FS weekly highlights—7 March 2019

In this issue

 

Brexit news
Brexit legislation
Regulatory architecture
UK regulator updates
European regulator updates
Prudential requirements
Risk management and controls
Financial crime
Enforcement and redress
Competition and financial services
Markets and trading
Regulation of capital markets
Investment funds and asset management
Banks and mutuals
Consumer credit, mortgage and home finance
Consumer access to financial services
Insurance and pensions
Payment services and systems
FinTech and virtual currencies
Sustainable finance
Dates for your diary

 

Brexit news

 

BoE publishes approach to financial services legislation under the EUWA

The Bank of England (BoE) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) published a package of materials updating firms on the BoE's regulatory and supervisory approach in relation to its work on EU withdrawal. The package builds on its previous engagement with firms on their preparations around EU withdrawal, and acts as a contingency for a scenario in which the implementation period, which was agreed in principle as part of the UK's Withdrawal Agreement with the EU, does not take effect on 29 March 2019. It reflects close coordination between the Bank and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) whose package of communications was also released. The package of materials includes (1) the BoE's approach to financial services legislation under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (EU(W)A 2018) (updated February 2019) (2) the BoE’s amendments to financial services legislation under the EU(W)A 2018 (3) the PRA’s approach to interpreting reporting and disclosure requirements and regulatory transactions forms after the UK’s withdrawal from the EU (4) Supervisory Statement 18/15: Depositor and dormant account protection (5) Supervisory Statement: Non-binding Bank materials relating to Financial Market Infrastructure Supervision: The Bank's approach after the UK's withdrawal from the EU (6) Statement of Policy: Interpretation of EU Guidelines and Recommendations: BoE and PRA approach after the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, and (7) Non-binding PRA materials: The PRA’s approach after the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

PRA and FCA agree MoUs on supervisory co-operation and insurance with EIOPA and EEA NCAs

The European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) and all European Economic Area (EEA) national competent authorities (NCAs) with competencies in insurance agreed Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with the UK’s PRA and FCA. The MoUs will take effect in the event of a no-deal Brexit and will ensure co-operation in the fields of insurance prudential and conduct supervision. The MoUs will now be signed by the NCAs of all the Member States of the EEA. The FCA said that the MoUs would ‘allow for continued close co-operation in the event the UK leaves the EU without a withdrawal agreement. EU and UK insurance markets will remain interconnected in any scenario and therefore continued co-operation with our EU counterparts is of the utmost importance’.

FCA and BoE set out regulatory plans in case of no Brexit implementation period

The Treasury Committee published correspondence received from the CEO of the FCA, Andrew Bailey, and from the BoE deputy governors Sir Jon Cunliffe (Financial stability) and Sam Woods (Prudential regulation). The letters discuss aspects of the financial services legislation under the EU(W)A 2018 and how the FCA and BoE intend to regulate the sector if the UK leaves the EU without an implementation period. The FCA intends to publish rules, binding technical standards and directions under the Temporary Transition Power in final form in late March 2019, to take effect from exit day. The BoE deputy governors set out in their letter details of a package of materials the BoE published updating firms on the BoE’s regulatory and supervisory approach in relation to its work on EU withdrawal.

FCA confirms proposals in the event of a no-deal Brexit

The FCA published policy statement PS 19/5: Brexit Policy Statement and Transitional Directions. The policy statement contains feedback received in response to its Brexit consultations: CP18/28: Brexit: proposed changes to the Handbook and Binding Technical Standards; CP18/36: Brexit: proposed changes to the Handbook and Binding Technical Standards—second consultation; CP18/29: Temporary permission regime for inbound firms and funds; CP 19/2: Brexit and contractual continuity and CP18/34: Regulatory fees and levies, policy proposals for 2019/20. The policy statement also includes near-final Handbook rules and Binding Technical Standards as well as more detail on how the FCA intends to use the Temporary Transitional Power.

FCA outlines workings of the MiFID transparency regime if no Brexit implementation period

The FCA published statements of policy outlining how it will operate the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) transparency regime, if the UK leaves the EU without an implementation period. The statements outline how the FCA expects to use the new powers, and should give further clarity to market participants about the FCA’s approach in advance of Brexit. The MiFID transparency regime was calibrated using trading data from the EU including the UK. It currently operates by the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) validating data on trading across the EU and performing various calculations to set assorted thresholds and make various determinations. If the UK leaves the EU without an implementation period agreed, the FCA will be solely responsible for operating the regime within the UK.

Council of the EU issues I/A Item Note on Delegated Regulations granting post-Brexit exemptions to BoE

The General Secretariat of the Council of the EU issued an I/A Item Note in respect of the four Commission Delegated Regulations adopted by the Commission on 30 January 2019 to grant post-Brexit exemptions to the BoE and other UK public bodies charged with or intervening in the management of public debt. The I/A Item Note suggests that the Permanent Representatives Committee (COREPER) invites the Council to confirm that the Council does not intend to object to any of the Commission Delegated Regulations and that the Commission and the European Parliament are to be informed thereof. The effect of this would be that, unless the European Parliament objects to them, the Commission Delegated Regulations will be published and enter into force.

ECB Opinion on the proposed UK Withdrawal Agreement

The European Central Bank’s (ECB) Opinion on a proposal for a Council Decision on the conclusion of the Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community was published in the Official Journal of the EU.

ESMA registers one trade repository and withdraws another

ESMA registered DTCC Data Repository (Ireland) PLC as a trade repository (TR) under the European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR), with effect from 1 March 2019. ESMA also withdrew the registration of Bloomberg Trade Repository Ltd (UK). All Bloomberg clients were already transferred to a TR of their choice. DTCC Data Repository (Ireland) PLC is based in Ireland and will cover the following derivative asset classes: commodities, credit, foreign exchange, equities and interest rates. Its registration is part of the DTCC Group strategy in response to a no-deal Brexit. Under this scenario, the UK-based TR of the Group (DTCC Data Repository PLC–DDRL UK) will cease to be registered with ESMA on 30 March 2019 and DTCC Data Repository (Ireland) PLC will be the TR of the Group operating in the EU27.

ESMA will recognise UK central securities depository in the event of a no-deal Brexit

ESMA announced that, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the central securities depository (CSD) established in the UK (Euroclear UK and Ireland Limited) will be recognised as a third-country CSD to provide its services in the EU. The recognition decision would take effect on the date following Brexit, in a no-deal scenario. The decision means the UK CSD can continue to serve Irish securities, avoiding any negative impact on the Irish securities market. ESMA previously said that its board of supervisors supports continued access to the UK CSD. ESMA assessed the application and the information submitted by the UK CSD, and consulted the relevant authorities in accordance with the Central Securities Depositories Regulation (CSDR). It considers that the conditions for recognition under Article 25 of CSDR are met by the UK CSD in case of a no-deal Brexit.

EBA says EU deposit guarantee schemes should cover EU branches of UK banks in no-deal Brexit

The European Banking Authority (EBA) published an opinion addressed to EU NCAs relating to deposit protection issues stemming from Brexit. In its opinion, the EBA calls on EU competent authorities to ensure that depositors in the branches of the UK credit institutions in the EU are adequately protected by the EU deposit guarantee schemes in case the UK withdraws from the EU without an agreement in place. According to the EBA, the withdrawal of the UK from the EU is not likely to impact on the protection of deposits in the vast majority of credit institutions operating in the EU. It may affect branches of UK credit institutions in the EU depending on the decisions taken by the UK authorities on the potential exclusion of those branches from the scope of the UK depositor protection scheme after Brexit.

PSR onshores RTS for the Interchange Fee Regulation to prepare for no-deal Brexit

The Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) adopted the EU Exit instrument onshoring the regulatory technical standards (RTS) Regulation supplementing Article 7(1)(a) of the EU Interchange Fee Regulation (IFR). The PSR also released an accompanying policy statement. The amendments to the RTS Regulation were designed to ensure it can still operate effectively if the UK leaves the EU without a withdrawal agreement or implementation period in place. The EU Exit Instrument changes the RTS regulation supplementing Article 7(1)(a) of the EU IFR to ensure that it (1) functions effectively after the UK leaves the EU on exit day, and (2) is consistent with the amendments the Treasury made to the IFR under the EU(W)A 2018.

Andrew Bailey gives Brexit evidence to Lords EU Committee

The EU financial affairs sub-committee of the Lords’ Select Committee on the EU published oral evidence from the FCA chief executive, Andrew Bailey. Mr Bailey updated the committee on the Brexit negotiations and discussed possible ways that equivalence and passporting could work in a future UK-EU relationship. Mr Bailey said there was ‘a very strong commitment’ between the FCA and ESMA, and that the two bodies would work closely together whatever the outcome due to their joint membership of the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) and their joint cooperation and involvement in the Financial Stability Board (FSB). Mr Bailey said the view on mainland Europe was that London is still going to be a major wholesale financial centre and will still be the largest wholesale financial centre in Europe.

Trade associations request urgent action on equivalence of UK trading venues

The International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA), the Futures Industry Association (FIA), the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME), the Alternative Investment Management Association (AIMA), the Association for Financial Market Intermediaries (Assosim), the European Banking Federation (EBF), the European Federation of Energy Traders (EFET), the Investment Company Institute (ICI-Global), the Investment Association (IA) and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association Asset Management Group (SIFMA AMG) (the Associations) wrote to European Commission vice-president Dombrovskis requesting urgent action by the EU authorities to adopt equivalence decisions regarding UK trading venues under EMIR and Markets in Financial Instrument Regulation (MiFIR) in the event of the UK leaving the EU without a deal, and explaining the impact on EU27 market participants and European derivatives markets of such a 'no deal' scenario.

FMLC publishes paper on credit institutions winding-up and reorganisation as part of its ‘onshoring’ Statutory Instruments comment series

The Financial Markets Law Committee (FMLC) published a paper which highlights legal uncertainties arising from the Credit Institutions and Insurance Undertakings Reorganisation and Winding Up (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (the ‘CIIURW SI’). The CIIURW SI amends the regime for the reorganisation and winding up of credit institutions and insurers in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit. The FMLC highlighted legal uncertainties arising from the statutory instrument in relation to jurisdiction, choice of law and references to other legislation. The FMLC encourages HM Treasury and the government to publish, wherever possible, guidance which might clarify the issues raised in its paper.

Ofgem publishes update on no-deal Brexit REMIT contingency plans

Ofgem published an update on its contingency plans for how the Regulation on Wholesale Energy Market Integrity and Transparency (REMIT) will apply in Britain should the UK leave the EU without a withdrawal agreement in place. Ofgem first outlined its no-deal Brexit REMIT contingency plans in a letter published on 4 December 2018, and its latest letter (published on 1 March 2019) provides an update on how the no-deal REMIT contingency arrangements will work. The March 2019 letter provides updates for market participants on three main areas relating to REMIT: monitoring and enforcement, registration, and data reporting. 

 

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Brexit legislation

 

Government delays vote on proposed amendments to Financial Services (Implementation of Legislation) Bill

A House of Commons vote on proposed amendments to the Financial Services (Implementation of Legislation) Bill was delayed by the government. The amendments, backed by more than 50 MPs, relate to crown dependencies and anti-money laundering in the context of the Bill. The Financial Services (Implementation of Legislation) Bill would provide the power, in a no-deal scenario, for the UK to implement and make changes to a specified list of 'in-flight files'. These are pieces of EU financial services legislation agreed or in negotiation at the point of exit, with implementation dates falling in the two years after exit. The aim of the Bill is to address a situation in a no-deal scenario in which the government will be unable to update, in an agile way, the body of UK financial services law. Despite pulling the vote the government maintains that it is committed to passing the Bill before exit day, which is currently due to be 29 March.

Money Market Funds (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019

SI 2019/394: This enactment is made in exercise of legislative powers under the EU(W)A 2018 in preparation for Brexit. This enactment addresses the deficiencies in retained EU law in relation to money market funds (MMFs), arising from the withdrawal of the UK EU, ensuring the legislation continues to operate effectively at the point at which the UK leaves the EU. This Regulation comes into force partly on 27 February 2019, and fully on exit day (updated from draft on 26 February 2019).

Packaged Retail and Insurance-based Investment Products (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019

SI 2019/403: This enactment is made in exercise of legislative powers under the EU(W)A 2018 in preparation for Brexit. This instrument makes amendments to UK subordinate legislation and retained direct EU legislation in relation to requirements concerning PRIIPs in order to address deficiencies in retained EU law arising from the withdrawal of the UK from the EU. This instrument will therefore ensure that the UK’s regulatory regime concerning these products continues to operate effectively once the UK leaves the EU (updated from draft on 27 February 2019).

Solvency 2 and Insurance (Amendment, etc) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019

SI 2019/407: This enactment is made in exercise of legislative powers under the EU(W)A 2018 in preparation for Brexit. This enactment amends UK primary and subordinate legislation and retained direct EU legislation in relation to the prudential regulation of the insurance sector in order to address deficiencies in retained EU law arising from the withdrawal of the UK from the EU, ensuring the legislation continues to operate effectively once the UK leaves the EU. It comes into force on exit day (updated from draft on 28 February 2019).

Financial Services Contracts (Transitional and Saving Provision) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019

SI 2019/405: This enactment is made in exercise of legislative powers under the EU(W)A 2018 in preparation for Brexit. This enactment amends UK subordinate legislation in relation to the EEA’s ‘financial services passport' which allows firms in EEA states to offer services in any other EEA state on the basis of their home state authorisation and to non-UK central counterparties and trade repositories which provide certain services in the UK under EMIR in order to address deficiencies in retained EU law. Without this instrument, where these firms do not enter the UK’s temporary regimes, they may not be able to meet existing contractual obligations or provide services. This could be detrimental to UK-based customers and could lead to disruption of services. A correction slip was issued after this enactment was laid in draft. It comes into force on 1 March 2019 (updated from draft on 28 February 2019).

Sanctions (Amendment) (EU Exit) (No 2) Regulations 2019

SI 2019/380: This enactment is made in exercise of legislative powers under the EU(W)A 2018 in preparation for Brexit. This enactment amends provisions deriving from EU legislation which are being retained in domestic law under the 2018 Act. It ensures the financial sanctions regimes in relation to Afghanistan, Burundi, the Central African Republic, Egypt, the Republic of Guinea, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria (in relation to the 14 February 2005 terrorist bombing in Beirut), the Republic of Maldives, Mali, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, Ukraine and Yemen will continue to be implemented after the UK leaves the EU. It comes into force on exit day. 

 

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Regulatory architecture

 

BCBS meeting examines implementation of post-crisis reforms

The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) published details of its 27-28 February 2019 meeting, where a range of policy and supervisory issues were discussed, including the implementation status of margin requirements for non-centrally cleared derivatives and reforms of interest rate benchmarks. The Committee also discussed its work programme for evaluating the impact of its post-crisis reforms. The programme included planned evaluations related to cross-cutting policy issues, the countercyclical capital buffer framework and the global systemically important banks framework. Committee members also discussed issues related to sovereign risk. The next meeting of the Basel Committee is provisionally scheduled for 19-20 June 2019. 

 

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UK regulator updates

 

BoE publishes financial policy statement and record of FPC meeting

The BoE published the record of a meeting of its Financial Policy Committee (FPC) on 26 February 2019, which includes a financial policy summary produced by the FPC. The FPC, formally established by the BoE in 2013, aims to ensure that the UK financial system is resilient to and prepared for the wide range of risks it could face, so that the system can serve UK households and businesses in bad times as well as good. The FPC noted at its meeting that the core of the UK financial system, including banks, dealers and insurance companies, is resilient to and prepared for the wide range of risks it could face, including a worst case disorderly Brexit.

PRA updates supervisory statement SS1/16 on written reports by external auditors

The PRA published a revised version of its supervisory statement SS1/16 on written reports by external auditors to the PRA. SS1/16 was updated to reflect policy statement 6/19 (PS6/19), which sets out responses to Chapters 3-7 of the PRA’s CP24/18 ‘Occasional Consultation Paper’ and was published alongside the revised SS1/16. SS1/16 sets out the PRA’s expectations of auditors in relation to the requirement under Chapter 8 of the Auditors Part of the PRA Rulebook to provide written reports to the PRA on the audit of major banks and building societies. It was originally published on 21 January 2016 alongside policy statement 1/16 ‘Engagement between external auditors and supervisors and commencing the PRA’s disciplinary powers’. The updated version of SS1/16 will be effective from 7 March 2019.

FCA publishes Handbook Notice No 63

The FCA published Handbook Notice No. 63, which includes changes to the FCA Handbook made by the FCA board on 24 January and 28 February 2019. Handbook Notice No 63 also provides feedback on CP18/34. The Handbook Notice includes the following instruments (1) Conduct of Business Sourcebook (Retirement Outcomes Review) Instrument 2019 (FCA 2019/4), entering into force on 1 November 2019 (2) Fees (Devolved Authorities Debt Advice Levies) Instrument 2019 (FCA 2019/8), entering into force on 1 March 2019 (3) Fees (Miscellaneous Amendments) (No 13) Instrument 2019 FCA 2019/10), entering into force on 1 April 2019.

Mark Carney due to give evidence on UK economy to Lords Economic Affairs Committee

The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee is to hear evidence from the governor of the BoE, Dr Mark Carney, on 5 March 2019 in his annual session with the Committee. Questions likely to be put the governor include (1) What effect would a delayed Brexit, say until the end of June 2019, create in the economy if the UK leaves without a deal?, and (2) Does the governor agree with the Committee that the UK Statistics Authority should fulfil its statutory duty to 'promote and safeguard the quality of official statistics' by requesting a fix to the clothing problem in the Retail Prices Index?

John Glen announces FCA board appointments

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen MP, announced appointments and reappointments to the board of the FCA. Consumer expert Richard Lloyd was appointed as a non-executive director; Sarah Hogg was reappointed for a second term; and Amelia Fletcher’s second term as non-executive director was also extended. Mr Lloyd’s three-year term will begin on 1 April 2019. Mr Glen said ‘Richard Lloyd’s wealth of experience as a consumer expert will be a valuable contribution to the crucial work of the FCA, ensuring our financial sector keeps customers at the heart of how firms do business. I am also delighted to re-appoint Baroness Sarah Hogg for a further three-year term and to extend Amelia Fletcher’s second term by a further year. Both Sarah and Amelia brought considerable expertise to the FCA Board, and I am grateful for their continued contributions’.

FCA policy development update for March 2019

The FCA published the latest version of its policy development update, which provides information on its recent and upcoming publications. Future developments include a consultation and discussion on the investment platforms market study remedies. The FCA is planning to publish a number of policy statements, including in relation to (1) Regulatory fees and levies: policy proposals for 2019/20 (CP18/34 and CP19/01), expected March 2019 (2) the High-cost Credit Review: Overdrafts (CP18/42), expected June 2019, and (3) OPBAS (Office for professional body anti-money-laundering supervision): fee rate 2018/19 (CP18/32), expected March 2019. Meanwhile feedback on the FCA’s proposed changes to its supervisory principles, which were consulted on in Quarterly Consultation Paper No 22 (CP18/24), is expected in winter 2018/19. The FCA also set out a number of consultations it intends to launch in 2019.

New Bank of England article helps users understand its data on loan performance

The BoE published an article that describes and compares the different data on loan performance that the BoE makes available. This includes data on loan arrears, possessions, provisions and write-offs that form part of the BoE’s monetary and financial statistics and regulatory data collections. The BoE publishes a variety of data that serve as indicators of loan performance. The article aims to help users identify the most appropriate loan performance data for their purpose. It explains the different indicators of loan performance published by the BoE. It then discusses other features of the data, including the sectors that the data are broken down into, coverage, timeliness, and data history. 

 

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European regulator updates

 

Council of the EU on EIOPA reform

The Council of the European Union published an I/A Item on Special Report No. 29/2018 ‘EIOPA made an important contribution to supervision and stability in the insurance sector, but significant challenges remain’. The note contains draft Council conclusions, which the COREPER is invited to approve and to submit them to the Council for adoption. The Council of the EU welcomes the report’s overall conclusion that EIOPA made good use of a wide range of tools to support supervisory convergence and financial stability. But it notes there the report’s observation that there are still significant challenges to be addressed by EIOPA itself, by national supervisors and by legislators.

ESMA publishes newsletter with recent developments and key dates for March 2019

ESMA published the second edition of its newsletter, which sets out a full list of ESMA publications from February 2019, highlights a new call for experts and looks back at some keynote speeches given by ESMA chair Steven Maijoor. It also provides details of speaking appearances by ESMA staff, consultation deadlines and key dates for the month ahead. Key dates for March include the publication of the latest double volume cap data on 7 March and ESMA’s Board of Supervisor’s meeting on 27 March. ESMA’s consultation on disclosure requirements applicable to credit ratings closes on 19 March 2019, and its consultation on draft guidelines on liquidity stress test for investment funds closes on 1 April 2019.

EBA set to sign Paris headquarters agreement

The EBA confirmed it will sign its headquarters agreement with the French authorities on 6 March 2019. It says the agreement will ensure the proper functioning of the Authority in the context of the relocation of its seat from London to Paris as of 30 March 2019. From 30 March 2019, ‎all meetings of the EBA's governing bodies will be held in Paris. The EBA says it will be fully operational in the new premises in Paris from 3 June 2019.

 

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Prudential requirements

 

ECB announces launch of its annual validation reporting on internal models for credit risk

The ECB published a letter it sent to ‘significant institutions’ relating to validation reporting on internal models used for calculating own funds requirements for credit risk. Internal validation by significant institutions plays a key role in the ECB’s assessment of the reliability and accuracy of their internal models and is an important input to the ECB’s assessment of quality and regulatory compliance of internal models. It launches its validation reporting on internal models for credit risk each year in order to obtain the information it needs to make the required assessments. The letter is available in full on the ECB website.

BoE launches new liquidity facility in Euros

The BoE announced a new liquidity facility in Euros (LiFE), under which it will offer to lend euros on a weekly basis. The BoE says the move is a ‘prudent and precautionary’ step, consistent with its financial stability objective, to provide additional flexibility in the BoE’s provision of liquidity insurance in coming weeks, supporting the functioning of markets that serve households and businesses. As part of the same agreement, the Eurosystem would stand ready to lend pound sterling to euro area banks, if the need arises. The BoE says eligible banks and building societies that are members of the Sterling Monetary Framework will be able to borrow in euros from the BoE. These operations will complement the existing weekly US dollar repo facility as well as the move to weekly sterling operations announced on 26 February.

PRA publishes PS7/19 on Credit risk: definition of default and updates supervisory statement regarding IRB approaches

The PRA published policy statement PS7/19 on the definition of default swaps and updated its supervisory statement in line with PS7/19. PS7/19 provides feedback on responses to consultation paper CP17/18 ‘Credit risk: definition of default’. It also contains the PRA’s final policy, as follows:

  • an amendment to the Credit Risk Part of the PRA Rulebook to set thresholds for determining whether a credit obligation is material for the purpose of the Capital Requirements Regulation (575/2013) definition of default (appendix 1), and
  • an update to the PRA’s expectations in SS11/13 ‘Internal Ratings Based (IRB) approaches’ to implement EBA regulatory products that relate to the definition of default (appendix 2)
European Parliament publishes amends to the minimum loss coverage Regulation

The European Parliament published amendments to the Commission’s proposed Regulation amending the CRR as regards minimum loss coverage for non-performing exposures (NPEs). The amendments provide for a statutory prudential backstop against any excess future build-up of NPEs without sufficient loss coverage on banks’ balance sheets. The establishment of a comprehensive strategy to address the issue of NPEs is seen as an important goal for the Union in its attempt to make the financial system more resilient.

EBA’s guidelines on the estimation of LGD under an economic downturn

On 6 March 2019 the EBA published its final guidelines outlining how institutions should quantify the estimation of loss given default (LGD) appropriate for conditions of an economic downturn. The guidelines focus on requirements for the quantification of the calibration target used for downturn LGD estimation and complete the EBA's broader work on the review of the IRB approach aimed at reducing the unjustified variability in the outcomes of internal models, while preserving the risk sensitivity of capital requirements. The guidelines set out requirements for the appropriate quantification of the calibration target used for downturn LGD estimates and include three types of approaches. The guidelines will apply as of 1 January 2021, at the latest, but earlier implementation is encouraged.

European Commission votes to add Argentina to list of ‘equivalent’ countries under CRR

The European Commission published the formal results of its vote on a draft Commission Implementing Decision amending Implementing Decision 2014/908/EU as regards the lists of third countries and territories whose supervisory and regulatory requirements are considered equivalent for the purposes of the treatment of exposures in accordance with the CRR. The draft Implementing Decision adds Argentina to the relevant lists of countries considered to enjoy equivalent supervisory and regulatory requirements for CRR purposes. The full text of the draft Implementing Decision, along with its accompanying annexes, is available on the Commission’s website. 

 

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Risk management and controls

 

UK Finance publishes guide on acting ethically in banking and finance

UK Finance published a statement noting that, together with city law firm Linklaters, it published an online guide to the legal, regulatory and otherwise codified expectations for firms and the individuals within them to be steered by ethical principles in determining the way in which they conduct business. According to UK Finance, the guide is not intended to set new standards, or interpret those of others, but instead to provide an overview of the various obligations. In each case it seeks to provide an insight as to why a particular issue needs to be considered. While some of the requirements in question are stipulated in statute or regulation, they are often not open to discretion—couched more as recommendations seeking to influence rather than instruct the way in which individuals within companies behave. 

 

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Financial crime

 

MPs and peers call for urgent reform of UK’s corporate liability regime

The co-chairs of the all-party Parliamentary group on Fair Business Banking, along with a number of other signatories, wrote to Theresa May urging action on the UK’s corporate liability regime. The authors say there is currently no real legal mechanism for holding large institutions criminally accountable for wrong-doing, including for large-scale fraud or for laundering of the proceeds of corruption and other crimes. The letter notes that nearly three years passed since the government first announced it would consult on changes to the law to address this lack of accountability, but yet no real sign of change took place. The National Crime Agency (NCA) estimates that up to £100bn of laundered wealth impacts on the UK annually. The letter calls on the government to introduce at the earliest opportunity a corporate criminal offence for failing to prevent economic crime such as fraud and money laundering.

UK agency seeks freeze on 95 bank accounts in AML sweep

British investigators are seeking court orders to freeze 95 bank accounts at Barclays PLC holding £3.6m ($4.8m) in suspected illicit funds, the NCA said in what it called a ‘day of action’. The coordinated sweep is being carried out by the UK government’s newly formed National Economic Crime Centre (NECC), which is part of the NCA. The agency suspects the cash in the accounts is either proceeds of crime or intended to be used for criminal purposes. Requests for the 95 account freezing orders were being heard at 10 Magistrates' Courts across England and Wales on Thursday. The first was granted at City of London Magistrates’ Court in the morning.

Financial sector sees spike in cyberattacks, poll says

More than two-thirds of financial organisations surveyed in a poll reported an increase in cyberattacks within the past year, while reports of the most damaging type of attack, aimed purely at destroying records, spiked by 160%. In research  released by cybersecurity company Carbon Black, nearly 80% of polled Chief Information Security Officers (CISO) in the financial sector also said that cybercriminals grew more sophisticated in the way they mount attacks, including by exploiting human weakness with highly specific social engineering campaigns like targeted phishing emails. Asked to analyse their attackers' motivations, 70% of polled Chief Information Security Officers said they were most concerned with hackers targeting them for financial gain, while the other 30% said they were primarily concerned with nation-states, whose motives are often more difficult to ascertain, according to the report. 

 

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Enforcement and redress

 

Regulators probe Metro Bank over £900M accounting blunder

Metro Bank PLC revealed that both the PRA and the FCA are investigating a £900m ($1.2bn) accounting blunder caused when it wrongly calculated the value of loans. The City’s regulators are planning to examine the ‘circumstances and events’ that led to the accounting error, which was exposed in January, Metro Bank said in its annual results. The admission caused the bank's shares to dive by more than 50% last month. Craig Donaldson, Metro Bank’s chief executive, apologized to shareholders as the lender brought out its 2018 results a day ahead of schedule. ‘We’ve learnt significantly from this chastening experience and we know that we did not live up to standards that are expected of us,’ Donaldson said in a call with analysts.

FCA takes action for contempt of court

The FCA launched legal action in July 2013 in respect of four unauthorised collective investment schemes promoted mainly by Capital Alternatives including African Land (also known as Agri Capital) (which offered investments in rice farm harvests in Sierra Leone). Robert McKendrick was the main Director and sole shareholder of African Land. When the FCA took action in 2013 it obtained a freezing order against Mr McKendrick. Upon judgment in March 2018, the Court made a further freezing order. In breach of the freezing orders, Mr McKendrick appointed his wife to manage his portfolio of buy-to-let properties. The FCA is currently seeking to enforce its judgment obtained against Mr McKendrick.

FCA tells British Steel Pension Scheme members to complain about unsuitable advice

The FCA says that it is looking into the suitability of the advice that firms gave to members of the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS). The FCA wants to ensure that former members of the scheme know about their rights to make a formal complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). Any former BSPS member who was given financial advice to transfer out of the BSPS, and is unsure if the advice was suitable, should make a complaint, the FCA says. As a first step, they should make the complaint to the firm that provided the advice. The firm should give them a formal response within eight weeks. If complainants do not get a response within that timeframe, or don’t agree with the response, the FCA suggests that they contact the FOS to refer the complaint to them.

FCA issues warning about Next Coin Market

The FCA issued a warning about Next Coin Market, which it believes is an illegal organisation based in Bulgaria, claiming to be an FCA-authorised firm offering cryptocurrencies to UK consumers. The FCA says Next Coin Market is sending consumers a link to a fake website, which gives the impression they are authorised by the FCA, when they are not. This is criminal activity. Anyone who approached by Next Coin Market, or another unauthorised firm with a link to its website, should contact the FCA and, if they transferred money to the firm, Action Fraud.

FSCS announces failure of London Capital & Finance plc

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) announced that London Capital & Finance plc is in administration. The FSCS understands that the firm issued its own mini-bonds to investors on a non-advised basis. This activity is not a regulated activity under the Regulated Activities Order and, therefore, is not FSCS-protected. For this reason, while the firm is insolvent, the FSCS is not accepting claims against the firm. If the FSCS later determines that there are circumstances that give rise to potentially valid claims, it will begin to accept claims against London Capital & Finance plc. In such circumstances, the FSCS will communicate this to customers on its website. The FSCS is also working with the firm’s administrators to understand more about how the firm carried out its regulated activities.

 

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Competition and financial services

 

CMA consults on pre-paid funeral plans

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched a consultation on extending the scope of its proposed market investigation reference in relation to the supply of funeral services to include funeral services supplied by funeral directors in the UK arising from the redemption of pre-paid funeral plans. In November 2018, the CMA consulted on its proposal to make a market investigation reference in relation funeral services and excluded from its draft terms of reference both the provision of prepaid funeral plans and the provision of services provided pursuant to prepaid funeral plans. The CMA received representations, in response to this consultation, that the scope should be extended. The closing date of the consultation is 13 March 2019. 

 

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Markets and trading

 

Annex IX (Financial services) to the EEA Agreement amended to include reference to CSDR

Decision of the EEA Joint Committee No 18/2019 of 8 February 2019 amending Annex IX (Financial services) to the EEA Agreement [2019/342] was published in the Official Journal. According to the decision, Annex IX to the EEA Agreement is to be amended to incorporate the CSDR.

BCBS and IOSCO guidance on final implementation of margin requirements for non-centrally cleared derivatives

The Bank for International Settlements (BIS) published a joint statement by the BCBS and IOSCO on the final implementation phases of the framework for margin requirements for non-centrally cleared derivatives. The statement provides guidance to support timely and smooth implementation of the framework, published in 2015, and to clarify its requirements. The statement notes that the BCBS and IOSCO realise that derivative contracts may need amending in response to interest rate benchmark reforms. However, amendments to legacy derivative contracts pursued solely to address interest rate benchmark reforms do not require the application of the margin requirements for BCBS/IOSCO framework purposes, although the position may differ under relevant implementing laws.

ESMA TRV report states political uncertainty amid growth slowdown weighs on market sentiment test

ESMA published its latest trends, risks and vulnerabilities (TRV) report in which it states that EU financial markets are increasingly nervous, reflected in rising volatility. In particular, uncertainty related to Brexit amid weakening growth prospects, global trade tensions, and reduced global monetary policy stimulus contributed to market risk remaining very high. According to the TRV report, the fourth quarter of 2018 saw increasing volatility on equity and sovereign bond markets, a decrease in equity prices, continued repricing on corporate and sovereign bond markets, and regional developments leading to localised sell-offs and increased short-selling activity.

ESMA publishes first annual transparency calculations for equity and equity-like instruments

ESMA made available the results of the first annual transparency calculations for equity and equity-like instruments under MiFID II/MiFIR. Currently, there are 1,344 liquid shares and 389 liquid equity-like instruments other than shares, subject to MiFID II/MiFIR transparency requirements. The transparency requirements based on the results of these annual transparency calculations for equity and equity-like instruments will apply from 1 April 2019 until 31 March 2020. From 1 April 2020, the next annual transparency calculations for equity and equity-like instruments to be published by 1 March 2020, will become applicable.

ESMA delays publication of the annual calculation of LIS and SSTI thresholds for bonds

ESMA said it is to delay the publication of the annual calculation of the large in scale (LIS) and size specific to the instruments (SSTI) thresholds for bonds. ESMA said its IT systems required more time than expected to complete the calculations, and it aims to ensure publication will take place later in March 2019. Publication was originally planned for 1 March 2019, in advance of the deadline of 30 April provided by Article 13(17) of Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2017/583 (RTS 2).

How is the Bank of England adapting to changes in fixed income markets?

The head of the Foreign Exchange Division at the BoE, Rohan Churm, spoke at the London Stock Exchange’s UK Debt Capital Markets Forum 2019 about recent innovations in fixed income markets and how the BoE is responding. The last few decades saw a shift towards fast markets, while technology vastly expanded access to data. This is particularly the case in equity markets, but the changes impacted foreign exchange markets as well. While electronic trading became standard in fixed income markets, however, the degree of automated trading in corporate bonds is far less prevalent. This does not mean that fixed income markets are not innovating. Mr Churm gave four recent examples of product innovation in fixed income markets including the significant growth in fixed income exchange-traded funds in recent years.

SIFMA calls for action on initial margin implementation

SIFMA welcomed an announcement from the BCBS and IOSCO on the implementation of the framework for margin requirements for non-centrally-cleared derivatives, but warned that further action is needed to avoid disruption to the functioning of the derivatives market. SIFMA urges regulators to lift the phase five threshold and remove physically settled FX from the calculation. SIFMA said market participants will encounter ‘significant challenges’ during the final phases of initial margin implementation.

 

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Regulation of capital markets

 

Commission welcomes agreement on new rules to improve access to capital markets for smaller businesses

The European Commission issued a press release on 6 March 2019 in which it welcomed the political agreement reached by the European Parliament and Member States on new rules that will further help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to finance their growth, innovate, and create jobs. The rules need to be formally approved by the European Parliament and Council. The new rules represent a key factor in the Capital Markets Union (CMU) agenda and are designed to ensure that smaller businesses in the EU can access to diversified sources of financing at each stage of their development. The revised rules will make it cheaper and simpler for SMEs to access public markets through the so-called 'SME Growth Markets', a new category of trading venue dedicated to small issuers.

London Stock Exchange approves Insurance-Linked Securities trading

The London Stock Exchange amended the International Securities Market Rulebook to allow companies to list Insurance-Linked Securities (ILS), as the UK moves toward breaking into the multibillion-dollar trade. Darko Hajdukovic, head of fixed income, funds and analytics, said the London Stock Exchange is ‘delighted’ that they introduced internal rules that allow financial services companies that issue ILS to float them on its international securities market. ‘The ability to create and list ILS in London further expands our offering and reinforces our role as the leading international financial centre’ Mr Hajdukovic said in an email. 

 

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Investment funds and asset management

 

Council of EU adopts Regulation establishing investment screening framework

The Council of the EU adopted a Regulation establishing a framework for the screening of foreign direct investments into the EU. The proposal to create the first EU-wide framework for investment screening was announced by President Juncker in his 2017 State of the Union speech, and the European Parliament approved the text of the Regulation in February 2019 following three-way talks between the Parliament, the Council of the EU and the European Commission. The new Regulation on the screening of foreign direct investment in the EU will create a co-operation mechanism enabling Member States and the Commission to exchange information and raise specific concerns. The Regulation will be published on 21 March 2019, will enter into force 20 days later, and will apply 18 months later.

FCA calls on firms to act following review of costs and charges disclosure in the investment sector and consults on such disclosures to workplace pension scheme members

The FCA published the key findings of supervisory work to assess the effectiveness of disclosure by asset managers and intermediaries, (eg wealth managers) to their retail customers. This work was prompted by new disclosure requirements on costs and charges introduced by the recast MiFID II and the PRIIPs Regulation, which came into effect in January 2018. The FCA also published the findings of its call for input which sought views on the initial experiences of the requirements introduced by PRIIPs, including transaction cost reporting and the scope of PRIIPs. In addition, the FCA published consultation paper 19/10: publishing and disclosing costs and charges to workplace pension scheme members and amendments to COBS.

UK Finance warns of potential unintended consequences of new investment firm rules

UK Finance published an article on the EU’s new rules for investment firms. UK Finance says the new rules are an important step in helping deliver a well-regulated financial system, by ensuring a coherent approach to the provision of bank-like services across the EU as well as delivering consistent prudential regulation. But the trade body warns that there are still details to be finalised which could lead to unintended consequence of restricting access to non-EU capital for customers and consumers in the EU. UK Finance says of particular concern is that the new rules may restrict or make unduly burdensome access for non-EU firms doing business into the EU on a cross-border basis. The EU’s agreed text stipulates that additional requirements may be imposed when a third country firm (ie a non-EU investment firm) seeks to provide services critical to supporting their EU-based clients. 

 

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Banks and mutuals

 

BoE unveils bank stress test scenario for 2018

The BoE published the key elements of the annual cyclical scenario (ACS) that it will be stress-testing banks against in 2019. The 2019 ACS will test the UK banking system’s resilience to deep simultaneous recessions in the UK and global economies, a financial market stress, and an independent stress of misconduct costs. In addition to the ACS, the BoE will also run a second stress test, the biennial exploratory scenario, which is scheduled to be launched in October 2019. The stress applied under the ACS is a coherent ‘tail risk’ scenario, intended to be severe and broad enough to assess UK banks’ resilience to a range of adverse shocks. The results of the 2019 ACS will be published in Q4 of 2019, along with the BoE’s Financial Stability Report.

EBA consults on updated guidelines on harmonised definitions and templates for funding of credit institutions

The EBA launched a consultation on its updated guidelines on harmonised definitions and templates for the reporting of funding plans of credit institutions. The guidelines, which were originally issued in June 2014 in response to a recommendation by the European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB), seek to establish consistent, efficient and effective supervisory practices by harmonising templates and definitions to facilitate the reporting of funding plans by credit institutions. They are being updated to reflect the experience gained through the EBA’s assessment of banks’ funding plans in 2017 and 2018 as well as the questions raised via the EBA Single Rulebook Q&A tool. The consultation on the proposed updated guidelines is open until 5 June 2019.

RTS on assessment of the impact of an institution’s failure under BRRD published in OJ

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2019/348 of 25 October 2018 supplementing the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive 2014/59/EU (BRRD) with regard to RTS specifying the criteria for assessing the impact of an institution's failure on financial markets, on other institutions and on funding conditions was published in the Official Journal of the EU. Article 4(1) of the BRRD requires an institution’s recovery and resolution plan to be determined with regard to the impact of its failure on financial markets, on other institutions and on funding conditions. The new RTS specifying the criteria to be taken into account when assessing the impact of failure, with separate criteria for credit institutions (Annex I) and investment firms (Annex 2). The RTS enter into force on 24 March 2019. 

 

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Consumer credit, mortgage and home finance

 

FCA to introduce rent-to-own price cap

The FCA confirmed the introduction of a price cap in the rent-to-own (RTO) sector. The cap will be introduced from 1 April 2019, and the FCA anticipates savings for consumers of up to £22.7m a year. The FCA says the move will ‘protect some of the most vulnerable customers in the UK’. The price cap will apply to any new products RTO firms introduce to the market for the first time. For products that RTO firms are already offering, the rules will apply either at the point the RTO firm raises the price or 1 July 2019 (whichever date is sooner). Micro-enterprises will get a further three months for their existing products (until 1 October 2019). The FCA will carry out a further review to assess the impact of the price cap, which will begin in April 2020. The chair of the Treasury Select Committee, Nicky Morgan MP, welcomed the cap, saying it was ‘a much-needed step in the right direction.

FCA publishes final findings on motor finance

The FCA published the final findings of its work on motor finance. These include findings on commission structures, transparency of information, lender controls and affordability assessments. The FCA is considering changes to the way in which commission works in the motor finance sector after uncovering serious concerns about the way in which lenders are choosing to reward car retailers and other credit brokers and is assessing the options for intervening in the market to address the harm it identified. This could include strengthening existing FCA rules or other steps such as banning certain types of commission model or limiting broker discretion.

FCA review on fees for credit card customers

The FCA published the results of a review it conducted focusing on reducing the risk of harm that flows from customers being in debt that they cannot afford to repay. The FCA noted that data and analysis from its work in this area raised concerns about the application of credit card fees to customers whose management of their account indicated that they might be in financial difficulty. The FCA’s review looked at whether firms were appropriately identifying indicators of potential financial difficulty. The FCA found that in many cases firms were continuing to apply fees in such instances potentially making the customer’s position worse. The FCA wrote to all credit card firms to highlight the findings of its multi-firm review of fees and charges in prime and sub-prime credit card products and is now encouraging firms to consider the impact of their fees and charges on fair customer outcomes.

FCA issues Dear CEO letter re portfolio strategy to firms providing high cost lending products

The FCA issued a Dear CEO letter to firms regarding the FCA’s view of the key risks that high cost lenders pose to their consumers or the markets they operate in, and asking firms to consider the degree to which the firm presents such risks and its strategies for mitigating them. Following the FCA’s new approach to supervisions, implemented in 2018, its high cost lenders supervision strategy includes work to identify, diagnose and remedy the harms in this portfolio. It also evaluates the impact of FCA interventions. The FCA states that it will write to firms again after January 2021 to give firms the FCA’s updated view of the key risks posed by firms in this portfolio and its updated plans to supervise them.

Treasury Committee criticises Lloyds’ new tiered overdraft system

The chair of the House of Commons Treasury Committee, Nicky Morgan MP, wrote to Lloyds Banking Group (LBG) to raise the Committee’s concerns about a new tiered overdraft system that was announced by LBG in January 2019. Ms Morgan warns that the new overdraft fees would go against recent FCA proposals to ban such tiered systems. In December 2018 the FCA published a consultation paper setting out its proposals to reform the ways banks and building societies charge for overdrafts. Among other things, it seeks to ban tiered pricing. This means that (except for interest free amounts) firms must charge the same interest rate regardless of the amount borrowed. The consultation closes on 18 March 2019.

Treasury Committee publishes correspondence on mortgage prisoners

The Treasury Committee published a series of correspondence relating to mortgage prisoners. Mortgage prisoners are those who are unable to remortgage or switch to a cheaper mortgage rate due to changes in legislation following the financial crash. The letters published are between Nicky Morgan MP (chair of the Treasury Committee) and John Glen MP (economic secretary to the Treasury), and from Andrew Bailey (chief executive of the FCA) and Mrs Morgan. The letters are available in full on Parliament’s website.

FCA announce Curo Transatlantic Limited enters administration, provides information for customers

On 6 March 2019 the FCA announced that Curo Transatlantic Limited (CTL), a provider of short-term, high-interest finance to consumers, entered administration on 25 February 2019. CLT operated exclusively in the UK under the brands Wage Day Advance and Juo Loans. Following its administration, some customer loans were transferred to Shelby Finance Limited, a subsidiary of Morses Club PLC. The FCA provides information for customers whose loans are and are not being transferred. The FCA also warned that Wage Day Advance and Juo Loans customers are not covered by the FSCS. There is no FSCS cover for consumer credit lenders. 

 

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Consumer access to financial services

 

Access to Cash publishes final report and calls to protect cash as it declines

Access to Cash, an independent body set up to review consumer requirements for cash over the next five to 15 years, published a final report on its findings. The review’s final recommendations call on the government, regulators and banks to act now or risk leaving millions at risk, noting that digital payments do not yet work for everyone and around eight million adults (17% of the population) would struggle to cope in a cashless society. The report noted that the movement from cash towards digital payments is placing significant strain on the UK’s cash infrastructure, which currently costs around £5bn a year to run. With more and more ATMs and bank branches closing, the economics of handling and accepting cash will lead to an increasing number of retailers going cashless. The review warns against leaving access to cash to market forces, and urges the government and financial services regulators to take action to ensure cash remains viable for as long as people need it.

Treasury Committee hears evidence on consumers' access to financial services

The House of Commons published oral evidence given at a Treasury Committee hearing on consumers' access to financial services, which was held on 27 February 2019, together with written evidence from the FCA. The Committee heard evidence from representatives of the FCA, the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Equality Advisory Support Service. Nisha Arora, director of consumer and retail policy at the FCA, said that the FCA will publish guidance in the next few months on identifying vulnerable customers. The FCA will cover the customer journey from identification, through to fair treatment, through to redress and recourse in the treatment of consumers. 

 

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Insurance and pensions

 

PRA consults on liquidity risk management for insurers

The PRA issued a consultation paper (CP4/19) seeking views on a draft supervisory statement ‘Liquidity risk management for insurers’ and the consequential supersession of a legacy supervisory statement (SS2/13) on collateral upgrade transactions. The proposals are relevant to all UK Solvency II firms, including in respect of the Solvency II groups provisions, the Society of Lloyd’s and its managing agents, and non-directive insurers. Feedback is sought by 5 June 2019. Legacy SS2/13 ‘Collateral upgrade transactions and asset encumbrance: expectations in relation to firms’ risk management practices’ sets out the PRA’s expectations of banks and insurers engaging in collateral upgrade transactions and describes a number of considerations in their management of the associated risk. Upon publication, it is proposed that the new SS would supersede the legacy SS, including the expectation therein to notify the PRA in advance of significant transactions.

European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Committee endorses Solvency II Implementing Regulation

The European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Committee adopted a favourable opinion regarding Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/228 of 7 February 2019 laying down technical information for the calculation of technical provisions and basic own funds for reporting with reference dates from 31 December 2018 until 30 March 2019 in accordance with the Solvency II Directive, which the European Commission submitted for consultation on 12 February 2019.

Financial Guidance and Claims Act 2018 (Naming and Consequential Amendments) Regulations 2019

SI 2019/383: Provisions are made to name the single financial guidance body the ‘Money and Pensions Service’ (MAPS), and make consequential amendments to legislation to reflect the new body’s name and functions in the UK. The Regulations come into force on 6 April 2019. The single financial guidance body was established as a legal entity on 1 October 2018 and began delivering its functions on 1 January 2019. These functions include money guidance, pensions guidance and debt advice which were previously carried out by the Money Advice Service, the Pensions Advisory Service and the Department of Work and Pensions under the ‘Pension Wise’ banner.

TPR publishes annual funding statement

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) published its annual funding statement (AFS), which contains guidance on how schemes should approach forthcoming scheme valuations. TPR says trustees and employers should be agreeing a clear strategy for achieving their long-term goals, recognising how the balance between investment risk, contributions and covenant support may change over time, particularly as schemes become more mature and potentially better funded. The AFS is particularly relevant to schemes conducting valuations with effective dates between 22 September 2018 and 21 September 2019 (Tranche 14). For the first time, and following feedback from trustees and advisers, the AFS includes TPR’s expectations on investment strategies. 

 

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Payment services and systems

 

Annex IX (Financial services) to the EEA Agreement amended to include reference to IFR

Decision of the EEA Joint Committee No 21/2019 of 8 February 2019 amending Annex IX (Financial services) to the EEA Agreement [2019/342] was published in the Official Journal. According to the decision, Annex IX to the EEA Agreement is to be amended to incorporate the IFR.

Council of the EU adopts Cross-border Payments Regulation

The Council of the EU announced that it adopted the Regulation amending Regulation (EC) 924/2009 as regards certain charges on cross-border payments in the EU and currency conversion charges. Most of the provisions of the new Regulation will take effect on 19 December 2019. The amendments to Regulation (EC) 924/2009 were proposed by the Commission in March 2018 and are intended to reduce the cost of intra-EU payments within the entire EU and unify the single retail payments market, as well as improving the transparency of currency conversion charges.

Steering group agrees voluntary code to tackle authorised push payment scams

The Authorised Push Payment (APP) Scams Steering Group announced that it agreed a voluntary code of good practice which aims to better protect customers and reduce the occurrence of APP fraud. The code will become effective on 28 May 2019, and customers of those payment service providers (PSPs) that are signatories will be protected under the Code from this date. The Steering Group, which is made up of industry and consumer group representatives, published the text of the voluntary code, including the standards expected of firms and customers, and its response to the feedback received on its consultation on the draft code, which was launched in September 2018. Prior to the commencement of the code in May 2019, PSPs who are not members of the Steering Group will be invited to become signatories. The Steering Group’s aim is for as large a proportion of the PSP market as possible to be covered by the code upon its implementation. The first group of signatory payment service providers will be announced on 28 May 2019.

ECB publishes impact assessment on SEPA migration

The ECB published an impact assessment report on the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) migration. According to the report, stakeholders give a positive overall assessment of the outcome of SEPA migration, owing to faster and cheaper cross-border credit transfers, particularly for euro area counterparties. Increases in competition and efficiency were also identified as benefits of SEPA. However, despite such benefits, the implementation of the SEPA schemes proved to be a considerable challenge for stakeholders.

EBA publishes letter on procedures for licensing e-money institutions

The EBA published a letter it wrote to Markus Ferber MEP in response to a letter from Mr Ferber regarding the e-money license granted to Google. In its response, the EBA addresses Mr Ferber’s concerns regarding the applicable procedures under the recast Payment Services Directive 2 (PSD2) for granting authorisation as an e-money institution (EMI) to large technology companies, Google’s recent authorisation as an EMI in Lithuania (and the requirements under PSD2 that must be fulfilled for such an authorisation to be granted) and the EBA’s actions to ensure authorisation procedures are applied consistently.

Andorra and the Vatican join SEPA payment schemes

The European Payments Council (EPC) announced that the Principality of Andorra and the Vatican City State/the Holy See are now part of the geographical scope of the SEPA payment schemes .The geographical scope of the payment schemes now consists of the 28 EU Member States plus Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Monaco, San Marino, the Principality of Andorra and the Vatican City State/the Holy See. All existing EPC scheme participants should now be able to send or to receive SEPA Credit Transfer, SEPA Instant Credit Transfer and SEPA Direct Debit transactions to and from scheme participants from the Principality of Andorra and the Vatican City State/the Holy See. 

 

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FinTech and virtual currencies

 

FinTech for Schools initiative aims to promote diversity in the sector

Innovate Finance, the industry body for UK FinTech, launched a FinTech for Schools Initiative, with the aim of inspiring the next generation of FinTech leaders, raising young people’s ambitions for innovation in financial services, and showcasing the various skills initiatives of its members. The FinTech for Schools campaign is designed to encourage young people to understand the increasing importance of digital skills in the workplace, with an emphasis on ensuring the sector is appealing to girls. Innovate Finance CEO Charlotte Crosswell said the sector is one of the UK’s fast-growing industries, ‘We are committed to working with schools, universities and our larger financial institutions on their schools engagement programmes to ensure a bright future for all'. 

 

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Sustainable finance

 

Sustainable Finance: Commission expert group calls for feedback on EU Green Bond Standard

The Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Finance (TEG) set up by the European Commission in July 2018 launched a call for feedback. TEG is seeking views on its preliminary recommendations for the development of an EU Green Bond Standard. Following up on the Commission’s action plan on financing sustainable growth, TEG is sharing its preliminary results on how such an EU Green Bond Standard would look, and calling on interested stakeholders and experts for feedback. TEG particularly requested feedback on obstacles to the development of the green bond market, eligible use of proceeds raised, reporting and verification requirements, as well as on possible incentives to help the European green bond market grow. TEG is expected to make its final recommendations to the Commission in June 2019. Stakeholders are invited to comment on the TEG's interim report by responding to a targeted questionnaire by 3 April 2019. 

 

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Dates for your diary

 

DateSubjectEvent

 

7 March 2019

 

Payment services and systems

 

The Board of the European Payments Council (EPC) will make a formal final determination in relation to UK Finance’s application on behalf of the UK financial services and payments industry to maintain participation in the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), on 7 March 2019.

 

7 March 2019Markets and trading

The deadline for feedback on the discussion of other complex derivative products as set out in CP18/38: Restricting contract for difference products sold to retail clients and a discussion of other retail derivative products is 7 March 2019.

 

7 March 2019Markets and trading

ESMA will publish its latest Double Volume Cap Data on 7 March 2019.

 

7 March 2019

Regulatory architecture

UK regulator updates

 

The revised version of PRA supervisory statement SS1/16 on written reports by external auditors to the PRA will be effective from 7 March 2019.

 

8 March 2019Solvency II

The deadline for submissions to EIOPAs call for evidence from market participants on the integration of sustainability risks and factors in investment and underwriting practices is 8 March 2019.

 

11 March 2019Sustainable finance

The deadline for responses to the International Organisation of Pensions Supervisors (IOPS) public consultation on its draft supervisory guidelines on the integration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors in the investment and risk management of pension funds is 11 March 2019.

 

11 March 2019Brexit

The FCA will host a briefing on 11 March 2019 in Central London. The briefing will be for regulated firms in preparation for the UK leaving the EU. At the briefing Nausicaa Delfas, Executive Director of International, will explain how the FCA is preparing for Brexit and its expectations of firms. The session will also include a panel Q&A session where firms can discuss concerns.

 

12 March 2019Mortgages and home finance

As part of its live and local series the FCA will host its ‘Ask the regulator’ Q&A roundtable discussion with FCA and industry panel on 12 March 2019 in Manchester.

 

13 March 2019Prudential requirements

The first weekly operation of the BoE’s liquidity facility in Euros (LiFE), under which it will offer to lend euros on a weekly basis, will be on 13 March 2019.

 

13 March 2019Financial services and competition

The deadline for responses to the Competition and Markets Authority’s consultation on extending the scope of its proposed market investigation reference in relation to the supply of funeral services to include funeral services supplied by funeral directors in the UK arising from the redemption of pre-paid funeral plans is 13 March 2019.

 

13 March 2019

Investment funds

Asset management

The deadline for representations to be made to the Competition and Market Authority on its draft Investment Consultancy and Fiduciary Management Market Investigation Order 2019 is 10 a.m on Wednesday 13 March 2019.

 

13 March 2019Retail investments

As part of its live and local series the FCA will host its interactive workshop on defined benefit pension transfers on 13 March in Preston.

 

13 March 2019

Investment funds

Asset management

The statutory deadline for the CMA to publish its final report of its investment consultants market investigation.

 

13 March 2019Prudential requirements

The deadline for feedback to the BCBS’s consultative document entitled 'Revisions to leverage ratio disclosure requirements' is 13 March 2019.

 

13 March 2019Risk management and controls

The deadline for responses to the EBA’s consultation on draft guidelines on ICT and security risk management (which seek to establish requirements for credit institutions, investment firms and payment service providers on the mitigation and management of their ICT risks and aim to ensure a consistent and robust approach across the single market) is 13 March 2019.

 

14 March 2019Brexit

The FCA will host a briefing on 14 March 2019 in Edinburgh. The briefing will be for regulated firms in preparation for the UK leaving the EU. At the briefing Nausicaa Delfas, Executive Director of International, will explain how the FCA is preparing for Brexit and its expectations of firms. The session will also include a panel Q&A session where firms can discuss any concerns.

 

14 March 2019Payment services

Paragraphs 3 and 5 of Article 30 of Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2018/389 (in relation to the RTS supplementing the revised Payment Services Directive with regard to strong customer authentication and common and secure open standards of communication) will apply from 14 March 2019.

 

14 March 2019MiFID IIThe deadline for the European Commission to endorse ESMA’s final report in relation to amending the tick size regime under Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2017/588(RTS 11) is 14 March 2019.

 

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