Weekly highlights—1 November 2018

01 Nov 2018 | 37 min read

Welcome to the weekly Financial Services highlights from the Financial Services team for the week ending 1 November 2018.

Brexit

Brexit: Financial Services draft SIs—31 October 2018

HM Treasury published the following statutory instruments (SIs): the draft Payment Accounts (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018, the draft Financial Markets and Insolvency (Amendment and Transitional Provision) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018, the draft Venture Capital Funds (Amendments) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018 and the Social Entrepreneurship Funds (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018. HM Treasury also published an explanatory memorandum on the Long-term Investments Funds (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018 and updated the draft Trade Repositories (Amendment and Transitional Provision) (EU exit) Regulations 2018 explanatory memorandum.

Financial Regulators’ Powers (Technical Standards etc) (Amendment etc) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018

SI 2018/1115: This enactment is made in exercise of the legislative powers under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 in preparation for Brexit. This enactment amends pieces of legislation to ensure that binding technical standards (BTS) and rules made by the UK’s financial services regulators under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 continue to operate effectively after the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. It came into force on 26 October 2018 (updated from draft on 26 October 2018).

CMA Brexit: Competition SI making provisions for transition to standalone UK competition regime in case of a no-deal Brexit and guidance papers by CMA published

On 29 October 2018, the UK government laid The Competition (Amendment etc) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (the Competition SI) before Parliament. The Competition SI makes provisions for the transition to a standalone UK competition regime if the UK were to exit the EU in a ‘no-deal’ scenario. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) also published additional guidance to set out its own Brexit planning in more detail. Under the proposed measures, in the event of a no-deal Brexit the UK competition regulators and courts may depart from pre-exit EU case law where it is considered appropriate in the light of specified circumstances; follow-on damage claims in the UK could no longer be based on EU infringement decisions; and even mergers that are currently under review by the European Commission could potentially fall under the CMA’s jurisdiction.

Court considers transfer application to allow business to continue post-Brexit (Re Barclays Bank Plc)

This analysis looks at a recent decision in the High Court which considered the sanction of a business transfer scheme which forms part of plans to maintain continuity of services to clients in the European Economic Area (EEA) following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. For the full judgment see Re Barclays Bank Plc [2018] EWHC 2868 (Ch).

BoE and PRA publish consultation package on amending FS legislation under the EU (Withdrawal) Act–October 2018

The Bank of England (BoE) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) updated firms on their regulatory and supervisory approach in relation to their work on EU withdrawal. The communications package, consisting of consultation papers, Dear CEO letters and webpages, sets out changes to rules and BTS arising out of the UK’s withdrawal. It also sets out further guidance on the process for authorisation and recognition for incoming EEA firms and non-UK financial market infrastructures (FMIs), including the temporary permissions and recognition regimes. The package does not reflect any policy changes other than those related to EU withdrawal and builds on previous communications to firms on their preparations around EU withdrawal.

BoE CP: Fees for non-UK CCP applications for recognition 2018/19

The BoE is seeking views on its proposal to levy fees on non-UK central counterparties (CCPs) that apply to the BoE to be recognised under domestic law after the UK's withdrawal from the EU. Feedback is requested by 2 January 2019. The consultation paper (CP) sets out the proposed fee for applications for UK recognition, notes the powers that the BoE intends to use to levy fees, and highlights key aspects regarding the implementation of the approach. The CP is intended to provide clarity on the BoE's expected fee regime for applications for UK recognition made before and after the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

Andrew Bailey on the FCA’s Brexit preparation and goals

The CEO of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Andrew Bailey, gave a speech at the City Banquet, Mansion House, in which he said the FCA is on course to be ready for a hard exit from the EU and has the resources to handle it. Longer term, Mr Bailey said the FCA wants the permanent arrangement post-Brexit to allow for close alignment with the EU, without the UK being a rule taker.

FCA director of authorisations updates the Association of Professional Compliance Consultants on the FCA's Brexit preparations​

The director of authorisations at the FCA, Sarah Rapson, gave a speech at the Association of Professional Compliance Consultants (APCC) autumn conference on 2 October 2018 regarding the FCA's Brexit preparations. The FCA published the speech on 30 October 2018.

European Parliament confirms EBA’s move to Paris

The European Parliament adopted the text of a resolution confirming that the European Banking Authority (EBA) will move to Paris. The European Commission welcomed the move, saying the key objective had always been to ensure business continuity for the EBA, and that the vote gave the necessary certainty to the staff and all the administrations involved, allowing them to ensure a ‘smooth and timely’ relocation.

DIT updates International Trade Committee on preparations for Brexit

The International Trade Committee published a letter from the Department for International Trade (DIT) giving a briefing on DIT's progress in preparing for Brexit. The letter includes an update on the finalisation of the schedule on services under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) which would form the basis of the UK's international trade in services (including financial services) in the event that the UK is obliged to trade under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules following a no-deal Brexit.

FIA welcomes progress on EU27 firms’ temporary continued access to UK clearing houses

The Future Industry Association (FIA) welcomed the European Commission's decision to allow EU27 firms temporary continued access to UK clearing houses, as confirmed by Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis. Such a move means that firms will be able to continue to clear their derivatives on UK CCPs even in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

FMLC highlights problem areas in draft Bank Recovery and Resolution SI

The Financial Markets Law Committee (FMLC) published a paper on the draft Bank Recovery and Resolution and Miscellaneous Provisions (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018 (the draft BRR SI) in its ‘Onshoring’ Statutory Instruments comment series. The paper draws attention to a number of areas of legal uncertainty.

Prudential requirements

PRA publishes its 2018 approach to supervision documents

The PRA published revised approaches to banking supervision and insurance supervision documents for 2018. They set out how the PRA carries out its role in practice. They are designed to help regulated firms and the market understand how the PRA supervises these institutions, and to aid accountability to the public and Parliament.

Non-performing loans: Council approves position on capital requirements for banks' bad loans

The Council of the EU issued a press release stating that EU ambassadors have approved the Council's position on capital requirements applying to banks with non-performing loans (NPLs) on their balance sheets. On the basis of this text, the presidency will be able to start negotiations with the European Parliament as soon as the Parliament is ready to negotiate.

BCBS calls for further progress in the implementation of Basel III standards

The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) issued the Fifteenth progress report on adoption of the Basel regulatory framework, which sets out the adoption status of Basel III standards for each BCBS member jurisdiction as of end-September 2018. It includes the finalised Basel III post-crisis reforms published by the BCBS in December 2017. These reforms will take effect from 1 January 2022.

EBA acknowledges Commission’s adoption of new resolution reporting standards

The EBA acknowledged the adoption by the European Commission of the Implementing Regulation on the procedures and standard forms and templates for the provision of information for the purposes of resolution plans for credit institutions and investment firms, repealing Regulation (EU) 2016/1066.

PRA CEO on how regulators and firms work together

The PRA CEO, Sam Woods, gave a speech at the Mansion House City Banquet, setting out the two different roles the regulator often finds itself playing: ‘good cop and bad cop’. Mr Woods said on issues of common ground where there are shared challenges that the regulator and the firms collectively face, there is no inherent conflict between the public and private interest and the regulator plays the role of good cop. But other areas are ‘battlegrounds’ where there is a degree of tension between the PRA’s interests and those of firms. Mr Woods set out what firms should expect to see from the PRA across both of these areas, now that most of the post-crisis reforms have been completed.

ECB publishes supervisory priorities and risk assessment for 2019

The European Central Bank (ECB) set out its supervisory priorities and risk assessment for 2019, building on an assessment of the key challenges facing supervised banks in the current economic, regulatory and supervisory environment.

ECB supervisory banking statistics for Q2 2018 published

The ECB published supervisory banking statistics for the second quarter of 2018 covering general statistics, balance sheet composition and profitability, capital adequacy, leverage and asset quality, liquidity, and data quality. The cut-off date for the statistics included in this issue was 30 September 2018.

ESAs consult on amendments to technical standards on the mapping of ECAIs

The Joint Committee of the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs)—the EBA, the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA), and ESMA launched a public consultation to amend Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/1799 (the Implementing Regulation) on the mapping of credit assessments of external credit assessment institutions (ECAIs) for credit risk. The proposals reflect the outcomes of a monitoring exercise on the adequacy of existing mappings, namely changes to the credit quality steps (CQS) allocation for two ECAIs and the introduction of new credit rating scales for ten ECAIs. Feedback is sought by 31 December 2018.

Commission Delegated Regulation on liquidity coverage requirement for credit institutions published in the Official Journal

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2018/1620 of 13 July 2018 amending Delegated Regulation (EU) 2015/61 to supplement the Capital Requirements (CRD IV) Regulation (EU) 575/2013 of the European Parliament and the Council with regard to liquidity coverage requirement for credit institutions is now published in the Official Journal.

Regulatory architecture

European Commission presents its work programme for 2019

The European Commission presented its work programme for 2019 (COM(2018) 800 final), setting out its main priorities for the year ahead. The programme presents only a limited number of new initiatives, which include reinforcing the economic and monetary union (EMU), addressing increasing tensions in the global trading system, and finding an agreement with the UK on its withdrawal from the EU.

FPC remit and recommendations for 2018/19

HM Treasury published a letter from the chancellor of the exchequer, Philip Hammond, to BoE governor, Mark Carney, setting out the remit, recommendations and priorities for the Financial Policy Committee (FPC) for 2018/19.

TheCityUK report shows strength of UK’s global financial services industry

TheCityUK published a report showing that the UK remains the world’s leading net exporter of financial services, generating an industry trade surplus of £68bn in 2017, nearly equal to the next three leading net exporting countries combined (the US, Switzerland, and Luxembourg). When related professional services, such as legal, accounting and business advice, are added, the UK’s combined financial and related professional services trade surplus was around £83bn. The report found that more than twice as many euros are traded in the UK as in the Eurozone, and nearly twice as many US dollars are traded in the UK as in the US.

Financial crime

HMT updates guidance on AML/CTF due diligence for high-risk countries

HM Treasury updated its guidance on the risks posed by unsatisfactory money laundering and terrorist financing (AML/CTF) controls in overseas jurisdictions. The Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017 (SI 2017/692) require the UK regulated sector to apply enhanced customer due diligence to high-risk countries. HM Treasury’s updated guidance follows two statements published by the Financial Action Task Force on 19 October 2018 identifying jurisdictions with strategic deficiencies in their AML/CTF regimes.

FATF publishes risk-based ML/TF guidance for life insurance sector

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) published Guidance for a risk-based approach for the life insurance sector, which aims to support the implementation of the risk-based approach to combating money laundering and terrorist financing in the life insurance sector.

Industry associations launch global cybersecurity framework

The Financial Services Sector Coordinating Council (FSSCC) and a group of financial trade associations launched a new Cybersecurity Profile. This provides a framework that integrates widely used standards and supervisory expectations to help guide financial institutions in developing and maintaining cybersecurity risk management programs and is the result of two years' work and collaboration among financial institutions, trade groups, and government agencies.

High Court dismisses SFO’s charges against Barclays over Qatar loans

The High Court ruled against the Serious Fraud Office’s (SFO) application to reinstate charges dismissed by the Crown Court on 21 May 2018 against Barclays Plc and Barclays Bank Plc. The application to reinstate the charges, which was made by the SFO on 23 July 2018, was rejected on 26 October 2018 by the High Court. The trial of the individuals in this case will take place on 9 January 2019.

Enforcement and redress

Liberty Mutual Insurance Europe fined £5.2m for not handling insurance claims and complaints

The FCA fined Liberty Mutual Insurance Europe SE (Liberty) a total of £5,280,800. Liberty failed to oversee mobile phone insurance claims and complaints administered through a third party between 5 July 2010 and 7 June 2015. The third party undertook all administrative roles but Liberty retained regulatory responsibility to ensure claims and complaints were handled fairly, which it failed to do. Prior to the enforcement investigation, almost £4m was voluntarily offered to customers whose claims may have been unfairly rejected. The FCA issued a number of other final notices on 29 October 2018, resulting in cancellation.

Retail bank IT failures drive rise in complaints

The FCA published the complaints figures for regulated firms for the first half of 2018. Excluding PPI, complaints increased by 9% (193,360) from the previous six months. The FCA says several high-profile cases of disruption to retail banking services in the first half of the year have contributed to the increase in complaints to certain firms. The FCA’s executive director of strategy and competition, Christopher Woolard, said firms should look at the cause of the rise in complaints and address the issues to prevent further increases.

Treasury Committee report makes recommendations on SME financial services redress

The Treasury Committee published its 24th report of the 2017–19 session, on the provision of finance to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The report contains a number of recommendations that seek to address deficiencies in SME finance, including misconduct, and examines modes of redress open to SMEs, including voluntary codes and the Financial Ombudsman Service.

CMA letter to Nationwide on its breaches of the NI PCA Banking Order

The CMA wrote a letter to Nationwide (dated 30 October 2018) setting out the action agreed between the CMA and Nationwide in relation to Nationwide's breaches of the Northern Ireland Personal Current Account Banking Market Investigation Order 2008 (as amended in 2011) (the Order).

Regulation of Capital Markets

EESC opinion on sovereign bond-backed securities

The Council of the EU published an opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) of the European Parliament on the European Commission's May 2018 proposal for a regulation on EU sovereign bond-backed securities (SBBS) (COM(2018) 339 final). EESC welcomes the proposal in general but identifies some areas of concern.

Markets and trading

Further Presidency compromise text on proposed regulation on authorisation of CCPs and recognition of third country CCPs

The Council of the EU published a further Presidency compromise text on the Commission's June 2017 proposal for a regulation amending the European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR) ((EU) 648/2012) as regards the procedures and authorities involved for the authorisation of CCPs and requirements for the recognition of third-country CCPs. The Commission's proposal also included the amendment of Regulation (EU) 1095/2010 establishing ESMA (the ESMA Regulation). The new compromise text is based on the previous Presidency compromise text, published on 9 October 2018, which proposed the deletion of the parts of the Commission's proposal which amended the ESMA Regulation.

ESMA statement on clearing and trading obligations ahead of 21 December 2018 deadline

ESMA issued a statement on the challenges that certain groups, as well as certain non-financial counterparties above the clearing threshold (NFC+), would face on 21 December 2018 to start CCP clearing of some of their OTC derivative contracts and trading them on trading venues.

ESMA extends CFDs restrictions

On 23 October 2018 ESMA adopted a Decision under Article 40 of Regulation (EU) No 600/2014 to restrict the marketing, distribution or sale of contracts for differences (CFDs) to retail clients. The Decision renews and amends ESMA Decision (EU) 2018/796. The Decision applies from 1 November 2018 for a period of three months. The Decision details the temporary restriction on CFDs in respect of retail clients and prohibits participation in circumvention activities. The full text is published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

ECB publishes results of SESFOD survey

The ECB published the results of the September 2018 survey on credit terms and conditions in euro-denominated securities financing and over-the-counter derivatives markets (SESFOD). The ECB said the results showed credit terms had tightened, in line with the expectations reported in June 2018. Banks and dealers have increased the level of resources and attention devoted to the management of concentrated credit exposures, while liquidity and general trading conditions for the underlying collateral improved slightly, following several quarters of deterioration.

ESMA publishes responses to its consultations on the Prospectus Regulation

ESMA published the responses it received to its consultations on draft guidelines on risk factors under the Prospectus Regulation, and on the draft technical advice on minimum information content for prospectus exemption.

ISDA publishes updates to FX and credit disclosure annexes

The International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) published updates to the FX and credit derivatives disclosure annexes. ISDA stated that these updates should be read in conjunction with the general disclosure statement.

ISDA publishes In Review for October 2018

ISDA published its monthly In Review, for October 2018. The issue contains articles on ISDA and Linklaters’ Test Version of ISDA Create—IM ISDA, the keynote speech by Ryozo Himino at the 2018 ISDA Annual Japan Conference, Tokyo, and articles on infrastructure, legal points, public policy and research.

ISDA updates its global calendar of compliance deadlines and regulatory dates for the OTC derivatives space

ISDA updated its global calendar of compliance deadlines and regulatory dates for the over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives space. The calendar, which sets out a timeline of a number of global regulatory initiatives up to 1 September 2023, can be viewed here.

LMA publishes new Schuldschein Loan Agreements and user guide

The Loan Market Association (LMA) announced the publication of new recommended forms of loan agreements for Schuldschein transactions. The LMA also published a user guide alongside this. The recommended forms are for both single borrower and single borrower/guarantor transaction structures, while the guidance addresses all material related to Schuldschein loan legal issues, including further sample clauses and is unique in the market.

Investment funds and asset management

European Commission reminder on the incompatibility of ‘share cancellation’ with the MMF Regulation

ESMA published a letter to its chair, Steven Maijoor, from the vice-president of the European Commission, Valdis Dombrovskis, on the Money Market Funds (MMF) Regulation (Regulation (EU) 2017/1131). In the letter, dated 4 October 2018, Mr Dombrovskis discussed the opinion of the Legal Service of the European Commission that the reverse distribution mechanism, often referred to as ‘share cancellation’, is incompatible with the legal framework established by the MMF Regulation.

Commission Delegated Regulation (AIFMD) on safe-keeping duties of depositaries published in the Official Journal

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2018/1618 of 12 July 2018 amending Delegated Regulation (EU) No 231/2013 as regards safe-keeping duties of depositaries is now published in the Official Journal.

ECON publishes additional draft amendments to the Commission's cross-border distribution of collective investment funds proposals

The Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs of the European Parliament (ECON) published supplements to two draft reports dated 18 September 2018 and prepared by Wolf Klinz MEP as rapporteur—draft report PE627.813v01-00 on the proposal for a directive amending the UCITS IV Directive 2009/65/EC and the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive 2011/61/EU with regard to the cross-border distribution of collective investment funds, and draft report PE627.812v01-00 on the proposal for a regulation on facilitating cross-border distribution of collective investment funds and amending the European Venture Capital Funds Regulation (EU) 345/2013 and the European Social Entrepreneurship Funds Regulation (EU) 346/2013.

AIMA publishes Fund Manager Code of Conduct implementation guide

AIMA, the global representative of alternative investment managers, published a Fund Manager Code of Conduct (FMCC) implementation guide. The implementation guide is based on the revised FMCC published by the Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong (SFC), which will become effective on 17 November 2018 and covers the latest guidance and regulation from the SFC for fund managers managing funds or discretionary accounts in Hong Kong.

HM Treasury paper: financing growth in innovative firms: one-year on

HM Treasury published a paper, Financing growth in innovative firms: one-year on, which summarises the steps taken by the government on delivering its 10-year action plan to unlock over £20bn to finance growth in high-growth innovative firms, including launching British Patient Capital to invest in innovative firms.

Banks and mutuals

European Commission adopts BRRD Delegated Regulation—RTS specifying criteria for assessing impact of institution's failure on financial markets

The European Commission adopted a delegated regulation containing the regulatory technical standards (RTS) which specify the criteria to assess the impact of an institution's failure on financial markets, on other institutions and on funding conditions, referred to in paragraph 1 of Article 4 of the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive 2014/59/EU (BRRD) (C(2018)6901/F1-EN). The delegated act is not yet entered into force. It is subject to the right of the European Parliament and of the Council to express objections, in accordance with Article 290(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

Ring-fencing: PRA issues guidance on reporting requirements

The PRA published guidance on ring-fencing: summary of regulatory reporting requirements. It is aimed at UK banking groups within the scope of the structural reform requirements from 1 January 2019. These firms will be required to submit ring-fencing regulatory returns. The document summarises the new regulatory reporting requirements and reporting system requirements in relation to ring-fencing.

Danièle Nouy on the route to a truly European banking sector

The chair of the supervisory board of the ECB, Danièle Nouy, gave a speech in which she said European supervision helped to reduce risks in the banking sector, boosted its resilience and brought it closer together. But she said that, in 2017, 86% of euro area bank lending to firms and households was domestic, showing that the market was not yet integrated, and her speech examined the ‘stumbling blocks’ to greater banking union.

European Commission Banking and Finance Newsletter published

The European Commission published its Banking and Finance Newsletter, containing an article on the Insurance Distribution Directive (IDD), which came into application throughout the EU on 1 October 2018. The issue also contains a profile of the Directorate-General for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union (FISMA)’s correspondent in the EU delegation to China, Ionut Raduletu.

Consumer credit, mortgage and home finance

Budget 2018: Consultation on proposed ‘breathing space’ policy

HM Treasury launched a consultation on a proposed policy for a breathing space and statutory debt repayment plan. The consultation closes on 29 January 2019. The consultation seeks views on three main topics:

  • eligibility criteria for entering breathing space and the
  • protections of breathing space and the plan, and
  • details of how the two policies would be administered, including funding of the scheme

HM Treasury published a document describing how it will use respondents’ personal data during the consultation alongside the consultation document.

Budget 2018: New household policies announced to help manage unexpected costs

The Budget announced new household policies to help manage unexpected costs, which aim to increase access to fair and affordable credit. The government outlined the new household costs policies. These include, among others:

  • £2m funding provided for an Affordable Credit Challenge Fund which promotes innovative technological solutions to use the power of the UK’s world-leading Fintech industry to support social and community lenders, and
  • providing a dormant assets fund targeted at ensuring there is access to affordable credit—including deploying an initial £55m funding from dormant bank accounts, primarily to address the problem of access to affordable credit

FCA tests overdraft alerts

The FCA published Occasional Paper 40, Time to act: A field experiment on overdraft alerts, which describes a field test on automatically enrolling bank customers into additional overdraft alerts. The additional alerts tested were:

  • just-in-time alerts for arranged overdraft usage
  • early warning alerts for (arranged and unarranged) overdraft usage, and/or
  • early warning alerts for unpaid items

 

Payment services and systems

Pay.UK seeks strategic partner to build payments infrastructure

Pay.UK announced that it is seeking a strategic partner to deliver retail payments infrastructure. It says it is the start of a competitive process to appoint a strategic partner to help define, deliver and operate an evolving payments infrastructure. The prospectus sets out the qualities required of potential partners which could be a single supplier or a prime-led consortium as well as explaining the various stages of the procurement process and the related timescales. Pay.UK says the successful partner will be responsible for the design and build of the clearing and settlement layer of the New Payments Architecture, which includes the provision of hardware, software, secure communications and security standards and operating environments.

Insurance and pensions

FCA publishes market study 18/1 (MS18/1), discussion paper 18/9 (DP18/9), thematic review report 18/4 (TR18/4) and a Dear CEO letter on pricing practices and fair pricing

The FCA set out the issues it will focus on as part of market study 18/1 (MS18/1) into how general insurance firms charge their customers for home and motor insurance. It reported the key findings of its thematic work on the pricing practices of household insurance firms in TR18/4. The FCA expects firms to look after the interests of all customers and treat them fairly, whether they are new or long-standing and written to CEOs of firms about its expectations. The FCA also published a wider discussion paper (DP18/9) on fairness of pricing in financial services.

PRA publishes CP27/18 on Solvency II: Adjusting for the reduction of loss absorbency where own fund instruments are taxed on write down

The PRA published consultation paper 27/18 (CP27/18) on Solvency II: Adjusting for the reduction of loss absorbency where own fund instruments are taxed on write down, which sets out its proposals to amend supervisory statement (SS) 3/15 Solvency II: the quality of capital instruments.

BIS general manager discusses the pros and cons of EDIS

The Bank for International Settlements published a speech by its general manager, Agustín Carstens, on deposit insurance and financial stability, in which he said the European deposit insurance scheme (EDIS) for the euro area would be a key step towards the completion of the banking union, complementing the single supervisory mechanism (SSM) and the single resolution mechanism (SRM).

Budget 2018: Government publishes responses to consultation on pensions cold-calling ban

The government summarised the responses it received to its proposal to ban cold-calling in relation to pensions. Cold calling is the most common method used to initiate pensions scams, and the consultation sought technical views on draft regulations to ban cold calling to ensure the regulations are ‘robust and effective’. Tim Smith, professional support lawyer at Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, said the ban on cold-calling ‘cannot come into force soon enough’.

Budget 2018: Hammond announces range of measures on pensions and savings

The Budget contained a number of measures aimed at pensions and saving, but no headline changes. Patrick Connolly, a chartered financial planner at Chase de Vere, said ‘It is pleasing that there were no major changes to pensions, although no doubt the rumours of tax relief reforms and cuts to annual and lifetime allowances will rear their heads again before next year’s Budget and perhaps even sooner.’

FCA publishes Handbook Notice No 59 on pension transfer advice

Following consultation paper 18/7 on improving the quality of pension transfer advice, the FCA made changes to the Handbook as set out in the Conduct of Business Sourcebook (Pension Transfers) (No 2) Instrument 2018. The instrument also makes changes to the Perimeter Guidance manual (PERG 12 and 12 Annex 1G), and to the FCA’s examination standards (ApEx 21). In summary, the instrument makes changes to the Handbook to help pension advisers give suitable advice to consumers about whether to transfer from safeguarded benefits to flexible benefits.

FCA Dear CEO letter on due diligence requirements for SIPP investments following SIPP failures

The FCA sent a Dear CEO letter (dated 30 October 2018) to self-invested pension plan (SIPP) providers about pending civil claims in the High Court regarding SIPP due diligence obligations and the judgment handed down on 30 October 2018 in the case of R (Berkeley Burke SIPP Administration Limited) v Financial Ombudsman Service Limited.

New EIOPA Q&As on regulation

EIOPA issued news sets of Q&As on regulatory issues. The new Q&As cover the risk-weighting to be assigned to the International Development Association, templates for the submission of information to the supervisory authorities, and the calculation of the capital requirement for lapse risk.

EIOPA webpage sets out work on long-term insurance business and illiquid liabilities

EIOPA published a webpage on the treatment of long-term insurance business and illiquid liabilities. It sets out EIOPA’s workstream, including the review processes within EIOPA project groups, and the response to the European Commission’s April 2018 call for information on the liquidity of undertaking's insurance liabilities and information on the asset management of insurers. EIOPA must respond to the call for information by 16 December 2018.

EIOPA issues request for feedback on illiquid liabilities

EIOPA issued a call for input on illiquid liabilities. EIOPA asks stakeholders for feedback on approaches to assess the illiquidity characteristics of insurance liabilities, the actual holding periods of assets of insurers, as well as the risks of holding assets over a longer term. Feedback is requested by 7 December 2018.

EIOPA chair discusses Solvency II review, proportionality and supervisory convergence

EIOPA published a speech delivered on 18 October 2018 by it chair, Gabriel Bernardino, on the 2020 Solvency II review, proportionality and supervisory convergence. Mr Bernardino said EIOPA believes the 2020 review Solvency II is adapted to the new market conditions without fundamentally changing the basic principles of the risk-based regime.

IE takes issue with EIOPA discussion paper on insurance guarantee schemes

Insurance Europe (IE) responded to EIOPA discussion paper on harmonisation of insurance guarantee schemes (IGS) at EU level. IE said that rather than considering new rules for IGS, the existing tools and powers provided by Solvency II should be used to their fullest extent and be properly enforced. IE said EIOPA’s discussion paper ‘lacks any assessment of how Solvency II actually affects the risks faced by insurers and how this might, in turn, affect existing national IGS’, and criticised EIOPA for referring to insurance failures and near misses that occurred before the Solvency II regime, so were no longer relevant.

PRA postpones equity release mortgage changes to SS3/17

The PRA announced that it is postponing the date of implementation of the changes to SS3/17 Solvency II: matching adjustment—illiquid unrated assets and equity release mortgages, which were proposed in CP13/18 Solvency II equity release mortgages. CP13/18 proposed an implementation date of 31 December 2018. In view of feedback received, the PRA decided that the implementation date will not be before 31 December 2019.

Fintech and virtual currencies

FCA, HM Treasury and Bank of England Taskforce publish final report on the UK's policy and regulatory approach to cryptoassets

The joint HM TreasuryFCA and BoE Cryptoassets Taskforce Report sets out the UK's approach to cryptoassets and distributed ledger technology (DLT) in financial services. The Cryptoassets Taskforce was announced in March 2018 by the chancellor of the exchequer, as part of the government's FinTech sector strategy.

UK Finance comments on ICO data protection sandbox

UK Finance published a press release commenting on the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO)’s recent consultation on some fundamental principles to inform its development of a 'regulatory sandbox'. UK Finance notes that for now this is just a high-level proposal, but the plan is to create an environment in which firms can test innovative products and services that use personal data.

EBA publishes slides from workshops on cloud outsourcing

The EBA published the slides from two workshops on cloud outsourcing, held in London on 17 October 2018. The first workshop looked at the EBA’s recommendations and forthcoming guidelines on outsourcing arrangements, while the second looked at EU policies to remove obstacles to cloud services. In the workshop on EU policies to remove obstacles to cloud services, the EBA set out relevant aspects of the FinTech action plan, and the proposal for an EU Cybersecurity Act and a European Cyber Security Certifications Framework.

Sustainable Finance

John Glen outlines government’s views on ESG disclosures and the proposed new regulation

The economic secretary to the Treasury, John Glen MP, wrote to the chair of the House of Lords European Committee, setting out the government’s position on sustainable finances and environmental, social and governance (ESG) disclosures. Discussing the proposed new EU Regulation on sustainable investments and sustainability risks, Mr Glen said the government supported the introduction of workable requirements for firms which lead to meaningful disclosures, but said the requirements should only apply to firms that actually have sustainability objectives. Mr Glen said the government would continue to engage with the European commission and other Member States to influence the drafting of the proposal. He also discussed briefly how the UK’s position on ESG disclosures might develop post-Brexit.

Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles launched

The European Commission, together with the World Wildlife Fund, World Resources Institute (WRI) and the European Investment Bank (EIB), launched the Sustainable Blue Economy Finance Principles, intended to be a pioneering global framework for sustainable ocean finance and to bring sustainability into the boardrooms of all ocean-based industries, from shipping, fisheries and tourism, to aquaculture, energy and biotechnology. The principles will become part of a new sustainable blue economy finance initiative under the auspices of the UN Environment Finance Initiative (UNEP FI).

UK Finance blog discusses rise of green mortgages

UK Finance published a blog explaining green mortgages, where consumers taking out financing for an energy-efficient property can benefit from a cheaper rate on their mortgage. The short guide sets out how they work, why they appeal to governments and lenders, and how they fit into EU energy efficiency policy.

Dates for your diary

Date Subject Event
2 November 2018 FCA Handbook The deadline for responses to FCA consultation paper’ CP18/30: EU Securitisation Regulation Implementation (DEPP and EG) is 2 November 2018.
2 November 2018 Risk management and controls The EBA will publish the results of its 2018 EU-wide stress test exercise on 2 November 2018 at 17:00 UK time (18:00 CET).
2 November 2018 Consumer credit, mortgage and home finance Deadline for responses to FCA discussion paper ‘DP18/5: Discussion Paper on a duty of care and potential alternative approaches’.
2 November 2018 Consumer credit Deadline for comments to FCA report from discussion paper ‘DP18/7: Review of retained provisions of the Consumer Credit Act: Interim report.
7 November 2018 Authorisation, approval and supervision Deadline for responses to the FCA’s Chapter 2 of FCA consultation paper ‘CP18/24: Quarterly Consultation Paper No 22’.
7 November 2018 Prudential requirements Deadline for responses to ECB consultation on the risk-type-specific chapters of its guide to internal models.
8 November 2018 Benchmark rates The deadline for feedback to the Alternative Reference Rates Committee’s consultation: ‘Regarding more robust LIBOR fallback contract language for new originations of LIBOR syndicated business loans’ is 8 November 2018.

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