Investment Management in Financial Services UK
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2016 has been another difficult year for the financial sector, with economic and political uncertainty complicating the completion of the post-crisis regulatory repair agenda.
FCA’s asset management market study | Shining a spotlight on fund charges, fund performance and competition
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published an interim report on its asset management market study. It found evidence of high profitability relative to market benchmarks and weak price competition, especially in actively managed retail investment funds. The FCA’s proposed remedies are primarily intended to improve the transparency of fund charges and fund performance, reform governance standards for UK authorised funds, and increase scrutiny of the unregulated investment consultancy market. The FCA also proposes to carry out further research on how asset management services and products are distributed to retail investors. The regulator is seeking feedback on its proposals by 20 February 2017.
European Commission proposes 12 month PRIIPs Delay, but uncertainty around timing of the legislation means firms should maintain momentum
On 9 November, the European Commission published a legislative proposal to extend the application date of the Packaged Retail and Insurance-based Investment Products Regulation (PRIIPs) by one year. PRIIPs requires the disclosure of Key Information Documents (KIDs) when PRIIPs are sold to retail investors. The delay has been widely anticipated by the market and gives manufacturers and distributors of PRIIPs products until 1 January 2018 to put implementation plans in place. The Commission did not amend any other provisions in the Level 1 text. The proposal follows a vote by the EU Parliament on 14 September to reject the EU Commission’s Regulatory Technical Standards (RTS) on PRIIPs and concerns expressed by 24 Member States in the Council in a vote by the Competitiveness Council of the EU on 20 September (see our blog of 20 September for further detail on the Parliament’s rejection of the RTS).
Last week the EBA released a discussion paper (DP) setting out possible options for a new prudential regime for investment firms, particularly those that are not deemed “systemic and bank-like”. Published in response to the European Commission’s call for advice back in June, the paper was expected to shed some light on the direction of travel that the EBA is going to take in developing a more appropriate regime for investment firms given the distinctive nature of risks that they pose to investors and other market participants. The guiding principle behind the proposed regime is that firms that pose more risk to customers and markets, or which have more own risk, should attract higher capital requirements. However, the paper does not include any specific calibrations and, therefore, offers relatively little detail on the likely impact on firms’ individual capital requirements.
On 6 October 2016, the European Banking Authority (EBA) launched a consultation on its draft “Guidelines on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Risk Assessment” (the Guidelines) under the Supervisory Review and Evaluation Process (SREP). The consultation runs until 6 January 2017.
On 28 September the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) released a Policy Statement setting out its final rules on regulatory references under the Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SMCR). The Policy Statement is relevant for deposit-takers, Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) investment firms, insurers, solvency II insurers and non-directive insurers and will be of particular interest to those individuals who seek regulatory approval to perform a Senior Management Function (SMF); a Significant Insurance Management Function; an FCA controlled function or a Significant Harm Function (SHF).
On 14 September, the EU Parliament voted to reject the EU Commission’s Delegated Regulation on the Packaged Retail and Insurance-based Investment Products Regulation (PRIIPs). This is the first time that the EU Parliament has formally rejected technical rules on financial services legislation. The Delegated Regulation, based on the final draft Regulatory Technical Standards (RTS) prepared by the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs), dated 31 March 2016, was rejected as “so flawed and misleading that it could actually lose [retail investors] money”. MEPs overwhelmingly passed the resolution rejecting the RTS (by 602 votes to 4, with 12 abstentions), calling for the EU Commission to submit a new RTS taking into account the EU Parliament’s concerns about the text. The Parliament also called on the EU Commission to postpone the application date of PRIIPs.
The Financial Stability Board (FSB) has consulted on policy recommendations for addressing structural vulnerabilities from asset management activities. This follows a long debate at international level involving both the FSB and the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO). The FSB’s proposed recommendations relate to risks arising from liquidity mismatch, leverage, operational issues in transferring investment mandates in stressed conditions, and indemnifications related to securities lending.
Culture in financial services firms has moved towards the top of the agenda for regulators, investors and consumers in the wake of excessive risk-taking by some firms in the run-up to the financial crisis and a string of misconduct scandals. Despite this, there can be a tendency on the part of some in the industry to see culture as “someone else’s problem”. A Deloitte survey on culture in banking carried out in 2013 found that 65% of senior bankers believed there were significant cultural failings across the industry, while only 33% believed the same of their own bank.