No action sometimes better course of action

Implementing pan-European financial regulation is no easy feat. Finding agreement across 28 member states and translation into vastly differently legal systems is a true challenge. It comes as no surprise that those projects are regularly subject to delays. Against that backdrop, it is most welcome that ESMA is again requesting the power to issue a no-action letter like their international peers (think CFTC). This instrument would allow them to not... Read More

Not all tails wag the dog

Modern atomic clocks tick along much more consistently than the earth manages to rotate around its own axis, which varies due to climatic and geological events. Thus, every so often the global masters of time insert a leap-second in order to align atomic clocks and earth rotation. Unlike changes in winter/summer-time, humans don’t really notice it. Even most software applications don’t care about it. However, trading platforms do care,... Read More

Two for one

If nothing else, we know the new regime in the US likes a good punchy sound bite. As many of us predicted, President Trump and his team have their sights firmly set on loosening the burden of Dodd-Frank and other regulatory sets that they feel make for a hostile business climate. The tagline of Trump’s executive order for regulatory reform is “two for one” – for every new regulation issued, two must be identified for elimination.... Read More

Let’s agree to disagree

With hindsight, last year’s discussion about the differences in defining direct electronic access (DEA) under MiFID II and RegAT may have been somewhat premature. Firstly, with the change in both the US administration and the CFTC leadership it is now uncertain how RegAT will be progressed. Secondly, over the last few months it’s become clear that we can’t even agree within the EU what DEA means. The European debate largely revolves... Read More

A Trump card for regulation?

It’s difficult to argue against any sensible form of regulation that ultimately makes the financial markets fairer and safer for all participants, but implementing and complying with all the new rules that apply across our industry is, undeniably, a very costly business. So when President-elect Trump’s newly sworn-in, eager-to-please United States Congress puts forth a bill which could force regulators to revisit and modify their rules... Read More

A year to go – more or less

With just 364 days left to go, the MiFID II go-live date looms large. But with complex regulation spanning several hundred pages of text it is no great surprise that some MiFID II deadlines will come in earlier than 3rd January 2018, while others leave more breathing space. For example, trading venues must submit their waiver applications to their relevant competent authorities by 1st February 2017 for equities and no later than 1st June 2017 for... Read More

Uber transparent?

ESMA has today published the latest Q&A on investor protection. The document spans many different topics, but what sparked my interest in particular are the comments around the best execution quality reports. Under MiFID II brokers have to publish their top 5 execution venues. Firms trading as non-members (i.e. via another broker) are asking whether it is the exchange or the broker that they need to name. ESMA clarifies that two separate quality... Read More

That’s your limit!

As is so often the case with some of the lengthy documents that make up the Shakespearean drama that is the MiFID II implementation, the devil is in the detail. The technical standards on position limits for commodity derivatives are a good example. Right at the very end, just before President Juncker’s imprimatur, is a little tidbit suggesting that competent authorities will adjust any position limit as they see fit in times of excessive volatility... Read More

The regulation holiday effect

Global harmonisation of financial regulation is high on the wish list of many trading firms and, in one sense at least, the regulators in Europe and the US are pretty well harmonised. Both have a tendency to publish long-awaited documents right before major holidays. Last week we saw another example of the regulation ‘holiday effect’ with the CFTC publishing its consultation on RegAT (aka SNPRM) in the Federal Register just ahead of Thanksgiving,... Read More

A calmer approach to position limits

As we edge ever-closer to MiFID II implementation, the position limits debate is once again underway in Europe. Under the new rules the UK regulator is required to impose position limits on all commodity derivatives listed on UK trading venues. In its Consultation Paper the FCA states: “The aim of the new regime governing commodity derivatives trading in MiFID II is to prevent market abuse and support orderly pricing and settlement to the benefit... Read More

ESMA sets a date for SI compliance

Intended to promote practical convergence and common supervisory approaches and practices, like EMIR and MAR before them, the MiFID II Q&A is fast becoming a favourite on my browser. In its recent Q&A on transparency topics, for example, ESMA has clarified for those firms wondering if, when and how to become a systematic internaliser (SI) that they will have until September 2018 to work it out and comply. Waiting until after ESMA has published... Read More

Weighing up best-ex and best innovation

Competition amongst exchanges was a defining theme in MiFID I, but when it comes to best execution and trading venue fee structures, MiFID II might reverse some of that. MiFID II acknowledges that exchanges compete on fee structures and even establishes some basic rules (see RTS 10). But by tightening the bolts on best execution obligations, the new regulations can present conflicting interests. To be more precise, as part of best execution for investment... Read More

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