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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 Conduct Regulator Statement on Open Access Regime for Exchange-Traded Derivatives
    07/06/2020

    The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority has published an updated statement on the open access regime for trading and clearing exchange-traded derivatives. The Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation provided a temporary opt-out from the open access requirements for trading venues and clearing houses in relation to ETDs. The opt-out was due to expire on July 3, 2020. However, in light of COVID-19, the EU has announced it is postponing the implementation of the open access regime for ETDs until July 3, 2021. The FCA's statement acknowledges the EU's postponement of the regime and states that the amended open access regime will form part of retained EU law that will be transposed by the U.K. post-Brexit and will continue to apply in the U.K. after the end of the transition period.

    Read more.
  • European Securities and Markets Regulator Publishes 2019 Annual Report and Updated 2020 Work Program
    06/15/2020

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has published its 2019 Annual Report together with an updated version of its 2020 Work Program, incorporating changes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
     
    ESMA’s 2019 Annual Report discusses ESMA’s work in 2019, which included: (a) the entry into force of EMIR 2.2, including significant new responsibilities for ESMA in the authorization and supervision of CCPs; (b) ESMA’s common supervisory action on the application of the revised Markets in Financial Instrument Directive’s requirements on the assessment of appropriateness, for which ESMA will consider whether any follow-up work is needed in 2020; (c) reviews of MiFID II and the Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation, including on fair access to, and lowering the cost of, market data and the consolidated tape; and (d) sustainable finance, including technical advice delivered to the European Commission on the integration of sustainability risks for investment firms and investment funds into relevant EU legislation, a report on undue short-termism in securities markets and contributions to the technical expert group on sustainable finance which is due to deliver technical advice on delegated legislation relating to the EU Benchmarks Regulation.

    Read more.
  • EU Statement on Open Access Requests for Exchange-Traded Derivatives
    06/11/2020

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has published a statement on the open access provisions for exchange-traded derivatives under the Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation.

    MiFIR requires a trading venue to provide open and non-discriminatory access to a CCP so that a CCP can clear trades in transferable securities, money market instruments and ETDs concluded on a trading venue of their choice, which will in turn allow the members of a trading venue to select the CCP they wish to use for clearing. There is a reciprocal requirement on CCPs to provide open and non-discriminatory access to a trading venue that wishes to clear financial instruments through a particular CCP. These provisions are controversial since they mean that valuable intellectual property and IT systems developed by exchanges effectively must be made available to competitors or new market entrants. It has been argued that the open access requirements make the EU unattractive as a location for exchange businesses due to the commercial disadvantages that result for those exchanges which have successfully invested in innovation.

    Read more.
  • Final EU Guidelines on Compliance Function Requirements Under MIFID II
    06/05/2020

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has published final guidelines on the compliance function requirements that are set out in the revised Markets in Financial Instruments package. The final guidelines replace ESMA's 2012 guidelines issued under MiFID I.

    Read more.
    TOPIC: MiFID II
  • European Securities and Markets Authority Publishes Updated Transparency and Position Limits Opinions for Third-Country Trading Venues
    06/03/2020

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has published two opinions on the application of post-trade transparency and position limits rules to third-country trading venues.
     
    The first opinion relates to post-trade transparency requirements under the Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation. Under MiFIR, EU investment firms must publish information on transactions in financial instruments traded on an EU trading venue. ESMA’s opinion states that information about transactions concluded on a third-country trading venue should also be made public in accordance with MiFIR, but it is unnecessary for EU firms to republish such information where the transparency rules of the third-country trading venue are similar to those applicable to EU trading venues under MiFIR. 

    Read more.
  • European Securities and Markets Authority Statement on MiFID II Conduct of Business Obligations in Light of COVID-19
    05/06/2020

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has published a statement reminding firms of their MiFID II conduct of business obligations in light of a significant increase in investment accounts opened by retail clients, together with a surge in retail clients' trading activities.

    Read more.
    TOPICS: COVID-19MiFID II
  • EU Consultation on SME Growth Markets
    05/06/2020

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has launched a consultation on the functioning of the small and medium-sized Growth Markets regime under the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II and on draft technical standards for the promotion of the use of SME Growth Markets to be developed under the Market Abuse Regulation. SME Growth Markets were a new sub-category of multilateral trading facility introduced by MiFID II in January 2018 to facilitate access to capital for SMEs. The consultation closes on July 15, 2020.

    Read more.
  • Council of the European Union Publishes Working Paper on Interoperability Arrangements and MiFIR Open Access for Exchange Traded Derivatives
    04/29/2020

    The Council of the European Union has published a working paper on interoperability arrangements as a source of contagion risk and open access provisions for exchange-traded derivatives under the Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation.

    Interoperability arrangements are links between CCPs that involve the cross-system execution of transactions. They are relevant where multiple CCPs service the same trading venue and allow clearing members of one CCP to centrally clear trades carried out with members of another CCP, without requiring the first counterparty to be a member of the second CCP. The European Market Infrastructure Regulation contains provisions governing CCP interoperability arrangements, including the need for non-discriminatory access, adequate risk management policies and the need for prior approval of relevant national regulators.

    Read more.
  • EU Delays Publication Dates for Annual Transparency Calculations for Non-Equities
    04/09/2020

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has issued a public statement announcing the delay of the publication dates of the annual transparency calculations for non-equity instruments. ESMA's statement is made in response to the impact of the coronavirus. The Markets in Financial Instruments Directive and Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation, which became effective on January 3, 2018, introduced pre- and post-trade transparency requirements for equity and non-equity financial instruments. ESMA is postponing the publication of the annual transparency calculation for derivatives, exchange traded commodities, exchange traded notes, emission allowances and structured finance products from April 30, 2020 to July 15, 2020 and their application from June 1, 2020 to September 15, 2020. The transitional transparency calculations will continue to apply until September 14, 2020 (inclusive). The publication and application of the annual transparency calculations for bonds remain unchanged. The new thresholds will be applicable from June 1, 2020.

    Read more.
    TOPICS: COVID-19MiFID II
  • European Securities and Markets Authority Encourages Regulatory Forbearance for Best Execution Reporting in Light of COVID-19
    03/31/2020

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has published a statement encouraging national regulators to deprioritize supervisory actions against firms that fail to meet best execution reporting deadlines under the revised Markets in Financial Instruments Directive. The MiFID II best execution requirements oblige investment firms to obtain the best possible result for their clients when executing client orders, and require execution venues and investment firms to make data relating to the quality of execution of transactions publically available.

    Read more.
    TOPICS: COVID-19MiFID II
  • UK Conduct Regulator Dear CEO Letter to Firms on Consumer Protection During COVID-19 Pandemic
    03/31/2020

    The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority has published a Dear CEO letter addressed to firms providing services to retail investors on the actions they should be taking to protect consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Firms are expected to provide strong support and service to consumers, to be transparent with their customers and to report to the FCA immediately if they foresee themselves getting into financial difficulty.

    Read more.
  • European Securities and Markets Authority Maintains MiFID II Equity Transparency Calculations Application Date
    03/27/2020

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has issued a statement in which it confirms that the existing date for the application of the equity transparency calculations will remain unchanged. The Markets in Financial Instruments Directive and Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation, which became effective on January 3, 2018, introduced pre- and post-trade transparency requirements for equity and non-equity financial instruments. On February 28, 2020, ESMA published the transparency calculations that will apply to new instruments from April 1, 2020 until March 31, 2021. Further calculations will be released ahead of that date once the data quality review for those instruments has been completed.

    ESMA's statement confirms that the new calculations will apply from April 1, 2020, as intended, because firms have had to implement new transparency calculations in the past and so do not need to revise their IT systems to comply with the obligation. In addition, ESMA is of the view that a delay could negatively impact those firms that have planned for the new calculations.

    View ESMA's statement.

    Details of other regulatory responses to COVID-19 are available on our COVID-19 Research Centre.
    TOPICS: COVID-19MiFID II
  • European Securities and Markets Authority Announces MiFID II Tick-Size Regime Forbearance
    03/20/2020

    The European Securities and Markets Authority expects national regulators to de-prioritize their supervision of the new tick-size regime for systematic internalizers under the Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation in light of the challenges posed by COVID-19. Amendments to the MiFIR tick-size regime were introduced by the Investment Firms Regulation and are due to come into effect on March 26, 2020. ESMA's statement demands that national regulators do not prioritize supervisory actions in relation to the new regime from March 26, 2020 until June 26, 2020.
     
    View ESMA's statement on regulatory forbearance for new tick-size regime.
     
    View details of the Investment Firms Regulation.
    TOPICS: COVID-19MiFID II
  • COVID-19: European Securities and Markets Authority Extends Consultation Deadlines
    03/20/2020

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has announced that it is extending the consultation response dates to assist market participants as they implement arrangements to ensure business continuity during the coronavirus outbreak.

    Read more.
  • COVID-19: European Securities and Markets Authority Clarifies MiFID II Telephone Recording Requirements
    03/20/2020

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has published a statement on the telephone recording obligations in the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive. MiFID II requires records to be kept of all services, activities and transactions undertaken by an investment firm, including recordings of telephone conversations or electronic communications relating to: (i) transactions concluded when a firm deals on own account (proprietary trading); and (ii) the provision of client order services that relate to the reception, transmission and execution of client orders. Firms are also required to implement and maintain a policy for the recording of these telephone conversations.

    Read more.
    TOPICS: COVID-19MiFID II
  • European Commission Consults on MiFID II
    02/17/2020

    The European Commission has launched a consultation on reviewing the EU Markets in Financial Instruments package. The Markets in Financial Instruments Directive and Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation have applied across the EU since January 1, 2018 and regulate the functioning and transparency of EU financial markets. The consultation closes on May 18, 2020. The Commission is due to publish a legislative proposal to amend MiFID II and MiFIR in Q4 2020.

    Read more.
    TOPIC: MiFID II
  • EU Recommendations for Alignment of the EU Derivatives Trading and Clearing Obligations
    02/07/2020

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has published a final report and recommendations on aligning the trading obligation under the Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation with recent changes made to the clearing obligation under the European Markets Infrastructure Regulation by the EMIR Refit Regulation. ESMA's report to the European Commission will support the Commission's report to the European Parliament and Council that is due by December 18, 2020.

    Read more.
    TOPICS: DerivativesMiFID II
  • EU-Wide Supervisory Focus on MiFID II Suitability Compliance
    02/05/2020

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has announced an EU-wide common supervisory action in 2020 on the application of the suitability requirements under the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive. National regulators of EU member states will simultaneously assess compliance with the applicable requirements by market participants established in their jurisdictions. The knowledge and experience of the national regulators will be shared through ESMA to enhance the convergence of supervisory practices. ESMA's Suitability Supervisory Briefing and Suitability Guidelines are relevant to this initiative.

    View ESMA's announcement.

    View details of ESMA's suitability supervisory briefing.

    View details of ESMA's suitability guidelines.
    TOPIC: MiFID II
  • EU Recommendations on MiFID II Product Intervention Amendments
    02/04/2020

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has published Technical Advice on the impact and functioning of the product intervention rules in the Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation. MiFIR gives ESMA powers temporarily to prohibit or restrict the marketing, distribution or sale of financial instruments or types of financial activity. The European Banking Authority has similar powers in relation to certain structured deposits. National regulators of EU Member States are able to impose permanent product intervention measures. ESMA's Technical Advice to the European Commission is on the functioning of the MiFIR provisions and their impact, taking into account its experience and the feedback from market participants to its Call for Input last year.

    Read more.
    TOPIC: MiFID II
  • EU Consultation on Potential Amendments to MiFID II's Equity Transparency Regime
    02/04/2020

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has commenced a consultation on proposed amendments to the provisions of the Markets in Financial Instruments package on the transparency regime for equity and equity-like instruments, the double volume cap mechanism and the trading obligation for shares. The consultation is part of the larger review on the implementation of the revised Markets in Financial Instruments Directive and the Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation. Feedback to the consultation will aid ESMA in preparing its report to the European Commission, which in turn is expected to report in 2020 to the European Parliament and Council of the European Union. ESMA's consultation closes on March 17, 2020. It intends to publish its final report to the Commission in July 2020. ESMA will be consulting separately on the transparency regime for non-equity instruments, such as bonds and derivatives.

    Read more.
    TOPIC: MiFID II
  • European Securities and Markets Authority Consults on Pre-Trade Transparency Regime
    02/03/2020

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has launched a consultation to collect the views of market participants on the pre-trade transparency regime applicable to systematic internalizers for “non-equity instruments” (which include bonds, structured-finance products, emission allowances and derivatives) under the Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation. A consultation on the transparency regime for equity and equity-like instruments has been launched separately.

    Read more.
  • EU Consultation on Draft Technical Standards For Third-Country Firm Registration and Disclosure Under MiFID II
    01/31/2020

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has launched a consultation on proposed draft Technical Standards on the provision of investment services and activities in the EU by third-country firms under the Markets in Financial Instruments package. The consultation closes on April 28, 2020 and ESMA intends to submit the final draft Technical Standards to the European Commission in Q3 2020.

    The provisions in the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive and Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation on third-country firms were recently amended. Among other things, the changes require third-country firms providing services to all types of clients to provide ESMA with further information. In addition, ESMA has increased powers over third-country firms providing services to eligible counterparties and per se professional clients, such as the ability to conduct on-site inspections and impose product restrictions or prohibitions.

    ESMA's consultation paper covers the proposed:
    • draft Regulatory Technical Standards on the information for registration of third-country firms and the information to be reported annually by third-country firms registered with ESMA;
    • draft Implementing Technical Standards on the format of applications for registration of third-country firms and the format of the information to be reported annually; and
    • draft ITS on the format of the information to be reported annually to national regulators by branches of third-country firms.

    View the consultation paper.
  • UK Conduct Regulator Wants Asset Management Sector to Reflect on Risks to Customers and Markets
    01/22/2020

    The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority has published two letters addressed to the CEOs of firms in the asset management and funds sectors. The first letter is addressed to CEOs of FCA-authorized firms directly managing mainstream investment vehicles or advising on mainstream investments, excluding wealth managers and financial advisers. The second letter is addressed to CEOs of FCA-authorized firms managing alternative investment vehicles, such as hedge funds or private equity funds, or managing alternative assets directly or advising on these types of investments. The letters follow the FCA's report on its review of how firms in the asset management sector selected and used risk modeling and other portfolio management tools.

    Read more.
  • UK Conduct Authority to Review Suitability of Retirement Income Financial Advice
    01/21/2020

    The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority has announced the focus of its second review assessing suitability - advice received by consumers on retirement income. The FCA intends to publish a report on the outcome of the review in 2020. Alongside the announcement, the FCA has published a letter addressed to the CEOs of financial advice firms describing its approach to tackling key areas of concern with financial advice firms and setting out the action it expects these firms to undertake. The letter covers assessing suitability of advice, defined benefit pension transfer advice, pensions and investment scams, adequate financial resources and professional indemnity insurance, the FCA's recently imposed ban on the promotion of speculative mini-bonds to retail consumers, the Senior Managers and Certification Regime and preparing for the end of the Brexit implementation period.

    View the FCA's statement.

    View the Dear CEO letter.
  • UK Conduct Authority Halts UK Operation of MiFID Transparency Regime in Light of Commitment to Brexit Deal
    01/20/2020

    The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority has updated its webpage and statement on the operation of the transparency regime under the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive post-Brexit. The U.K. Government has stated that it is committed to leaving the EU with a deal on January 31, 2020, followed by an implementation period. As a result, the FCA confirms that during the implementation period, all MiFID systems will remain connected to the European Securities and Markets Authority. A further update will be provided in due course.

    View the FCA's updated statement.
  • International Organization of Securities Commissions Recommends UTC Clock Synchronization to Facilitate Market Abuse Monitoring
    01/16/2020

    The International Organization of Securities Commissions has published a report in which it recommends that where jurisdictions require clock synchronization for trading purposes, clocks should be synchronized to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). In its 2013 report - Technological Challenges to Effective Market Surveillance – Issues and Regulatory Tools (FR04/13) – IOSCO recommended the introduction of a requirement for trading venues and their participants to synchronize the business clocks used to record the date and time of a reportable event. The practice assists regulators in monitoring the markets for market abuse and identifying market abuse. Certain jurisdictions have already implemented clock synchronization according to UTC, including Australia, Canada and the EU.

    View IOSCO's report.
  • New EU Regulation Enhances European Supervisory Authorities' Powers
    12/27/2019

    An EU Regulation has been published amending the European Supervisory Authorities' powers under various pieces of EU legislation. The Regulation grants ESMA additional powers to monitor market data and authorize benchmark administrators under the Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation and the Benchmarks Regulation, respectively. It also amends the legislation founding the European Banking Authority, the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority and the European Securities and Markets Authority, granting them additional powers to facilitate their supervisory duties. The Regulation will enter into force on December 30, 2019. The provisions regarding ESMA's enhanced supervisory powers over market data and benchmarks will apply from January 1, 2022. All other provisions regarding the European Supervisory Authorities' enhanced powers will apply from January 1, 2020.

    Read more.
  • EU Political Agreement on Proposed Regulation on Cross-Border Crowdfunding Service Providers
    12/19/2019

    The EU legislative bodies have announced that political agreement has been reached on the proposed Regulation on European Crowdfunding Service Providers for Business. The proposed ECSP Regulation is part of the EU Capital Markets Union initiative and the Commission's FinTech Action Plan. It aims to increase access to finance through crowdfunding for innovative companies, start-ups and SMEs. The European Commission published the original legislative proposal on March 8, 2018. Since then, the text of the proposed ECSP Regulation has been amended.

    Read more.
  • EU Recommendations to Combat Undue Short-Term Pressure From Financial Sector on Corporates
    12/18/2019

    The European Supervisory Authorities have each published advice to the European Commission on undue short-term pressure from the financial sector on corporations. The ESAs comprise the European Banking Authority, the European Securities and Markets Authority and the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority. The ESAs' advice responds to the European Commission's request in June 2019 for evidence and possible advice on potential undue short-term pressure by financial service participants on corporations. The Commission asked the ESAs to: (i) provide evidence of any short-termism and, if any, the consequences thereof; (ii) assess the drivers of such short-termism, including the effects of regulation on financial market participants, for example, the guidance on remuneration practices; (iii) identify existing regulations that either mitigate or exacerbate short-term pressures; and (iv) evaluate the need for regulatory or policy action and propose specific areas where action is needed. The ESAs' advice, summarized below, may result in the Commission proposing amendments to several pieces of EU legislation, such as the Capital Requirements Directive and related Regulation, the Markets in Financial Instruments package and the Non-Financial Reporting Directive.

    Read more.
  • EU MiFID II Review: First Review Report on Prices for Market Data and on the Consolidated Tape
    12/05/2019

    Following its consultation earlier this year, the European Securities and Markets Authority has published a report on the development of prices for market data and on the consolidated tape for equity. The report is the first review report on the implementation of the revised Markets in Financial Instruments Directive and the Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation and will assist the Commission in preparing its reports to the European Parliament and Council of the European Union, which are expected in 2020.

    Read more.
    TOPIC: MiFID II
  • US Securities and Exchange Commission Extends No-Action Relief for MiFID II Inducements and Research
    11/08/2019

    The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority has welcomed the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s extension of no-action relief addressing a potential conflict between U.S. regulation and the inducements and research provisions of the revised Markets in Financial Instruments Directive. One of MiFID II’s objectives is to give investors transparency into the cost of both research and trading commissions by requiring payments for these elements to be unbundled. 

    Read more.
    TOPIC: MiFID II
  • EU Consultation on Changes to Position Limits for Commodity Derivatives
    11/05/2019

    Following its Call for Evidence issued in May this year, the European Securities and Markets Authority has launched a consultation on proposed revisions to the legal framework for position limits and position management in commodity derivatives. The position limits regime was introduced by the revised Markets in Financial Instruments Directive. MiFID II requires the European Commission to report to the European Parliament and the Council on the impact of the application of position limits and position management on liquidity, market abuse and orderly pricing and settlement conditions in commodity derivatives markets. ESMA must provide the Commission with advice regarding this new regime to support the Commission's preparation of the report, including any recommendations for changing the legislative requirements. Responses to ESMA's consultation should be submitted by January 8, 2020.

    Read more.
    TOPICS: DerivativesMiFID II
  • UK Conduct Regulator Postpones Implementation Date for Brexit Contingency Plans
    10/30/2019

    The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority has extended the date by which firms must implement Brexit contingency plans following the extension of the Brexit deadline from October 31, 2019 to January 31, 2020. Firms and funds should now notify the FCA for entry into the temporary permissions regime by January 30, 2020 and fund managers have until January 15, 2020 to notify the FCA if they wish to change their existing notification. Firms should continue to comply with transaction and trade reporting requirements under the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive and European Market Infrastructure Directive, respectively.
     
    View the FCA's statement on contingency planning deadlines.
  • European Securities and Markets Authority Issues Public Statements on No-Deal Brexit Preparations
    10/07/2019

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has issued four public statements on its preparations for a no-deal Brexit in the event the U.K. fails to agree a deal with the EU or extend the Brexit deadline before October 31, 2019. In its public statement on preparations for a possible no-deal Brexit, ESMA notes that it had already put in place no-deal contingency plans ahead of the U.K.’s previous Brexit deadline extension on April 10, 2019. 

    Read more.
  • UK Regulator Update on the Operation of the MiFID Transparency Regime Post-Brexit
    10/07/2019

    The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority has published an update to the Supervisory Statement on the operation of the transparency regime under the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive post-Brexit. The FCA published a statement on March 14, 2019 on the operation of the MiFID II transparency regime should the U.K. leave the EU without a deal on March 29, 2019. The FCA has updated the statement to reflect how the regime would work if the U.K. leaves the EU on October 31, 2019, without a deal.

    View the FCA's update.

    View details of the FCA's March 2019 Supervisory Statement.
  • European Securities and Markets Authority Consults on Alignment of EU Trading and Clearing Obligations
    10/04/2019

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has published a consultation paper on aligning the trading obligation under the Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation with the recent changes made to the clearing obligation under the European Markets Infrastructure Regulation by the EMIR Refit Regulation. Responses to the consultation should be submitted by November 22, 2019. ESMA intends to submit its final report to the European Commission in early 2020, with the Commission’s report to the European Parliament and Council expected by December 18, 2020.

    Read more.
  • European Securities and Markets Authority Publishes Opinion on MiFID II Frequent Batch Auctions and Double Volume Cap
    10/04/2019

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has published an opinion on frequent batch auctions and the double volume cap mechanism. The opinion follows ESMA’s report, published in June this year, reviewing firms’ use of frequent batch auctions and their potential as a means of circumventing the double volume cap and transparency requirements under the Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation and Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II.

    Read more.
    TOPIC: MiFID II
  • European Securities and Markets Authority Publishes 2020 Work Priorities
    10/01/2019

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has published its Annual Work Programme for 2020. The Work Programme sets out ESMA’s focus areas for 2020 and provides details of expected outputs within each of the areas. In 2019, the European Council, Parliament and Commission agreed on new tasks for ESMA, meaning that ESMA will take on an enhanced role in areas including direct supervision, supervisory convergence and investor protection. The final Regulations amending the scope of the European Supervisory Authorities’ work mandates are expected to be published in the second half of 2019.

    Read more.
  • European Securities and Markets Authority Issues Call for Evidence on Product Intervention Measures
    09/30/2019

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has issued a call for evidence on the impact of its product intervention powers prohibiting the marketing, distribution and sale of binary options to retail clients and imposing restrictions upon contracts for difference that were marketed, distributed or sold to retail clients. ESMA is seeking feedback from all interested stakeholders, in particular investment firms and banks providing investment services (particularly those that provide CfDs or binary options captured by the product intervention measures) and consumer groups and investors. Responses should be submitted by November 4, 2019.

    Read more.
    TOPICS: DerivativesMiFID II
  • International Organization of Securities Commissions Review of Suitability Requirements for Complex Products
    09/26/2019

    The International Organization of Securities Commissions has published a report, "Thematic Review on Suitability Requirements with respect to the Distribution of Complex Financial Products". The report summarizes the outcome of the review IOSCO undertook of a sample of member jurisdictions' implementation of the IOSCO 2013 Suitability Requirements for the Distribution of Complex Financial Products, which aims to prevent mis-selling of complex products. The Suitability requirements comprise nine principles relating to classification of customers, general duties regardless of customer classification, disclosure requirements, customers protections, incentives and enforcement.

    Read more.
  • No-Deal Brexit Uncertainty Leads EU to Suspend Assessment of Transparency Requirements on Bond Markets
    09/24/2019

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has confirmed in a letter to the European Commission that it considers it inadvisable to conduct an annual review in 2019 of the Regulatory Technical Standards on the transparency requirements for trading venues and investment firms for bonds, structured finance products, emission allowances and derivatives (sometimes referred to as RTS 2). The requirement for an annual review is stipulated in the Markets in Financial Instruments package, and ESMA's report could lead to legislative changes subjecting more bonds and derivatives to the transparency requirements. ESMA's assessment of RTS 2 would be impacted by the uncertainty arising from Brexit, in particular, the potential for a no-deal Brexit, because the outcome would vary depending on whether U.K. data was included or not.

    ESMA intends to conduct its annual review before July 2020 and to determine the impact on bond market liquidity of the U.K.'s departure from the EU.

    View ESMA's letter to the European Commission.
  • UK Conduct Authority Publishes Review Findings for EU Research Unbundling Rules
    09/19/2019

    The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority has published the outcome of its review of the research unbundling reforms implemented in the EU by the revised Markets in Financial Instruments Directive. MiFID II has applied across the EU since January 3, 2018. MiFID II restricts the payment or receipt of all fees, commission and non-monetary benefits ("inducements") unless these enhance the quality of service provided to a client, and do not impair an EU investment firm's duty to act in the best interests of its client. Any inducement that is a minor, non-monetary benefit is exempt from the limitation. Research provided by any third party (regardless of location) to an EU investment firm providing investment services or ancillary services will be regarded as an "inducement" and subject to the inducement prohibition, unless the research is received in return for either direct payment by the investment firm out of its own resources or payment from a separate research payment account (RPA). "Soft dollar" commissions are not allowed, unless these are done through an RPA. The rules have impacted buy-side and sell-side firms in the EU, as well as their non-EU counterparts.

    Read more.
    TOPIC: MiFID II
  • EU Restrictions on Contracts for Difference Lifted in Wake of National Measures
    07/31/2019

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has announced that it will not again renew its product intervention measure for Contracts for Differences. ESMA's product intervention powers under the Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation allow it to impose temporary prohibitions or restrictions on certain financial instruments, financial activities or practices to address a significant investor protection concern in the EU. ESMA's first restrictions on the marketing, distribution and sale of CfDs to retail clients applied from August 1, 2018 and was then extended every three months because ESMA did not consider that the consumer protection risk had been addressed. ESMA's view is that because most national regulators in EU member states have now adopted permanent measures, its own temporary restrictions do not need to be extended. The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority has imposed permanent restrictions on the sale, marketing and distribution of CfDs and CfD-like options to retail consumers. The rules will apply to all CfDs entered into from August 1, 2019, and to CfD-like options entered into from September 1, 2019.

    Read more.
  • UK Regulator Provides Guidance on Regulatory Perimeter and Crypto-Assets
    07/31/2019

    The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority has published a Policy Statement and final Guidance on Crypto-assets. The Policy Statement summarizes the feedback received to the FCA's consultation on draft Guidance and sets out the FCA's response to that feedback. The final Guidance is, for the most part, the same as that on which the FCA consulted, except the FCA has made some drafting changes to provide further clarity and has added some guidance on stablecoins and airdrops. In addition, the FCA has revised the taxonomy by making a distinction between: (i) unregulated tokens, which are exchange tokens and utility tokens; and (ii) regulated tokens, which are security and e-money tokens.

    The Guidance is intended to clarify the FCA's expectations for firms carrying on crypto-asset activities within the U.K. by providing insight for market participants on whether certain crypto-assets are within the FCA's regulatory perimeter or are otherwise regulated. The FCA highlights that the Guidance should be used by firms to understand the regulatory status of their crypto-asset activities, but assessing whether a crypto-asset or related activity is within the regulatory perimeter can only be done on a case-by-case basis. Firms should also refer to the FCA's Perimeter Guidance Manual (PERG) in its Handbook, and where firms need further clarification, they should contact the FCA and/or obtain external legal advice.

    The Guidance provides an overview of the U.K. regulatory perimeter and discusses relevant concepts, such as "by way of business." It also refers to the territorial scope of the regulatory perimeter, referring to the detailed guidance in PERG and highlighting that where part of an activity is carried on outside the U.K., a firm may still be carrying on a regulated activity in the U.K.

    Read more
  • EU Call for Evidence on the Impact of the Inducements and Charges Disclosure Requirements Under MiFID II
    07/17/2019

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has launched a call for evidence on the impact of the inducements and costs and charges disclosure requirements under the revised Markets in Financial Instruments Directive. MiFID II restricts the payment or receipt of all fees, commissions and non-monetary benefits (which are defined as so-called "inducements") unless these enhance the quality of service provided to a client and do not impair an EU investment firm's duty to act in the best interests of its client. EU investment firms are obliged to disclose to each client all fees, commissions and non-monetary benefits received by them in connection with any investment service provided by them to that client.

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    TOPIC: MiFID II
  • EU Report on Sanctions and Measures Imposed under MiFID II in 2018
    07/17/2019

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has published a report on enforcement actions taken across the EU for breach of the revised Markets in Financial Instruments package. The report covers administrative sanctions and measures as well as criminal sanctions in aggregated form for 2018. ESMA notes that the data is limited because MiFID II has only applied since January 3, 2018, and some Member States were late in applying the requirements. Therefore, ESMA does not believe that it is possible to detect any trends using the limited data. ESMA will produce the same report annually, based on the submission of information from national regulators.

    View the report.
    TOPICS: EnforcementMiFID II
  • EU Consultation on Guidelines on Compliance Function Requirements under MiFID II
    07/15/2019

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has published a consultation paper on proposed guidelines on the compliance function requirements that are set out in the revised Markets in Financial Instruments package. The consultation closes on October 15, 2019 and ESMA intends to publish its final guidelines in Q2 2020. The final guidelines will replace ESMA's guidelines that were issued in 2012 under MiFID I because some of the 2012 guidelines are now set out in MiFID II or its secondary legislation and so reflect the enhanced role of the compliance function under MiFID II.

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    TOPIC: MiFID II
  • EU Evaluates MiFID II's Success in Improving Trade Data Quality, Availability and Costs
    07/12/2019

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has launched a consultation on the development of pre- and post-trade transparency data and the functioning of the consolidated tape for equity instruments under the revised Markets in Financial Instruments package. The consultation paper sets out ESMA's initial views, taking into account feedback received during earlier roundtables and questionnaires. Responses to the consultation should be provided by September 6, 2019. ESMA will consider the feedback it receives in preparing its final report, which it intends to submit to the European Commission in December 2019. The final report will assist the Commission in preparing its review reports to the European Parliament and Council of the European Union, which are expected to be published in 2020.

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    TOPIC: MiFID II
  • EMIR Refit: EU Clarification on Derivatives Trading and Clearing Obligations
    07/12/2019

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has issued a Statement clarifying the application and interaction of the EU derivatives clearing and trading obligations following the entry into force of the revised European Market Infrastructure Regulation, known as EMIR Refit.

    EMIR Refit has, subject to limited exceptions, applied directly across the EU since June 17, 2019. EMIR Refit amended the definition of a Financial Counterparty, bringing central securities depositories authorized under the EU Central Securities Depositories Regulation within scope and categorizing all Alternative Investment Funds as FCs (or, for non-EU funds, as third-country entities equivalent to FCs). It also introduced a clearing threshold for FCs, meaning that small FCs are exempt from the clearing obligation. In addition, Non-Financial Counterparties that meet the clearing threshold no longer must clear all derivatives that they enter that are subject to the clearing obligation, but only those derivatives in the asset class for which they have exceeded the threshold.

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    TOPICS: DerivativesMiFID II
  • Firms Criticized for Non-Compliance with the EU Contracts For Difference Product Intervention Measures
    07/11/2019

    The European Securities and Markets Authority has published a Statement cautioning contracts for difference providers to comply with its temporary product intervention measure restricting the marketing, distribution or sale of CfDs to retail clients. The measure is due to expire at the end of the day on July 31, 2019, unless ESMA again renews it.

    In its Statement, ESMA states that it has noticed and is concerned that certain firms are not complying with the temporary CfD restriction or any similar permanent national measure. ESMA reminds firms that the temporary CfD restriction does not apply to eligible counterparties or professional clients, including to retail clients who opt to being treated as professional clients, as defined in the revised Markets in Financial Instruments Directive. However, firms must comply with the MiFID II requirements when dealing with a retail client that requests to opt up to being treated as a professional client, including by alerting clients to the loss of protection afforded by the temporary CfD restriction. ESMA also reminds firms that they should not incentivize a retail client to become a professional client by using language that promotes the status or benefits of professional clients.

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