreme Court Judgment on European Communities Act Amending a UK Act of Parliament
The UK Supreme Court considered the case of United States of America v Nolan. The case gave thought to whether a statutory instrument made under section 2 of the European Communities Act 1972 could effectively be deemed to amend a UK Act of Parliament. It was held that the ECA was wide enough for a statutory instrument to be effective in this way, however the Court found that the question was “difficult and borderline”. The EU Financial Collateral Directive was implemented in the UK via the Financial Collateral Regulations 2003, a statutory instrument, that was also made under the same section of the ECA. The Directive relates to title transfer financial collateral arrangements and security financial collateral arrangements made between certain classes of qualifying persons. Lord Mance considered previous case law on section 2 of the ECA, and in particular the decision taken in Cukurova Finance International Ltd v HM Treasury which related to the FCR. Lord Mance considered that Cukurova's unsuccessful challenge was "greatly underestimated", suggesting that it may have been wrongly decided, casting doubts on the enforceability of certain aspects of the FCR. In our view, these remarks are obiter dicta, given that the particular situation of these regulations was not at issue in the case.
View the decision in USA v Nolan.
European Commission Publishes Action Plan for Capital Markets Union
The European Commission published its Action Plan for building the Capital Markets Union which follows its earlier consultation. The Action Plan sets out the steps for the medium and long term that the Commission intends to take in five priority areas: (i) providing more funding choices to EU businesses; (ii) ensuring an appropriate regulatory framework for long term investment and financing of Europe's infrastructure; (iii) increasing investment and choices for retail and institutional investors; (iv) improving bank lending capacity; and (v) removing cross-border barriers and developing more harmonized capital markets for all Member States. The Action Plan includes a detailed action list and indicative timeline of steps that the Commission intends to take, including publishing proposals to amend the Prospectus Directive before the end of 2015. Several proposals and consultations were published with the Action Plan, including (i) a call for evidence on the impact of the EU regulatory framework for financial services which seeks feedback on unnecessary regulatory burdens, inconsistencies, gaps and unintended consequences; and (ii) a proposed Commission Delegated Regulation amending the regulatory capital requirements for several categories of assets held by insurance and reinsurance undertakings.
View the Action Plan.
View the Call for Evidence.
View the proposed Commission Delegated Regulation.
European Commission Publishes Guide on Crowdfunding for Small and Medium Enterprises
The European Commission published a guide for small and medium enterprises on how to use crowdfunding. The guide describes the different types of crowdfunding available, such as peer-to-peer lending as well as equity, revenue-sharing, and debt-securities crowdfunding and includes details on how to plan and prepare for crowdfunding.
View the guide.
Financial Stability Board Meeting to Discuss Ongoing Workplan
The Financial Stability Board convened to discuss its ongoing workplan. The FSB discussed issues including ending too-big-to-fail, transforming shadow banking into resilient market-based finance, risks associated with market liquidity and asset management activities, reducing misconduct and the prospective policies that could mitigate potential risks. Further to the FSB's consultation last year which proposed a global standard for Total Loss-Absorbing Capacity to be applied to Global Systematically Important Banks, addressing the risks of bail-outs funded by taxpayers, the FSB has now agreed the draft final principles and supports the consistent implementation of this standard. Amongst other things, the FSB has also identified areas in which it aims to conduct further detailed analysis relating to structural vulnerabilities in asset management, such as the mismatch between liquidity of fund investment and redemption terms of conditions for fund units, leverage within investment funds and securities lending activities of asset managers and funds.
View the press release.
Financial Market Infrastructure US-EU Financial Market Regulatory Dialogue Meeting
Participants of the US-EU Financial Market Regulatory Dialogue met to discuss key regulatory topics including recent developments in bank resolution, derivatives reforms, securitisation and the creation of the a new Capital Markets Union, cybersecurity and plans to review the Prospectus Directive. Amongst other things, EU participants outlined the efforts that have been made to assist access to market-based funds through the creation of a CMU, and reported, together with participants from the US Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission that constructive bilateral discussions were continuing on derivatives reform and in particular on recognition under the European Market Infrastructure Regulation. Emphasis was placed on the importance of clear and well-designed recovery and resolution frameworks for CCPs and well-governed benchmark frameworks. The participants included representatives of the European Commission, European Securities and Markets Authority, European Banking Authority, US Treasury, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The next meeting will take place in Washington DC in February 2016.
View the joint statement.
European Banking Authority Publishes Guidelines under Deposit Guarantee Schemes Directive
The European Banking Authority published final translations of its Guidelines on methods for calculating contributions to Deposit Guarantee Schemes under the Deposit Guarantee Schemes Directive. The Guidelines include: (i) the principles that should be used for developing or approving methods for calculating contributions to DGSs; (ii) the mandatory elements of calculation methods; and (iii) the optional elements of calculation methods. National regulators must notify the EBA within two months of the publication of the translated guidelines whether they comply or intend to comply with those Guidelines.
View the Guidelines.
New York Department of Financial Services Announces Approval of First BitLicense Application from Virtual Currency Firm
Anthony J. Albanese, Acting Superintendent of Financial Services, announced that the New York State Department of Financial Services approved Circle Internet Financial's BitLicense application. This would make Circle Internet Financial the first company to receive a BitLicense from the NYDFS. The NYDFS finalized its BitLicense rules in June 2015 after receiving public comments on the proposed framework, making New York's BitLicense the first comprehensive regulatory framework for firms dealing in virtual currency. The rules include guidelines on consumer protection, anti-money laundering compliance and cybersecurity. The NYDFS has received 25 BitLicense applications to date.
View the press release.
Financial Stability Board Reports to G20
The Financial Stability Board published three reports provided to the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors ahead of their meetings in September this year. The reports are: 1. The Sixth Progress Report by the FSB and the International Monetary Fund on the Implementation of the G-20 Data Gaps Initiative which states that the set of 20 recommendations to close the data gaps identified following the global financial crisis, known as the first phase, should be completed by end 2015/early 2016. 2. A Joint Progress Report by the FSB, IMF and Bank for International Settlements on foreign currency exposures. The work seeks to address data gaps involving FX exposures so as to prepare for improved assessments of cross-border risks and analyze the vulnerabilities arising from such exposures. The work requires building on existing data initiatives and heavy coordination between the FSB, IMF and BIS. 3. The FSB Final Report on Corporate Funding Structures and Incentives, which examines the factors that shape the liability structure of corporates focusing on the implications for financial stability
View the Sixth Progress Report on the G20 Data Gaps Initiative.
View the Joint Progress Report on FX Exposures.
View the Report on Corporate Funding Structures.
UK Regulator Publishes Guides on its New Approach for Supervision of Fixed and Flexible Portfolio Firms
The Financial Conduct Authority published two guides which set out its new approach to classification of firms for conduct supervision. Firms will now be classified as either flexible or fixed portfolio firms according to their size, market presence and customer footprint. Fixed portfolio firms require the highest level of supervision and are the smaller of the population of firms. The guides summarize the FCA's approach that will apply to the two different kinds of firms. The revisions aim to help the FCA to take a more sector-based approach to identifying risk and engaging more widely with market representatives.
View the guide for fixed portfolio firms.
View the guide for flexible portfolio firms.
UK Regulators Launch New Financial Services Register
The Financial Conduct Authority announced the launch of the new Financial Services Register, which aims to make it easier to locate a firm, individual or collective investment scheme or exchange that is regulated by the FCA or Prudential Regulation Authority. Firms that the regulators believe are providing regulated products or services without the necessary authorization are also included in the register for the first time, flagged in red. The Mutuals Public Register and Regulated Covered Bonds Register do not form part of the new register and can be searched separately.
View the new Financial Services Register.
Proposals for Global Collection of Direct and Ultimate Parent Data of Legal Entities in the Global LEI System
The Legal Entity Identifier Regulatory Oversight Committee published proposals for a process for collecting data on parents of legal entities within the Global Legal Entity Identifier System. The LEI ROC is proposing to require entities that have or obtain an LEI to report their ultimate accounting consolidating parent and direct accounting consolidating parent, with the information to be published on the Global LEI System. LEIs are principally used by trade repositories to record derivatives transactions against particular legal entities. This initiative should therefore assist regulators in understanding the overall exposures of corporate groups. It is intended that the process would be phased in, according to priorities yet to be identified, with implementation starting near the end of 2015. The consultation closes on October 19, 2015.
View the consultation paper.
G20 Communiqué and Update on Financial Reforms
The G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors issued a communiqué highlighting the actions required to achieve the goals of the G20 for this year. The group endorses the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Principles on Corporate Governance, welcomes the progress made on the principles on SME financing and aims to finalize remaining elements of the global financial reform agenda this year. In addition, the OECD published a report prepared by the Financial Stability Board on corporate funding structures and incentives. The report sets out: (i) the growth and differences across countries and regions in nonfinancial corporate debt since the financial crisis; (ii) insights into the incentives that are influencing these trends; (iii) associated financial stability concerns; (iv) the role of macroprudential policies; and (v) potential action and next steps that could be taken, such as the use of macro prudential tools to moderate the risks of corporate leverage growth.
View the communiqué.
View the principles of corporate governance.
View the progress report on principles on SME financing.
View the report on corporate funding structures and incentives.
UK Regulators Launch New Websites for Revised Handbook and Rules
The Financial Conduct Authority launched a new website for its Handbook of rules and guidance. The Prudential Regulation Authority launched its new website for the new PRA Rulebook.
View the new FCA website.
View the new PRA website.
View the FCA announcement.
View the PRA announcement.
European Commission Publishes Management Plans for Economic and Financial Affairs, Financial Stability and Capital Markets Union
The European Commission published the 2015 Management Plans for the Directorate-General of Economic and Financial Affairs (ECFIN) and the DG for Financial Stability, Financial Markets and Capital Markets Union (FISMA) which replaces the financial services directorates of the DG for Internal Market and Services (which ceased to exist in 2014). These DGs provide specialized services to the European Commission as departments of the Commission. The Management Plans include the mission statements, objectives and strategies. ECFIN’s objectives include to foster jobs, growth and investment and to promote prosperity beyond the EU. FISMA’s objectives include to ensure that the EU financial sector is adequately supervised, stable, transparent and is conducive to growth and jobs, that effective investor protection is applied through the use of strict conduct and disclosure rules, and that the banking, insurance and pension sectors are stable and resilient due to adequate prudential, supervisory and resolution regimes.
View the ECFIN Managament Plan.
View the FISMA Management Plan.
UK Prudential Regulation Authority Publishes Further Rulebook Parts and Supervisory Statements
The Prudential Regulation Authority published a Policy Statement which sets out further rules that have been migrated from the joint Financial Conduct Authority/PRA Handbook to the PRA’s Rulebook. The PRA began reshaping the materials inherited from the Financial Services Authority to create a Rulebook which contains PRA rules only and follows the split of the FSA into the PRA and the FCA. The Policy Statement includes rules on passporting, regulatory reporting and reverse stress testing and final Supervisory Statements on: (i) the aggregation of holdings for the purpose of the prudential assessment of controllers; (ii) the internal capital adequacy assessment process or ICAAP and the supervisory review and evaluation process or SREP; (iii) guidelines for completing regulatory reports (entering into force on 1 January 2016); and (iv) internal governance. The Supervisory Statements set out the PRA’s expectations of firms in the relevant areas. The PRA has postponed publishing a Rulebook part and a related Supervisory Statement for internal governance of third-country branches because of the impact that the final rules under the Senior Managers Regime for third-country branches will have on those rules and its Supervisory Statement. The PRA intends to launch its online Rulebook before the end of 2015.
View the Policy Statement.
International Organization of Securities Commissions Review on Timeliness and Frequency of Disclosure to Investors
The International Organization of Securities Commissions published its Thematic Review of the implementation on the timeliness and frequency of disclosure to investors according to Principles 16 and 26 of the IOSCO Objectives and Principles of Securities Regulation. Thirty‑seven jurisdictions participated in the review. Principle 16 relates to issuers and states that there should be full, accurate and timely disclosure of financial results, risk and other information material to the decisions of investors. The review found that there are differences on the type of information that must be disclosed and the timing of the disclosures: listed issuers are more often subject to disclosure requirements compared to other issuers, and disclosure deadlines for listed issuers are tighter. Principle 23 relates to Collective Investment Schemes and states that regulation should require necessary disclosure to evaluate the suitability of a CIS for a particular investor and the value of the investor’s interest in the scheme. The review found that timely disclosure requirements on value, risk reward profile and costs of CISs were found to be in place for all jurisdictions.
View the Review.
FX Working Group Established to Improve Global FX Market Standards
The Markets Committee of the Bank for International Settlements announced that the Foreign Exchange Working Group has been established. The objective of the FX Working Group is to strengthen code of conduct standards and principles in FX markets through the establishment of a single global code of conduct and related principles to ensure increased adherence to the code.
View the announcement.
Final Global Criteria for Simple, Transparent and Comparable Securitizations
The Basel Committee and the International Organization of Securities Commissions published final criteria for identifying simple, transparent and comparable securitizations. The aim of the criteria is to assist parties to a securitization to assess the risk involved across similar products, although they do not serve as a substitute for investor due diligence. The criteria are non-exhaustive and non-binding.
View the final criteria.
UK Government Consults on Further Reforms to the UK Regulatory Architecture
The UK Government launched a consultation on proposed amendments to the governance and regulatory architecture in line with the announcement made alongside the Queen’s speech in May about a new Bank of England Bill. The proposals include ending the subsidiary status of the Prudential Regulation Authority by bringing it within the BoE and calling it the Prudential Regulation Committee. The PRA’s functions would transfer to the BoE and the PRC would have the responsibility for exercising them, retaining the independence of the PRA to make rules, policies and supervisory decisions. The new PRC would be set up on the same basis as the Monetary Policy Committee of the BoE. Other proposals include: (i) formalizing the working relationship established between HM Treasury and the BoE for coordination in a financial crisis and the development of resolution strategies for banks and large investment firms; (ii) adjusting the statutory status of the Financial Policy Committee from a sub-Committee of the Court of Directors of the BoE to a Committee of the BoE in line with the MPC; (iii) transferring responsibility for setting the BoE’s financial stability strategy from the Court of the BoE to the FPC; and (iv) decreasing the size of the Court and including the new Deputy Governor position for Markets and Banking. The consultation is open until September 11, 2015.
View the consultation paper.
European Banking Authority Publishes Guidelines on Product Oversight and Governance Arrangements for Retail Banking Products
The EBA published final guidelines on product oversight and governance arrangements for financial institutions as manufacturers of retail banking products and for distributors of retail banking products – mortgages, personal loans, deposits, payment accounts, payment services and electronic money. The guidelines will apply from January 3, 2017 to all products brought to market after that date as well as to existing products that are significantly changed after that (the EBA does not clarify the meaning of "significantly changed"). The guidelines are addressed to EU national regulators and financial institutions and require the establishment of product oversight and governance arrangements for the design, bringing to market and review of retail banking products over their lifecycle. The guidelines supplement the EBA’s 2011 guidelines on internal governance but do not cover the suitability of products for individual consumers.
View the final guidelines.
View the guidelines on internal governance.
Board of the International Organization of Securities Publishes Report Titled SME Financing Through Capital Markets
The Board of IOSCO published a report titled SME Financing through Capital Markets, which provides recommendations for regulators to facilitate capital-raising by Small and Medium Enterprises in emerging markets. The report recognizes the obstacles facing SMEs in accessing market-based financing, and examines some of the successful measures applied by regulators to aid SMEs in accessing capital markets. Successful regulatory frameworks and measures include establishing separate equity and fixed income markets with regulatory requirements tailored to SMEs, establishing market advisor and market-making systems and introducing alternative methods of financing such as private equity, venture capital and securitization. The IOSCO Board will have a roundtable on the issue of SME access to market-based finance at its next meeting in Toronto in October 2015.
View the report.
UK Government Makes Recommendations to the Financial Policy Committee
George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, wrote to Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, specifying the remit and recommendations for the FPC in the coming year. Once a year, the Chancellor is required to set out the economic policy of the Government and make recommendations to the FPC about matters that the FPC should consider as relevant to BoE’s financial stability objective and the FPC’s responsibility for achieving that objective. In the letter, the FPC is requested to consider a broad range of risks to the UK financial system, including identifying, monitoring and addressing systemic non-financial risks such as cyber risks. The Chancellor’s recommendations included that the FPC: (i) should support the Government’s strategy for making the UK’s financial services sector the best regulated and most competitive in the world, including taking into account the promotion of competition and innovation in all sectors of the industry and retaining the UK’s position as a leading international financial center; (ii) should consider whether there is a risk of public funds being required and should seek to minimize such risks; and (iii) should note in its public documents how it has had regard to the policy settings and forecasts of the Monetary Policy Committee.
View the letter.
European Banking Authority Opinion on Securitization
The European Banking Authority published an Opinion on the establishment of a European framework for qualifying securitizations. The Opinion is addressed to the European Commission, which issued a call for advice in January 2014 to identify the most appropriate characteristics in relation to categories of underlying assets and certain structural and transparency features for “high-quality” transactions. The EBA was asked to assess whether it would be appropriate to grant preferential treatment to high-quality securitizations, so as to boost EU securitization markets. The Opinion makes five recommendations, namely to: (i) conduct an all-inclusive review of the regulatory framework for securitizations and other investment products such as covered bonds and whole loan portfolios; (ii) create a framework for qualifying securitizations; (iii) establish criteria defining qualifying term securitizations; (iv) establish criteria defining qualifying asset-backed commercial paper securitizations; and (v) re-calibrate the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision 2014 securitization framework applicable to qualifying securitization positions. The Opinion states that these recommendations on the implementation of a qualifying securitization framework should be reconsidered subject to any progress made by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision and International Organization of Securities Commission on the definition of a simple transparent and comparable securitizations framework. An accompanying report on qualifying securitization was also published by the EBA and describes the analysis carried out in order to reach the recommendations.
View the Opinion.
European Securities and Markets Authority Q&As on Anti‑Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing in Investment‑Based Crowdfunding Platforms
The European Securities and Markets Authority published Q&As on anti‑money laundering and terrorist financing in investment‑based crowdfunding platforms. The Q&As aim to encourage common supervisory approaches and consistent application of anti‑money laundering and terrorist financing rules to investment‑based crowdfunding platforms. The Q&As deal with questions related to the treatment of investment‑based crowdfunding under the Anti‑Money Laundering Directive, the differences in risk profiles of platforms operating inside or outside a regulatory regime or within the scope of MiFID, and how to mitigate risks.
View the Q&As.
Final Draft Technical Standards under Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation and Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II
The European Securities and Markets Authority published final draft implementing technical standards and Regulatory Technical Standards on requirements for: (i) the authorization of investment firms, including template forms; (ii) requirements for passport notification, including template forms and procedures; (iii) information for registration with ESMA of third country firms; (iv) the format of information to be provided by third country firms to their EU clients on the submission of disputes to the jurisdiction of a court or arbitral tribunal in a Member State; and (v) cooperation between national regulators including the exchange of information. ESMA is required to prepare the ITS and RTS under the Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation and Directive, which will apply from January 3, 2017. ESMA will provide the remaining technical standards to the European Commission before the end of 2015.
View the report.
UK Regulator Publishes Discussion Paper on Delivering Smarter Communications to Consumers
The Financial Conduct Authority issued an interactive discussion paper to start a debate and encourage firms to deliver smarter communications to consumers in more effective ways. The discussion paper states that for a market to perform well, engaged and informed consumers are needed. The FCA recognizes that some methods of communication can overwhelm, confuse and even deter consumers from making effective choices about financial products and services. The FCA is committed to ensuring that firms operate with due regard for their consumers, that communications are not misleading and that communications are transmitted in a clear and fair way. The FCA also published research alongside the discussion paper. Responses to the discussion paper are due by September 25, 2015.
View the discussion paper and research.
Payments Systems Regulator Issues Call for Input on Card Payment Systems
The Payment Systems Regulator issued a call for input on card payment systems. The PSR seeks views on issues related to payment systems in the UK and in particular on interbank payment systems. The PSR is interested in hearing about the impact of new EU regulations which introduce new rules and implement caps on interchange fees, and the effect that these regulations might have on the way in which the UK card payment systems operate. The call for input also wishes to obtain views on general trends within card payment systems and gather information on how the interests of service users are considered in decision making. Responses to the call for input are due before July 31, 2015.
View the call for input.
UK Regulators Propose New Rules for Regulating Credit Unions
The Prudential Regulation Authority and the Financial Conduct Authority launched a consultation on proposals to reform the Credit Unions Sourcebook in the Handbook. The PRA intends to replace the current Credit Unions Sourcebook that was inherited from the Financial Services Authority with a new Credit Unions Rulebook in the PRA Rulebook which will focus on the safety and soundness of credit unions and will reflect the now broader range of financial services offered by credit unions. The FCA intends to replicate many of the provisions of the Credit Unions Sourcebook. The consultation closes on September 30, 2015.
View the consultation.
International Organization for Securities Commissions Issues Press Release Further to Annual Conference
The International Organization for Securities Commissions issued a press release further to its recent annual conference, reporting that important organization and policy issues have been discussed, including IOSCO’s strategic direction to 2020 as well as its action plans. IOSCO aims to reinforce its position as a global reference for securities regulation and aims to implement 43 new initiatives encompassing six priority areas: (i) research and risk identification; (ii) standard setting and developing guidance; (iii) implementation monitoring; (iv) capacity building; (v) co-operation and information exchange; and (vi) collaboration and engagement with other international organizations.
View the press release.
Final UK Rules on Restrictions on Retail Distribution of CoCos and Mutual Society Shares
The Financial Conduct Authority published its Policy Statement and final rules on the restrictions on the retail distribution of contingent convertible securities, known as CoCos, and mutual society shares. The FCA announced a temporary ban on the retail distribution of CoCos, which entered into force on October 1, 2014. The final permanent rules restricting distribution of CoCos to retail clients will come into effect on October 1, 2015 and the rules on mutual society shares will come into effect on July 1, 2015.
View the FCA's Policy Statement.
US Securities and Exchange Commission Publishes Request for Public Comment on Exchange-Traded Products
The US Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it is seeking public comment on the listing and trading of new, novel or complex exchange-traded products (“ETPs”). Specifically, the request deals with key issues that arise when market participants seek an exemption in order to trade a new ETP or when a securities exchange is looking to establish standards for the listing of new ETPs. ETPs have become an important investment vehicle to market participants. Given the significant increase in the number and complexity of new products, the SEC has determined that broad public input is necessary regarding certain issues, including arbitrage mechanisms and market pricing for ETPs, legal exemptions and other regulatory positions related to the trading of ETPs and securities exchange listing standards for ETPs. The request also solicits comment on how market professionals sell ETPs, especially to retail investors, and on investors’ understanding of the nature and use of ETPs. The public comment period will remain open for 60 days following publication of the comment request in the Federal Register.
View the press release.
View the request for comment.
Bank of England Announces Open Forum on Assessment of the Reforms Impacting the FICC Markets
The Bank of England announced an Open Forum, that will take place in autumn this year, to assess the financial regulatory reforms affecting the Fixed Income, Currency and Commodities markets that are already implemented or in train. Alongside the announcement, the Bank published a paper detailing its analysis of the short fallings of the FICC market, issues with its own frameworks and operating procedures, measures to rectify those failings and the difficulties that remain. Further details of the Open Forum will be published in due course. In the meantime, stakeholders are invited to register their interest in attending the event through the Bank of England’s website.
View the announcement.
View the related document.
UK Fair and Effective Markets Review Makes Recommendations in Final Report
The final report of the UK Fair and Effective Markets Review was published. The report includes an analysis of the causes of recent misconduct in the Fixed Income, Currency and Commodities markets, an evaluation of the impact of related reforms that have been implemented or are otherwise in progress and recommendations to enhance the fairness of the FICC markets. The recommendations will need to be implemented by public authorities and market participants domestically although several will require international discussions and coordination to implement. The recommendations to be implemented domestically include: (i) extending the UK criminal sanctions regime for market abuse by including a wider range of FICC markets, lengthening the maximum sentence from seven to ten year’s imprisonment and creating a regime for spot FX (the latter would be a civil and criminal regime for market abuse); (ii) extending certain elements of the Senior Managers and Certification regimes to a wider range of regulated firms that participate in the FICC markets; (iii) establishing a new FICC Market Standards Board; (iv) improving awareness of the application of competition law to the FICC markets; (v) developing new training and qualification standards; (vi) and requiring regulatory references for individuals. Recommendations requiring international coordination include:
(i) developing globally agreed common standards for trading practices in FICC markets; (ii) agreeing a single global FX code; (iii) considering how to ensure benchmark administrators publish consistent self-assessments; and (iv) examining means to improve the alignment of remuneration and conduct risk. A report on implementation progress will be published by June 2016.
View the final report.
UK Changes to Pension Transfer Rules Come into Effect
The Financial Conduct Authority published a Policy Statement and final rules on changes to the pension transfer rules. The amendments, which were consulted on in March this year, are needed to ensure that the rules reflect the change to legislation that made it a regulated activity to advise on the conversion or transfer of safeguarded pension benefits into flexible benefits. The FCA has also made changes to the Conduct of Business rules so that pension transfer requirements apply to all pension transfers, regardless of when the transferred benefits are accessed. The new rules came into force on June 8, 2015.
View the Policy Statement.
EU Revised Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Framework Comes into Effect
The revised EU Directive on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purposes of money laundering or terrorist financing (the “4th Anti-money Laundering Directive” or “4MLD”) and the Regulation on information accompanying transfers of funds were published in the Official Journal of the European Union. Together, the legislation represents the revised EU framework on anti-money laundering and terrorist financing. Member States have until June 26, 2017 to transpose the requirements of the 4th Anti-money Laundering Directive into national law. The 4th Anti-money Laundering Directive will repeal, from June 26, 2017, the current anti-money laundering Directive and its related Implementing Directive. The Regulation will apply directly in all Member States from June 26, 2017 and will repeal the 2006 Regulation on information on the payer accompanying transfers of funds from that date.
View the 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive.
View the Regulation.
Bank of England Publishes Guidance on Traded Risk Methodology for Stress Test of UK Banking System together with Traded Risk and Structured Finance Scenario
The Bank of England published a report on stress testing the UK banking system, which includes guidance on the traded risk methodology for participating banks and building societies. The document sets out the approach that banks are expected to take in the execution of the stress test of the UK banking system relating to trading positions. The guidance is designed to assist firms to carry out their own analysis for the stress test. The BoE also published a traded risk and structured finance scenario. This is a "tail risk" scenario, designed to assess the resilience of banks to deterioration in global economic conditions.
View the report.
View the scenario.
European Commission Adopts Better Regulation Agenda
The European Commission launched its Better Regulation Agenda. Through this package, the Commission aims to: (i) enhance transparency in the EU decision-making process by introducing a new web portal where initiatives can be tracked and by providing more opportunities for stakeholders to comment throughout the policy lifecycle, including allowing for feedback after the Commission has adopted a legislative proposal or, for secondary legislation, before adoption by the Commission or Member States; (ii) improve the quality of new laws through better impact assessments of draft legislation and amendments by: (a) transforming the current Commission Impact Assessment Board into an independent Regulatory Scrutiny Board with an expanded role; and (b) ensuring that impact assessments are carried out throughout the legislative process; and (iii) improve the review of existing EU laws by amending the Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (known as REFIT) so that it is more targeted, looks at the most serious sources of inefficiency and quantifies costs and benefits whenever possible. The European Commission also announced that it will enter into negotiations with the European Parliament and Council on a proposed new Interinstitutional Agreement on Better Law-making, endeavoring to reach an agreement by the end of 2015. The US federal bank regulatory agencies are also currently reviewing potential outdated or unnecessary regulations.
View the Better Regulation documents.
US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency Issues Final Rule Integrating National Bank and Federal Savings Association Licensing Activities
The US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency released a final rule integrating policies and procedures for certain corporate activities and transactions by national banks and federal savings associations. The OCC aims to make the regulatory regime for both national banks and federal savings associations more efficient and streamlined, where possible, to promote fair supervision and to promote the safe and sound operation of the institutions it supervises. The final rule makes technical and conforming changes that will allow certain provisions to apply to national banks and federal savings associations and provides clarity on OCC licensing offices’ responsibilities. The rule also updates the description of the OCC supervision structure and contact information.
European Regulators Announce Delay for Delivery of Draft Technical Standards under the Market Abuse Regulation and the Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation and Directive
The European Securities and Markets Authority published letters between itself and the European Commission which set out their agreement for the deadline for delivery by ESMA of technical standards due under the Market Abuse Regulation, the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II and Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation to be postponed to the end of September 2015. The extension is a result of the European Commission conducting an early legal review of draft technical standards. The early legal review will assess the legality and legislative consistency of technical standards under the Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities V Directive, the Transparency Directive, the Central Securities Depository Regulation, MAR and MiFID II.
View ESMA’s letter.
European Supervisory Authorities Publish Recommendations for Improving the EU Securitization Framework
The European Supervisory Authorities published a report setting out the outcome of their review of EU legislative disclosure and due diligence requirements for securitizations and making recommendations for removing inconsistencies across the EU framework. The recommendations constitute the ESA’s response to the European Commission’s consultation on securitization published in February 2015 as part of the Capital Markets Union initiative. The EU framework for structured finance instruments, covering investor due diligence, originator, issuer and sponsor retention and disclosure requirements, is established under a number of EU legislative measures including the Prospectus Directive, the Capital Requirements legislation, the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive, the Credit Rating Agency Regulation and Solvency II. The ESAs are recommending: (i) harmonization of due diligence requirements across investor types; (ii) that investor due diligence needs and requirements are met by the disclosure requirements; (iii) a standardized investor report which is available in a centralized public space; (iv) that loan by loan data should be provided to investors; (v) that data providers should be able to fulfill disclosure requirements provided the data owner retains responsibility for the quality of the information; (vi) that all investors should be able to conduct stress tests on all types of structured finance instruments; (vii) a review of the definitions and key terms in the legislation with a comprehensive glossary to support the framework; and (viii) mandatory disclosure requirements for all structured finance instruments admitted to trading on an EU regulated market or offered to the public.
Federal Reserve Bank of New York Creates Wholesale Product Office
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York announced the creation of a new group called the Wholesale Product Office. The WPO, currently a function within the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Executive Office, manages the Fedwire Funds, Fedwire Securities, and the National Settlement Service. Richard P. Dzina will serve as the head of the WPO as of July 1, 2015, as well as a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Management Committee.
View the press release.
New York State Department of Financial Services Grants First Charter to a New York Virtual Currency Company
The New York State Department of Financial Services announced that it has granted a charter under the New York Banking Law to itBit Trust Company, LLC – a commercial Bitcoin exchange based in New York City. The announcement establishes ItBit as the first virtual currency company to receive a charter from the NYDFS. This announcement caps a series of announcements from the NYDFS, outlining and establishing regulatory guidelines for virtual currencies. Most recently, in December 2014, the NYDFS released a framework for licensing virtual currency firms, known as the "Bitlicense framework." The BitLicense framework included consumer protection, anti-money laundering compliance and cyber security rules tailored for virtual currency firms, including the creation of a two-year transitional BitLicense to assist startups. The additional comment period for the revised BitLicense framework ended in March 2015 and NYDFS expects to put forward its final regulatory framework later this month.
View the press release.
Federal Agencies Issue Final Rule on Minimum Requirements for Appraisal Management Companies
UK Regulator Publishes Consultation on New PRA Rulebook
The Prudential Regulation Authority published its third consultation paper on the PRA Rulebook, setting out proposals to amend or delete certain modules of the PRA Handbook and create a new PRA Rulebook. The aim of the review is to reshape materials inherited from the Financial Services Authority to create a Rulebook which contains PRA rules only and follows the split of the FSA into the PRA and the Financial Conduct Authority. This is intended to facilitate firms’ compliance with PRA rules and to provide access to more concise rules, resulting in a more comprehensive understanding of the PRA’s requirements. The consultation paper sets out suggested Rulebook parts including on: (i) the exercise of passport rights by UK firms; (ii) reverse stress-testing (which will be moved to the Internal Capital Adequacy Assessment part of the Rulebook); and (iii) integrated regulatory reporting. The consultation paper also includes draft supervisory statements on: (i) guidelines for completing regulatory reports; (ii) internal governance of third country branches; (iii) Internal Capital Adequacy Assessment Process and Supervisory Review and Evaluation Process; and (iv) internal governance. Responses to the consultation are due by June 30, 2015.
View the consultation paper.
European Securities and Markets Authority Calls for Evidence on Virtual Currencies
The European Securities and Markets Authority published a call for evidence on investment using virtual currency or distributed ledger technology. ESMA has been monitoring virtual currency investment to understand market developments, the potential benefits and risks for investors and potential issues for market integrity and financial stability. ESMA sets out its analysis in the paper and requests feedback on three particular topics: (i) virtual currency investment products, such as collective investment schemes or derivatives that have virtual currencies as an underlying or which invest in virtual currency businesses; (ii) virtual currency based assets, securities and asset transfers; and (iii) the application of distributed ledger technology to securities. ESMA is not proposing regulatory action at this stage but will continue to monitor investments using virtual currencies or distributed ledger technology to assist national regulators in keeping up to date with market developments. In July 2014, the European Banking Authority published an opinion proposing a potential regulatory regime for virtual currencies and advising national regulators to “discourage” financial institutions from buying, holding or selling them until a regulatory regime is in place.
View the call for evidence.
Council of the EU Approves New Rules against Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing
The Council of the EU approved a new directive and regulation aimed at strengthening rules against money laundering and terrorist financing. The new set of laws, when in effect, aim to bring the EU in line with approaches currently taken internationally, and follow the recommendations made by the Financial Action Task Force which is deemed to be a global reference for anti-money laundering and terrorist financing. The final text of the regulation and directive is yet to be published in the Official Journal of the European Union. Once published, member states will have two years to transpose the directive into national law. The regulation will be directly applicable in EU Member States without the need for any further transposition. The new laws will repeal the current European regulation and directive on anti-money laundering and terrorist financing.
Financial Stability Board Chair’s Letter to G20 on Financial Reforms
The Financial Stability Board chair wrote a letter to the G20 Financial Ministers and Central Bank Governors on the FSB’s progress on the financial regulation agenda. The letter includes information on continuing work to finalize post-crisis reforms in two major areas: (i) ending too-big-to-fail for financial institutions; and (ii) emerging vulnerabilities, specifically, financial stability risks, especially those from asset managers, and misconduct risks and withdrawal from correspondent banking.
View the letter.
G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting
On April 16 and 17, 2015, the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors held their second meeting under Turkish presidency in Washington, DC. Further to the meeting, a communiqué was published which detailed the conclusions of the group as well as its goals for the future. The G20 stated, amongst other things, that (i) the commitment remains to finalize the total loss absorbing capacity standard for global financial institutions by November 2015; (ii) gaps in the recovery and resolution of CCPs will be identified and addressed; (iii) the G20 roadmap for the regulation of shadow banking is being implemented; and (iv) that cross-border cooperation will be enhanced to ensure more effective regulations, particularly for resolution and OTC derivative market reforms. The G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors will meet again in September 2015. The next G20 summit is in November 2015.
US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency Issues Revised Booklets of the Comptroller’s Handbook
The US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency issued the “Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act” booklet of the Comptroller’s Handbook. The revised booklet replaces a similar booklet issued in October 2011 and provides updated information resulting from recent changes in Regulation X (12 CFR 1024) related to mortgage servicing and loss mitigation. Additionally, on April 15, 2015, the OCC issued the “Trade Finance and Services” booklet of the Comptroller’s Handbook. The revised booklet replaces the “Trade Finance” and “Bankers’ Acceptances” booklets issued in November 1998 and September 1999, respectively.
European Securities and Markets Authority Announces Centralized Data Projects
The European Securities and Markets Authority announced the launch of two centalized data projects relating to obligations under the European Market Infrastructure Regulation, the Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation and the Market Abuse Regulation. The projects are:
- The Instrument Reference Data Project which will provide a central facility for instrument and trading data and the calculation of transparency and liquidity thresholds. This facility is expected to go live in early 2017.
- The Trade Repositories Project which will provide a single access point to trade repository data under EMIR. This data facility is expected to go live in 2016.
Revised Code of Best Practice for the FX Market
A revised Global Preamble: Codes of Best Practice and Shared Global Principles was published by eight FX committees which sit in the major financial centres — Australia, Canada, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, London, New York, Singapore and Tokyo. FX market participants are expected to incorporate the guidance into their FX policies in a timely manner. The Global Preamble, last revised in 2013, covers standards of personal conduct, execution and dealing practices, confidentiality and market conduct.
View the revised Global Preamble.
US Securities and Exchange Commission Adopts Final Rules Related to the JOBS Act
The SEC adopted final rules to allow smaller companies better access to capital and provide investors with more investment choices. The new rules update and expand Regulation A, an existing exemption from registration for smaller issuers of securities and will enable smaller companies to offer and sell up to $50 million of securities in a 12-month period, subject to eligibility, disclosure and reporting requirements. The rules are mandated by Title IV of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act and will attempt to provide investors with more investment choices, especially among smaller companies. The rules will be effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.
View the Final Rules.
UK Financial Conduct Authority Publishes its Business Plan for 2015/2016
The Financial Conduct Authority published its business plan for 2015/2016 which indicates upcoming focus areas for the regulator and announces upcoming priorities. Key issues include: (i) conflicts of interest in dark pools; (ii) investor charges in asset management; (iii) the wholesale market study into competition in investment and corporate banking; (iv) poor culture and controls which threaten market integrity; and (v) systems and controls for financial crime.
UK Government and Regulator Issue Joint Consultation on Transparency Amending Directive
HM Treasury and the Financial Conduct Authority issued a joint consultation on the Implementation of the Transparency Amending Directive that entered into force on November 26, 2013 and which amends the Transparency Directive, the Transparency Directive Implementing Directive and the Prospectus Directive. The directives aim to harmonize the information disclosure requirements of companies, and the consultation sets out the proposed amendments to be implemented by HM Treasury to the Financial Services and Markets Act and by the FCA to the FCA’s Disclosure and Transparency Rules, including: (i) the extension of the deadline to publish half-yearly reports and the period of time for which financial reports are publicly available; and (ii) changes to the definition of an issuer. The Transparency Amending Directive must be implemented by EU Member States before November 26, 2015. Comments on the consultation may be submitted until May 20, 2015.
View the consultation paper
Department for Business Innovation & Skills Issues Guidance on Whistleblowing
The Department for Business Innovation & Skills published guidance for employers and prescribed persons regarding whistleblowing. The documents lay out various policies and procedures for employers regarding whistleblowing. A prescribed person is an organization or individual that a worker may approach outside their workplace to report suspected or known wrongdoing. The Prescribed Persons Order 2014 sets out a list of over 60 such organizations and individuals that have been designated as prescribed persons because they have an authoritative or oversight relationship with the sector, often as a regulatory body.
View the guidance for employers and the code of practice
View the guidance for prescribed persons
UK Government Reports on Payment Systems Subject to Regulation under New Payment Systems Regulator
HM Treasury published a report detailing the outcome of its consultation on the criteria for the designation of payments for oversight by the Payment Systems Regulator. HM Treasury is responsible for designating the payment systems that will be subject to regulation and proposals in its consultation suggested the designation of seven payment systems: Bacs, CHAPS, Faster Payment Service, LINK, Cheque and Credit Clearing, Northern Ireland Cheque Clearing, MasterCard and Visa. HM Treasury confirms in its outcome report that only those seven payment systems will be subject to regulation at this stage.
View the report
European Securities and Markets Authority Publishes Report on Implementation of Automated Trading Guidelines
The European Securities and Markets Authority published a report reviewing how national regulators across the EU have implemented its guidelines on automated trading. The guidelines aim to increase levels of supervision on automated trading activities. ESMA’s review found that the majority of EU national regulators have integrated the guidelines into their supervisory practices. However, the report also identified areas for improvement such as the need for regulators to: (i) increase their IT expertise; (ii) allow sufficient resources to be available so that proper supervision can take place; and (iii) coordinate between themselves so that ring fencing programs can be set up to prevent cyber-attacks.
View the report
UK Government Reports on Development of Application Programming Interface Standard
HM Treasury published a report detailing the outcome to its call for evidence on the benefits of open data and data sharing in banking. The report specifies the actions that will be taken by the government to deliver an open standard for APIs. APIs will allow different pieces of software to interact with each other, making it easier for customers or fintech companies on behalf of customers to determine if customers can, for example, get a better deal with a different bank elsewhere. The report states that the government aims to set out a detailed framework for an open API standard by the end of 2015.
View the report
Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators Updates Designated REMIT Website Portal
The Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators published the European register of market participants on its designated portal together with its list of standard contracts and the fourth edition of ACER’s Q&As on the Regulation on Energy Market Integrity and Transparency. This is further to ACER finalizing its preparatory work on supporting documentation under REMIT, the EU Regulation that aims to prevent market manipulation and trading on inside information in the wholesale energy market, and more generally improves integrity in this market. On March 20, 2015, ACER also published a recommendation to the European Commission on wholesale energy derivative contracts that must be physically settled under Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II. ACER’s recommendation states that wholesale energy products that must be physically settled and that are in the scope of REMIT include futures, options on futures, options on swaps and any other type of derivative that must be physically settled. ACER also proposes, amongst other recommendations, that the Commission clarifies in its delegated acts that a wholesale energy derivative contract traded on an Organized Trading Facility must be physically settled if it cannot be settled in cash.
View the ACER’s designated REMIT portal, Q&As and recommendation.
UK Government Creates New Type of Regulated Activity in Relation to Advising on Pensions Benefits Transfers or Conversions
HM Treasury published the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Regulated Activities) (Amendment) (No. 2) Order 2015 together with a corresponding explanatory memorandum. The Order amends the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Regulated Activities) Order 2001 to create a new type of regulated activity of advising on the conversion or transfer of pension benefits which are safeguarded benefits. Safeguarded benefits are defined to mean any benefits other than money purchase benefits and cash balance benefits. This means that the activity cannot generally be carried on in the UK except by an authorised person or pursuant to an exemption. Concurrently, HM Treasury published the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Regulated Activities) (Transitional Provisions) Order 2015, which makes transitional provision in connection with this new regulated activity. This instrument provides that advisors previously permitted to advise on an equivalent class of transfer are automatically authorised to advise under the new activity. Both Orders enter into force on April 6, 2015.
View the Orders and explanatory memoranda
View the Orders and explanatory memoranda 2
View the Orders and explanatory memoranda 3
View the Orders and explanatory memoranda 4
UK Regulator Publishes Timetable for Implementation of Markets in Financial Instruments Directive and Regulation
The FCA published an updated timetable relating to the implementation of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II and Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation. The timetable sets out the key dates for the implementation and transposition of the Directive and Regulation into domestic law. The deadline for transposing MiFID II into domestic law is July 3, 2016. MiFID II and MiFIR enter into force on January 3, 2017. The FCA aims to publish its main consultation paper on the implementation of MIFID II and MIFIR in December 2015. The final rules are to be published in June 2016.
View the FCA’s timetable
European Banking Authority Recommends Clarification for Lending-based Crowdfunding
The European Banking Authority published its opinion on lending-based crowdfunding, recommending that the applicability of existing EU law to the activity be clarified. The EBA considers that such clarification is necessary to avoid regulatory arbitrage across the EU and to ensure a level playing field as EU Member States have adopted different approaches to regulating lending-based crowdfunding. The opinion is addressed to the European Commission, the European Parliament and the EU Council.
View the EBA opinion
European Securities and Markets Authority Recommendations to National Regulators on Best Execution Requirements
The European Securities and Markets Authority published the results of its peer review of supervision and enforcement of the best execution provisions in the Market in Financial Instruments Directive by national regulators. Investment firms are required to provide best execution for their clients when executing their client’s orders. ESMA’s review found that implementation of the best execution provisions in MiFID I varied across the EU. To address the issue, ESMA recommends several improvements, including: (i) prioritization of best execution by national regulators; (ii) the allocation of supervisory resources; and (iii) the adoption of a proactive approach to monitoring compliance with best execution requirements, including through onsite inspections. ESMA intends to work with national regulators to give effect to the recommendations.
View the peer review
US Financial Regulators Issue Guidance Encouraging Youth Savings Programs
The Federal Reserve Board, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the National Credit Union Administration, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, as members of the Financial Literacy and Education Commission (“FLEC”), together with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network for the US Department of the Treasury, jointly issued guidance to encourage federally insured depository institutions to offer youth savings programs to develop the financial aptitude of young people. The guidance also provides answers to frequently asked questions related to the establishment of these programs. The guidance does not create any new regulatory policy or establish new industry expectations. This effort is consistent with the “Starting Early for Financial Success” focus of the FLEC. Congress created FLEC in 2003 to improve financial capability and education in the United States.
View the guidance
European Commission Consults on Capital Markets Union, Prospectus Directive and Standardized Securitization
The European Commission published a green paper on building a Capital Markets Union. This was published alongside two complementary consultation papers on: (i) a EU framework for simple, transparent and standardized securitization; and (ii) the review of the Prospectus Directive. These publications form part of a wider initiative to develop a single market for capital across the EU. The green paper consults on the establishment of the CMU, which aims to lower the costs of funding within the EU and increase sources of funding for businesses. The paper identifies five priority areas for early action: (i) reducing barriers to accessing capital markets; (ii) widening the investor base to small and medium-sized enterprises; (iii) building sustainable securitization; (iv) boosting long-term investment; and (v) developing European private placement markets. The Prospectus Directive consultation seeks views on making it easier for companies to raise capital throughout the EU whilst effective investor protection is maintained and information to be included in prospectuses is simplified. The consultation on the EU framework for simple, transparent and standardized securitizations aims to increase high-quality securitization, through higher standards of process, legal certainty and comparability across securitization. The green paper and two consultations close for comments on May 13, 2015.
View the Green Paper.
View the Prospectus Directive consultation.
View the consultation on the EU framework for simple, transparent and standardized securitization.
G20 Communiqué and FSB Update on Financial Reforms
The G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors issued a draft communiqué which was adopted in a meeting at the Turkish G20 Presidency on February 9-10, 2015. The communiqué highlighted the risk of prolonged low inflation, slow growth, and demand weakness in some advanced economies. G20 members will keep fiscal policy flexible to reflect near-term economic realities.
Additionally on February 10, 2015, the Chairman of the Financial Stability Board published a letter to the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors titled, Financial Reforms – Finishing the Post-Crisis Agenda and Moving Forward. This letter sets out the FSB’s priorities in the next phase of reform which include: consistent and prompt implementation of agreed reforms, finalizing the design of remaining post-crisis reforms and addressing new risks and vulnerabilities.
The FSB plans to publish its first annual report on the implementation of agreed reforms and their effects this year. In addition, implementation will be supported through peer reviews which will cover: implementation of the G20 policy framework for ‘other shadow banking entities’, effective supervisory frameworks for global systemically important banks; bank resolution powers and recovery and resolution planning requirements and the effectiveness of reporting of OTC derivatives transactions to trade repositories. Additionally, the FSB will focus efforts to address two explicit emerging vulnerabilities: market-based finance and misconduct.
View The Communiqué.
View the FSB Chairman's Letter.
Joint Forum Proposes Recommendations on Credit Risk Management Across Sectors
The Joint Forum (made up of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, the International Organization of Securities Commissions and the International Association of Insurance Supervisors) launched a consultation on developments in credit risk management across the banking, securities and insurance sectors. The consultation document includes an analysis of responses to a survey conducted in 2013 which included supervisors and firms on credit risk management and four recommendations to supervisors: (i) supervisors should be cautious against over-reliance on internal models for credit risk management and regulatory capital; (ii) supervisors should be aware of the growth of risk-taking behaviors, for example, in the syndicated leveraged loan market, and the need for firms to have appropriate risk management processes; (iii) supervisors should be aware of the growing need for high-quality liquid collateral for margin requirements in derivatives trading; and (iv) supervisors should consider whether firms are accurately capturing CCP exposures as part of their credit risk management. Comments on the paper are requested by March 4, 2015.
View the Joint Forum consultation paper.
European Securities & Markets Authority Publishes Final Technical Advice under New EU Market Abuse Regulation
The European Securities and Markets Authority published its final technical advice on delegated acts under the new Market Abuse Regulation. The European Commission requested the advice from ESMA to assist it in developing the required Delegated Acts under MAR. ESMA’s advice covers: (i) clarification of the indicators of market manipulation; (ii) minimum thresholds for the exemption of certain participants in the emission allowance market from the requirement to publicly disclose inside information; (iii) ways for determining the relevant national regulator for notification of delays in public disclosure of inside information; (iv) clarification on the enhanced disclosure regime for managers’ transactions; and (v) reporting of
infringements. The European Commission must adopt Delegated Acts on these issues so that they enter into force 24 months after MAR entered into force, which was on July 2, 2014.
View ESMA advice.
UK Financial Conduct Authority Reviews Regulatory Regime for Crowdfunding Platforms
The UK Financial Conduct Authority published its review of the regulatory regime for crowdfunding. The document sets out the FCA’s approach to regulating loan-based and investment-based crowdfunding platforms, including the new rules introduced in March 2014. The FCA does not, at this stage, intend to amend its rules or approach to supervision of the market but will undertake a full review of the crowdfunding market and regulatory framework in 2016.
View the FCA review document.
UK Regulator Consults on New Rules for Depositor, Dormant Account and Policyholder Protection
The Prudential Regulation Authority published a consultation paper proposing transitional provisions and new rules to the PRA Rulebook, and amendments to the PRA Handbook arising out of rules previously proposed in the Depositor Protection and Policyholder Protection consultation papers published by the PRA in October 2014. The measures proposed under the consultations aim to minimize any possible adverse impact that could be caused to UK financial stability through the failure of a PRA-deposit taker, dormant account fund operator or PRA-authorized insurer. It also aims to ensure an effective compensation system to eligible depositors, dormant account holders and policyholders. The consultation includes new rules on compensation arrangements related to dormant account protection as well as a statement of policy on the PRA's expectations of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme when dealing with dormant accounts. The consultation period ends on February 27, 2015.
View the consultation paper.
European Commission Launches Plans to Establish Capital Markets Union
The European Commission stated in a press release that it had launched plans to establish a Capital Markets Union by holding an orientation debate at the College of Commissioners. The establishment of the single market for all 28 EU member states will aim to lower the costs of funding within the EU, remove barriers to cross-border investment and increase sources of funding for businesses. In a separate press release dated January 30, 2015, the European Commission stated that a consultation on the CMU will be launched on February 18, 2015, and that a plan of action will be released during the third quarter of 2015.
View the press release.
View the other press release.
Amendment to Regulation on Notification of Significant Net Short Positions in Sovereign Debt
A Delegated Regulation correcting the Regulation on notification of significant net short positions in sovereign debt (which supplements the Short Selling Regulation) was published in the Official Journal of the European Union. The amended article of the Regulation originally only referred to the notification threshold on significant net short positions in shares, but should also have referred to the notification threshold on significant net short positions in sovereign debt. The correcting Delegated Regulation rectifies this omission, to avoid legal uncertainty. The Delegated Regulation enters into force on February 12, 2015.
View the Delegated Regulation.
UK Government Publishes Draft Legislation on Criminal Sanctions for Insider Dealing and Market Manipulation in the Wholesale Energy Markets
The UK Department of Energy & Climate Change published its response to the consultation to strengthen the regulation of wholesale energy markets through criminal offences together with draft legislation to implement new criminal sanctions for insider dealing and market manipulation. The new sanctions will give more power to the relevant regulators (in Great Britain, Ofgem and in Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Authority for Utility Regulation) to address market abuse in the wholesale energy markets. The new powers implement the EU Regulation on Energy Market Integrity and Transparency requirement for Member States to create penalties for breach of REMIT that are proportionate, effective and dissuasive. REMIT applies to spot trading in the electricity and natural gas market. The DECC consider that criminal sanctions are more dissuasive than civil sanctions alone. UK legislation implementing the civil sanction regime came into force on June 29, 2013. The DECC acknowledges that it may be necessary to review the UK criminal sanctions regime to align the penalties with UK financial markets legislation for similar offences.
View the DECC response.
View the draft legislation.
Financial Conduct Authority Finalised Guidance on Retail Investment Advice
The Financial Conduct Authority issued its Finalized Guidance on retail investment advice, which aims to explore and clarify the barriers and boundaries affecting market development. The guidance follows on from the FCA's two consultations on the topic and focuses on what may constitute a personal recommendation for retail investments. The guidance also discusses how firms should communicate with customers so that required information is passed on to customers in an accessible and understandable format, and deals with the concept of regulated advice, generic advice, focused advice and personal advice, and well as what amounts to investment advice under Markets in Financial Instruments Directive.
View the Finalized Guidance.
The US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency Issues Revised Comptroller’s Handbook Booklet
The OCC issued the "Litigation and Other Legal Matters" booklet of the Comptroller’s Handbook which replaces the booklet of the same title issued in February 2000. The revised booklet provides guidance to examiners assessing a bank’s litigation exposures, associated risks, and risk management practices.
View the booklet titled "Litigation and Other Legal Matters".
Proposals to Reform the UK Financial Services Trade Association Published
A consultation paper was published setting out proposals to reform the UK financial services trade association landscape. The proposals emerge from a steering committee set up to assess the UK trade association framework. The steering committee is made up of ten retail and commercial banks in the UK — Barclays, Clydesdale Bank, HSBC, Lloyds Banking group, Nationwide Building Society, Santander UK, The Co-operative bank, The Royal Bank of Scotland, TSB Bank and Virgin Money. The key proposal is for a single trade association representing the payments, mortgage, retail, wealth, SME and commercial banking sectors to be formed to ensure more effective and efficient service to the industry. Trade associations that would contribute to this effort include the Asset Based Finance Association, Association for Financial Markets in Europe, British Bankers’ Association, Council of Mortgage Lenders, Finance & Leasing Association, Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association, Investment Management Association, Payments Council, Tax Incentivized Savings Association, TheCityUK, UK Cards Association and Wealth Management Association. Responses to the consultation are due by April 10, 2015 following which recommendations and a proposed action plan for implementing the changes will be published. A final recommendation is expected in May 2015.
View the consultation paper.
US Securities and Exchange Commission Fee Rate Advisory #3 for Fiscal Year 2015
The SEC announced that beginning on February 14, 2015, the rates applicable to most securities transactions will be set at $18.40 per million dollars. Each self-regulatory organization will continue to pay the SEC a rate of $22.10 per million for transactions occurring on charge dates through February 13, 2015 and will begin paying the new quoted rate on charge dates on or after February 14, 2015. The assessment on security futures transactions will remain unchanged at $0.0042 for each round turn transaction.
View the SEC order.
The US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency Issues Revised Comptroller’s Handbook Booklets
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency ("OCC") issued the "Retail Nondeposit Investment Products" booklet of the Comptroller’s Handbook which replaces a similarly titled booklet issued in February 1994. This revised booklet provides updated guidance to examiners on national banks and federal savings associations regarding the recommendation or sale of nondeposit investment products to retail customers. It includes an overview of bank delivery channels and the regulatory structure and requirements supplementary with banks offering these products. The revised booklet describes the risks inherent in offering such products and offers a framework for managing such risks.
The OCC issued the "Conflicts of Interest" booklet of the Comptroller’s Handbook which replaces a booklet of the same title issued in June 2000. This booklet has been revised to include the supervision of federal savings associations and includes updated guidance for examiners on risks and expected controls over conflicts of interest that may arise in asset management activities. The booklet explains the risks inherent in such conflicts and provides a structure for managing those risks.
View the booklet titled "Retail Nondeposit Investment Products".
View the booklet titled "Conflicts of Interest".
US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Issues List of Banks Examined for Community Reinvestment Act Compliance
01/05/2015The FDIC issued a list of state non-member banks which were evaluated for compliance with the Community Reinvestment Act. The list relates to evaluation ratings that the FDIC assigned to institutions in October 2014. All of the banks rated received either satisfactory or outstanding ratings. The CRA was instituted in 1977 in order to encourage insured banks and thrifts to meet local credit needs, including those of low-income neighborhoods. Included in the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act of 1989, Congress mandated that the public disclosure of the results of each bank and thrift that undergoes a CRA examination.
View the monthly list of banks examined for CRA compliance.
View the January 2015 list of banks examined for CRA compliance.
US Securities and Exchange Commission Announces Program to Facilitate Analysis of Corporate Financial Data
The SEC introduced a pilot program intended to simplify investor analysis and comparisons of public company financial statement data. The new program will organize data provided by companies into structured data sets which can be used for bulk downloads on the SEC’s website by investors. The SEC anticipates that such data sets will be expanded in 2015 to contain data in footnotes to the financial statements.
View examples of financial statement structured data sets.