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02/06/2016 2016/743 ESMA assesses usefulness of distributed ledger technologies , , Press Release PDF
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02/06/2016 2016/903 ESMA reminds firms of responsibilities when selling bail-in securities Press Release PDF
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30/05/2016 2016/742 ESMA issues opinion on MiFID II standards on ancillary activities , Press Release PDF
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02/05/2016 2016/566 Press release MiFID II RTS , Press Release PDF
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07/04/2016 2016/582 ESMA finds room for improvement in national supervision of investment advice to retail clients , , Press Release PDF
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04/04/2016 2016/566 ESMA not to exempt ETD under MiFID II , Press Release PDF
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17/03/2016 2016/366 ESMA maintains market risk indicator at highest level , Press Release PDF
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22/12/2015 2015/1872 Press Release Cross Selling Guidelines Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published its Guidelines on Cross-Selling Practices under MiFID II (guidelines) to ensure investors are treated fairly when an investment firm offers two or more financial products or services as part of a package.

The guidelines include principles on:

  • improving disclosures when different products are cross-sold with one another;
  • requiring firms to provide investors with all relevant information in a timely and clear manner;
  • addressing conflicts of interest arising from remuneration models; and
  • improving client understanding on whether purchasing the individual products offered in a package is possible.

The European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) – EBA, EIOPA and ESMA - initially intended to issue joint guidelines covering all cross-selling practices taking place in the banking, insurance and securities sectors given that cross-selling is often cross-sectoral, and had consulted the stakeholders previously on this basis.

However, in light of legal concerns, the ESAs decided not to issue joint guidelines on cross-selling practices but agreed that ESMA should issue ESMA-only guidelines under MiFID II in order to meet its 3 January 2016 deadline.

While ESMA’s guidelines take into account the results of the ESAs’ joint consultation, the final report focuses on the feedback regarding cross-selling practices under MIFID II. Further, the guidelines are addressed to national regulators supervising the firms which provide MiFID services, when they engage in cross-selling practices.

The ESAs intend to inform the European Commission about the issues encountered and raise the possibility of legislative change to provide a foundation for future joint guidelines.

The guidelines will apply from 3 January 2017.

14/09/2015 2015/1379 ESMA raises its market risk indicator to highest level , Press Release PDF
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05/05/2015 JC/2015/02 ESAs- main risks to EU financial market stability have intensified , , Press Release PDF
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The Joint Committee of the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) published its fifth Report on Risks and Vulnerabilities in the EU Financial System. Overall, the report found that in the past six months, risks affecting the EU financial system have not changed in substance, but have further intensified. The EU’s economic performance improved slightly in early 2015, however the financial sector in general continues to be affected by a combination of factors such as low investment demand, economic uncertainty in the Eurozone and its neighbouring countries, a global economic slow-down and a low-interest rate environment. The main risks affecting the financial system remain broadly unchanged from those identified in the report’s previous edition, but have become more entrenched. The major risks include: • Low growth, low inflation, volatile asset prices and their consequences for financial entities; • Search for yield behaviour exacerbated by potential rebounds; • Deterioration in the conduct of business; and • Increased concern about IT risks and cyber-attacks. Despite these risks, a number of ongoing policy and regulatory initiatives are contributing to improving the stability and confidence in the financial system as well as facilitating additional funding channels to the real economy. These include ongoing regulatory reforms in the securities, banking and insurance sectors such as the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II) and Regulation (MiFIR), the work on the implementation of the Capital Requirements Directive and Regulation (CRDIV/CRR), the work on the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (BRRD), the Deposit-Guarantee Schemes Directive (DGS) and the Solvency II Directive, as well as the European Commission’s plan for a Capital Markets Union (CMU). Steven Maijoor, Chair of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) and the current Chairman of the Joint Committee, said: “The Joint Committee has noted some improvement in overall market conditions; however, the recovery is not yet sustained and is exposed to risks related to broad macroeconomic conditions, in particular the low interest environment and resulting search-for-yield behaviour. Additionally regulators continue to have concerns about the operational risks generated by some financial institutions’ inappropriate business conduct, as well as those risks posed by inadequate management of IT risks. “However, recent regulatory initiatives across the banking, insurance and securities sectors, such as the Comprehensive Assessment, the insurance sector stress test and Solvency II along with, the ongoing MiFID, EMIR and PRIPS reforms are contributing to improving the stability and confidence in the EU financial system." Key Risks Identified The identified risks in the Report can be divided into macro risks to the EU financial system and economy and operational risks. Macro Risks The key macro risks identified relate to: 1. Risks from weak economic growth and low inflation environment, which include: • Adverse effect that low interest rates and uncertainties about the economic recovery have had on the outlook for the financial industry; • Higher valuation and market liquidity risk has raised concerns about the outlook for financial entities’ stability in the event of reversals in interest rates and asset prices; 2. Low profitability is motivating financial institutions and other investors to search for yield, which requires increased supervisory attention to the viability of business models, related restructuring activity and adequate management of risks. However, the promotion of sound and innovative business models for market-based funding structures could help to deliver additional stimulus; and 3. Some continued doubts on the comparability and consistency of banks’ calculations of risk weighted assets. Operational Risks The key operational risks relate to: 4. Business conduct risk remains a key concern with the Report recommending that supervisors should include misconduct costs in future stress tests where appropriate, while financial institutions should strengthening product oversight and governance frameworks. Further improvements in the regulatory framework and supervisory practices to address conduct risks are also warranted. In addition, further progress needs to be made on benchmark reforms where continuity and integrity remain a source of concern even if key panels remained stable; and 5. IT operational risk and cyber risk remain of great concern and pose challenges to the the safety and integrity of financial institutions. IT risk increased due to costs pressures, outsourcing, the need for additional capacities and a mounting number of cyber-attacks. The adequate integration of IT risk into overall risk management is a key policy for mitigation.
01/04/2015 2015/674 Press release- ESMA launches centralised data projects for MiFIR and EMIR , Press Release PDF
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11/03/2015 2015/562 Press release- ESMA sees continued tense securities market conditions , Press Release PDF
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25/02/2015 2015/495 ESMA publishes review on best execution supervisory practices under MiFID , , Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has conducted a peer review on how national regulators (national competent authorities or NCAs) supervise and enforce the MiFID provisions relating to investment firms’ obligation to provide best execution, or obtain the best possible result, for their clients when executing their orders. ESMA found that the level of implementation of best execution provisions, as well as the level of convergence of supervisory practices by NCAs, is relatively low. In order to address this situation a number of improvements were identified, including: . prioritisation of best execution as a key conduct of business supervisory issue; . the allocation of sufficient resources to best execution supervision; and . a more proactive supervisory approach to monitoring compliance with best execution requirements, both desk-based and onsite inspections. The review was conducted on the basis of information provided by 29 NCAs and complemented by on-site visits to the NCAs of France, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland and Spain.
19/12/2014 2014/1574 ESMA provides implementing rules for MiFID II , , Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published today its final technical advice (TA) and launches a consultation on its draft regulatory technical and implementing standards (RTS/ ITS) regarding the implementation of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II) and Regulation (MiFIR). Both ESMA’s TA and draft RTS translate the MiFID II/MiFIR requirements into practically applicable rules for market participants and national supervisors. The new regulatory framework aims at ensuring that secondary markets are fair, transparent and safe and that investors’ interests are safeguarded when being sold investment products. Steven Maijoor, ESMA Chair, said:“Today’s implementing rules on both secondary markets and investor protection issues reflect ESMA’s desire to achieve the best outcome for market users and investors, taking into account the extensive submissions received from our stakeholders. The advice now goes to the European Commission to use in preparation of its delegated legislation, while our technical standards are open for a second round of consultation. “Once fully implemented, MiFID II will have a significant impact on the EU’s securities markets, its users and infrastructure providers. It will bring greater transparency and improve the overall functioning of markets thus strengthening investors’ trust in the financial sector.”MiFID II to include most financial instruments, trading venues and techniquesMiFID II/MiFIR introduces changes to the functioning of secondary markets, including transparency requirements for a broad range of asset classes; the obligation to trade derivatives on trading venues; requirements for algorithmic and high-frequency-trading and new supervisory tools for commodity derivatives. The key proposals stemming from ESMA’s TA/draft RTS cover the following issues: •    increased trade transparency, for non-equity instruments, in particular bonds, derivatives, structured finance products and emission allowances;•    a trading obligation for shares and a double volume cap mechanism for shares and equity-like instruments, introducing a major change to the framework for trading these instruments in the Union;•    an obligation to trade derivatives on MiFID venues (regulated markets, multilateral (MTFs) or organised trading facilities (OTFs)) only, in line with G20 requirements;•    newly introduced position limits and reporting requirements for commodity derivatives;•    rules governing high frequency trading, imposing a strict set of organisational requirements on investment firms and trading venues;•    provisions regulating access to central counterparties (CCPs), trading venues and benchmarks, designed to increase competition in the Union; and•    requirements for a consolidated tape of trading data, including rules for tape providers, reporting,  publication and sales of data.MiFID II to improve investor protection ESMA’s TA proposes that the Commission adopts a number of measures that will further the protection of investors across the EU. The main proposals relating to the improved protection of investors, especially retail, include:•    clarifications about the circumstances in which portfolio managers can receive research from third parties;•    clarifications under which circumstances inducements meet the quality enhancement requirement for the provision of advice;•    requirements for investment firms manufacturing and/or distributing financial instruments and structured deposits to have product governance arrangements in place in order to assess the robustness of their manufacture and/or distribution;•    requirements for firms to provide clients with details of all costs and charges related to their investment, including cost aggregations, the timing of disclosure (ex-ante and ex-post); information to non-retail clients; the scope of firms subject to this obligation; information on the cumulative effect of costs on the return; •    organisational requirements for firms providing investments advice on an independent basis; and•    specification of powers for ESMA and national regulators with regards to prohibiting or restricting the marketing and distribution of financial instruments. Next stepsThe TA has been finalised following extensive consultations with stakeholders and will now be sent to the European Commission. ESMA’s draft RTS/ITS, already previously consulted upon, are open for public comment until 2 March 2015. In addition, an open hearing will be held in Paris on 19 February 2015. ESMA will use the input received from the consultations to finalise its draft RTS which will be sent for endorsement to the European Commission by mid-2015, its ITS by January 2016. MiFID II/ MiFIR and its implementing measures will be applicable from 3 January 2017.
22/05/2014 2014/557 ESMA consults on MiFID reforms , , Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has launched the consultation process for the implementation of the revised Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II) and Regulation (MiFIR). This is the first step in the process of translating the MiFID II/MiFIR requirements into practically applicable rules and regulations to address the effects of the financial crisis and to improve financial market transparency and strengthen investor protection.MiFID II/MiFIR introduces changes that will have a large impact on the EU’s financial markets, these include transparency requirements for a broader range of asset classes; the obligation to trade derivatives on-exchange; requirements on algorithmic and high-frequency-trading and new supervisory tools for commodity derivatives. It will also strengthen protection for retail investors through limits on the use of commissions; conditions for the provision of independent investment advice; stricter organisational requirements for product design and distribution; product intervention powers; and the disclosure of costs and charges.MiFID II/MiFIR contains over 100 requirements for ESMA to draft Regulatory Technical Standards (RTS) and Implementing Technical Standards (ITS), and to provide Technical Advice to the European Commission to allow it to adopt delegated acts. In order to ensure that MIFID II achieves its objectives in practice, ESMA is publishing the following documents:1.    Consultation Paper on MiFID/MiFIR Technical Advice – ESMA needs to deliver this advice to the European Commission by December 2014 and is therefore subject to a condensed consultation process for this paper; and2.    Discussion Paper on MiFID/MiFIR draft RTS/ITS – this will provide the basis for a further consultation paper on the draft RTS/ITS which is expected to be issued in late 2014/early 2015. The closing date for responses to both papers is Friday 1 August. Steven Maijoor, ESMA Chair, said:“The launch of today’s MiFID II/MiFIR consultation process is an important step in the biggest overhaul of financial markets regulation in the EU for a decade. The reform of MiFID is an integral part of the EU’s strategy to address the effects of the financial crisis and aims to bring greater transparency to markets and to strengthen investor protection. These changes are key to restoring trust in our financial markets.“We appreciate the magnitude of this exercise for stakeholders. We strongly encourage all those affected by these reforms to provide their views to ensure that we take them into account in our final proposals.”The main issues covered in the Discussion and Consultation Paper are divided into those addressing the structure, transparency and regulation of financial markets, and those aimed at strengthening investor protection.Financial Markets Structure, Transparency and RegulationThe main proposals in this area cover the following issues: enhanced transparency and trading obligations - increasing pre- and post-trade transparency for many categories of instruments, e.g. shares, ETFs, certificates, bonds and derivatives, limitations to trade shares OTC and new obligations to trade derivatives on trading venues; micro-structural issues – refining the definition of high frequency trading and direct electronic access and specifying the requirements for operating in the market using algorithmic techniques; data publication and access – issues related to the development of the consolidated tape including requirements for tape providers, approved publication arrangements and reporting mechanisms, and the definition of a reasonable commercial basis for data sales; and the access to CCPs,  trading venues and benchmarks; other organisational requirements for trading venues; and commodity derivatives – new regulatory tools, including position limits. Investor ProtectionThe main proposals relating to the improved protection of retail investors include technical advice on: inducements – new limitations on the receipt of commissions (inducements); independent advice – clearly distinguishing independent from non-independent advice; product governance – requirements on the manufacture and distribution of financial products including target market and risk identification; product intervention/banning - introducing powers for both ESMA and national regulators to prohibit or restrict the marketing and distribution of certain financial instruments; and improved information on costs and charges – requirements to provide clients with details of all charges related to their investment (relating to both the investment service and the financial instrument provided) so they can understand the overall cost and its effect on their investment’s return. In addition, the draft regulatory technical standards in the investor protection area relate to the authorisation of investment firms, passporting, and certain best execution obligations.Next StepsESMA will hold three public hearings about secondary markets, investor protection and commodity derivatives issues on Monday 7 and Tuesday 8 July. Further details on the hearings will be published on ESMA’s website. 2014/548 2014/549
27/03/2014 2014/334 ESMA issues good practices for structured retail product governance , Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published an opinion on structured retail products, setting out good practices for firms when manufacturing and distributing these products.
07/02/2014 2014/152 ESMA tells firms to improve their selling practices for complex financial products , Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published an Opinion on practices to be observed by investment firms when selling complex financial products to investors. ESMA is issuing this opinion to remind national supervisors and investment firms about the importance of requirements governing selling practices under MiFID (Markets in Financial Instruments Directive).ESMA is issuing this Opinion as it is concerned that firms’ compliance with the MiFID selling practices when selling complex products may have fallen short of expected standards. The concerns relate mainly to the suitability and appropriateness of complex products that are increasingly within the grasp of retail investors. The Opinion sets out ESMA’s minimum expectations with respect to the conduct of firms when selling complex products to retail investors.Steven Maijoor, ESMA Chair, said: “Investment firms increasingly sell complex financial products such as warrants, different types of structured bonds, derivatives and asset-backed securities, which were previously accessible mainly to professional investors, to retail investors.“ESMA is concerned that this trend greatly increases the risk that customers do not understand the risks, costs and expected returns of the products they are buying. Therefore, we believe that it is crucial that investment firms act responsibly and in the best interest of their clients.“The level of concern regarding the risk posed by these products to investor protection when MiFID rules are not fully respected is such that we have also issued an EU-wide warning to investors in order to raise awareness about the risks arising from investing in these types of complex products.” The marketing and sale of complex financial products, in particular to retail investors, is an important investor protection area where ESMA wants to ensure a consistent approach to the application of the MiFID conduct business rules - thereby improving supervisory convergence.The areas covered by the Opinion relate to: firms’ organisation and internal controls; the assessment of the suitability or appropriateness of certain products; disclosures and communications in relation to products; and compliance monitoring of the sales functions.
20/09/2013 2013/1324 ESMA TRV: market conditions improve, as systemic risks persist Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) published today its Trends, Risks, Vulnerabilities (TRV) Report and a Risk Dashboard for the second quarter of 2013. The TRV examines the performance of securities markets in the first half of 2013, assessing both trends and risks in order to develop a comprehensive picture of systemic and macro-prudential risks in the EU, to assist both national and EU bodies in their risk assessments. ESMA’s TRV contributes to promoting financial stability and enhancing consumer protection by regularly looking into cross-border and cross-sector trends, risks and vulnerabilities, both at the wholesale and retail level. The TRV finds that EU securities markets and investment conditions in the EU have improved for a second quarter in a row since the 4th quarter of 2012, although systemic risk persisted at medium to high levels. Amongst other risk factors, uncertainty remained high due to concerns over funding sources, low interest rates and recent market fluctuations, resulting in increased market risk, while liquidity, credit and contagion risk continue to be significant. Steven Maijoor, ESMA Chair, said: “While the easing of stress in financial markets is a positive sign, systemic risks in the EU remain high and uncertainty in the international market environment has risen. Valuations in securities markets, volatility in fund flows, and continuity issues around financial benchmarks remain a matter of concern. Faced with these issues regulators and market participants should remain vigilant. “ESMA’s work on identifying those risks facing Europe’s securities markets is an important component in the European System of Financial Supervision’s efforts to foster recovery in its markets and promote financial stability.” The TRV identifies the following key trends for the first half of 2013 in EU securities markets: • Securities markets: market conditions improved moderately while issuance was subdued with equity prices declining and inter-bank lending increasing. The second quarter saw an increase in sovereign borrowing costs, and corporate bonds; covered bonds and securitised products were subdued; • Collective investments: asset managers benefited from improved market conditions, mainly driven by bond, equity or alternative funds whereas money market fund assets decreased. Overall, leverage remained moderate but capital inflows were volatile reflecting a decline in investor sentiment; and • Market infrastructures: trading on EU venues increased in early 2013. Central clearing of interest rate swaps continued to grow. Potential continuity issues around financial benchmarks give rise to concerns. Key risks identified in the Report, and published separately in the Risk Dashboard, include: • Liquidity risk: even though policy action helped to reduce liquidity risks in main market segments, others rose, leaving the overall liquidity risk at high levels; • Credit risk: securities markets in the EU saw a reduction in issuance volumes, mainly in asset classes with higher risk and longer maturities. Despite recent debt refinancing, overall credit risk remains high; • Market risk: equity and bond markets risks increased driven by rising concerns over the valuation of assets; and • Contagion risk: the risk of contagion between market segments remained unchanged, while the level of credit default swap exposures declined. In addition, the TRV presents in-depth analyses on four specific topics: • First evidence on the impact of the Short-Selling Regulation on securities markets; • Contagion risks and the network structure of EU CDS exposures; • Overview of the EU UCITS industry; and • Overview of bail-in and contingent capital securities. Next steps As part of its on-going market surveillance, ESMA publishes its TRV semi-annually, complemented by its quarterly risk dashboard.
11/06/2013 2013/726 ESMA clarifies pay rules applicable to investment firms Press Release PDF
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06/06/2013 2013/684 ESMA and the EBA publish final principles on benchmarks , , Press Release PDF
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