Sometimes it’s tough being average

Back in March the CME Group postponed the effective date of amendments to Rule 553 (“Average Price System”) until July 2, 2018 to allow sufficient time for affected Exchange Clearing Member Firms and CME Clearing to make the necessary changes to implement the rule. CME Rule 553 permits a clearing member firm to calculate an average price for trades via its own internally... 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... 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... Read More

ESMA sheds light on dark trading caps

ESMA today published its first Q&A on MiFIR transparency topics which focuses on the double volume caps (DVCs) in equity markets and clarifies how markets can transition to the new DVC regime. The document outlines how to calculate the market share of non-transparent trading for instruments only coming in scope under MiFID II (think ETFs, for example). ESMA will make the assumption... Read More

The long and the short of it

MiFID II requires trading venues to store personally identifiable information (each potentially 50 characters long) relating to the traders, investment managers and clients of the orders they receive. While it might be very convenient for surveillance to have order book data married up with personal data, this requirement is not only an additional burden to system load but also... Read More

The ever-growing MiFID II shopping list

Amongst other things, MiFID II’s transparency reforms intend to clean up the quality of post-trade data and eradicate duplicate prints – long-suffered bugbears for investment firms. But in simply stating the rules, ESMA has left buy- and sell-sides puzzling over just how significant a change this is. A look at the cost benefit analysis the regulator published in September... Read More

CFTC keeps source on the menu

Open commentary for Regulation AT is now officially over, and while the CFTC mulls over the mostly cautious responses there is some time to reflect on how best to prepare for enforcement of the rules. However, the loftiest piece of proposed legislation in the carte de jour isn’t about futures or traders at all, but the underlying source code of the systems associated with them,... Read More

In true MiFID style

The European Commission (EC) has published the first in a series of highly anticipated delegated acts, defining some of the crucial details for MiFID II. Most relevant in yesterday’s document is the unbundling of research and execution fees, where the EC has largely followed the advice given by ESMA back in December 2014. In true MiFID II style, a new acronym is introduced, each... Read More

Who watches the watchmen?

With much of the new financial regulation being passed and implementation for most of it in full swing, supervision is likely to gain more attention in the coming years. Since investment firms and infrastructure providers are largely supervised by national competent authorities, it raises the question who watches the watchmen? In ESMA’s 2016 work programme, the authority... Read More

A second chance for the SI?

Looking back at MiFID I, the Systematic Internaliser (SI) didn’t really take off, resulting in a meagre 1-2% market share in the FTSE 100 today. Many EU countries had different models to execute or internalise order flow, leaving the SI model on the shelf like a dented can of beans. Under MiFID II, Brussels will take a stricter approach by introducing quantitative SI thresholds... Read More

Best ex transparency moves to the next level

The draft technical standards for MiFID II require exchanges to publish quarterly execution quality reports (RTS 6). Sell-side firms are expected to digest these and update their best execution policies accordingly. Additionally, sell-sides must publish their own execution quality reports annually (RTS 7), which obviously should be digested by the buy-side. While sceptics might... Read More

Do you invest or do you execute?

Under MiFID II, both buy-side and sell-side firms are required to record and to report on, separately, the algorithms used in making both the investment decision and the execution decision. In most agency workflows that should be straightforward enough; the buy-side makes and reports the investment decision, and the sell-side is responsible for the execution decision. But how does... Read More

MiFID II data disaggregation – be careful what you wish for!

Under MiFID II pre- and post-trade data is required to be made available in an unbundled fashion – ultimately the regulator is aiming to drive down data costs. So where trading venues sell their pre- and post-trade data in the same ‘package’ they will be required to also make it available separately at a reasonable cost. Setting aside the cost discussion, the whole... Read More

Flagging on the road to transparency

With its aim of increasing transparency around execution quality, under the current draft technical standards MiFID II will require investment firms to provide an annual execution quality report that states, for the top five execution venues, the share of passive and aggressive orders executed by the broker. In many cases the exchange provides a passive/aggressive flag on the trade... Read More

ESMA stops short of a no-action letter

Having taken several years to get through the review of MiFID, it was interesting to hear from ESMA chair Steven Maijoor last week that there is an appetite to “explore the mechanisms to address regulatory adjustments in a flexible and agile manner”. Neither national authorities nor ESMA have any tool like the ‘no-action letter’ employed in the US. Given that the rules... Read More

Left in the dark

Currently, it doesn’t really matter whether dark trades are executed under the reference price waiver (RP), large in scale waiver (LIS) or a negotiated trade waiver (NT). However, under MiFID II, the waiver flavour will make a significant difference. Whilst RP and parts of NT will become subject to the clunky double volume cap, LIS will not, so we may expect to see an increase... Read More

Change is the only constant

The unbundling of payment for research is a top concern for the industry. There seems to be general acceptance that, one way or another, Europe is set on the soft dollar research market becoming a hard dollar one by January 2017. Despite calls for more clarity and the recent publication of the FCA discussion paper on the regime, opinion remains divided as to how the use of CSAs... Read More

On a quest for answers in Paris

Travelling to Paris today for tomorrow’s open hearing on MiFID II, the two issues I’ll be mulling over on the Eurostar will be record keeping for trading venues and transaction reporting. Both could potentially trigger significant changes in front and middle office workflows for many trading firms. At the core of my concerns lies the requirement for trading venues to... Read More

One step forward, one step back

Market making, at its core, is a simple exchange where the market maker gives immediate liquidity and takes the bid/ask spread in return. This is set to become much more complicated in MiFID II as ESMA is mandated to introduce market making obligations. Under ESMA’s latest draft investment firms using algorithmic trading for market making for at least 30% of the available trading... Read More

Return of the concentration rule

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… It is a period of calm, with primary exchanges enjoying relatively little competition thanks to concentration rules enforced in many EU countries requiring all equity business to be conducted on exchange. The arrival of a new disruptor, in the form of MiFID I, is about to turn their lives upside down forever. The blanket ban on concentration... Read More

Systematic Internaliser on a wire

MiFID II imposes simple categories on a complex trading landscape, such as on- and off-exchange, or multi-lateral vs. bi-lateral. Obviously having some rules helps unravel complexity, but too many kills innovation. Walking this tightrope is not easy. Internalisation comes in two flavours. Either you have an order from a customer, agree a fixed price and then try to unload the position... Read More

Stuck between a rock and a hard place

First proposed way back in 2011, work has been ongoing to narrow down the details of a common financial transaction tax (FTT) to be introduced across Europe. Back in May this year, all but one of the 11 member states keen to push ahead had agreed that by the end of 2014 it should all be worked out and the new tax phased in by the end of 2015. But according to the EU’s recent... Read More

Turning down the heat on dealing commission

As the FT reported earlier this week, ESMA is set to step back from imposing a much contested overhaul of dealing commission. The scrutiny of commissions has been a major concern for the buy-side, in particular ESMA’s proposals to classify all but the most generally available investment research as a non-monetary benefit. This effectively implies the ‘unbundling’... Read More

Refocusing on auctions

BATS Chi-X Europe recently announced plans to introduce opening and closing auctions for ETFs, while the LSE plans to introduce an intraday auction for all SETS equities. Although these moves differ in instrument scope, they seem to have a common aim. The buy-side has long complained about the increasing difficulties of executing large block trades. With the new double volume caps... Read More

Hedging swaps with futures: a thing of the past?

As the industry continues to speculate on the trajectory of the swaps market, what’s in store for the final package trade exemption expiring on November 15, 2014, when packages consisting of swaps against futures (so-called ‘invoice spreads’) must be traded on a SEF? The problem with invoice spreads is that the futures component (typically treasury note futures)... Read More

What I did not do

When I got into work this morning, I decided not to return a missed call, not to review a document, not to read a report, not to ask some colleagues for advice, not to fill in my timesheet for last month, not to think about further job training and, most importantly, not to join an internal weekly meeting which was covering a topic not relevant to me. Instead I decided to write... Read More

El mañana is here

Last week I was in the beautiful city of Madrid, where besides analysing the impact of upcoming MiFID II regulation, I’ve been catching up on the Spanish Market Reforms. The upcoming changes, aka La Reforma, promise to align the Spanish market with European peers and improve competitiveness. Spain’s clearing, settlement and registry system overhaul is being tackled in 2 phases,... Read More

Tour de Force

The current MiFID II consultation is infamously complex, covering 800 pages and 800 questions to be answered in 8 weeks. If that in itself is not enough of a challenge, ESMA invited all market participants to Paris this week for a two-day Tour de Force, aka public hearing. Be it equity, non-equity, pre- or post-trade transparency, SIs, OTFs, trade reporting, third country regimes,... Read More

Swap your workflow

We’ve discussed the current course of regulatory change, specifically Dodd-Frank here in the States, and alluded to the “total set of changes the derivatives industry is going to go through”. But one thing is clear, the interrelationships between buy-sides, sell-sides (FCMs and swaps dealers, executing and clearing brokers) and CCPs is going to get increasingly... Read More

Stop/start for Dodd-Frank’s swaps rules

The Dodd-Frank Act, nearly three years old this summer, continues its slow, inexorable pace of implementation. In some respects, the financial landscape has changed unequivocally; in others, the final results of change remain to be seen, as the industry awaits additional rulemaking. Most of the current regulatory milestones impact only participants in the OTC swaps markets, but... Read More

Consolidated tape – work continues

After endless discussions all over Europe, there is still massive confusion as to which European Consolidated Tape (ECT) model MiFID II will bring and when. Despite the uncertainty, the creation of a consolidated tape for equities remains firmly in the MiFID II text and on the buy-side’s wish-list. Behind the scenes of the ever-lengthening MiFID II timeline, and regardless of... Read More

MAD as a March hare

The reviews of the Market Abuse Directive (MAD II) and proposed EU Market Abuse Regulation (MAR) continue to run their course through the European trilogue process, with final Level 1 agreement expected to keep pace with the MiFID review spanning out into the second half of 2013. MAD II and MAR will bring increased obligations on firms, including criminal sanctions, in the event... Read More

La bozza del decreto

Italy’s Ministry of Economy and Finance published a draft of the decree for the Italian Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) just after the 31st January deadline imposed by the law (for an English translation visit our Raw material section). The decree sheds light on most of the dark corners left by the bill, detailing how charges are to be calculated, who is responsible for their... Read More

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