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.
Consultation and Draft Direction on Confirmation of Payee System Issued by UK's Payment Systems Regulator
The Payment Systems Regulator, the regulatory body responsible for monitoring the payment systems industry in the U.K., has published a second consultation paper requesting feedback on its proposals for a mandatory "Confirmation of Payee" service, together with a draft direction setting out deadlines by which the six largest payment services providers should provide such services. The Confirmation of Payee service is being developed to assist in the PSR's fight against "Authorised Push Payment" scams - involving theft of money via fraudulent payment requests made to individuals and businesses - and accidental misdirected payments, which together cause millions of pounds in losses to individuals and businesses annually. Certain payment service providers have committed to introducing a Confirmation of Payee process. However, the PSR considers that progress on doing so has been too slow. The consultation closes on June 05, 2019.
EU Equivalence Decision for Japan for Uncleared Derivatives
A Commission Implementing Decision declaring equivalence of the Japanese legal, supervisory and enforcement arrangements for risk mitigation techniques and exchange of collateral has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union. The European Market Infrastructure Regulation requires counterparties to uncleared derivatives to comply with requirements on timely confirmation, portfolio compression, procedures for reconciliation of disputes and the exchange of collateral, collectively known as the risk mitigation techniques. The European Commission is empowered to adopt an equivalence decision declaring that the requirements of a third country are equivalent to the EMIR requirements on risk mitigation. The USA has also benefited from such a decision in respect of its risk mitigation arrangements.
US Commodity Futures Trading Commission Issues No-Action Letters to Ensure Continued Relief and Substituted Compliance for U.K. Firms Post-Brexit
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission has issued two no-action letters to ensure that existing regulatory relief and substituted compliance measures for EU firms will continue to apply to U.K. firms following the U.K.’s departure from the EU. The CFTC said that the no-action letters will bring greater clarity to the market in light of Brexit and reflect the CFTC’s commitment to ensuring that Brexit will not create regulatory uncertainty in global derivatives markets. The relief is intended to cover both “no-deal” and “soft” Brexit scenarios. The relief would apply upon the departure of the U.K. (and would thus take effect at the end of the most recent extension of the departure date to October 31, 2019).
CFTC Letter 19-08 extends to U.K. entities substituted compliance measures originally issued for EU entities. These measures include comparability determinations for certain entity-level, transaction-level and uncleared margin requirements (the EU Comparability Determinations), along with an exemption for EU-authorized multilateral trading facilities and organised trading facilities from the CFTC’s swap execution facility registration requirements.
European Commission Communication on Progress on Building the Capital Markets Union
The European Commission has published its latest progress report on building of the Capital Markets Union. The CMU is an EU initiative which aims to deepen and further integrate the capital markets of Member States, further safeguard financial stability, strengthen the international role of the euro and diversify sources of finances for small and medium enterprises. The CMU aims to allow consumers to buy cheaper and better investment products, and enable financial services providers to scale up by offering services in other Member States.
The progress report notes that the CMU is an important Single Market project that will give increased access to capital for both companies and citizens, especially in smaller countries. A well-developed CMU increases the EU’s attractiveness to foreign investment and complements the EU’s agenda of free and fair trade. Broadly, the Commission has delivered measures that it had committed to take forwards at the beginning of the mandate and put in place certain "building blocks" of the CMU. However, the report notes that it may take time for the impact of the Commission’s actions to be realized.
Further EU Clarification For Financial Services Firms in a No Deal Brexit
The European Securities and Markets Authority has published a statement on its approach to certain provisions of the Markets in Financial Instruments package and the Benchmarks Regulation in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
EU Agrees Final EMIR Refit
On February 5, 2019, the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament reached a preliminary agreement on the draft Regulation amending the European Market Infrastructure Regulation, known as EMIR Refit or EMIR 2.1. The final text is likely to be published in the Official Journal of the European Union in April or May this year. Subject to a few exceptions, the changes will apply directly in all EU member states 20 days from that publication date. There may be minor drafting changes as the text is vetted by technicians and translated prior to its publication, but the legal position should be unaffected by this.
European Commission Adopts Measures in Preparation for a No Deal Brexit
The European Commission has published a Communication on Implementing the Commission's Contingency Action Plan for a no deal Brexit and has adopted all the legislative proposals and delegated acts announced in its November 2018 Contingency Plan. The actions relevant to the derivatives industry are the adoption by the Commission of:
- A temporary and conditional equivalence decision for CCPs already established and authorized in the U.K. CCPs established in third countries (which the U.K. will become on exit day) whose supervisory and legal regimes have been deemed to be equivalent to the EU regime may provide clearing services to clearing members or trading venues established in the EU. Such a CCP must be recognized by the European Securities and Markets Authority in accordance with the processes outlined in the European Market Infrastructure Regulation. The adopted decision would grant equivalence to the regulatory and legal regimes of the U.K. and Northern Ireland in relation to CCPs. The Commission's equivalence decision would apply for 12 months from exit day. ESMA remains to designate various U.K. CCPs.
European Commission Adopts Legislation to Promote Small and Mid-sized Enterprises Growth Markets
Following its consultation earlier this year on a proposed regulation, the European Commission has adopted a Delegated Regulation regarding certain registration conditions to promote the use of SME Growth Markets for the purposes of the revised Markets in Financial Instruments package, known as MiFID II. SME Growth Markets are a new sub-category of multilateral trading facility introduced by MiFID II in January 2018 to facilitate access to capital for SMEs. The adopted Delegated Regulation will amend existing delegated legislation under MiFID II to address regulatory barriers to the take-up of SME Growth Markets.
Further UK Legislation in Preparation for Brexit Comes Into Force
Three pieces of U.K. legislation to onshore EU laws in preparation for Brexit have been made. These are:
- The Trade Repositories (Amendment and Transitional Provision) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018 (SI 2018/1318).
A number of technical changes have been made as a result of the consultation process, but these do not affect the fundamental intention and scope of the legislation. The Regulations come into force on December 7, 2018, except for the provisions amending the European Market Infrastructure Regulation, which will come in force on exit day. Advance applications for registration of a trade repository must be submitted to the Financial Conduct Authority between December 7, 2018 and immediately before exit day, instead of on exit day.
These Regulations establish: (i) a temporary registration regime to enable U.K. and EU trade repositories to benefit - on complying with certain requirements - from temporary registration while the FCA considers their application; and (ii) a conversion regime that will allow U.K. trade repositories that are currently registered with the European Securities and Markets Authority to be registered as authorized U.K. trade repositories by the FCA from exit day.
UK Draft Regulations Governing Financial Market Infrastructure in Preparation for Brexit
HM Treasury has published a new draft statutory instrument, the draft Investment Exchanges, Clearing Houses and Central Securities Depositories (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018. The draft instrument is part of its work to ensure that the U.K.'s financial services laws are operative on exit day. The related explanatory information was published on November 22, 2018. The draft Regulations amend relevant parts of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 and the Recognition Requirements for Investment Exchanges, Clearing Houses and Central Securities Depositories Regulations 2001/995.
European Supervisory Authority Public Statement on Post-Brexit Temporary Recognition for UK CCPs if No UK-EU Deal
The European Securities and Markets Authority has issued a public statement entitled "Managing risks of a no-deal Brexit in the area of central clearing." In the statement, ESMA confirms that its Board of Supervisors supports continued access to U.K. CCPs by EU market participants, to limit the risk of disruption in central clearing and to avoid negatively impacting EU financial market stability following the U.K.'s exit from the EU. This would appear likely to take effect pursuant to a temporary or interim equivalence and/or Qualifying CCP determination under European Market Infrastructure Regulation and the Capital Requirements Directive in respect of the U.K. and its CCPs, effective on Brexit.
Bank of England Writes to UK Firms on Upcoming Obligations for Internalized Settlement Reporting
The Bank of England has published a letter sent by its Financial Market Infrastructure Directive to compliance officers of U.K. firms that may be affected by forthcoming obligations under the EU Central Securities Depositories Regulation to report internalized settlements from July 2019.
The BoE considers that the firms likely to be subject to the CSDR's obligations are those with the regulatory permissions for safeguarding and administration of assets or arranging the same. Within this subset of regulated firms, an institution will be considered a settlement internalizer if it settles transfer orders on behalf of clients on its own account rather than through a Central Securities Depository. Settlement internalizers must submit reports to the BoE.
Financial Stability Board Discusses Financial Resources for CCP Resolution
The Financial Stability Board has published a discussion paper on financial resources to support CCP resolution and the treatment of CCP equity in resolution. The FSB considers that further evidenced-based guidance is needed on this topic and the discussion paper is the first step in developing such guidance by the end of 2020. The FSB intends to use the practical experience of resolution planning that resolution authorities and Crisis Management Groups have gained to develop the guidance. The discussion paper outlines: (i) relevant considerations for evaluating whether a CCP's existing financial resources and tools are satisfactory for implementing the individual CCPs' resolution strategy, including a proposed five-step process and CCP-specific factors that warrant assessment; and (ii) factors that could steer authorities in their approaches to the treatment of CCP equity in resolution, including consideration of whether different ownership structures are relevant.
Responses to the discussion paper should be submitted by February 1, 2019. The FSB notes that responses to the discussion paper will be used to develop proposed guidance which will be consulted on at the appropriate time.
View the discussion paper.
Financial Stability Board Progress Report on Reforming Major Interest Rate Benchmarks
The Financial Stability Board has published a progress report on ongoing reforms to major interest rate benchmarks. The FSB has been co-ordinating international reform work, through its Official Sector Steering Group, since 2014, when it made several recommendations aimed at addressing cases of attempted manipulation in relation to key IBORs and the decline in liquidity in certain interbank unsecured funding markets. The OSSG launched a third major initiative in 2016, to improve contract robustness to address risks of discontinuation of widely-used interest rate benchmarks. That initiative is being led by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, which launched a consultation on fallback rates in July 2018.
The progress report provides an update since the FSB's progress report in October 2017 and covers:
- Developments in Interbank Offered Rates, including discussion of the future of LIBOR.
- Identification of and transition to risk-free rates, where appropriate, for transactions denominated in USD, EUR, JPY, GBP, CHF, AUD, BRL, CAD, HKD, MXN, SGD and ZAR.
- The development of fallback rates to enhance contractual robustness.
The FSB proposes to publish a further progress report in late 2019.
View the progress report.
View details of the October 2017 progress report.
View details of ISDA's July 2018 consultation on fallback rates.
View FSB statement welcoming ISDA's July 2018 consultation.
European Money Markets Institute Launches Second Consultation on Hybrid Methodology for Euribor
The European Money Markets Institute has published a second consultation paper (dated October 17, 2018) on its proposals to introduce a hybrid determination methodology for the Euro Interbank Offered Rate (Euribor). EMMI is the administrator for Euribor, a major euro interest reference rate for unsecured interbank short-term lending and borrowing. Euribor was classed as a critical benchmark of systemic importance for financial stability by the European Commission in 2016.
The consultation paper sets out a summary of EMMI's findings during the testing phase for the newly proposed hybrid methodology, which took place between May and July 2018, and provides details on EMMI's proposals for the different methodological parameters that were yet to be specified when EMMI's first consultation was issued in March 2018. The consultation paper seeks feedback from market participants on a number of questions on aspects of the proposed methodology.
Bank of England Provides Further Guidance on Settlement Finality Designation Post-Brexit
The Bank of England has published the "Dear CEO" letter that it has sent to the Chief Executive Officers of EU CCPs, central securities depositaries and payment systems that are currently designated under the EU Settlement Finality Directive. The designation of these systems is automatically recognized in the U.K. under the SFD framework for automatic recognition, but the U.K. will fall outside the EU framework upon Brexit.
The "Dear CEO" letter follows an earlier letter issued by the BoE in July 2018 and the publication, by HM Treasury, of a draft of the Financial Markets and Insolvency (Amendment and Transitional Provision) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018 on October 31, 2018. The draft Regulations will, once in force, empower the BoE to grant permanent designation to non-U.K. (including EU) systems that are not governed by U.K. law. They also establish a temporary designation regime for EU systems that are currently designated under the SFD.
In the letter, the BoE sets out further details of the permanent designation of non-U.K. systems post-Brexit. It also sets out how EU systems can go about applying to enter the temporary designation regime in a "no deal" scenario (where the U.K. exits the EU without a ratified Withdrawal Agreement) in order to continue to benefit from U.K. SFD protection until the permanent designation process is complete.
UK Legislation Published to Preserve Settlement Finality Designation Post-Brexit
HM Treasury has published a draft of the Financial Markets and Insolvency (Amendment and Transitional Provision) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018. These draft Regulations introduce changes across various pieces of legislation relevant to financial market infrastructure to implement Brexit, namely the Settlement Finality Regulations, the Companies Act 1989, the Financial Collateral Arrangements (No.2) Regulations and the Banking Act 2009, so that U.K. domestic law concerning financial market infrastructure insolvency can continue to operate effectively after the U.K. leaves the EU.
The draft Regulations are designed to maintain legal certainty for EU systems that conduct business with U.K. participants, by providing for the continuation of U.K. settlement finality protections currently provided under the Settlement Finality Directive.
Bank of England Updates Non-UK CCPs on Approach to Recognition Post-Brexit
The Bank of England has published a "Dear CEO" letter sent by Sir John Cunliffe, Deputy Governor, Financial Stability, to the Chief Executive Officers of non-U.K. CCPs to provide more detail on the post-Brexit recognition of non-U.K. CCPs and the temporary permissions regime that will give temporary deemed recognized status to eligible non-U.K. CCPs.
The BoE wrote to the CEOs of non-U.K. CCPs in December 2017, outlining that forthcoming U.K. legislation would give it a new power to recognize non-U.K. CCPs and that it anticipated that, in the period immediately after Brexit, the recognition regime for non-U.K. CCPs would be materially the same as the third country recognition regime under the European Market Infrastructure Regulation, but might be reviewed later. In an update in March 2018, the BoE confirmed that non-U.K. CCPs already providing services in the U.K. should be able to continue to do so until the end of the envisaged transitional, or "implementation" period after Brexit.
This latest letter to non-U.K. CCPs provides an update following the laying before Parliament, in July 2018, of the Central Counterparties (Amendment, etc., and Transitional Provision) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018 before Parliament in July 2018. Subject to Parliamentary scrutiny, these Regulations are expected to enter into force during Q4 2018, establishing the post-Brexit framework for non-U.K. CCP recognition. The letter outlines actions non-U.K. CCPs will need to take once the Regulations are in force.
Bank of England Updates Non-UK CSDs on Approach to Recognition Post-Brexit
The Bank of England has published a "Dear CEO" letter sent by Sir John Cunliffe, Deputy Governor, Financial Stability, to the Chief Executive Officers of non-U.K. Central Securities Depositories that have been identified as possibly requiring recognition to provide CSD services in the U.K. after Brexit. The Dear CEO letter provides more detail on the post-Brexit recognition of non-U.K. CSDs by the BoE and on the transitional regime that has been set out in the draft Central Securities Depositories (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018.
Bank of England Consults on Changes to FMI Rules and Onshored Binding Technical Standards for Brexit
The Bank of England has published a consultation paper entitled "UK withdrawal from the EU: Changes to FMI rules and onshored Binding Technical Standards." The consultation forms part of a package of consultations, "Dear CEO" letters and other communications published by the BoE and the PRA on October 25, 2018.
The consultation proposals cover:
- the BoE's proposed fixes to deficiencies in the onshored Binding Technical Standards for which the BoE, as FMI supervisor, has responsibility under the Financial Regulators’ Powers, (Technical Standards etc.) (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018;
- the BoE's proposals to amend its FMI rules; and
- the BoE's proposed approach to non-binding BoE materials after Brexit.
Bank of England Launches Consultation Package on EU Withdrawal
The Bank of England has issued a press release providing an update on its regulatory and supervisory approach to Brexit. The press release refers to a package of communications and new consultations published by the BoE on October 25, 2018. Building on previous communications with firms, this package of communications includes four consultation papers:
- A joint consultation on the BoE/Prudential Regulation Authority's general approach to making changes to PRA rules and to Binding Technical Standards to implement Brexit. This consultation is to be read in conjunction with the other three consultations.
- A PRA consultation on proposed changes to PRA rules and to the onshored BTS within the PRA's remit.
- A BoE consultation on changes to Financial Market Infrastructure rules and onshored BTS within the BoE's remit as FMI supervisor, along with a draft Supervisory Statement on the BoE's expectations of FMIs in relation to existing non-binding domestic material.
- A BoE consultation on the onshored BTS within the BoE's remit as the U.K. resolution authority.
UK Draft Legislation to Onshore the European Market Infrastructure Regulation Published
HM Treasury has published in draft format the Over the Counter Derivatives, Central Counterparties and Trade Repositories (Amendment, etc., and Transitional Provision) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018 – the U.K.'s draft statutory instrument that would implement a post-Brexit EMIR regime, together with explanatory guidance. The draft EMIR Regulations will affect CCPs, clearing members, their clients, Trade Repositories, TR users and U.K. persons entering into derivatives contracts. They will also, like EMIR, have impacts for persons around the world which enter into derivatives with U.K. persons, through U.K. clearing members or that are ultimately held with CCPs that are regulated or recognized in the U.K.
The draft EMIR Regulations have been prepared to ensure that there continues to be an effective regulatory framework for OTC derivatives, CCPs and TRs in the U.K. after exit day. Onshoring of EMIR has been dealt with in three separate pieces of legislation. The draft EMIR Regulations should be read in conjunction with the Central Counterparties (Amendment, etc., and Transitional Provision) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018 the Trade Repositories (Amendment and Transitional Provision) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018, which were published in draft form on July 24, 2018 and October 5, 2018 respectively.
Draft UK Post-Brexit Legislation Published to Onshore the EU Central Securities Depositories Regulation
HM Treasury has published a draft of the Central Securities Depositories (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018, along with explanatory information.
UK Conduct Regulator Consults on Brexit-Related Changes to Its Rulebook and Binding Technical Standards
The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority has published its first consultation on proposed changes to the FCA Handbook to ensure a functioning legal and regulatory framework for financial services in the event of a "no-deal" scenario whereby the U.K. exits the EU on March 29, 2019 without a ratified Withdrawal Agreement in place and there is consequently no transitional period for firms. The proposed amendments will not take effect if the U.K. enters into a transitional period after exit day.
The consultation includes the FCA's proposals in relation to the Binding Technical Standards it has been empowered by HM Treasury to amend prior to Brexit and to maintain afterward. These are the retained EU "Level 2" delegated and implementing regulations that set out regulatory technical standards and implementing technical standards. The consultation also sets out the FCA's proposed approach to non-legislative "Level 3" materials such as guidelines, recommendations and opinions that will also be onshored.
The FCA states in the consultation that the majority of the proposed changes are consequential in nature and follow the amendments to retained EU law that HM Treasury is proposing, as set out in the series of financial services-related statutory instruments being made under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018.
European Securities and Markets Authority Publishes Its 2019 Priorities
The European Securities and Markets Authority has published its Annual Work Programme for 2019, dated September 26, 2018. ESMA sets out its focus areas for 2019 and provides details of expected outputs within each of the areas. ESMA also indicates that a number of pieces of EU legislation may be reviewed. These include the Market Abuse Regulation and the clearing obligation under the European Market Infrastructure Regulation, in addition to the reviews that have already been announced.
UK Regulator Publishes Application Requirements for EEA Market Operators Seeking Recognition
The Financial Conduct Authority has published a direction on how EEA market operators can apply for recognition as an overseas investment exchange in preparation for Brexit. EEA market operators operating a regulated market, a multilateral trading facility or an organised trading facility currently use passports granted under the revised Markets in Financial Instruments Directive to give their U.K.-based members access to their markets. Once the U.K. has left the EU, those passports will no longer be valid and the U.K. Government does not intend to establish a temporary permissions regime in the event of a "no deal" outcome to the EU-U.K. Brexit negotiations or without an agreed implementation period. EEA market operators that engage in regulated activities when providing their U.K. members with access to their markets will need to apply for ROIE status, unless they can rely on the U.K.'s overseas persons exclusion. The FCA's direction sets out the FCA's expectations for EEA market operators.
View the FCA's statement.
View the FCA's Direction.
Working Group Recommends Replacement of EONIA With New Euro Short-Term Rate
The European Central Bank has announced its recommendation of the Euro short-term rate - ESTER - as a euro risk-free rate by a private sector working group. The group also recommends that ESTER replaces the Euro overnight index average, EONIA, because EONIA no longer complies with the EU Benchmark Regulation and will be restricted from January 1, 2020. The recommendations of the working group are not legally binding.
According to the ECB, ESTER will also provide a basis for developing fallbacks for contracts referencing the EURIBOR because the reformed ESTER methodology will be assessed for compliance with the Benchmark Regulation in 2019. ESTER reflects wholesale Euro unsecured overnight borrowing costs of Euro area banks and will be produced by ECB by October 2019, at the latest.
EU Delegated Regulation on Settlement Discipline Published
A Commission Delegated Regulation on settlement discipline has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union. The Delegated Regulation sets out Regulatory Technical Standards on settlement discipline as required under the Central Securities Depository Regulation. The RTS cover measures for preventing settlement fails through automated matching, a hold and release mechanism and partial settlement. The RTS also provide measures for monitoring and addressing settlement fails, such as a mechanism for cash penalties and a buy-in process. The RTS will apply directly across the EU from September 14, 2020.
View the RTS.
Global Recommendations for Trading Venues to Manage Extreme Volatility
The International Organization of Securities Commissions has published a report on mechanisms used by trading venues to manage extreme volatility and preserve orderly trading. Following its consultation earlier this year, IOSCO is making eight recommendations for trading venues and their regulators to consider when implementing, operating and monitoring volatility control mechanisms to preserve orderly trading.
UK Legislation Published for a Post-Brexit Recognition Regime for CCPs
A draft of the Central Counterparties (Amendment, etc., and Transitional Provisions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018 has been laid before Parliament. The finalized Regulations will come into force partly on the day after the day they are made and fully on the day the U.K. withdraws from the EU.
The draft Regulations have been prepared using the power under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 to address failures of retained EU law to operate effectively or other deficiencies arising from the withdrawal of the U.K. from the EU. These draft Regulations deal with "onshoring" certain aspects of the European Market Infrastructure Regulation that relate to the regulatory framework for CCPs. The Bank of England wrote to non-U.K. CCPs in December 2017, outlining how it envisaged that non-U.K. CCPs will be recognized to provide services in the U.K. once the U.K. has withdrawn from the EU. Recognized status under EMIR enables third-country CCPs to provide clearing services to clearing members or trading venues established in the EU. The BoE explained in its letter that U.K. domestic law requirements for the recognition of non-U.K. CCPs would be substantially the same as the current requirements under EMIR, although references to international MoUs being in place would change, such that these must be established between third countries and relevant U.K. authorities.
UK Plans Temporary Designation Regime for Settlement Finality Designation Post-Brexit
The U.K. Government has announced that it intends to legislate to ensure, after U.K. withdrawal from the EU, the continuation of U.K. settlement finality protections currently provided under the Settlement Finality Directive and implemented in the U.K. by the Financial Markets and Insolvency (Settlement Finality) Regulations 1999. The SFRs establish various insolvency carve-outs for designated market infrastructure systems and also legislate for finality of transactions within such systems. However, only EU systems are in scope.
The SFD requires Member States to notify the European Securities and Markets Authority with information concerning the national systems (and the respective system operators) they have designated to be included within the scope of the SFD protections. Member States must also designate the national authorities that must be notified when insolvency proceedings are opened against a participant or a system operator. Under the protections afforded by the SFD, transfer orders which enter into designated systems within certain deadlines are guaranteed to be finally settled, regardless of whether the sending participant has become insolvent or transfer orders have been revoked in the meantime. Under the SFD, each Member State automatically recognizes systems that have been designated by other Member States.
UK Working Group Outlines Risk Mitigation Considerations for Bond Market Participants During Transition From LIBOR
The U.K. Working Group on Sterling Risk-Free Reference Rates has published a paper to raise awareness among market participants of some of the current market uncertainties surrounding issuance of long-dated bonds referencing LIBOR. The Working Group is tasked with helping to bring about broad-based transition to the Sterling Overnight Index Average rate by end-2021 across Sterling bond, loan and derivative markets. SONIA has been selected as the preferred alternative risk-free rate for Sterling and, among other work, the Working Group is in the process of developing market conventions for SONIA-linked bonds. A key milestone for the Working Group will be its publication, later in 2018, of best practice for referencing SONIA in bond markets.
In the paper, the Working Group outlines some of the risks faced by bond market participants who are continuing to issue, offer and purchase new Sterling bonds referencing LIBOR, in particular where those bonds are long-dated. "Long-dated" refers to bonds set to mature beyond the end of 2021, when banks' commitments to submit data for purposes of LIBOR are due to end. The Working Group suggests certain steps market participants could take to mitigate some of the risks arising where LIBOR continues to be referenced in new Sterling bonds issued in the interim period before market conventions and infrastructure for referencing alternatives to LIBOR are fully developed.
View the paper.
Bank of England Confirms its Renewed Real-Time Gross Settlement System Can Interface With DLT
The Bank of England has published the outcomes from a "Proof of Concept" it ran to understand how its renewed Real-Time Gross Settlement service could be capable of supporting settlement in systems operating on innovative payment technologies, such as those built on Distributed Ledger Technology. The BoE has operated the RTGS service since 1996 to provide a safe and reliable means of settling high-value cash payments in real time in sterling central bank money. The BoE published a blueprint for renewal of the RTGS in May 2017, setting out how it proposed to overhaul the system to ensure higher resilience, broader access, wider interoperability, improved user functionality and strengthened end-to-end risk management of the high-value payment system.
UK Brings First Service Provider to Payment Systems Within Special Administration Regime
The Financial Market Infrastructure Administration (Designation of VocaLink) Order 2018 has been laid before Parliament. The Order relates to the special administration regime for operators of financial market infrastructures, which came into force on July 13, 2018. Relevant FMIs are operators of recognized payment systems, excluding recognized CCPs (which are already subject to the Banking Act resolution regime in the U.K.) and recognized central securities depositories operating a securities settlement system. However, HM Treasury is able to designate certain service providers to FMIs as infrastructure companies and so bring them within the FMI administration regime.
The Order designates VocaLink as an infrastructure company in connection with its provision of services to the operators of Faster Payments Service, Bacs and LINK. HM Treasury judges that an interruption in VocaLink's services to these operators of payment services would have a serious adverse effect on their operation.
The Order comes into force on August 9, 2018.
View the Order (SI 2018/858).
View the explanatory memorandum.
Bank of England Consults on Term SONIA Reference Rates
The Bank of England's Working Group on Risk-Free Reference Rates has launched a consultation on term reference rates for the Sterling Overnight Index Average.
The Working Group is tasked with facilitating the transition across sterling bond, loan and derivatives markets from the use of sterling LIBOR to the use of SONIA. The Working Group notes that SONIA is an overnight rate, while LIBOR is commonly referenced in longer tenors of three or six months. Some end-users in loan and debt capital markets have reported that term rates are essential for their business needs.
The consultation focuses on how a term SONIA reference rate (TSRR) can be constructed to facilitate sterling LIBOR transition in markets where term rates better suit users' needs. The Working Group seeks feedback on how the development of TSRRs could be catalyzed. The Working Group notes that the International Swaps and Derivatives Association is simultaneously consulting on preventing derivatives market disruption in the event a key IBOR is discontinued and that the Financial Stability Board has also recently stressed the importance to financial stability of transitioning most derivatives to robust overnight risk-free rates.
Comments on the consultation are invited by September 30, 2018. The Working Group anticipates that a number of steps would be required to produce robust and reliable TSRRs by the second half of 2019.
View the consultation paper.
View details of the ISDA consultation on IBOR fallbacks for OTC derivatives contracts.
View details of the Financial Stability Board's position paper.
European Commission Adopts Regulatory Technical Standards Under the EU Benchmarks Regulation
The European Commission has adopted a series of Commission Delegated Regulations comprising all of the Regulatory Technical Standards to supplement the EU Benchmarks Regulation. The Benchmark Regulation, which took effect across the EU in January 2018, sets out the authorization and registration requirements for benchmark administrators, including third-country entities, and the 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 critical benchmarks. The RTS outline the behaviors and standards expected of administrators of and contributors to benchmarks. The RTS adopted by the Commission are based on draft RTS prepared by the European Securities and Markets Authority in March 2017.
The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union will now have three months in which to raise any objections to the Delegated Regulations. The Delegated Regulations will take effect 20 days after their publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.
Financial Stability Board Welcomes ISDA Consultation on Fall Backs Risk-Free Rates for Derivatives
The Financial Stability Board has published a statement welcoming the consultation by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association on fall backs based on overnight risk-free rates for certain derivative contracts. The statement has been issued to provide market participants with the FSB's views ahead of the consultation by ISDA. The FSB's view is that overnight RFRs are more robust than interbank or term rates because they are based on active and liquid underlying markets. Overnight RFRs are considered by the FSB to be a better choice than term rates for markets where participants do not need forward-looking term rates. The FSB stated that for those markets where the IBOR may cease, citing the example of LIBOR, a transition to new reference rates will be crucial. The FSB acknowledges the work to reform some IBORS excluding LIBOR. It is therefore unclear whether the FSB has factored in the recently announced changes to LIBOR methodology in making this assessment and reaching these conclusions.
International Swaps and Derivatives Association Consults on Fall Backs Based on Overnight Risk-Free Rates for Certain Derivatives
The International Swaps and Derivatives Association has launched a consultation in which it proposes to amend its standard documentation to implement fall-backs based on alternative risk-free rates for certain key Interbank Offered Rates - GBP LIBOR, CHF LIBOR, JPY LIBOR, TIBOR, Euroyen TIBOR and BBSW. ISDA states that the back-ups will apply if the relevant IBOR is permanently discontinued, based on defined triggers.
ISDA is seeking feedback on the approach to address certain technical issues arising from the necessary adjustments that will apply to the RFRs if the fall backs are triggered.
ISDA intends to consult on the technical issues for these changes for derivatives referencing USD LIBOR, EUR LIBOR and EURIBOR at a later date. It requests preliminary feedback on the technical issues associated with fall-backs for these benchmarks in this consultation.
Responses to the consultation should be submitted by October 12, 2018. ISDA will determine which approach to adopt based on the feedback and will publish the final approach for review and comment before implementing any changes to the ISDA standard documentation.
The FSB issued a statement on the same day welcoming ISDA's consultation and encouraging market participants to respond to the proposals.
View ISDA's consultation.
View details of the FSB's statement.
UK Regulators Seek Views on Improving Operational Resilience of Firms and Financial Market Infrastructures
The Bank of England, the U.K. Prudential Regulation Authority and the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority have published a joint discussion paper entitled "Building the UK financial sector’s operational resilience." The Discussion Paper is aimed at opening a dialogue with the financial services industry on achieving what the Authorities view as a "step change" in the operational resilience of firms and Financial Market Infrastructures and at generating debate about the expectations regulators and the wider public might have of the operational resilience of financial services institutions.
While the existing regulatory framework already supports operational resilience, the BoE, PRA and FCA are together considering the extent to which they might supplement existing policies, to improve the resilience of the financial system as a whole and increase the focus on operational resilience within firms and FMIs.
UK Payments Regulators Announce Full Consolidation of UK Retail Payment Systems
The Payment Systems Regulator and the New Payment System Operator have issued press releases confirming that the consolidation of U.K. retail payment systems is now complete. Consolidation of the three U.K. payment systems was one of the recommendations made in the Payments Strategy Forum's November 2016 report, which set out a wide-ranging strategy for reforming the U.K. retail payments industry.
The NPSO assumed responsibility for Bacs Payment Schemes Limited and Faster Payments Scheme Ltd on May 1, 2018. The NPSO's press release confirms that, as of July 1, 2018, the Cheque and Credit Clearing Company Limited has become a subsidiary of the NPSO and the NPSO has assumed responsibility for oversight of running and managing the cheque paper and cheque image clearing systems. All payments will continue to be processed through the cheque clearing systems. The NPSO has also acquired UK Payments Administration Ltd, which is the service company responsible for providing people, facilities and business services to the U.K. payments industry.
European Money Markets Institute Confirms Certain Changes for Euribor
The European Money Markets Institute has published a feedback summary report on its March 2018 consultation on a hybrid determination methodology for the Euro Interbank Offered Rate (Euribor). EMMI is the administrator for Euribor, a major euro interest reference rate for unsecured interbank short-term lending and borrowing. Euribor was classed as a critical benchmark of systemic importance for financial stability by the European Commission in 2016.
EMMI consulted on: (i) introducing a three-level "hybrid" methodology for calculating Euribor; (ii) producing an overnight tenor for Euribor following the implementation of the hybrid methodology; (iii) discontinuing the calculation of three of the eight tenors; (iv) clarifying Euribor's underlying interest; (v) ceasing the publication of individual Panel Banks' submissions; and (vi) simplifying the publication process.
European Securities and Markets Authority Issues Opinion on CCP Liquidity Risk Assessment
The European Securities and Markets Authority has published an Opinion on the liquidity risk assessment that a CCP must undertake under the European Market Infrastructure Regulation. The Opinion is addressed to national regulators that supervise CCPs.
EMIR requires a CCP to measure its potential liquidity needs on a daily basis and to ensure that it has access at all times to adequate liquidity to perform its services and activities. A CCP must, therefore, ensure it has access to credit lines or other arrangements with liquidity providers in case the financial resources at its disposal are not immediately available. In measuring its liquidity needs, a CCP is required to take into account the liquidity risk generated by the default of at least the two clearing members to which it has its largest exposures (the liquidity risk "Cover-2" test). EMIR and related delegated legislation provide detail on how a CCP should assess the liquidity risk arising from each of its relationships with its clearing members and its liquidity providers.
European Central Bank Consults on Assessing Potential Successors to the EONIA Benchmark
The European Central Bank has published a consultation on behalf of the Working Group on Euro Risk-Free Rates. The ECB provides the secretariat for this Working Group. The Working Group is tasked, among other things, with identifying and recommending alternatives to Euro lending benchmark rates, namely EURIBOR and EONIA.
The administrator of EONIA announced in February 2018 that, due to prolonged structural change in the underlying interbank lending market that uses EONIA as a benchmark, EONIA's compliance with the EU Benchmarks Regulation by January 2020 "cannot be warranted" and that the ongoing review of EONIA would therefore be discontinued. The consultation invites comments on three euro risk-free rates that could potentially replace EONIA. These are:
- The euro short-term rate (ESTER), a new wholesale unsecured overnight bank borrowing rate that the ECB proposes to launch before 2020;
- GC Pooling Deferred, a one-day secured, centrally cleared, general collateral repo rate, which is produced by STOXX, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Deutsche Börse Group; and
- RepoFunds Rate, a one-day secured, centrally cleared, combined general and specific collateral repo rate, which is produced by NEX Data Services Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of NEX Group plc, soon to be acquired by CME Group.
Bank of England Finalizes Fee-Levying Regime for Financial Market Infrastructures
The Bank of England has published a Policy Statement outlining the fees it intends to levy on Financial Market Infrastructures, namely CCPs, central securities depositaries, recognised payment systems and specified service providers to recognised payment systems.
The BoE is empowered under the Banking Act 2009 to levy fees on FMIs but has not so far exercised its power to do so. The BoE has instead funded its supervision of FMIs through the Cash Ratio Deposit scheme. The Policy Statement follows a recommendation in February 2017 from the BoE's independent evaluation office that the BoE review its approach to funding FMI supervision and consider whether levying fees on supervised FMIs would be appropriate. The BoE consulted in August 2017 on proposals to introduce a new funding structure for FMI supervision. A further joint consultation was launched by the BoE and HM Treasury in March 2018 on the detail of the proposed fee-levying regime and the proposed fees for the 2018/19 fee year. The rationale for introducing an FMI fee-levying regime is to allocate the costs of FMI supervision to those entities that directly benefit from the BoE's supervision.
European Money Markets Institute Announces Cessation of Three Euribor Tenors
The European Money Markets Institute has announced the planned cessation of three of the current tenors for the Euro Interbank Offered Rate (Euribor). EMMI is the administrator for Euribor, a major euro interest reference rate for unsecured interbank short-term lending and borrowing. Euribor was classed as a critical benchmark of systemic importance for financial stability by the European Commission in 2016.
EMMI published a consultation paper in March 2018 seeking views from stakeholders on a proposed hybrid determination methodology for Euribor that will transition Euribor away from a quote-based to a transaction-based methodology. As part of that consultation, EMMI sought feedback on whether to discontinue the calculation and publication of three of the eight tenors it publishes, due to low levels of activity underpinning the markets those tenors represent. The majority of respondents to the consultation supported the discontinuation of the two week, two month and nine month tenors and consequently EMMI will proceed with its proposal.
Bank of England Consults on Phased Move to Global Messaging Standards for UK Payment Systems
The Bank of England has published a consultation on adopting ISO 20022, the global messaging standard for payments which was first introduced in 2004 by the International Organization of Securities Commissions. Ten jurisdictions have already implemented the standard and another nine are intending to implement it by 2023, including the U.S., Canada, Singapore and the Eurozone. The consultation has been prepared in conjunction with the U.K. New Payment System Operator and the U.K. Payment Services Regulator.
It is intended that ISO 20022 will be adopted across the U.K.'s three main interbank payment systems, namely CHAPS, BACS and Faster Payments. The BoE took over responsibility for the operation of the CHAPS system in November 2017 and the NPSO is responsible for the operation of BACS and Faster Payments. The fact that the three payment systems currently all have different information requirements, methodologies, formats, standards and rulebooks means that it can be difficult and expensive to move customers' payments between the systems and costly for new entrants wishing to participate in payment systems. Moving to ISO 20022 will address these and related issues.
European Securities and Markets Authority Finalizes Guidelines on Anti-Procyclicality Margin Measures for CCPs
The European Securities and Markets Authority has published a Final Report, setting out Guidelines for national regulators of CCPs on the application of rules under the European Market Infrastructure Regulation that require CCPs to adopt anti-procyclicality margin measures.
EMIR requires CCPs to impose, call and collect margins to limit their credit exposures from clearing members. A CCP must also regularly monitor and, if necessary, revise the level of its margins to reflect current market conditions taking into account any potentially procyclical effects of those revisions. Procyclicality of margin is the term used to describe the fact that margin requirements for the same portfolio are higher in times of market stress and lower in calm conditions. Regulatory Technical Standards under EMIR set out requirements for CCPs to use at least one of three options to limit procyclicality to the extent that the financial soundness of the CCP is not negatively affected. This has been controversial, since U.S. regulators impose no such requirements in practice on U.S. CCPs, leading to more expensive margin requirements in Europe. The Guidelines seek to clarify and ensure consistent application of the requirements across the EU.
EURIBOR Administrator Starts 3-Month Testing Phase for Hybrid Methodology
The European Money Markets Institute has announced the start of the testing phase for a new hybrid methodology it proposes to introduce to determine Euribor. The testing phase will run from May 2, 2018 to July 31, 2018.
EMMI launched a consultation on the introduction of the hybrid methodology and on some related issues in March 2018. That consultation closes on May 15, 2018 and EMMI intends to publish a summary of responses in June 2018.
The testing phase will involve EMMI conducting data analysis and assessing the methodology's parameters. EMMI hopes to gain a better understanding of panel banks' overall contribution patterns and how they make submissions using Level 3 of three-level "hybrid" methodology. Based on the results, EMMI will launch a second consultation in Q3 2018.
It is intended that the new hybrid methodology will be launched by Q4 2019 at the latest, in line with the transitional period provided by the EU Benchmarks Regulation.
View the EMMI announcement.
View details of the March 2018 consultation.
Clarification on Scope of EMIR Obligations for Public Entity Clearing Members Needed
The Chair of the European Securities and Markets Authority, Steven Maijoor, has written to the European Commission recommending that clarification of certain provisions of the European Market Infrastructure Regulation should be made during the current revision of EMIR. EMIR requires clearing members of CCPs to provide initial margin and default fund contributions. ESMA has noticed that CCPs across the EU, as well as their national regulators, are adopting different approaches to these requirements for public entities. Some CCPs and national regulators exempt public entity clearing members from the requirement to provide initial margin and default fund contributions while others grant no exemptions.
ESMA requests the Commission to consider whether the scope of EMIR needs to be clarified and whether a specific amendment could be made to EMIR during the current review process.
The European Commission published legislative proposals to amend EMIR in May - the technical revisions in so-called EMIR 2.1 - and June 2017 - the Brexit-driven CCP "location policy" or so-called EMIR 2.2, which attempts to force the relocation of UK CCPs to the Eurozone. The legislative procedures to finalize those changes are ongoing.
View the letter.
View the Commission's technical amendments legislative proposal.
View the Commission's location policy legislative proposal.
Bank of England Confirms Implementation of SONIA reforms
The Bank of England has confirmed that it has implemented its reforms to the SONIA interest rate benchmark. SONIA, the Sterling Overnight Index Average Rate, which has been administered since April 2016 by the BoE, is the existing unsecured reference rate for the sterling Overnight Indexed Swap market.
The BOE announced in October 2017 that the methodology for calculating SONIA would move from being based on a market for brokered deposits (which has limited transaction volumes) to a methodology involving a volume-weighted trimmed mean. The BOE has also separately published the key features and policies for SONIA, which summarize how SONIA is calculated and administered, including the governance arrangements. The BoE intends to publish an assessment of the benchmark's compliance with the International Organization of Securities Commissions' Principles for Financial Benchmarks in Summer 2018.
View the BoE press release.
View the SONIA key features and policies document.