FS weekly highlights—14 March 2019

14 Mar 2019 | 58 min read

In this issue

 

Brexit no-deal announcements
Brexit news
Brexit legislation
UK regulator updates
European regulator updates
Authorisation, approval and supervision
Culture and diversity
Prudential requirements
Risk management and controls
UK financial crime
EU financial crime
Enforcement and redress
FCA conduct requirements
Markets and trading
MiFID II
Regulation of capital markets
Regulation of derivatives
Investment funds and asset management
Banks and mutuals
Consumer access to financial services
Consumer credit, mortgage and home finance
Insurance and pensions
Payment services and systems
FinTech and virtual currencies
Sustainable finance
Dates for your diary

 

Brexit no-deal announcements

 

FCA issues statement on derivatives reporting in a no-deal scenario

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) issued a statement explaining what trade repositories, and UK counterparties that use them, should do to make sure they are compliant with their European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR) reporting obligations after the UK leaves the EU. The FCA expects firms and market participants to continue to apply non-legislative materials (such as European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) Q&As and guidelines) as they did before exit day, to the extent that they remain relevant. These materials should be interpreted considering Brexit and the associated legislative changes that are being made so that the regulatory framework operates appropriately. Further details on the FCA’s approach to pre-exit non-legislative material can be found in appendix 3 of FCA consultation paper 18/28.

FCA statement on MiFID II and BMR provisions in event of a no-deal Brexit

The FCA issued a statement setting out its position on the application of some key aspects of the recast Markets in Financial Instruments Directive / Regulation (MiFID II/MiFIR) and Benchmarks Regulation (BMR) if the UK leaves the EU without a withdrawal agreement in place. This follows a statement by ESMA on 7 March 2019 setting out its own approach to these provisions in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The FCA makes clear that its approach as set out in the statement is relevant for a no-deal scenario and may change depending on the final timing and nature of Brexit. The FCA’s statement is relevant for, amongst other things, post-trade transparency and position limits, the trading obligation for derivatives and benchmarks, including creating a UK register of benchmarks and administrators.

ESMA statement on MiFID II/MiFIR and BMR provisions in event of no-deal Brexit

ESMA published a statement on its approach to the application of some key aspects of MiFID II/MiFIR and BMR provisions should the UK leave the EU under a no-deal Brexit. The statement sets out specific details on a number of MiFID II and BMR aspects under a no-deal Brexit. Should the timing and conditions of Brexit change, ESMA says it may adjust its approach and will inform the public of any changes in its approach as soon as possible.

Delegated Regulation extending deferred application of clearing obligation under EMIR in event of no-deal Brexit published in OJ

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/396 of 19 December 2018 amending Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/2205, Delegated Regulation (EU) 2016/592 and Delegated Regulation (EU) 2016/1178 supplementing EMIR as regards the date at which the clearing obligation takes effect for certain types of contracts was published in the Official Journal. If the UK withdraws from the EU on 29 March 2019 without a withdrawal agreement in place, UK counterparties will no longer be able to perform certain ‘life-cycle events’ such as novations, unwinding by entering into an offsetting transaction, and compression with new replacement contracts) in the EU under the current passporting regime. Authorisation in the relevant Member States may be required in order to perform these events on cross-border contracts.

Delegated Regulation extending dates for applying risk-management procedures under EMIR in event of no-deal Brexit published in OJ

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/397 of 19 December 2018 amending Delegated Regulation (EU) 2016/2251 supplementing EMIR as regards the date until which counterparties may continue to apply their risk-management procedures for certain over-the-counter (OTC) derivative contracts not cleared by a central counterparty (CCP) was published in the Official Journal. If the UK withdraws from the EU on 29 March 2019 without a withdrawal agreement in place, UK counterparties will no longer be able to perform certain ‘life-cycle events’ such as novations, unwinding by entering into an offsetting transaction, and compression with new replacement contracts) in the EU under the current passporting regime. Authorisation in the relevant Member States may be required in order to perform these events on cross-border contracts.

HM Treasury updates guidance webpage on no-deal Brexit for financial services

HM Treasury (HMT) updated its webpage setting out guidance on banking, insurance and other financial services if there is no Brexit deal. The webpage provides information about financial services such as banking and insurance for UK residents, businesses based in the UK, EEA residents and financial services institutions. First published on 23 August 2018 and previously updated on 8 January and 15 February 2019, the webpage is now further updated with revised information.

FCA FIRDS to open for testing from 14 March 2019

The FCA says that its Financial Instruments Reference Data System (FIRDS) is built and will be open for firms to test publication from 14 March 2019. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the FCA FIRDS will replace the ESMA FIRDS for firms and trading venues to submit instrument reference data in the UK. Firms will be able to download FCA FIRDS delta files and compare them to the files from ESMA FIRDS. FCA FIRDS will check that the reference data for each instrument identifier is consistent with the reference data in the relevant master record for that identifier.

EPC approves UK Finance’s application for the continued participation of UK PSPs in the SEPA schemes after Brexit

The European Payments Council (EPC) published a decision paper on Brexit and UK payment services providers (PSPs)’ continuing participation in the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) schemes. In consideration of the expected withdrawal of the UK from the EU, the UK PSPs, represented through UK Finance, filed an application in December 2018 with the EPC to be able to maintain the participation of the UK PSPs in the EPC’s SEPA schemes in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The EPC Board, at its 7 March 2019 meeting, took the decision to approve the application from UK Finance for the continued participation of UK PSPs in the SEPA schemes after 29 March 2019 in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

LSE proposes changes to its primary and secondary market rulebooks in the event of a no deal Brexit

The London Stock Exchange (LSE) announced, as part of its ongoing contingency planning, proposed changes to its Primary and Secondary Market Rulebooks (Market Notices N04/19 and N05/19) in the event of a no deal Brexit which includes amendments to the Admission and Disclosure Standards, the AIM Rules for Companies and the AIM Rules for Nominated Advisers. Such amendments will allow the LSE to continue to operate its markets effectively and meet its regulatory obligations. In the event of a no deal Brexit, the proposed amendments to the Rulebooks will become effective from 11:00PM on 29 March 2019. Updated versions of the Rulebooks will be available on the LSE’s website.

Finance firms fear no-deal Brexit will hit data transfers

Financial services companies fear that a no-deal Brexit will create headaches, and financial penalties, when it comes to dealing with data transfers from European Union countries to the UK, a survey by EY revealed. A poll by the auditing company of senior management from more than 200 finance firms across Europe and the US with business interests in the British market found that 24 per cent, almost a quarter, of respondents said the question of data transfers across borders was one of their top worries as Brexit approaches. Those fears are not unfounded, according to the London-based professional services company. 

 

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Brexit news

 

FCA publishes CP19/11: Securitisation (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 and Securitisation Regulations 2018 (proposed changes to DEPP and EG)

The FCA published consultation paper 19/11 Securitisation (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 and Securitisation Regulations 2018 (proposed changes to DEPP and EG) (CP19/11). This relates to supervision of securitisation repositories by the FCA following exit day. The closing date for feedback is 8 April 2019. Securitisation repositories in the EU are currently regulated by ESMA. HMT intends to transfer responsibility for regulating securitisation repositories to the FCA when the UK leaves the EU. To do so HMT laid before Parliament the Securitisation (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019.

FCA publishes Brexit TPR and FSCR diagram

The FCA published a diagram on how the temporary permissions regime (TPR) and financial services contracts regime (FSCR) will enable EEA-based firms to continue operating in the UK after Brexit. The diagram sets out the process for the majority of EEA passporting firms within scope of TPR. EEA established managers, depositaries and trustees of UK authorised funds cannot continue to manage or provide services to these funds after exit day, unless they enter TPR. Such firms will not be able to do so under FSCR. Separate arrangements will also apply in the case of marketing of investment funds, credit rating agencies, trade repositories, data reporting service providers and recognised overseas investment schemes as well as for some other entities that will be dual regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA). Payment services and certain e-money firms which enter the TPR will need to set up a UK legal entity in order for that entity to become UK authorised.

Treasury Committee publishes Brexit preparations correspondence

The Treasury Committee published letters it received from the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, Steve Barclay MP, and from the Permanent Secretary to HMT, Tom Scholar, discussing the UK’s EU departure negotiations, dealing with specific queries raised by the Committee, and detailing the government and civil service preparations for various Brexit scenarios. In a letter dated 11 March 2019, Mr Scholar said HMT is working to ensure that the UK continues to enjoy ‘a functioning legislative and regulatory framework at the point of leaving the EU, in any scenario, minimising disruption for UK households and businesses’. The Secretary of State for Exiting the EU wrote to the Committee on 7 March 2019 drawing their attention to a written ministerial statement laid in the House that day regarding EU Exit negotiations and the government intention to establish three advisory groups to help inform the UK’s negotiations with the EU.

Mark Carney discusses potential impact of Brexit

The House of Lords published the uncorrected oral evidence of Bank of England (BoE) governor Mark Carney at his annual session at the Select Committee on Economic Affairs. Mr Carney discussed the possible impact of Brexit on the global economy, tensions around globalization, international financial standards. Mr Carney warned that for financial businesses, relocating to Europe in the event of no Brexit deal would not be easy: ‘a change of legal documentation needs to be made along with, associated with that, a series of IT systems that need to be put in place. It sounds relatively straightforward, except it is multiplied by tens of thousands and it all has to happen at the same time’.

Report finds Dublin the biggest winner in Brexit relocations

A new report on the impact of Brexit, by think tank New Financial, identified 275 firms in the banking and finance industry that responded to Brexit by relocating part of their business, moving some staff, or setting up new entities in the EU. But the report says that figure is likely to be a significant underestimate, as over time, the authors expect the headline numbers of firms, staff, and business to increase significantly as the dust settles on Brexit and local regulators require firms to increase the substance of their local operations. Responding to the report, the CEO of TheCityUK, Miles Celic, said New Financial was right to raise awareness of the impact the current Brexit situation is creating on the UK as an international financial centre, as well as to the broader European ecosystem.

 

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Brexit legislation

 

Equivalence Determinations for Financial Services and Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment etc) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019

SI 2019/541: This enactment is made in exercise of legislative powers under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (EU(W)A 2018) in preparation for Brexit. This enactment amends and revokes retained direct EU legislation to address deficiencies in relation to the EU equivalence framework for financial services and retained EU law arising from the withdrawal of the UK from the EU. These Regulations are intended to apply in the event that no deal is reached on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. It comes into force partly on 12 March 2019 and fully on exit day (updated from draft on 11 March 2019).

Brexit SI Bulletin—latest drafts and sifting committee recommendations, 8 March 2019

The Commons European Statutory Instruments Committee (ESIC) and the Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee (SLSC) are responsible for the sifting process under the EU(W)A 2018. These committees scrutinise proposed negative Brexit SIs and make recommendations on the appropriate parliamentary procedure before the instruments are laid in Parliament. This bulletin outlines the latest updates and recommendations, collated on 8 March 2019. The following financial services Brexit SI was noted of interest by SLSC Sub-Committee A:

Transparency of Securities Financing Transactions and of Reuse (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019

SI 2019/542: This enactment is made in exercise of legislative powers under the EU(W)A 2018 in preparation for Brexit. This enactment amends UK subordinate legislation, and amends and revokes provisions of retained direct EU legislation in the field of securities financing transactions in order to address deficiencies in retained EU law which arise from the withdrawal of the UK from the EU, ensuring the legislation continues to operate effectively at the point at which the UK leaves the EU. It comes into force on exit day (updated from draft on 11 March 2019). 

 

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UK regulator updates

 

Spring Statement 2019: Chancellor makes key financial services announcements

The chancellor of the exchequer, Philip Hammond, delivered the 2019 Spring Statement. In it, Mr Hammond made two financial services announcements that form part of the government's work to ensure the UK remains an open and competitive place to do business. The announcements relate to financial services legislation (the government will legislate as necessary to ensure that in the immediate period after the UK leaves the EU, the UK can maintain world-leading financial services regulatory standards) and the future financial services regulatory framework ( the government will set out its approach to consulting on how to ensure the UK financial services regulatory framework adapts to its new constitutional position outside the EU).

FCA on how it applies the SMR to itself

The FCA published details of how it applies the Senior Managers Regime (SMR) in its own governance, adopting and applying the core principles of management responsibilities maps to allocate key responsibilities to the senior individuals in the organisation. As a regulatory authority as opposed to a regulated firm, the FCA made some variations, mainly for a number of senior management functions and prescribed responsibilities that apply to deposit-taking firms but which do not apply to the FCA, and a few cases where the wording of responsibilities was amended to ensure relevance.

Public Accounts Committee issues critical report on BoE’s working practices

The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee delivered a report on the BoE, in which it warns that, despite multiple projects to improve its central services, the BoE lacks a clear vision of the significant changes needed to modernise its ways of working. The Public Accounts Committee said the BoE leadership needed to ensure that its ways of working, systems and culture are brought up to date. The BoE already agreed to write to the Committee in mid-2019 to set out its staffing requirements. In addition to this, the BoE should, by June 2019, put in place a more systematic approach to benchmarking itself against other organisations.

Government opens consultation on Consumer Contract Regulations 2013 review

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) opened a consultation on the Consumer Contract Regulations 2013 review. BEIS is seeking views on the requirements imposed by the Regulations, how they are working in practice and whether the intended objectives are being achieved. The consultation will close at 11:45pm on 1 May 2019.

 

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European regulator updates

 

Council of EU publishes progress update on key financial services legislative proposals

The Council of the EU published a document setting out the state of play of key legislative proposals relating to financial services. The document was produced ahead of a meeting of the Council’s economic and financial affairs council (ECOFIN) scheduled for 12 March 2019. The update sets out a list of the key legislative financial services proposals in order of presentation by the European Commission, along with their current state of play. It lists several proposals for which political agreement was reached over the past few months. There are also several proposals listed as subject to ongoing review in the Council working party.

ECB approves Council of EU recommendation on ECB board member appointment

An Opinion of the Governing Council of the European Central Bank (ECB) of 6 March 2019 on a Council recommendation on the appointment of a member of the Executive Board of the ECB (CON/2019/11) was published in the Official Journal. The Council of the EU recommended in February that Philip R Lane be appointed as a member of the ECB’s Executive Board for a term of office of eight years with effect from 1 June 2019.

ECB Code of Conduct published in Official Journal

The Code of Conduct for high-level ECB officials (2019/C 89/03) was published in the Official Journal. The Code was adopted by the ECB Governing Council on 5 December 2018 and entered into force on 1 January 2019. The ECB is of the view that to the extent possible, and when justified by proportionality considerations, the members of each of its high-level bodies should adhere and be subject to the same professional conduct rules. The Governing Council therefore mandated the ECB’s Ethics Committee to develop the Code of Conduct.

ECB’s Andrea Enria on the principles of supervision and financial integration

The chair of the ECB’s supervisory board, Andrea Enria, gave a speech on supervisory principles and priorities, in which he said that while establishing the single supervisory mechanism was a big step forward, ‘tangible progress on financial integration is eluding us’. If we really aim to create a truly European banking sector, Mr Enria said, ‘we should allow banking groups to freely allocate their regulatory capital and their liquidity within the euro area. But there is still reluctance to remove existing barriers’.

European Commission report highlights extent of foreign direct investment in the EU

The European Commission published a report detailing the foreign direct investment situation in the EU. The report confirms a continuous rise in foreign company ownership in key sectors in the EU and an increase in investments from emerging economies, such as China. The Commission says the findings illustrate the need for effective implementation of the freshly adopted EU investment screening framework. More than 35% of total EU assets belong to foreign-owned companies, with traditional investors such as US, Canada, Switzerland, Norway, Japan, and Australia accounting for 80 percent of that figure.

European Parliament to consider proposed EU Crowdfunding Regulation at 25-28 March 2019 plenary session

The European Parliament updated its procedure file on the European Commission's proposed Regulation on European crowdfunding service providers (Crowdfunding Regulation) (2018/0048 (COD)). The procedure file indicates that the Parliament will consider the proposed Regulation during its plenary session to be held from 25 to 28 March 2019. The Commission adopted the proposed Regulation in March 2018. 

 

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Authorisation, approval and supervision

 

FCA publishes final rules for Directory of financial services workers

The FCA announced the final rules on the Directory, a new public register that enables consumers, firms and other stakeholders to find information on key individuals working in financial services. The final rules require firms to report timely and accurate information about their Directory Persons. Firms will need to take all necessary action to gather the required information and ensure its accuracy prior to submission. The FCA consulted on draft rules in consultation paper 18/19, which was published in July 2018. The final rules are set out in policy statement 19/7, which also summarises the feedback the FCA received to CP18/19 and its response. The FCA made some changes to its proposals in light of the feedback received.

FCA finalises guidance on statement of responsibilities and responsibilities maps

The FCA published finalised guidance 19/2, which provides FCA solo-regulated firms practical assistance and information on preparing the statement of responsibilities (SoR) and responsibilities maps under the Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SM&CR), which is being extended to all authorised firms on 9 December 2019. Under the SM&CR, all senior managers must hold an SoR. In addition, all enhanced firms must use a responsibilities map. The guidance sets out the purpose of SoRs and responsibilities maps, provides some questions for firms to ask themselves and outlines examples of good and poor practice.

FCA provides updates on machine readable reporting pilots

The FCA updated its digital regulatory reporting (DRR) webpage. The site contains details of the phase 1 pilot, which followed up on the 2017 TechSprint on machine readable and executable regulatory reporting requirements. The phase 1 pilot ran from June 2018 to December 2018. The website also sets out the objectives of the ongoing phase 2 pilot. A full report on the phase 1 pilot is now available. The site includes a video (with transcript) explaining the concept of DRR and providing an overview of the work done by the DRR pilot group. 

 

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Culture and diversity

 

FIA announces global FS diversity initiative

The Futures Industry Association (FIA) announced an initiative to encourage and support diversity in the futures industry. It plans to address diversity at its global conferences, targeting greater participation by women and raising awareness of the issue throughout its panels. The initiative follows a recent Mercer study on diversity in financial services, which found that women occupy just 15 percent of executive jobs and only 26 percent at the senior manager level, so that as women progress in their careers, there are fewer opportunities in the top ranks of companies. The issue is further compounded for Black and Asian women.

MPs back plans to stop firms burying harassment claims

Influential lawmakers swung behind proposals by the UK government to prevent corporations from using non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and confidentiality clauses in their employment contracts to discourage staff from reporting harassment to the police. The BEIS announced plans to tighten the rules on the use of confidentiality agreements, after several high-profile company bosses successfully weathered allegations of sexual harassment. Kevin Hollinrake, co-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Fair Business Banking, said that gagging agreements are a ‘tool of abuse’ used by managers to silence employees who complain of ill-treatment.

BSB paper offers practical suggestions to improve employee wellbeing

The Banking Standards Board (BSB) published a paper outlining eight situational factors that affect employee wellbeing and resilience at work. It summarises relevant research on the topic and suggests practical steps that organisations can take to improve the wellbeing and resilience of their employees. 

 

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Prudential requirements

 

European Commission amends Solvency II capital requirements

The European Commission adopted a delegated regulation amending Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/35, which supplements Directive 2009/138/EC (Solvency II), in order to make it easier for insurers to invest in equity and private debt and to provide long-term capital financing. The new rules introduce prudential criteria that allow reducing the capital charges in the standard formula for insurers’ unrated debt and unlisted equity investments. In response to the adoption of the delegated act, Olav Jones, deputy director general of Insurance Europe,  commented: ‘Insurance Europe is disappointed because, while some much-needed improvements and simplifications have been achieved, these are outweighed by the lack of progress on key issues impacting the industry’s ability to maintain and develop their long-term products and investments’.

PRA publishes PS8/19 and updates SS17/13 on credit risk mitigation

The PRA published policy statement 8/19 entitled ‘Credit risk mitigation: Eligibility of guarantees as unfunded credit protection’, along with updated versions of its supervisory statement 17/13 on credit risk mitigation and supervisory statement 31/15 on the internal capital adequacy assessment process (ICAAP) and the supervisory review and evaluation process (SREP). PS8/19 sets out the PRA’s feedback to responses it received to its consultation paper 6/18 on the eligibility of guarantees as unfunded credit protection. It also contains the PRA’s final policy in (1) updated SS17/13 ‘Credit risk mitigation’, and (2) updated supervisory statement 31/15 on ICAAP and SREP. The updates to SS17/13 and SS31/15 will be effective six months from the date of publication of PS8/19, ie from Friday 13 September 2019.

PRA consults on ways to increase transparency of Pillar 2 capital framework

The PRA published consultation paper 5/19, in which it proposes to update the Pillar 2 capital framework to reflect continued refinements and developments in setting the PRA buffer (also referred to as Pillar 2B). Feedback is sought by 13 June 2019, with the PRA looking to implement the proposals by 1 October 2019. The PRA says the purpose of the proposals is to bring greater clarity, consistency and transparency to the PRA’s capital setting approach. In promoting a greater level of transparency, the PRA seeks to promote financial stability, the safety and soundness of PRA-authorised firms, and facilitate more informed and effective capital planning for banks.

Council of EU publishes decision to incorporate CRR and CRD IV into EEA Agreement

The Council of the EU published a Decision on the position to be adopted, on behalf of the EU, within the EEA Joint Committee, concerning the amendment of Annex IX (Financial Services) to the EEA Agreement in relation to the Capital Requirements Regulation (EU) 575/2013 (CRR) and the Capital Requirements Directive 2013/36/EU (CRD IV). According to the Decision, which the Council proposed in February, the CRR and CRD IV are to be incorporated into the Agreement on the European Economic Area (the EEA Agreement). Annex IX to the EEA Agreement is to be amended accordingly, to reflect the provisions of the Decision. 

 

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Risk management and controls

 

EU-wide protection for whistleblowers agreed

The European Parliament and the Member States reached a provisional agreement on new rules that the European Commission says will guarantee a high level of protection for whistleblowers who report breaches of EU law. The new rules cover a wide range of areas of EU law, including AML and corporate taxation, data protection, and protection of the EU's financial interests and financial services among other topics. Member States are free to extend these rules to other areas, and the Commission says it encourages them do so, establishing comprehensive frameworks for whistleblower protection based on the same principles.

Council of EU updates progress report on proposed Whistleblowing Directive

Following the progress report that the Council of the EU published on 26 February 2019 on the proposed Whistleblowing Directive (in which the Council provided a brief summary of the discussions and negotiations to date), the Council published a further update on progress. In the updated document, the Council of the EU notes that at its meeting on 6 March 2019, the Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper) agreed on additional flexibility for the Presidency as regards the use of reporting channels.

New FCA publication aims to share good practice on cybersecurity

The FCA published a document bringing together industry insights on cyber resilience. Part of the FCA’s role is to help firms become more resilient to cyber-attacks, so reducing the risk and frequency of disruption. The FCA says the publication may be particularly relevant for small and medium-sized firms, but encourages all firms to consider whether these insights may be useful to them. The FCA says that, since 2017, it brought together over 175 firms across different financial sectors to share information and ideas from their cyber experiences.

UK Finance sets out the benefits of the Financial Services Sector Cybersecurity Profile

UK Finance published a blog piece in which it sets out the benefits of the Financial Services Sector Cybersecurity Profile. Launched in October 2018 as a result of a collaboration between more than 150 banks and trade bodies, the Profile is a scalable and extensible assessment that financial institutions of all types can use for internal and external (ie third-party) cyber risk management, and as a mechanism to demonstrate compliance with various regulatory frameworks, both within the UK and globally. 

 

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UK financial crime

 

FCA’s Alison Barker discusses role of OPBAS and findings from 2018 AML supervisory assessments

The FCA published a speech by its director of specialist supervision, Alison Barker, on the role of the Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision (OPBAS). In her speech, Ms Barker discusses the OPBAS’s findings from its first-year supervisory assessments of the 22 professional bodies it supervises– themes from which were published alongside the speech–which found the standards of supervision over the legal and accountancy sectors in the UK were very variable. Ms Barker also discusses OPBAS’s future plans. OPBAS, part of the FCA, was set up by the government in 2018 to ‘supervise the supervisors’ of the accountancy and legal professions, by ensuring that those 22 professional bodies impose consistently high standards of supervision.

Treasury Committee report on anti-money laundering supervision and sanctions

The Treasury Committee published a report on anti-money laundering (AML) supervision and sanctions implementation. The report calls for a more precise estimate of the scale of economic crime in the UK, more frequent reviews of UK AML supervision, and giving powers to Companies House to combat economic crime. The report notes that the scale of economic crime in the UK is very uncertain, while the state of UK AML supervision is ‘highly fragmented’. The report also says the UK’s corporate criminal liability framework is not fit for purpose and the government should urgently reform this area, despite the pressures of preparing for Brexit. Experts from Baker & MacKenzie and Linklaters suggest the report, ‘zeroed in on some of the key challenges facing UK AML efforts’.

APPG issues statement on its bank signature forgery campaign

The APPG on Fair Business Banking issued a statement concerning the building of support for a new campaign to gather evidence of potential signature forgery by banks against their customers. A common thread amongst many of the cases that the APPG receives is suspicions around the signatures on legal documents from bank staff, but also the potential forgery of customer’s signatures. Following a number of scandals that occurred in the USA and Australia, in the UK the Bank Signature Forgery Campaign is gathering evidence to determine whether the systematic forgery of signatures is also occurring here.

UK farms bank misconduct fight to US, watchdog says

Bribery and fraud laws in the UK are weak and forced the country’s white-collar cops to outsource criminal cases against bankers and financial institutions to law enforcement authorities in the US, according to a corruption watchdog group. A decade after the last financial crisis, the US levied fines ten times greater than those imposed by the U.K. for misconduct committed by banks in London, due in part to impotent criminal laws, Corruption Watch, a UK-based think tank said. UK authorities, for instance, failed to secure a single corporate conviction against a bank for rigging the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor), manipulating foreign currency options, misselling toxic mortgages or committing money laundering and sanctions violations, the report found. In that same span, the US netted almost 20 convictions.

 

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EU financial crime

 

Council returns draft list of high-risk money laundering and terrorist financing countries to the Commission

The Council of the EU issued a press release and an ‘I/A’ item note stating that it unanimously decided to reject a draft list put forward by the European Commission of 23 ‘high-risk third countries’ in the area of money laundering and terrorist financing. The Council justifies its decision on the grounds that it ‘cannot support the current proposal which they say was not ‘established in a transparent and resilient process that actively incentivises affected countries to take decisive action while also respecting their right to be heard’.

Europol conference on combatting criminal use of cryptocurrencies

Europol hosted a third conference on criminal finances and cryptocurrencies, attended by over 230 participants from 60 different countries comprising of judicial authorities, financial intelligence units, international organisations as well as private sector representatives. The conference focussed on discussing the vulnerabilities and threats in cryptocurrencies leading to their misuse for money laundering and terrorism financing purposes. It also covered innovations, solutions, tools and building coalitions to combat these threats. The event ran for two days at Europol’s headquarters in the Hague in the Netherlands. 

 

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Enforcement and redress

 

FCA fines The Carphone Warehouse £29m for insurance mis-selling

The FCA fined The Carphone Warehouse £29,107,600 for failings that led to the mis-selling of a mobile phone insurance and technical support product. This follows an FCA investigation which stemmed from whistleblowing reports. The FCA found that The Carphone Warehouse failed to give its sales consultants the right training to give suitable advice to customers purchasing the product concerned: Geek Squad. In particular, sales consultants were not trained adequately to assess a customer’s needs to determine whether Geek Squad was suitable. No training was provided on how to respond when customers gave answers indicating the policy may not be appropriate.

BoE announces action over Visa outage

Following a partial service disruption of Visa Europe’s card authorisations system on 1 June 2018, the BoE announced supervisory action. The BoE decided to use its statutory powers under the Banking Act 2009 to direct Visa Europe to fully implement the recommendations of the independent review the firm commissioned immediately following the incident. The scope of the independent review was agreed with both the BoE and the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR). A summary of the review’s findings was shared with, and subsequently published by, the Treasury Select Committee in November 2018. According to the BoE, the incident resulted in widespread disruption to users of Visa Europe’s services and carried the potential to affect confidence in the financial system.

ESAs' joint board of appeal decides on CRAR appeals

The joint board of appeal (BoA) of the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) issued decisions regarding four appeals it received by Svenska Handelsbanken AB, Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken (SEB) AB, Swedbank AB, and Nordea Bank Abp against decisions by the ESMA regarding infringements of the Credit Rating Agencies Regulation (CRAR). On 11 July 2018 ESMA decided to fine the five banks for negligently infringing the CRAR by issuing credit ratings without being registered. While the BoA confirmed the infringements found by ESMA, it accepted the appellants' claims of having acted non-negligently and remitted the case to ESMA's board of supervisors to adopt amended decisions based on the BoA findings.

FCA raises Financial Ombudsman Service compensation limit

The FCA confirmed that the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) will soon be able to require financial services firms to pay significantly more compensation to consumers and businesses. From 1 April 2019, the current £150,000 limit will increase to £350,000 for complaints about actions by firms on or after that date. The limit will rise to £160,000 for complaints about actions before 1 April 2019 that are referred to the FOS after that date. Both award limits will be automatically adjusted every year from 1 April 2020 onwards to ensure they keep pace with inflation, as measured by the Consumer Prices Index.

DWP, TPR and HM Treasury respond to CMA market investigation into investment consultancy and fiduciary management services

The government published a joint response by HMT, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and The Pensions Regulator (TPR) to the report by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) that set out the decision of its market investigation into investment consultancy and fiduciary management services. In the joint response, the DWP, TPR and HMT agree with the proposed remedies in the CMA’s report and explain their decisions on each of the recommendations. The CMA market investigation was commissioned in September 2017 by the FCA at the conclusion of its Asset Management Study and the CMA published its final report in December 2018. The FCA responded to the report in February 2019. The response of HMT, DWP and TPR is available in full on the government’s website.

Wonga compensation claimants ‘more than four times’ the number expected

The Treasury Committee published a letter from the chief executive of Grant Thornton, Dave Dunckley, regarding the number of consumers with complaints relating to failed payday lender Wonga – for which Grant Thornton acts as administrator. In the letter, Mr Dunckley states that the ‘total number of redress claims is currently more than four times’ the FOS’s estimate of 10,500 consumers with open complaints at the time Wonga went into administration. Many of the complaints are a result of new rules introduced by the FCA in 2014 which brought in affordability criteria to consumer credit activities.

Outgoing FSCS CEO calls for higher protection limits for a more limited range of products

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) issued a press release in which it states that its outgoing chief executive, Mark Neale, would be giving a speech on 13 March 2019 at UK Finance’s Retail Banking Summit outlining his personal views on the organisation, its journey to date and a range of issues associated with the future of the protection for customers of financial services products. Mr Neale suggests a more targeted range of pension product coverage would be easier for consumers to understand. The compensation limits for this targeted range could be increased and an FCA kitemarking scheme for pension products would ensure consumers are confident that they are getting good value.

FSCS announces failure of Greater Milton and Possilpark Credit Union Ltd

The FSCS announced the failure of Glasgow-based Greater Milton and Possilpark Credit Union Limited, which was declared in default on 12 March 2019. This means the credit union cannot pay money to its 4,212 members. The FSCS is stepping in to protect customers and expects to pay a total of £3.4m to all customers within seven days of the failure being declared. Payments will be sent automatically, using the credit union’s records.

APPG reports on overwhelming support for Tribunal from IOD members

The APPG on Fair Business Banking issued a press-release stating that there is overwhelming support from Institute of Directors (IOD) members for a Financial Services Tribunal to provide a mechanism for business owners to access justice when in a dispute with their financial services providers. According to the press release, in a recent survey by the IOD, 7 out of 10 IOD members expressed their strong and explicit support for the APPG’s Tribunal proposals. These business leaders also made it clear that they are not confident in the current UK Finance proposals, with less than 30% believing that the banking industry’s plans for an ombudsman will provide businesses with adequate access to redress in the event of a dispute with a lender.

APPG comments on new dispute resolution scheme in letter to UK Finance

The APPG on Fair Business Banking published a letter dated 5 March 2019 from Kevin Hollinrake MP to the chair of UK Finance’s implementation steering group (ISG), Lewis Shand Smith, regarding a new dispute resolution scheme for banks and business. While the APPG welcomes the steps taken by UK Finance and its members, it raises a number of concerns. According to Mr Hollinrake, the APPG ‘violently’ agrees with UK Finance’s position that the ISG needs strong representation for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). However, he expresses concern that UK Finance did not consult the APPG or other bodies to identify the most appropriate individuals or organisations to be represented.

 

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FCA conduct requirements

 

FCA publishes ‘Dear CEO’ letter to loan-based P2P crowdfunding platforms on wind-down arrangements

The FCA published a ‘Dear CEO’ letter addressed to the CEOs of loan-based peer-to-peer (P2P) crowdfunding platform firms requesting that they review the wind-down arrangements at their firms. The request follows a recent FCA supervisory review of a sample of firms’ wind-down arrangements against current requirements, which found that some P2P firms are falling short of the standard required by the FCA’s rules to ensure that their plans would work in practice, should they need to be implemented. The letter reminds firms that P2P platforms must take reasonable steps to ensure they P2P agreements will continue to be managed and administered if, for any reason, the platform ceases to operate. 

 

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Markets and trading

 

ESMA publishes responses to consultations on CSDR guidelines

ESMA published the responses received to its two December 2018 consultations on guidelines under the Central Securities Depositories Regulation (EU) 909/2014 (CSDR). The consultations which were launched on 20 December 2018 were specifically focussed on (1) guidelines on standardised procedures and messaging protocols used between investment firms and their professional clients under Article 6(2) of CSDR, and (2) guidelines on settlement fails reporting under Article 7(1) of CSDR. The consultations closed on 20 February 2019. ESMA will consider the feedback it received to these consultations with a view to finalising the guidelines by July 2019.

ESMA webinar on LEI requirements

ESMA released a video of a webinar in which its staff participated. Held by the Global Financial Markets Association (GFMA), the ESMA staff presented on the topic of legal entity identifier (LEI) requirements under MiFID II and the upcoming LEI requirements under other sectoral legislation such as the EMIR and the Securities Financing Transactions Regulation. The webinar can be viewed on ESMA’s YouTube channel, and the presentation slides are also available. Further information on the LEI is available in ESMA’s latest briefing and the ESMA statement on LEI under MiFID II.

ECSDA provides feedback on CMH-TF standards

The European Central Securities Depositories Association (ECSDA) published its feedback on the draft standards issued by the ECB’s Advisory Group on Market Infrastructures for Securities and Collateral (AMI-SECO) Harmonisation Steering Group (HSG) Collateral Management Harmonisation Task Force (CMH-TF). ECSDA welcomes and supports the harmonisation efforts undertaken by the CMH-TF, notes that many of its detailed comments were taken on board in the draft standards, and draws attention to the issues raised by ECSDA which are fundamental in the view of central securities depositories and are yet to be incorporated in the standards. 

 

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MiFID II

 

Council of the EU adopts position on amending EEA Agreement to include references to MiFIR and MiFID II

Council Decision (EU) 2019/389 of 4 March 2019 on the position to be adopted, on behalf of the European Union, within the EEA Joint Committee, concerning the amendment of Annex IX (Financial Services) to the EEA Agreement (MiFIR and MiFID II) was published in the Official Journal. According to the Decision, MiFIR and MiFID II are to be incorporated into the EEA Agreement.

ECON recommends early non-objection to Delegated Regulation on MiFID II tick size calculation

The European Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee (ECON) recommended that the Parliament confirm it does not object to the European Commission’s Delegated Regulation amending Delegated Regulation (EU) 2017/588 as regards the possibility to adjust the average daily number of transactions for a share where the trading venue with the highest turnover of that share is located outside of the EU. The amending Delegated Regulation lays down rules to further specify the calculation of the minimum tick sizes or tick size regimes for financial instruments, where necessary to ensure the orderly functioning of markets. It was adopted by the Commission on 13 December 2018, based on draft regulatory technical standards (RTS) developed by ESMA. 

 

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Regulation of capital markets

 

European Commission publishes staff working document on the movement of capital and the freedom of payments

The European Commission published a staff working document which reports on capital movements and policy initiatives relating to the free movement of capital in 2017-2018. It will feed into discussions held annually by the Economic and Financial Committee to examine capital movements and the freedom of payments under Article 134 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The free movement of capital is essential in enabling integrated, open and efficient European financial markets. The report first reviews global and EU capital flows in 2017 and the first half of 2018 (depending on data availability) as well as related economic developments.

ECON updates draft report on proposed directive on credit servicers, credit purchasers and recovery of collateral

ECON issued an updated version of its draft report (dated 11 March 2019) on the proposed directive on credit servicers, credit purchasers and the recovery of collateral. The draft report, originally published on 11 March 2019, makes numerous amendments to the European Commission’s proposed text of the directive, including deleting Title V establishing a framework for accelerated extrajudicial collateral enforcement. The proposed directive is part of a package of measures published by the Commission in March 2018 with the intention of reducing stocks of non-performing loans (NPLs) in the EU.

 

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Regulation of derivatives

 

John Glen updates EU Committees on CCP discussions

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen MP, wrote to the chair of the House of Lords European Union Committee, Lord Boswell of Aynho, and to Sir William Cash MP, the chair of the Commons European Scrutiny Committee, to update them on discussions in the EU as regards the procedures and authorities involved for the authorisation of CCPs and requirements for the recognition of third-country CCPs. The letters set out why the UK abstained in Coreper, and the points made on the UK’s behalf in the ECOFIN update.

FIA white paper warns of increased fragmentation in cleared derivatives market caused by regulation

The FIA published a white paper entitled ‘Mitigating the risk of market fragmentation’, which expresses FIA’s concerns about increased fragmentation of the global listed and cleared derivatives markets due to inconsistent and duplicative regulatory frameworks. In the paper the FIA urges regulators to embrace the principles of reliance and regulatory co-operation, and makes recommendations on how to avoid increased fragmentation in regulating cross-border activity in the global derivatives markets. The full white paper is available on the FIA website.

Scott O'Malia on the BCBS/IOSCO initial margin announcement

The International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) published the latest edition of DerivatiViews, in which its CEO, Scott O'Malia, discusses the statement by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) and the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) highlighting that counterparty relationships that fall below an initial margin (IM) exchange threshold aren’t obliged to meet documentation, custodial or operational requirements. Mr O’Malia said the announcement is a potentially important intervention, but stressed it was not a cure-all and it still raised many questions as to its global application and duration. 

 

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Investment funds and asset management

 

ESAs propose PRIIPs amendments to clarify application to investment funds

The ESAs submitted to the European Commission draft RTS proposing to amend Delegated Regulation (EU) 2017/653 covering the rules for the key information document (KID) for packaged retail and insurance-based investment products (PRIIPs) in order to clarify how the KID applies to investment funds. In a letter to the Commission dated 7 March 2019, the ESAs propose a ‘quick-fix’ amendment to clarify the application of the KID to investment funds where these are offered as underlying investment options to a PRIIP (so-called ‘multi-option products’).

ECON endorses political agreement on cross-border distribution of funds

ECON voted to approve the provisional agreement reached between the Parliament and the Council of the EU on the proposed Directive and Regulation on cross-border distribution of collective investment funds. Coreper approved a negotiating mandate on 20 June 2018, and the European Parliament adopted its report in plenary on 12 December 2018. The Romanian Presidency then entered into negotiations with the Parliament and the Commission with a view to reaching a first-reading agreement on the two proposals. These negotiations resulted in a provisional agreement between the institutions on 5 February 2019.

ESMA chair sets out priorities for the asset management community

ESMA published a speech by its chair, Steven Maijoor, on ESMA’s priorities for the asset management community. Mr Maijoor discussed ESMA’s first annual costs and performance report on retail investment products, and discussed how costs affect the value of an investment over time. The speech also looked at the relevance of costs of investment services and products in the EU legislative framework, and the importance of cost disclosure in the context of the PRIIPs Regulation.

 

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Banks and mutuals

 

Latest EBA Risk Dashboard shows EU banks have improved resilience but profitability remains weak

The European Banking Authority (EBA) published its latest Risk Dashboard, which summarises the main risks and vulnerabilities in the EU banking sector using quantitative risk indicators. The EBA also published the results of its risk assessment questionnaire, which includes the opinions of banks and market analysts on the risk outlook collected in autumn 2018. The Dashboard confirms that both asset quality and capital ratios improved in the third quarter of 2018, while profitability remained subdued. The figures included in the Risk Dashboard are based on a sample of 150 banks, covering more than 80% of the EU banking sector (by total assets).

EBA publishes 2017 high-earner figures

The EBA published today its report on high earners for 2017. The data shows that the number of high earners in EU banks receiving a remuneration of more than EUR 1 million slightly increased from 4,597 in 2016 to 4,859 in 2017 (+5.69%). The report is part of the EBA's monitoring activities and is published on an annual basis. For the first time, the remuneration data included in the report is also available in a user-friendly format on the remuneration page of the risk analysis section of the EBA website. The largest population of high earners in the EU is located in the UK (73.27% of the total number of high earners).

FSB: key takeaways from workshop on compensation standards

The Financial Stability Board (FSB) published a note with key takeaways from a workshop with banks in October 2018 about implementation of the FSB’s international standards on compensation. The FSB welcomes any feedback on topics discussed at the workshop and summarised in the note. Comments should be sent to the FSB by 7 May 2019. Executives responsible for managing processes related to compensation at 17 large internationally active banks and officials from the FSB Compensation Monitoring Contact Group participated in the workshop. The workshop provides one input into the FSB’s biennial compensation progress report, which will be published later in 2019.

EBA issues revised validation rules for supervisory reporting ITS

The EBA issued a revised list of validation rules in its implementing technical standards (ITS) on supervisory reporting, highlighting those which are deactivated either for incorrectness or for triggering IT problems. The EBA says competent authorities throughout the EU should note that data submitted in accordance with these ITS should not be formally validated against the set of deactivated rules.

Scottish National Investment Bank Bill

The Scottish Parliament introduced the Scottish National Investment Bank Bill on 27 February 2019. The Bill is for an Act of the Scottish Parliament to require the establishment of the Scottish National Investment Bank and to make further provision in connection with that body. The explanatory notes to the Bill as introduced, are now before the Scottish Parliament.

Chudley and others v Clydesdale Bank plc (trading as Yorkshire Bank)

[2019] EWCA Civ 344: Bank – Account. The proceedings arose from the appellants' investment in a property development scheme that failed as a result of fraud and the insolvency of the property development promoter. The judge erred, among other things, in holding that the letter of instruction from the property development promoter to the respondent bank, relating to the opening of a bank account for the property development scheme, was not a concluded and unconditional contract. Accordingly, the Court of Appeal, Civil Division, allowed the appellants' appeal and held that they were entitled to recover their pleaded losses as damages, pursuant to the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999, for the bank's breach of contract. 

 

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Consumer access to financial services

 

FCA chair on bank closures and access to cash

The FCA published a speech by its chair, Charles Randell, on bank closures and access to cash, delivered at the Retail Banking Conference 2019. Mr Randell discussed the problems affecting towns with no bank branches or free-to-use ATMs, but said the issue was tough for regulators. If they tried to compel a bank to keep the last branch in town open, there would be an even stronger incentive for banks to close branches they deemed unprofitable as quickly as possible, to avoid being the last bank in town. Mr Randell also discussed LINK’s efforts to maintain access to ATMs, but said trying to make decisions which recognise all the local realities was, again, a challenging task. 

 

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Consumer credit, mortgage and home finance

 

Council of the EU adopts position on amending EEA Agreement to include reference to the Mortgage Credit Directive

Council Decision (EU) 2019/380 of 4 March 2019 on the position to be adopted, on behalf of the European Union, within the EEA Joint Committee concerning the amendment of Annex IX (Financial services) and Annex XIX (Consumer protection) to the EEA Agreement was published in the Official Journal. The position adopted is that Annex IX and Annex XIX to the EEA Agreement are to be amended to incorporate the Mortgage Credit Directive 2014/17 (EU).

FCA and PRA publish mortgage lending statistics for Q4 2018

The FCA and the PRA jointly published mortgage lending statistics for the fourth quarter of 2018. The statistics are based on information received via the Mortgage Lenders and Administrators Return (MLAR), a quarterly return submitted to the FCA and the PRA by firms carrying out mortgage lending and administration. The information published by the FCA and the PRA includes technical information on the MLAR, an analysis of the findings and full statistical tables. The data published includes the outstanding value of all residential loans and various other statistical data sets. 

 

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Insurance and pensions

 

European Commission amends Solvency II capital requirements

The European Commission adopted a delegated regulation amending Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/35, which supplements Directive 2009/138/EC (Solvency II), in order to make it easier for insurers to invest in equity and private debt and to provide long-term capital financing. The new rules introduce prudential criteria that allow reducing the capital charges in the standard formula for insurers’ unrated debt and unlisted equity investments. In response to the adoption of the delegated act, Olav Jones, deputy director general of Insurance Europe, commented: ‘Insurance Europe is disappointed because, while some much-needed improvements and simplifications have been achieved, these are outweighed by the lack of progress on key issues impacting the industry’s ability to maintain and develop their long-term products and investments’.

FCA provides follow-up evidence to the Pensions Select Committee

Following the FCA CEO’s appearance at the House of Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee on 6 February 2019, Andrew Bailey wrote to the Committee chair, Frank Field MP to provide an update on some of the topics discussed. The letter covers the FCA’s approach to tackling scams, and provides statistics on accumulation and decumulation products in the retirement income market. 

 

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Payment services and systems

 

ECB consults on oversight of systemically important payment systems

The ECB opened a public consultation on its draft decision on the procedure and conditions for exercise by a competent authority of certain powers in relation to the oversight of systemically important payment systems (SIPS). Feedback is sought by 12 April 2019. The ECB envisages that the feedback given on this consultation document will provide valuable input that will help it to establish a clear procedure and conditions governing the exercise of a competent authority’s powers in respect of SIPS. The ECB will assess all comments received in response to its consultation and amend its decision accordingly. The final version of that ECB decision will then be published, together with details of all relevant feedback provided in the course of the consultation.

EBA publishes clarifications for PSD2 APIs

The EBA published clarifications to the first set of issues raised and discussed by participants of its working group on application programming interfaces (APIs) under the revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2). The group met for the first time on 21 February 2019. The issues relate to practical aspects regarding the reliability of testing platforms, the alignment of functionalities between API schemes, and the identification for testing purposes of entities that are yet to be authorised. The EBA says further clarifications to a number of additional issues raised by the working group will follow.

PSR extends deadline for LINK infrastructure

The PSR published a new Specific Direction which varies the text of Specific Direction 4 (procurement: LINK). The change enacts the PSR’s proposal to push back the deadline for LINK’s central infrastructure services to be provided by the winner of a competitive procurement process. It extends the deadline by six months (from 2 April 2021 to 2 October 2021). The PSR consulted on the proposal in February 2019, with all respondents supporting the extension. The PSR proposed the extension because Link Scheme Holdings Ltd, the operator of the LINK ATM system, said it couldn’t complete its competitive procurement process to the timeframe the PSR specified in Specific Direction 4.

Treasury Committee seeks details of PSR governance and expenditure

Following a 12 February 2019 evidence session with the PSR, the chair of the Treasury Committee, Nicky Morgan MP, wrote to the PSR’s managing director and  chair seeking further information about the PSR’s expenditure on consultants and professional fees, some aspects of its board and governance, and whether card scheme fees will form part of the PSR’s Market review into the card-acquiring services. The Treasury Committee published its correspondence with the PSR on these matters, including the PSR’s responses to the queries and concerns raised.

Open Banking Limited sets out the road to PSD2 delivery and the UK’s Open Banking project

Open Banking Ltd, which was set up by the CMA in September 2016 to fulfil one of the remedies mandated by the CMA following an investigation into UK retail banking, issued a press release noting that there are four significant changes taking place in March 2019 in relation to the UK’s Open Banking project and PSD2, namely the adoption of the Open Banking Standard, the introduction of eIDAS certificates, a testing facility open to third parties and a managed conversion and launch assistance programme.

Industry figures discuss the way ahead for open banking

Innovate Finance published an article marking the first anniversary of open banking, the data rules that aim to facilitate a greater number of third-party providers seeking to transform financial services. A number of industry figures are quoted in the piece, generally agreeing that, while it is still early days, potential adoption figures of 71% of SMEs and 64% of adults by 2022 mean open banking will transform the sector. Jamie Campbell of Bud said the scope of open banking will be increasing in 2019. ‘Currently, open banking touches current accounts but in 2019 it will extend to “transactional accounts” such as credit cards, e-wallets etc. 

 

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FinTech and virtual currencies

 

BCBS issues statement on cryptoassets

The BCBS issued a statement regarding cryptoassets. In the statement BCBS highlights the potential for the continued growth of cryptoasset trading platforms and new financial products related to cryptoassets to raise financial stability concerns and increase risks faced by banks. The statement sets out the minimum measures the BCBS expects authorised banks to take if they decide to acquire cryptoasset exposures or provide related services. BCBS explains the risks cryptoassets present for banks, which include liquidity risk, credit risk, market risk, operational risk, money laundering and terrorist financing risk, and legal and reputational risks. On that basis, the BCBS expects authorised banks to adopt a number of precautionary measures as a minimum before acquiring cryptoasset exposures or providing related services.

BIS’s CPMI and Markets Committee publish report on central bank digital currencies

The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) published a report produced by its Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures (CPMI) and its Markets Committee in which it states that central banks must carefully weigh the implications for financial stability and monetary policy of issuing digital currencies. The CPMI and the Markets Committee recently completed work on central bank digital currencies, analysing their potential implications for payment systems, monetary policy implementation and transmission, as well as for the structure and stability of the financial system.

FCA reveals findings from research into consumer attitudes and awareness of cryptoassets

The FCA published two pieces of research looking at UK consumer attitudes to cryptoassets, such as Bitcoin or Ether. The research, carried out with consumers to better understand the potential harms of cryptoassets, includes qualitative interviews with UK consumers and a national survey. The qualitative research indicated that many consumers may not fully understand what they are purchasing. For example, several of those interviewed talked of wanting to buy a ‘whole’ coin, suggesting they did not realise they could buy part of a cryptoasset. Despite this lack of understanding, the cryptoasset owners interviewed were often looking for ways to ‘get rich quick’.

Andrea Enria on digital developments in financial services

The chair of the supervisory board of the ECB, Andrea Enria, gave a speech on digitalisation in banking, in which he said technology can cut costs while boosting revenues, though there is a risk of traditional banks being squeezed out by giant tech companies with access to vast amounts of data and a large customer base. European banks are starting to implement a range of innovative technologies, Mr Enria noted. Prime examples are artificial intelligence, for analysing big data, mobile wallets and cloud computing.

New report looks at FinTech opportunities in Islamic finance

The CItyUK and Borsa İstanbul published a report on scaling Islamic finance through FinTech. By co-operating in the burgeoning Islamic FinTech market and sharing mutual expertise, firms in the UK and Turkey hope to open up financial services to the unbanked population. The report says that while 43% of Turkish adults do not hold a bank account (for religious or other reasons), two thirds of the world’s unbanked population can access a smartphone, creating the possibility for sharia-complaint FinTech products to fill the gap. TheCityUK’s advisor on international strategy, Wayne Evans, said co-operation between the UK and Turkey in this area would help to further the development of Islamic finance FinTech solutions as well as deepen the trade and investment relationship between the two nations.

TheCityUK report aims to secure future pipeline of FinTech talent

TheCityUK published a FinTech report considering how the industry can ensure a talent pipeline for the future and how it can compete to attract the tech talent it needs. This work will also report into HMT's Financial Services Trade and Investment Board (FSTIB). The report was commissioned in response to the changes in skills demand which FinTech innovations and technologies are bringing about within financial and related professional services. TheCityUK says the aim of the report is to more closely align academia with industry to ensure a pipeline of talent that is fit for the future. The report will be launched in London on 19 March 2019, with the keynote speech by the economic secretary to the Treasury and City Minister John Glen MP.

IA’s Velocity & Brussels-based B-Hive partnership links FinTech hubs in pan-European collaboration

The Investment Association (IA)’s FinTech innovation hub and accelerator, Velocity, and Brussels-based FinTech ecosystem B-Hive signed a partnership designed to boost FinTech innovation across the asset management industry by promoting pan-European collaboration. The partnership signals a commitment to a closer relationship between the two organisations with the aim of building a strong international FinTech ecosystem. 

 

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Sustainable finance

 

Presidency of the Council and Parliament reach political agreement on sustainable finance transparency rules

The Romanian presidency of the Council and the European Parliament reached a preliminary agreement on a proposal introducing transparency obligations related to sustainable investments and sustainability risks. The agreement was welcomed by the European Commission. First proposed by the Commission in May 2018 as part of the Sustainable Finance Action Plan and the Capital Markets Union, the agreed rules are an integral part of the EU efforts, under the EU's sustainable development agenda and the carbon neutrality agenda, to connect finance with the needs of the real economy and set out a harmonised EU approach to the integration of sustainability risks and opportunities into the procedures of institutional investors. Valdis Dombrovskis, vice-president responsible for financial stability, financial services and Capital Markets Union, said 'the new rules on disclosures will enable investors and citizens to make more informed choices so that their money is used more responsibly and supports sustainability’.

Commission welcomes progress on proposed EU taxonomy for sustainable economic activities

ECON and the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) Joint Committee voted in favour of an EU classification system for sustainable economic activities (or 'taxonomy'), which was proposed by the European Commission in May 2018 as part of its sustainable finance action plan. The proposal would give market participants and investors a common understanding of what is unambiguously ‘green’ and thus fight ‘greenwashing’. The European Commission welcomed this progress on the proposal, stating that developing an EU-wide taxonomy for environmentally sustainable economic activities is an integral part of the EU efforts to connect finance with the needs of the real economy and drive forward the Capital Markets Union.

Council of EU publishes final compromise text of sustainable finance regulation on low-carbon benchmarks

The Council of the EU published the final compromise text of the proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending the BMR as regards EU Climate Transition Benchmarks and EU Paris-aligned Benchmarks, alongside an ‘I’ item note asking the Coreper to approve the text with a view to reaching an agreement at first reading with the European Parliament. The proposed Regulation forms part of a package of legislative proposals submitted by the European Commission to the Council of the EU in May 2018 as part of its action plan, ‘Financing sustainable growth’. The next step will be for Coreper to approve the final compromise text of the proposed Regulation, which will then need to be adopted by the European Parliament.

EESC opinion on EU proposed sustainable finance and carbon benchmark regulations

The Council of the European Union published the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) on the proposal for a Regulation on the establishment of a framework to facilitate sustainable investment, and a proposal for a Regulation amending the BMR on low carbon benchmarks and positive carbon impact benchmarks. The EESC welcomes the proposals regarding the taxonomy as a first step towards implementing the action plan on financing sustainable growth, and also welcomes the proposal relating to the development of new low-carbon and positive carbon impact benchmarks.

PRA and FCA host first meeting of joint Climate Financial Risk Forum

The FCA and the PRA published a summary of the first meeting of the Climate Financial Risk Forum (CFRF), which they hosted jointly on 8 March 2019. The CFRF’s objective is to build capacity and share best practice across financial regulators and industry to advance financial sector responses to the financial risks from climate change. The CFRF is made up of senior representatives from banks, insurers and asset managers, as well as the Green Finance Institute and the LSE. It is chaired by Sarah Breeden of the PRA and Christopher Woolard of the FCA, and will meet three times a year. 

 

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Dates for your diary

 

 

DateSubjectEvent

 

14 March 2019

 

Brexit

 

The FCA will host a briefing on 14 March 2019 in Edinburgh. The briefing will be for regulated firms in preparation for the UK leaving the EU. At the briefing Nausicaa Delfas, Executive Director of International, will explain how the FCA is preparing for Brexit and its expectations of firms. The session will also include a panel Q&A session where firms can discuss any concerns.

 

14 March 2019Payment services

Paragraphs 3 and 5 of Article 30 of Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2018/389 (in relation to the regulatory technical standards supplementing the revised Payment Services Directive with regard to strong customer authentication and common and secure open standards of communication) will apply from 14 March 2019.

 

14 March 2019MiFID II

The deadline for the European Commission to endorse ESMA’s final report in relation to amending the tick size regime under Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2017/588 (RTS 11) is 14 March 2019.

 

15 March 2019

Investment funds

Asset management

The deadline for applications to ESMA’s call for candidates in order to renew the composition of its Consultative Working Group which advises its Investment Management Standing Committee is 15 March 2019.

 

18 March 2019Consumer credit

The deadline for feedback to FCA ‘CP18/42: High-Cost Credit Review: Overdrafts consultation paper and policy statement’ and ‘CP18/43: High-cost Credit Review: Feedback on CP18/12 with final rules and guidance and consultation on Buy Now Pay Later offers’ is 18 March 2019.

 

18 March 2019

SME Financing


Regulatory architecture

 

The deadline to provide feedback to the Financial Stability Board’s (FSB) evaluation of the effects of financial regulatory reforms on the provision of financing to small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) (which is part of the FSB’s broader examination of the effects of the G20s programme of post-crisis reforms on financial intermediation) is 18 March 2019.

 

19 March 2019EU Regulators updates

The deadline for the European Parliament to object to the European Banking Authority’s (EBA’s) nomination of Jose Manuel Campa as new EBA chairperson is 19 March 2019.

 

19 March 2019Insurance

As part of its live and local series the FCA will host its ‘Regulatory update focusing on the extension of the SM&CR and the Insurance Distribution Directive’ Workshop in Sutton Coldfield on 19 March 2019.

 

19 March 2019Sustainable finance

The deadline for feedback to ESMA’s consultation ‘Disclosure Requirements Applicable to Credit Ratings’ is 19 March 2019.

 

19 March 2019Retail investments

As part of its live and local series the FCA will host its interactive workshop on defined benefit pension transfers on 19 March 2019 in Exeter.

 

20 March 2019Risk management and controls

The deadline for responses to the Banking Standards Board’s (BSB) consultation on good practice guidance for SM&CR regulatory references is 20 March 2019.

 

20 March 2019Retail investments

As part of its live and local series the FCA will host its interactive workshop on defined benefit pension transfers on 20 March 2019 in Telford.

 

21 March 2019

Regulatory architecture


Investment funds

 

Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a framework for the screening of foreign direct investments into the Union will be published in the Official Journal of the EU on 21 March 2019.

 

21 March 2019Mortgage Credit Directive

The European Commission to begin a review of the MCD.
Deadline for the European Commission to submit a comprehensive report assessing the wider challenges of private over-indebtedness directly linked to credit activity.

 

21 March 2019

Sustainable finance

Capital markets union

 
The European Commission will host a high level conference on ‘The Global Approach to Sustainable Finance’ which will be held in Brussels on March 21.

 

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