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11/12/2014 2014/1478 ESMA reviews supervisory practices on MiFID investor information , Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has conducted a peer review of how national regulators (national competent authorities or NCAs) supervise MiFID conduct of business rules on providing fair, clear and not misleading information to clients. The peer review focused on NCAs’ organisation, supervisory approaches, monitoring and complaints handling in relation to information and marketing communications under MiFID. The Report found that there was overall a high degree of compliance amongst NCAs with the good practices identified in these key areas. However, a variety of approaches were observed, leading to different intensity of supervision. A number of areas for improvement were identified. They include: enhanced use of on-site inspections and thematic reviews; a specific focus on conduct of business issues in firms’ risk assessments; and greater efforts to detect failings by firms in a timely manner. The review was conducted on the basis of information provided by NCAs in a self-assessment questionnaire and complemented by on-site visits to the NCAs of Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Portugal, and the United Kingdom. Steven Maijoor, ESMA Chair, said: “Providing fair, clear and not misleading information to clients is essential for investor protection and should be applied consistently throughout the EU. This review is a major step forward in ensuring that progress is being made towards convergence in this area by national regulators. “The report provides a thorough insight and analysis of national supervisory practices, facilitated by ESMA’s first on-site visits, and includes a number of recommendations which I urge national regulators to consider when reviewing their practices in this area”. Key Findings The review’s key findings covered the following areas: Ex-ante and ex-post supervision – supervisory systems are divided between ex-ante and ex-post reviews of marketing material. Within the ex-post approach there is also divergence in terms of the timeliness with which NCAs review the material following its dissemination and consider complaints made by clients of firms; Direct and indirect supervision – while some NCAs directly supervise firms’ compliance with their obligations relating to the provision of information and marketing material to clients, others rely on annual checks performed by external auditors. The latter approach may make it difficult to detect failings by firms in a timely manner due to the successive sampling process employed by auditors and then the NCA?s concerned; Complaints and Sanctions – a low level of complaints and equally low level of sanctions are reported by NCAs in the area of information and marketing to clients; and Definition of information and marketing communication - There is no precise definition of the term marketing communication in EU law: this would need to be further defined in order to build effective convergence of supervisory practices. Recommendations for future work The Report identifies a number of areas for future work by NCAs and ESMA which could promote a more coherent cross-EU application of the requirements. These include: establishing more robust structures and efficient coordination and cooperation arrangements between different supervisory units within NCAs; defining a clear set of information and marketing material to be supervised; assessing the frequency of NCAs’ monitoring of investor information and marketing; assessing the adequacy of monitoring the distribution channels used by firms including in the cross border provision of services; requiring investment firms to submit to their NCAs details of all information and marketing material to be provided including material used for cross-border business; considering the use of integrated databases to assist in supervision of information and marketing to clients; assessing the frequency and consistency of the use of sanctions by NCAs; and assessing the implementation and effectiveness of the guidelines for complaints-handling for the securities (ESMA) and banking (EBA) sectors. In addition, ESMA should continue its efforts, including the use of Opinions, in promoting the development of a level-playing field regarding the provision of information in an understandable format to clients and the quality of service to clients.
18/12/2014 2014/1568 Press Release- Investment-based crowdfunding needs EU-wide common approach , Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published an Opinion along with an Advice on Investment-based crowdfunding. The Opinion clarifies the EU rules applicable to crowdfunding, while the Advice highlights issues for consideration by the EU institutions to achieve greater regulatory and supervisory convergence within the EU.The Opinion is addressed to the national competent authorities (NCA) and provides clarity on how crowdfunding business models fit within the existing EU regulatory framework. It outlines how existing EU rules are likely to apply to crowdfunding platforms, depending on the precise business model used. It also provides guidance to NCAs who may be considering how to regulate platforms operating outside the scope of the harmonised EU rules on the key risks inherent to crowdfunding and the key components of a regulatory regime to address them.The Advice, addressed to the EU institutions – Commission, Parliament and Council, highlights the concern that strong incentives currently exist for crowdfunding platforms to structure their business models to fall outside the scope of regulation and asks them to consider policy options to reduce these incentives. Avoiding regulation presents risks to investor protection and makes it harder for platforms to grow their businesses.Steven Maijoor, ESMA Chair, said: “ESMA’s aim is to enable crowdfunding to reach its potential as a source of finance, while ensuring that risks to users of crowdfunding platforms are identified and addressed in a proportionate and convergent way across the EU. “We believe that there are benefits both for investors as well as for platforms by operating inside rather than outside the regulated space. Opinion to National Competent AuthoritiesConsidering the diverse business models used within investment-based crowdfunding and depending on the precise structures used different EU legislation may apply. The Opinion sets out an analysis of how the main business models map across existing EU rules, e.g., the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID), the Prospectus Directive, the Directive for Alternative Investment Fund Managers (AIFMD) and other financial and banking regulations. In addition, the Opinion outlines what ESMA believes should be the key components of an appropriate regulatory regime for investment-based crowdfunding activities. ESMA’s Advice to the EU InstitutionsThe Advice to the EU institutions highlights gaps and issues in the current applicable regime where policymakers could consider taking action to ensure there is a regime protecting investors while also fit for purpose for crowdfunding platforms. These gaps and issues include: the impact of the Prospects Directive thresholds; capital requirements and the use of the MiFID optional exemption; and the potential development of a specific EU crowdfunding regime, in particular for those platforms that currently operate outside of the scope of MiFID The Opinion and Advice have been prepared in collaboration with and input from the European Banking Authority (EBA) on the regulation that falls within its scope of action, i.e. the Payment Services Directive, and constitute the first output of a co-ordinated programme of work with the next expected output being a publication by EBA on lending-based crowdfunding. In line with their respective remits, ESMA has focused on investment-based crowdfunding, while EBA has focused on lending-based crowdfunding.
16/02/2015 2015/227 Final Report- ESMA’s technical advice to the European Commission on the delegated acts of the Regulations on European Social Entrepreneurship Funds and European Venture Capital Funds Technical Advice PDF
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16/02/2015 2015/281 Press Release- ESMA publishes annual report and supervisory focus for CRAs and TRs , , , Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published today an annual report (Report) on its direct supervisory activities in 2014 regarding credit rating agencies (CRAs) and trade repositories (TR). The report summarises the key actions taken during 2014 and outlines ESMA’s supervisory work plans for both sectors for 2015.
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.
11/03/2015 2015/562 Press release- ESMA sees continued tense securities market conditions , Press Release PDF
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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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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.
22/05/2015 2015/884 Press Release- ESMA calls for modification of UCITS Directive , Press Release PDF
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30/06/2015 2015/1068 Press Release- ESMA publishes guidelines for issuers performance measures , , Press Release PDF
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23/07/2015 2015/1193 ESMA consults on UCITS remuneration guidelines , Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has launched a consultation on proposed Guidelines on sound remuneration policies under the UCITS V Directive and AIFMD. The Directive includes rules that UCITS must comply with when establishing and applying a remuneration policy for certain staff categories and the proposed UCITS Remuneration Guidelines further clarify the Directive’s provisions. The proposed Guidelines aim to ensure a convergent application of the remuneration provisions and will provide guidance on issues such as proportionality, governance of remuneration, requirements on risk alignment and disclosure. The final Guidelines will apply to UCITS management companies and national competent authorities.
30/07/2015 2015/1236 ESMA's advice to the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission on the application of the AIFMD passport to non-EU AIFMs and AIFs Technical Advice PDF
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Executive summary Reasons for publication In accordance with Articles 36 and 42 of the Directive 2011/61/EU on Alternative Investment Fund Managers (AIFMD), non-EU alternative investment fund managers (AIFMs) and non-EU alternative investment funds (AIFs) managed by EU AIFMs are subject to the national private placement regime (NPPR) of each of the Member States where the AIFs are marketed or managed. However, the AIFMD makes provision for the passport, which is currently reserved to EU AIFMs and AIFs, to be potentially extended in future. Article 67(1) of the AIFMD establishes that, by 22 July 2015, ESMA shall issue to the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission advice on the application of the passport to non-EU AIFMs and AIFs in accordance with the rules set out in Article 35 and 37 to 41 of the AIFMD. This document sets out ESMA’s advice on the application of the passport to six non-EU countries: Guernsey, Hong Kong, Jersey, Switzerland, Singapore and the United States. Contents Section 1 of the advice sets out the background to ESMA’s work, while the detailed assessment of each of the aforementioned non-EU countries is contained in section 2. Annexes 1 to 7 contain a summary of the feedback to the call for evidence that ESMA launched in November 2014. Annex 8 gives a detailed breakdown by non-EU country of the number of non-EU AIFs and non-EU AIFMs active in Member States in accordance with Articles 36 and 42 of the AIFMD. Next Steps ESMA will continue to work on its assessment of other non-EU countries not covered in this advice with a view to delivering further submissions to the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission in the coming months. For those non-EU jurisdictions with which there are currently no supervisory cooperation arrangements in place for the purposes of the AIFMD, ESMA will continue its efforts to agree a MoU with the authorities concerned.
30/07/2015 2015/1238 ESMA advises on extension of AIFMD passport to non-EU jurisdictions , Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published its Advice in relation to the application of the AIFMD (Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive) passport to non-EU Alternative Investment Fund Managers (AIFMs) and Alternative Investment Funds (AIFs) and its Opinion on the functioning of the passport for EU AIFMs and the national private placement regimes (NPPRs). The Advice and Opinion, required under AIFMD, will now be considered by the European Commission, Parliament and Council. ESMA Advice – Extension of AIFMD Passport to non-EU AIFMs and AIFs The Advice relates to the possible extension of the passport, currently only available to EU entities, to non-EU AIFMs and AIFs which are currently subject to EU NPPRs. ESMA conducted a country-by-country assessment, as this allowed it flexibility to take into account the different circumstances of each non-EU jurisdiction regarding the regulatory issues to be considered i.e. investor protection, competition, potential market disruption and the monitoring of systemic risk. ESMA assessed six jurisdictions – Guernsey, Hong Kong, Jersey, Singapore, Switzerland and the United States of America (USA) – who were selected based on a number of factors including the amount of activity already being carried out by entities from these countries under the NPPRs, EU national authorities’ knowledge and experience of dealing with their counterparts and the efforts by stakeholders from these countries to engage with ESMA’s process. The Advice concludes that no obstacles exist to the extension of the passport to Guernsey and Jersey, while Switzerland will remove any remaining obstacles with the enactment of pending legislation. No definitive view has been reached on the other three jurisdictions due to concerns related to competition, regulatory issues and a lack of sufficient evidence to properly assess the relevant criteria. Next Steps The Advice and Opinion have been sent to the Commission, Parliament and Council for their consideration on whether to activate the relevant provision in the AIFMD extending the passport through a Delegated Act. However, the institutions may wish to consider waiting until ESMA has delivered positive advice on a sufficient number of non-EU countries, before introducing the passport in order to avoid any adverse market impact that a decision to extend the passport to only a few non-EU countries might have. ESMA aims to finalise the assessments of Hong Kong, Singapore and the USA as soon as practicable and to assess further groups of non-EU countries until it has provided advice on all the non-EU countries that it considers should be included in the extension of the passport. ESMA Opinion – Functioning of the EU AIFMD passport and NPPRs The opinion on the functioning of the EU passport and the NPPRs contains ESMA’s preliminary assessment of the operation of these two mechanisms. Its preliminary view is that, given the short time period that has elapsed since the implementation of the AIFMD in Member States, a definitive assessment of their functioning is difficult and would recommend preparing a further opinion after a longer period.
05/08/2015 2015/1219 Final Report- Technical Advice under the CSD Regulation Technical Advice PDF
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13/08/2015 2015/1260 ESMA recommends changes to EMIR framework , Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published four reports focused on how the European Markets Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR) framework has been functioning and providing input and recommendations to the European Commission’s (EC) EMIR Review. Three of the reports are required under Article 85 of EMIR, and cover non-financial counterparties (NFCs), pro-cyclicality and the segregation and portability for CCPs. The fourth report responds to the EC’s Review including recommendations on amending EMIR in relation to the clearing obligation, the recognition of third country CCPs and the supervision and enforcement procedures for trade repositories. Steven Maijoor, ESMA Chair, said: “EMIR is a key component of the EU’s regulatory reform package in response to the financial crisis affecting many elements of OTC derivatives markets. While its implementation is still underway we recommend a number of changes, based on our experiences, to improve and streamline the regulatory and supervisory framework and to ensure that the objectives of stability and investor protection are met.” ESMA’s Response to European Commission EMIR Review This report provides input to the EC’s consultation on the EMIR review with recommendations to amend the EMIR framework in a number of areas including: • Clearing obligation - in order to strengthen the EMIR framework and to better respond to changing market conditions, ESMA proposes amending EMIR in order to streamline the process for determining clearing obligations and to introduce tools allowing the suspension of the clearing obligation when certain market conditions arise. It also proposes removing the frontloading requirement; • Recognition of third country CCPs - regarding the recognition of third-country CCPs, ESMA is proposing to rethink the entire equivalence and recognition process to increase its efficiency and effectiveness and to better respond to regulatory differences between third countries. ESMA proposes that the jurisdiction decision be governed by Regulatory Technical Standards (RTS) and that any recognition process should also include additional risk-based considerations allowing it to deny or suspend the recognition of a third country CCP; and • Trade Repositories (TRs) – in order to improve the supervision of TRs, the report makes proposals for changes to ESMA’s supervisory and enforcement powers and procedures including increases in fine levels, broadening the enforcement decisions available to ESMA, appropriate timeframes to consider applications in the registration process and clarifying TRs’ obligations in relation to data quality and reconciliation and supervisory reporting. ESMA’s Reports under Article 85 of EMIR • Non-Financial counterparties (Report No.1) ESMA recommends removing the hedging criteria from EMIR and to use other measures to determine the systemic relevance of NFCs, as this would allow regulators to identify the few NFCs with the highest systemic importance while greatly simplifying the process and reduce the compliance costs for the majority of small and medium NFCs, which pose limited risks to the system overall. • Limiting Pro-cyclicality (Report No.2) ESMA recommends further specifying the rules for implementing the counter-cyclical tools adopted by CCPs for margins and collateral, including regular testing and transparency on the results to further improve their effectiveness. • Segregation and Portability (Report No.3) ESMA has identified some differences in CCP practices in the implementation of the relevant provisions. In order to promote convergent practices and achieve a level playing field, it recommends introducing clarifications and more detailed requirements by RTS along with incentives related to margin period of risk depending on the safety of the chosen account structure. ESMA also proposes monitoring the take-up of the different types of account models to confirm adequacy and efficiency.

14/09/2015 2015/1379 ESMA raises its market risk indicator to highest level , Press Release PDF
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11/11/2015 JC/2015/078 ESAs consult on PRIIPs key information for retail investors , , Press Release PDF
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02/02/2016 2016/138 ESMA updates on supervisory work on closet index tracking , Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published a Statement providing details of its work on closet index tracking funds.

Closet indexing, also known as index hugging, refers to the practice of fund managers claiming to manage portfolios actively when in reality the fund stays close to a benchmark. ESMA is concerned the practice may harm investors as they are not receiving the service or risk/return profile they expect based on the fund’s disclosure documents while potentially paying higher fees compared to those typically charged for passive management.

ESMA conducted research on a sample of 2,600 funds for the period 2012-2014 to determine whether it could find any indication of closet indexing at an EU-wide level. Quantitative metrics, such as the percentage of a UCITS’ portfolio that does not coincide with the underlying equity benchmark, indicated between 5 and 15% of UCITS equity funds could potentially be closet indexers. ESMA then reviewed the investor disclosure documents of the funds concerned, to see how they described their management strategy, and found they tended to confirm the quantitative analysis results.

11/02/2016 2016/284 ESMA publishes first supervisory convergence work programme , , Press Release PDF
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The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) has published its first Supervisory Convergence Work Programme 2016 (SCWP), which details the activities and tasks it will carry out to promote sound, efficient and consistent supervision across the European Union.

The publication of the SCWP expands on the high-level objective outlined in the Annual Work Programme 2016 and fulfils a key commitment in ESMA’s Strategic Orientation 2016-2020 to outline how it would refocus its resources from single rulebook to supervisory convergence work.

17/03/2016 2016/366 ESMA maintains market risk indicator at highest level , Press Release PDF
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