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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
24/07/2014 2014/61 EBA, ESMA and EIOPA consult on technical standards for financial conglomerates risk concentration and intra-group transactions , Press Release PDF
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The Joint Committee of the three European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs - EBA, ESMA and EIOPA) launched today a consultation on draft Regulatory Technical Standards (RTS) on risk concentration and intra-group transactions within financial conglomerates. The technical standards aim at enhancing supervisory consistency in the application of the Financial Conglomerates Directive (FICOD). The consultation runs until 24 October 2014. The objective of the draft RTS is to clarify which risk concentrations and intra-group transactions within a financial conglomerate should be considered as significant. In addition, the RTS provide some supervisory measures for coordinators and other relevant competent authorities when identifying types of significant risk concentration and intra-group transactions, their associated thresholds and reports, where appropriate. The consultation paper is available on the websites of the three ESAs: EBA, ESMA and EIOPA. Comments to this consultation paper can be sent to the Joint Committee. Legal background The three ESAs have developed these RTS in accordance with Article 21a (1a) of Directive 2002/87/EC (FICOD), which mandates the three ESAs, through the Joint Committee, to develop RTS to clarify the definitions on risk concentration and intra-group transactions provided in Article 2 of the FICOD and to coordinate the provisions laid down in Articles 7 and 8 and Annex II.
30/06/2015 2015/1068 Press Release- ESMA publishes guidelines for issuers performance measures , , Press Release PDF
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14/08/2015 2015/1261 Guidelines compliance table- Guidelines on the application of definitions C6 and C7 under MiFID I Compliance table
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.

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.
31/03/2015 2015/662 Press release: ESMA sees improved transparency of issuers financial statements – more information needed on forbearance practices and impairment tests , , Press Release PDF
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01/04/2015 2015/674 Press release- ESMA launches centralised data projects for MiFIR and EMIR , Press Release PDF
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10/11/2016 2016-1564 ESMA prepares for new International Financial Reporting Standard 9 , , , Press Release PDF
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30/06/2016 2016/1047 Press Release Prospectus Peer Review , Press Release PDF
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25/07/2016 2016/1166 Warning about CFDs, binary options and other speculative products , Investor Warning PDF
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25/07/2016 2016/1167 Press release- ESMA issues warning on sale of speculative products to retail investors Press Release PDF
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03/10/2016 2016/1425 ESMA consults on consolidated tape for non-equity products , Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has issued today a consultation paper on its draft regulatory technical standards (RTS) regarding the creation of a consolidated tape for non-equity instruments which is required under the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II). The new MiFID II framework, which covers equity-like and non-equity instruments traded on trading venues, introduces provisions for establishing a central source of post-trade prices or consolidated tape.

ESMA, having already issued its draft RTS on an equity tape, is seeking feedback on its draft RTS for the non-equity tape. In order to create the non-equity tape, trading venues and approved publication arrangements (APAs) will send real-time post-trade data to consolidated tape providers (CTPs), who will consolidate this data in real-time and make the data available to the public.

05/10/2016 2016/1438 ESMA consults on product governance guidelines to safeguard investors , Press Release PDF
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11/10/2016 2016/1458 ESMA to focus on supervisory convergence issues in 2017 , , , Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published its 2017 Work Programme which sets out its priorities and areas of focus for 2017 in support of its mission to enhance investor protection and promote stable and orderly financial markets.

The programme reflects the shift in focus of ESMA’s work, from building the single rulebook, towards ensuring its consistent application across the European Union (EU), as outlined in its 2016-2020 Strategic Orientation. The key areas of focus under ESMA’s activities of supervisory convergence, assessing risks, single rulebook and direct supervision will be:

  • Converging supervisory practices on the implementation of MiFIDII/MiFIR ;
  • Focusing on data quality;
  • Level 2 work on the Benchmarks Regulation and on various initiatives under the umbrella of the Capital Markets Union; and
  • Directly supervising credit rating agencies (CRA) and trade repositories (TR), with a particular focus on their ancillary activities given the trend of combining ancillary and core services.
10/11/2016 2016/1570 ESMA consults on transparency rules for package orders under MiFID II Press Release PDF
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21/12/2016 2016/1682 2016-1682 Press Release on Feedback Statement on ESEF , , , Press Release PDF
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05/02/2016 2016/247 ESMA to focus on governance, strategy, data and fees in 2016 supervision , , Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has today published its 2016 supervisory priorities for credit rating agencies (CRAs) and trade repositories (TRs), as well as its annual report summarising the key supervisory work and actions undertaken during 2015.

2016 Supervisory Priorities

ESMA has seen a number of changes in the CRA and TR industries during 2015, with new applicants for registration in both sectors, and current authorised entities seeking to develop their businesses. This has included CRAs providing credit ratings on new asset classes or in new geographic areas, and TRs offering trade reporting services for other instrument types.

ESMA identifies its supervisory priorities on the basis of risk assessment exercises conducted throughout the year. In 2015 these identified high levels of governance and strategy risk, and operational risk in the CRA industry and high levels of risk associated with TRs’ data and systems. Therefore, in 2016 ESMA will focus its supervisory activities on:

  • CRA governance and strategy and the quality of credit ratings;
  • TR data quality and data access;
  • Fees charged and information security for all supervised entities.

Steven Maijoor, ESMA Chair, said:

“The credit rating and trade repository industries continue to evolve and develop. We are receiving new applications for registration and existing entities are seeking to develop their businesses by expanding into new areas. ESMA supports these developments where they contribute to the maintenance of stable and orderly financial markets.

“For this reason, in 2016 ESMA will focus its work on the quality of the services being provided by supervised entities. This means we will concentrate on issues surrounding CRA governance, strategy and ratings quality, along with data quality and access to TRs’ data with a broad focus on the fee structures and information security in both industries.”

2015 Annual Supervisory Review – CRAs and TRs

In 2015, following its risk-based approach, ESMA focused its supervisory efforts on CRAs’ governance, risk management and internal decision making and on CRAs’ business development processes. Some notable achievements were:

  • investigating the techniques being applied to validate credit rating methodologies by some CRAs and using the differences identified to encourage industry-wide debate about appropriate validation standards;
  • conducting an IT risk assessment which identified that CRAs are facing serious risks in several areas including IT operations and information security;
  • investigating the process of issuing credit ratings followed by one CRA and raising concerns about the preparation of issue ratings, the workloads of credit rating analysts and their involvement in the provision of ancillary services; and
  • concluding an enforcement case against DBRS Ratings Ltd for internal control failings and imposing a €30,000 fine for past record-keeping breaches. The case highlighted the need for CRAs to establish clear decision-making procedures, organisational structures and effective compliance functions.

The key risks TR supervision focused on in 2015 related to the quality of TRs’ data, access to data held by TRs and the operation and performance of TRs’ systems. In 2015, ESMA continued working with TRs to implement the data quality action plan established in September 2014 including:

  • harmonising TRs’ data validation;
  • monitoring the inter-TR reconciliation process; and
  • ensuring the harmonisation of the aggregate data made available on TRs’ websites.

ESMA has also been monitoring National Competent Authorities’ (NCAs) access to TR data. It has entered into a number of Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) to help third country regulatory authorities access TR data and is developing an IT system to allow NCAs to submit data queries through a centralised web portal.

29/03/2016 2016/406 ESMA publishes report on EU accounting enforcement in 2015 , , , Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published its annual report on the enforcement and regulatory activities of accounting enforcers within the European Union (EU) in 2015. ESMA continued strengthening supervisory convergence in the area of financial reporting to improve the consistency and quality across the EU, notably by issuing guidelines, publishing statements on areas of focus and coordinating enforcement decisions.

ESMA and national enforcers examined 189 listed issuers’ compliance with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), across 26 countries, in the areas identified by the 2014 European Common Enforcement Priorities. The examination resulted in enforcement action against 40 (21%) issuers with regulators finding shortcomings in the disclosure of assumptions and judgements related to the:

  • recognition, measurement and disclosures of deferred tax assets arising from tax losses;
  • assessment of control over an entity in the absence of majority equity interest or majority shareholding rights; and
  • classification of joint arrangements.

National enforcers also reviewed the interim or annual financial statements of around 1,200 issuers, representing approximately 20% of issuers of securities listed on EU regulated markets, which led to action against 273 (25%) of those issuers examined. Enforcers found the main deficiencies were related to the presentation of financial statements, impairment of non-financial assets and accounting for financial instruments.

31/03/2016 2016/468 ESMA fines DTCC Derivatives Repository Limited €64,000 for data access failures , Press Release PDF
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ESMA fines DTCC Derivatives Repository Limited €64,000 for data access failures

The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has fined the trade repository DTCC Derivatives Repository Limited (DDRL) €64,000, and issued a public notice, for negligently failing to put in place systems capable of providing regulators with direct and immediate access to derivatives trading data. This is a key requirement under the European Markets and Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR) in order to improve transparency and facilitate the monitoring of systemic risks in derivatives markets.

This is the first time ESMA has taken enforcement action against a trade repository registered in the European Union (EU). DDRL is the largest EU registered trade repository.

ESMA found that DDRL failed to provide direct and immediate access to derivatives data from 21 March 2014 to 15 December 2014, a period of about nine months in which access delays increased from two days to 62 days after reporting and affected 2.6 billion reports. This was due to its negligence in:

  • failing to put in place data processing systems that were capable of providing regulators with direct and immediate access to reported data;
  • failing, once they became aware, to inform ESMA in a timely manner of the delays that were occurring; and
  • taking three months to establish an effective remedial action plan even while delays were worsening.

DDRL’s failures caused delays to regulators accessing data, revealed systemic weaknesses in its organisation particularly its procedures, management systems or internal controls and negatively impacted the quality of the data it maintained.