Capital Markets in Financial Services UK
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In March 2019, the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) published consultation paper (CP 5/19) to update the Pillar 2 capital framework and to reflect on-going enhancements in setting the PRA buffer (Pillar 2B).
As the CP states, its key objective 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.”
This CP is relevant to PRA-authorised banks, building societies and PRA-designated investment firms (‘firms’). This CP is not relevant to credit unions, insurance and reinsurance firms. It is open for review, question or comment by 13 June 2019 and the PRA proposes to implement it from 1 October 2019.
Two years ago, the Governor of the Bank of England made a speech warning of a fork in the road in terms of the global approach to financial services (FS) regulation and supervision. The high road - founded on a shared commitment to markets, common minimum global standards, strong regulatory cooperation and resilient institutions and markets - would likely lead to benefits for all. By contrast the low road would involve countries turning inwards and reducing reliance on each other’s financial systems, leading to fragmented markets, less competition and disrupted cross‑border investment.
Two years on, and with Brexit looming, which road are we on?
On 12 November 2018, approximately 6 months after the adoption of the 5th EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive (5AMLD), the European Parliament published further rules to strengthen the fight against money laundering through the 6th EU Money Laundering Directive (6AMLD).
Member States are required to transpose the 6AMLD into national law by 3 December 2020. After which, relevant regulations must be implemented by firms within Member States by 3 June 2021.
On Wednesday 19 September 2018 the Prudential Regulation Authority (“PRA”) and Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) wrote to the CEOs of major banks and insurance companies regarding the ongoing global benchmark reform effort, specifically the transition from LIBOR to alternative rates.
MiFID II took seven years from consultation to implementation and generated 30,000 pages of rules.1 Nine months have passed since the go-live date on 3 January. Firms could be forgiven for finally wanting to tick it off their “To Do” lists. However, they can’t take that red pen out yet – we haven’t yet reached our destination on the MiFID journey. As with all things regulation, there is always more to do. And where there are rules, more often follow.
Solvency II seeks to value assets and liabilities at the amounts for which they could be exchanged or settled between knowledgeable, willing parties in an arm’s length transaction. However, when it comes to capturing equity release mortgages (“ERMs”) in regulatory capital calculations, applying that broad principle is undoubtedly “easier said than done”. That no doubt explains why, in its latest consultation in this area, the PRA has adopted a notably cautious approach. In sum, this represents a sharp tightening of the PRA’s policy position on ERMs, and one that extends, rather unusually, to specifying the quantum of particular assumptions that the PRA expects should underlie ERMs’ effective regulatory value.
“The prices of many cryptocurrencies have exhibited the classic hallmarks of bubbles including new paradigm justifications, broadening retail enthusiasm and extrapolative price expectations reliant in part on finding the greater fool.” Mark Carney, March 2018.
The London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) underpins in the order of $300 trillion in financial products and is one of the most significant reference rates used by financial market participants. However, during the last financial crisis the inadequacies of LIBOR became evident, which in turn triggered a concerted effort by market participants and authorities to fix them. Despite these efforts, in July 2017, the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announced a transition away from LIBOR as the key interest rate index used in calculating floating or adjustable rates for loans, bonds, derivatives and other financial contracts. The FCA’s intention is that, at the end of 2021, it will no longer seek to persuade, or compel, banks to submit to LIBOR.
New technologies and evolving business models have required regulators to review their capabilities and respond to new risks posed. And the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is no exception. The new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has vested considerable powers to the ICO to regulate and supervise data privacy risks. Increasing concerns about the wholesale use and processing of personal data by firms are reflected in the ICO's recently published Technology Strategy, which outlines its objectives and focus areas through eight technology goals.
The ICO strategy’s leitmotif is that technological advances “need not come at the expense of data protection and privacy rights” and that “privacy and innovation are not mutually exclusive”. Through the development of its technology strategy, the ICO’s overall aim is to remain relevant by ensuring that the monitoring and understanding of technological change, and its impact on information rights, are a core component of its work going forward.
It is no secret that technology and its impact on companies’ business models is shaking up the general market. Technology disruption isn’t limited to media, retail, or transport (to name a few industries), but this disruption is widespread, also impacting financial services. The general theme is that technology enabled companies can execute quicker, cheaper and with greater precision.