Weekly highlights—8 February 2018

Welcome to the weekly Financial Services highlights from the Financial Services team for the week ending 8 February 2018.

Brexit

FCA CEO: material regulatory divergence is ‘a false concept’

The chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Andrew Bailey, warned that there is a range of operational issues arising from Brexit which, if not tackled, will create financial stability risks and issues for both the UK and the EU. Mr Bailey said the FCA was treating Brexit as a high priority and was working with the government to take action to ensure there is a functioning regulatory regime from day one by implementing the EU withdrawal bill.

ECB vice-chair urges banks to continue to prepare for Brexit worst case scenario​

At the annual press conference on European Central Bank (ECB) banking supervision, held in Frankfurt on 7 February 2018, the chair of the supervisory board of the ECB, Danièle Nouy, and Sabine Lautenschläger, a member of the ECB executive board and vice-chair of its supervisory board, made introductory comments relating to the challenges that banks will continue to face during 2018, including preparing for Brexit.

Industry body warns that politics on both sides threatens a good Brexit

TheCityUK warned that the politics of Brexit is blinding parties on both sides of the Channel to the mutual advantage of a continued close partnership between the UK and the EU. It points to a report prepared by the International Regulatory Strategy Group (IRSG) in September 2017, which makes detailed proposals on the terms of a free trade agreement that would allow financial services suppliers in the EU and UK to have access to each other's markets post-Brexit.

Financial Conduct Authority updates

FCA publishes review of the effectiveness of its board

The FCA published a report detailing the results of an independent review into the FCA board's effectiveness. The board undertook its third independent effectiveness review towards the end of 2017, the previous ones having been undertaken in 2014 and 2015 respectively. The 2017 review was undertaken by Independent Audit Ltd

FCA policy development update for February 2018

The FCA published the latest version of its policy development update, which provides information on its recent and upcoming publications. Future publications include a consultation paper on payment services and electronic money, which is expected in March 2018.

International role for Nausicaa Delfas at the FCA

The FCA announced the appointment of Nausicaa Delfas as the executive director of international, responsible for setting, growing and leading the FCA’s strategy for international engagement. The role will involve leading relationships with foreign regulators, governments and other stakeholders, and facilitating the FCA’s work to shape the global regulatory agenda and international policy.

Prudential Regulation Authority updates

PRA regulatory digest for January 2018

The Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) published its regulatory digest for January 2018. This issue includes the PRA's announcement on 8 January 2018 that it is consulting on proposed expectations for reporting on the minimum requirement for own funds and eligible liabilities (MREL) through updates to Supervisory Statement 19/13 'Resolution planning'. The digest highlights the letter from the executive director of the prudential policy directorate, Vicky Saporta, sent on 8 January 2018 to selected firms on transition disclosures for IFRS 9. It also includes the PRA's announcement on 11 January 2018 that it is consulting on changes in insurance reporting requirements, which have been developed by the PRA as part of its work on adjustments to the insurance prudential framework in light of experience following the UK's implementation of Solvency II.

Regulatory architecture

Treasury committee launches small business inquiry

The Treasury Committee launched a new inquiry into small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) finance, looking at the lessons to be learned from the Royal Bank of Scotland’s (RBS) Global Restructuring Group (GRG), and more broadly at the state of the market for SME finance. The inquiry will consider the extent of competition in the market, the various sources of funding available to small businesses, including crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending, and whether the current regulatory framework provides appropriate protection to SMEs when they borrow money.

FCA chief briefs Treasury Committee on SMEs and RBS GRG

The Treasury Select Committee published a letter from Andrew Bailey, chief executive of the FCA, in which he provides an overview of the FCA's recent work regarding the regulatory framework for SMEs and the ongoing investigation into the RBS and its GRG. In the letter, dated 22 January 2018, Mr Bailey provides an overview of the FCA's consultation on access to redress for SMEs, and he expresses confidence that the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) will be able to develop their service to meet SMEs' needs.

Financial services priorities for the Bulgarian presidency of the Council of EU

Bulgaria set out its priorities for its six-month term as holder of the presidency of the Council of the EU, which commenced on 1 January 2018. Establishing a financial union as part of the completion of the economic and monetary union of the EU is one of its key priorities. It says it will direct its efforts towards the completion of the banking union with a focus on reducing the risks in the banking sector and on developing a capital markets union.

Valdis Dombrovskis sets out EU financial services agenda

The vice-president of the European Commission, Valdis Dombrovskis, delivered a wide-ranging speech in Dublin, discussing Brexit, FinTech, sustainable finance and the banking union. Mr Dombrovskis called for the EU and the UK to maintain a strong convergence of rules and supervision, and said the EU aimed to ‘become a FinTech superpower’.

World Federation of Exchanges agrees priorities for 2018

The World Federation of Exchanges (WFE), the global industry group for exchanges and central counterparties (CCPs), agreed its 2018 business priorities, which will focus on areas including regulatory coherence, CCP recovery and resolution issues, cyber security, FinTech, and SMEs.

BoE executive highlights risks of market-based corporate finance

The executive director for financial stability, strategy and risk at the Bank of England (BoE), Alex Brazier, gave a speech in which he considers the degree to which corporate credit markets have become stretched, and the impact this could have on the wider economy. Although banks should be able to keep lending through a global downturn, he says that more work is needed to understand the resilience of bond markets and whether they are prone to amplifying adjustments.

Authorisation, approval and supervision

PRA issues policy statement on SIMR

The PRA published policy statement (PS1/18), Strengthening individual accountability in insurance: optimisations to the Senior Insurance Managers Regime (SIMR). It provides feedback to responses to chapters 2 and 3 of consultation paper (CP8/17) ‘Strengthening individual accountability in banking and insurance: optimisations to the SIMR and changes to forms’. The appendices to PS1/18 also provide the final rules amending the SIMR and an updated supervisory statement (SS35/15) ‘Strengthening individual accountability in insurance’.

ISDA responds to FCA's SMCR consultation on industry codes of conduct and discussion paper on FCA Principle 5

The International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) responded to the FCA's November 2017 consultation paper (CP17/37) on industry codes of conduct and discussion paper on FCA Principle 5 (a firm must observe proper standards of market conduct). CP17/37 proposed a general approach to supervising and enforcing the Senior Managers & Certification Regime (SM&CR) rules for authorised firms' unregulated activities, including those covered by industry-written codes of conduct.

Prudential requirements

RTS on the materiality threshold under the CRR published in the Official Journal

Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2018/171 of 19 October 2017 supplementing Regulation (EU) No 575/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council (Capital Requirements Regulation (CRR)) with regard to regulatory technical standards (RTS) for the materiality threshold for credit obligations past due was published in the Official Journal of the EU.

PRA publishes direction for Capital Buffers modification by consent

The PRA updated its webpage on waivers and modifications of rules to include new information regarding the voluntary requirement (VREQ) with regard to capital buffers and Pillar 2A model requirements under the CRR. Firms applying for the VREQ are also expected to apply for a minor modification by consent of 5.1 to 5.5 of the Capital Buffers Part of the PRA Rulebook.

ECON publishes amendments to proposed MREL directive

The European Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) published amendments to its draft directive on MREL. Among the amendments are changes to promote greater flexibility, and the removal of pre-resolution moratoria, which is described as ‘very problematic as it would in essence be a resolution trigger, causing bank runs and contagion. In addition, it is likely that capital requirements would be raised’.

European Commission confirms that it will promote the use of the EBA's NPL data templates

In a letter to the European Banking Authority (EBA) dated 22 January 2018, the vice president of the European Commission, Valdis Dombrovskis, confirmed that the Commission will promote the use of the EBA's non-performing loans (NPL) data templates by banks, investors and other financial market participants. The letter is in response to a letter from Andrea Enria of the EBA dated 20 December 2017, in which the EBA asked Mr Dombrovskis for the Commission's support in promoting the usage of the templates.

SRB releases non-confidential versions of Banco Popular resolution documents

The Single Resolution Board (SRB) published the non-confidential version of documents related to the resolution of Banco Popular, including the resolution decision, valuation reports and the 2016 resolution plan. The SRB has decided to publish these additional documents relating to the resolution process in order to make as much information publicly available as possible.

Financial crime

HoC European Scrutiny Committee considers MLD5

The House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee cleared from scrutiny the proposal for a fifth anti-money laundering directive (MLD5) which will amend Directive (EU) 015/849 on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purposes of money laundering or terrorist financing (MLD4) and amending Directive 2009/101/EC.

2018 Home Office circulars published

The Home Office published the 2018 circulars, coinciding with provisions of the recently enforced Criminal Finances Act 2017 (CFA 2017). The new policies make changes to the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (PCA 2002), including introducing new orders and implementing firmer policies on the handling of potentially criminal proceeds.

Enforcement and redress

FCA CEO updates Treasury Committee on HBOS investigations

The Treasury Select Committee published a letter from the chief executive of the FCA, Andrew Bailey, to the chair of the committee, Nicky Morgan MP, with an update on the joint FCA and PRA investigation into certain former senior managers of HBOS. Mr Bailey said there was an ongoing and extensive document review, with evidential and legal analysis of relevant information. The separate investigation into the events surrounding the discovery of misconduct within HBOS’s Reading-based impaired assets team is also ongoing. Mr Bailey said the investigations were being treated as priorities and the FCA is committed to completing them as soon as possible.

Markets and trading

FCA consults on Handbook changes to reflect the Benchmarks Regulations

The FCA is consulting on changes to its Handbook because of the changes introduced by the Benchmarks Regulation and the UK Benchmarks Regulations 2018. The FCA said it needs to amend the Decision Procedure and Penalties manual (DEPP) and the Enforcement Guide (EG). Feedback is sought by 5 March 2018, and the FCA aims to publish a policy statement in March 2018.

Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (Benchmarks) Regulations 2018

SI 2018/135: Parts of the Benchmarks Regulation are implemented in UK law. Among other things these changes specify the FCA to carry on the duty of competent authority under the Benchmarks Regulation. These changes come into effect for the most part on 27 February 2018, and in full on 1 May 2020.

ESMA publishes draft ITS on supervisory co-operation under the Market Abuse Regulation

The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) published a final report on draft implementing technical standards (ITS) on forms and procedures for co-operation under Articles 24 and 25 of the Market Abuse Regulation (EU) 596/2014. The draft ITS clarify how national competent authorities and ESMA should co-operate with each other as well as with other EU authorities, entities and public bodies in the field of market abuse.

ESMA sets out supervisory convergence priorities for 2018

ESMA published its 2018 Supervisory Convergence Work Programme (SCWP), setting out its convergence priorities and aiming to foster co-ordination of national supervisory priorities. ESMA says that although most priorities identified for 2017 remain relevant for 2018, new priorities include the high impact of financial innovation and Brexit.

ESMA issues conflict of interest guidelines for CCPs

ESMA issued final guidelines on the management of conflict of interests for CCPs. Under the European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR) CCPs are required to put in place organisational arrangements and policies to prevent potential conflicts of interest and to solve them if the preventive measures are not sufficient. The final guidelines were developed following a public consultation in June 2017.

Trade associations launch benchmark transition roadmap

The International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA), the Association of Financial Markets in Europe (AFME), International Capital Market Association (ICMA) and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) and its asset management group (SIFMA AMG) launched a roadmap that highlights key challenges involved in transitioning financial market contracts and practices from interbank offered rates, or ‘IBORs’, to alternative risk-free rates (RFRs).

ECON publishes report on proposal for CCP recovery and resolution

ECON published its report on the European Commission's proposal for a regulatory framework for the recovery and resolution of CCPs. The report, which was adopted by ECON on 24 January 2018, makes a number of amendments to the Commission's proposal and includes a draft resolution for the Parliament to adopt the amended version as its position at first reading.

ECON draft report on authorisation of CCPs and recognition of third-country CCPs

ECON published its draft report on the proposal of the European Commission for a regulation amending the ESMA Regulation (Regulation (EU) No 1095/2010 establishing ESMA) and amending EMIR in relation to the procedures and authorities involved for the authorisation of CCPs and requirements for the recognition of third-country CCPs.

ESMA updates Q&As on benchmarks, short-selling, and EMIR

ESMA updated its Q&A documents regarding the implementation of the Short Selling Regulation(SSR), the implementation of the Benchmarks Regulation and the implementation of EMIR.

ESMA releases new CSDR Q&As

ESMA published updated Q&As on the implementation of the Central Securities Depositories Regulation (EU) 909/2014 (CSDR).

New ESMA MiFID II Q&As on transparency and market structures

ESMA updated its Q&As on transparency issues under MiFID II and MiFIR. The new questions cover pre-arranged/negotiated transactions for non-equity instruments, and minimum size of orders held in an order management facility for non-equity financial instruments.

Guidelines on MiFID II product governance requirements enter comply or explain stage

ESMA published the official translations of its guidelines on MiFID II product governance requirements in all EU official languages. National competent authorities to which the guidelines apply must notify ESMA whether they comply or intend to comply with the guidelines, within two months of the date of publication, ie by 5 April 2018.

ESMA publishes responses to consultation on EMIR position calculation

ESMA published the responses to its consultation on position calculation under EMIR. The purpose of the guidelines is to ensure that trade repositories calculate positions in derivatives in a harmonised and consistent manner in accordance with Article 80(4) of EMIR. The consultation closed on 15 January 2018.

ESMA publishes consultation responses to proposed amendment to MiFID II RTS 1 on SI quote rules

ESMA published the responses it received to its consultation on proposed amendments to MiFID II RTS 1.

Bank of England makes statements of commitment to FICC codes

The BoE issued statements of commitment to the FX Global Code, the UK Money Markets Code and the Global Precious Metals Code, demonstrating that it is committed to adhering to the principles of these codes when acting as a market participant in the relevant markets, and that its internal practices and processes are aligned with the principles of the codes. The BoE strongly encourages all market participants to adhere to these codes, and has extended this expectation to its regular trading counterparties and participants in the sterling monetary framework.

Composition of the working group on euro risk-free rates announced

The ECB, together with ESMA, the European Commission and the Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA), announced the composition of the working group on euro risk-free rates. Among other things, the working group will be tasked with identifying and recommending alternative risk-free rates and studying potential issues in relation to transition to these rates in line with its terms of reference. Such rates could serve as an alternative to the current benchmarks used in a variety of financial instruments and contracts in the euro area.

ESMA CCP stress test finds sector ‘overall fit for purpose’

ESMA published the results of its second EU-wide stress test exercise regarding CCPs established in the EU. ESMA says that, overall, the system of EU CCPs is resilient to multiple clearing member (CM) defaults and extreme market shocks. In addition, the report also highlights individual CCP-specific results.

Share cancellation is not compatible with MMF Regulation, Commission says

ESMA published a letter that it received from the European Commission, confirming ESMA's view that the practice of share cancellation, also known as reverse distribution or share destruction, is not compatible with the Money Market Fund (MMF) Regulation.

Minor amendment to MiFID II ITS published in the Official Journal

corrigendum to Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/2382 of 14 December 2017 laying down implementing technical standards (ITS) with regard to standard forms, templates and procedures for the transmission of information, in accordance with MiFID II, was published in the Official Journal of the EU.

EMMI no longer to pursue Eonia review

The European Money Markets Institute (EMMI) announced that, in light of the conclusions of the analyses performed in the context of the Eonia Review Data Exercise, together with the information on the overnight unsecured segment of the euro money market published by the ECB, EMMI will no longer pursue its review of the Euro OverNight Index Average (Eonia).

ESMA chair responds to IOSCO Monitoring Group consultation

The chair of ESMA, Steven Maijoor, responded to Gerben Everts, chair of the Monitoring Group, which is consulting on ‘Strengthening the governance and oversight of the International Audit-related Standard-setting Boards in the public interest’, which was released on 9 November 2017.

ESMA publishes summaries of conclusions from of management board and board of supervisors meetings

ESMA released summaries of meetings of its management board and its board of supervisors, which took place on 13 December 2017 and 14 December 2017 respectively.

Investment funds and wealth management

Alternative Investment Fund Managers (Amendment) Regulations 2018

SI 2018/134: Changes are made to bring UK legislation into alignment with changes made by EU Regulation (EU) 2017/1991 to EU legislation on European venture capital funds and on European social entrepreneurship funds. These changes come into effect in part on 1 March 2018, and in full on 2 April 2018.

IOSCO issues recommendations and best practices to improve liquidity risk management for investment funds

The International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) published final recommendations that seek to improve liquidity risk management practices of open-ended collective investment schemes (CIS) as part of its mission to protect investors, ensure fair and efficient financial markets and reduce systemic risk. IOSCO also simultaneously published a final report that sets out good practice examples regarding open-ended fund liquidity risk management, to supplement its recommendations.

Banks and mutuals

UK Finance launches guide for opening and switching business current accounts

Small business owners preparing to open or switch to a new business current account can now do so more easily, as 18 account providers now require the same basic set of information from new customers, UK Finance announced. The information is included in a new online guide launched by UK Finance, providing the essential details and documents that most businesses will need to open an account, so those applying can be ready for their first bank meeting.

Consumer credit, mortgage and home finance

New banking rules come into force following CMA investigation

In a rule change required by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) as part of its Retail Banking Investigation, banks must now set up an overdraft alert system which will help their customers avoid unnecessary charges, the government announced. The alert system is one of four new measures that were implemented on 2 February 2018 in response to the CMA's investigation.

Insurance and pensions

Postponement of IDD: PRA issues consultation, FCA gives update and ABI comments

Following the European Commission’s decision to postpone the application date of the Insurance Distribution Directive (IDD) from Friday 23 February 2018 to Monday 1 October 2018, the PRA, the FCA and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) issued responses. The PRA is proposing to update the IDD-related rules made in PS31/17 to be effective from the updated application date of Monday 1 October 2018. The FCA said once the IDD is transposed into UK law it will make its final rules, which were published in near-final form on 19 January 2018, and which it does not expect to make any changes to. The ABI welcomed the delay, saying it will provide insurers with ‘the maximum possible level of certainty at this stage of the difficult implementation process’.

HM Treasury delays transposition of Insurance Distribution Directive

HM Treasury announced that the UK government would delay making the Insurance Distribution (Regulated Activities and Miscellaneous Amendments) Order 2018 until it is known whether the application date of the IDD will be delayed until 1 October 2018, as proposed by the European Commission. The government had originally planned for the Order to come into force on 23 February 2018, the original application date of the IDD.

EIOPA consults on draft RTS adapting the base euro amounts for PII and financial capacity of intermediaries under the IDD

The European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) published a consultation paperon a proposal for draft regulatory technical standards (RTS) adapting the base euro amounts for professional indemnity insurance (PII) and for financial capacity of intermediaries under the IDD.

Council of the EU publishes I/A item note on IDD RTS postponement

The Council of the EU published an I/A item note requesting confirmation that the Council has no objection to the Commission Delegated Regulation of 20.12.2017 (C(2017) 8681 final), which postpones the date of application of Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2017/2358 and Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2017/2359 to the date eventually agreed for application of the IDD. In December 2017, the Commission proposed postponement of the application of IDD to 1 October 2018.

EIOPA paper seeks to widen the debate on systemic risk and macroprudential policy

EIOPA published the first in a series of papers with the aim of contributing to the debate on systemic risk and macroprudential policy. EIOPA says that debate, until now, has mainly focused on the banking sector due to its prominent role in the recent financial crisis. Through the new series of papers, EIOPA seeks to ensure that any further extension of the debate to the insurance sector fully reflects the industry's specific nature.

FCA seeks views on non-workplace pensions

The FCA published a discussion paper to gather views on the market for non-workplace pensions. The FCA is seeking feedback to better understand the market for non-workplace pensions, including whether competition is working well and if there are issues that need to be addressed in order to protect consumers. Feedback is sought by 27 April 2018.

Solvency II reporting regulation published in the Official Journal

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/165 of 31 January 2018 laying down technical information for the calculation of technical provisions and basic own funds for reporting with reference dates from 31 December 2017 until 30 March 2018, in accordance with Directive 2009/138/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the taking-up and pursuit of the business of Insurance and Reinsurance (Solvency II), was published in the Official Journal of the EU.

PRA comments on actuarial function reports and reminds general insurers of Solvency II requirements

The PRA issued a letter to chief actuaries of general insurers, following the PRA’s review of actuarial function reports (AFRs). The letter, sent by the PRA’s chief actuary, general insurance, James Orr, sets out areas where the PRA thinks that Solvency II requirements are not always being met, emerging good practice in AFRs, and some observations on how firms’ actuarial functions can be more engaged with the firm’s board and the firm’s risk management.

EIOPA publishes new Solvency II Q&As

EIOPA published a number of new sets of Q&As on the Solvency II framework.

EIOPA publishes technical information for Solvency II relevant RFR term structures

EIOPA published the technical information on the relevant risk free interest rate term structures (RFR) with reference to the end of January 2018. For the first time, the risk-free interest rates were calculated with ultimate forward rates (UFRs) derived in accordance with the UFR methodology published by EIOPA in April 2017. The UFR applied to the euro decreased from 4.2% to 4.05%.

EIOPA monthly update on the equity capital charge for Solvency II

EIOPA published the technical information on the symmetric adjustment of the equity capital charge for Solvency II, with reference to the end of January 2018.

IE responds to EC consultation on institutional investors and asset managers' duties on sustainability

Insurance Europe (IE) published a response to a European Commission consultation on institutional investors and asset managers' duties regarding sustainability. IE noted that the insurance industry has for some time considered and incorporated environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors in their business models and investment strategies, and a number of insurers across Europe have increasingly made (public) commitments to sustainability goals.

Payment systems and services

ECB finalises user requirements documents for RTGS

The ECB published the user requirements documents for its future real-time gross settlement (RTGS) services. The project has now entered the implementation phase and the consolidated system is expected to be ready in November 2021. The ECB says the new system will exploit the synergies across all TARGET Services, ‘bringing significant improvements to liquidity management’.

Nicky Morgan says LINK’s plans ‘the first major test for the PSR’

The chair of the Treasury Select Committee, Nicky Morgan MP, commented on LINK’s ATM plans, saying the Committee will take ‘a very dim view if all those with a role to play—be that LINK, the banks, the ATM deployers, or the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR)—fail to work constructively to ensure that the 2.7 million people reliant almost entirely on cash transactions aren’t cut off’.

PSR publishes November 2017 board meeting minutes

The Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) released the minutes of its 22 November 2017 board meeting, where authorised push payment (APP) scams, the ongoing work establishing the New Payment Systems Operator, direct debit facilities management, and the PSR’s regulatory fees were discussed. The meeting also discussed the PSR’s 2018/19 action plan.

Fintech and virtual currencies

New EU blockchain forum for online transaction security

The EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum was launched by the European Commission and is designed to highlight key developments of the blockchain technology, promote European actors and reinforce European engagement with multiple stakeholders involved in blockchain activities.

Dates for your diary

Date Subject Event
9 February 2018 Solvency II Deadlines for responses to PRA consultation paper ‘CP23/17: Financial management and planning by insurers’.
9 February 2018 Capital Requirements Regulation Deadlines for responses to EBA ‘Consultation Paper: Draft Regulatory Technical Standards on the methods of prudential consolidation under Article 18 of the CRR (EBA/CP/2017/20)’.
9 February 2018 Solvency II Deadlines for responses to PRA consultation ‘CP22/17: Solvency II—Supervisory approval for the volatility adjustment’.
12 February 2018 Insurance Distribution Directive Deadline for responses to PRA consultation ‘CP4/18: Insurance Distribution Directive—change to commencement date’.
15 February 2018 Markets in Financial Instruments Directive and Markets in Financial Instruments Regulation 
Capital Requirements Directive IV and Capital Requirements Regulation
Deadline for responses to the European Commissions proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the prudential requirements of investment firms.
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