MIFID II: It's Coming. Will You Be Ready?

| FinReg

With less than 18 months until MiFID II takes effect in Europe, the industry needs to come to grips with its reporting and trading requirements if it is to be fully compliant by 2017. Here’s a road map of where to start.

In the specter of financial market reform, it would be easy to dismiss the recast Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II) as an inconsequential afterthought, tying up loose ends that were omitted from the original MiFID rulebook, which was implemented in 2007, and the more recent European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR).

But to do so would be to vastly underestimate the scale and scope of MiFID II and its accompanying regulation, MiFIR. Together, they will impact a wide range of institutions across asset classes, going much further than the G-20’s commitment on derivatives reform, which included central clearing, trade reporting and use of organized trading platforms. MiFID II adds position limits for commodity derivatives, for example, as well controls on algorithmic trading.

This is a regulatory project that is far more onerous than even the US Dodd-Frank Act, which has consumed the resources of market participants as they have progressed their compliance efforts over the past five years. On top of the wide scope, the timescale of these rules is an even greater challenge. MiFID II and MiFIR have been in force since mid-2014, although the rules won’t actually apply until January 3, 2017. That might sound a long way off, but in practice it leaves very little time for participants to get all of the necessary processes and resources in place to meet these requirements.

Adding to the complexity, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), which is responsible for drafting the technical standards, has consulted with the industry but is not expected to deliver its final standards to the European Commission for adoption until September 2015, once they have been reviewed by Commission lawyers. That brings a layer of uncertainty to the process, as the industry prepares for rules that could still change.

But whatever the size and type of your business, if you are active in European financial markets, you cannot afford to wait until you have final rules in hand to prepare for MiFID II. The complexity of these requirements means such an approach risks running out of time next year, and leaves open the possibility of noncompliance in 2017.

In this article, we focus on two key components of the proposed rules – transparency and organized trading. This doesn’t constitute an all-inclusive guide to compliance, but it should at least help make sense of complex legal texts, providing the beginnings of a road map on where to start.

Transparency

MiFID II extends the transparency regime that was created for equity instruments in the original directive, adding reporting requirements for bonds and derivatives. Those requirements include both trade reporting, whereby trades must be reported publicly in close to real time, and transaction reporting, whereby trades must be reported to regulators no later than the close of the following working day.

The trade reporting obligation rests with the venue where the trade takes place, which could range from an independent regulated platform to a so-called “systematic internalizer” (SI) – typically a bank that has sufficient flow to match buy and sell orders internally. Derivatives trade data must be published within 15 minutes of execution, marking a step change for those platforms that have never had to report in the past.

With its pre-trade and post-trade reporting obligations, MiFID II will propel a slew of market data into the public domain that never existed before, including pre-trade prices and post-trade information. In the early days, data fragmentation is likely to be the biggest challenge and there will be a need for robust aggregation of reported data to build a meaningful picture for public consumption. How that aggregation will be delivered has yet to be determined.

While the burden of trade reporting is likely to rest predominantly with trading platforms and those banks that register as SIs under MiFID II, transaction reporting will have a much wider impact, requiring asset management firms to report their trades to regulators as well as their bank counterparts.

In this, the experience of EMIR may help guide asset managers, as those firms that use derivatives have had to report their activity to registered trade repositories since February 2014, fulfilling the onerous requirement for dual-side reporting, in which every trade must be reported by both counterparties.

But whatever the experience of EMIR, MiFIR transaction reporting is likely to be even tougher, with 81 information fields required to be filled out for every trade. That means firms will need real-time access to large amounts of market data and reference data, as well as “legal entity identifiers” – numerical codes used to identify those firms involved in the trade.

Submitting transaction reports to regulators will come at a significant cost to the industry, particularly for smaller firms that may not already have reporting infrastructure in place. At this stage, the priority for market participants is to determine exactly how they will be affected by the reporting obligations and then to assess what technology and resources will be needed to meet those obligations.

Regulated Platforms

When it comes to organized trading requirements, MiFID II fulfils the G-20 commitment that standardized OTC derivatives should be traded on regulated platforms where appropriate. In the US, the Dodd-Frank Act created swap execution facilities to meet that requirement, but MiFID II includes a wider range of platform types, including regulated markets, multilateral trading facilities (MTFs), organized trading facilities (OTFs) and SIs.

Not all products will need to be traded on these regulated platforms, but all market participants need to understand the MiFID trading rules and determine what their strategy will be. For large banks, the priority is to determine whether they wish to register as an SI, which will come with certain transparency and conduct obligations. If they decide not to do so, their internalized flow would need to fall below a certain threshold, which may mean directing more business towards MTFs and OTFs.

Smaller banks will be less likely to become SIs, but they will still need to determine how to conduct their trading business under MiFID II and what proportion of trades will be executed on MTFs and OTFs. To some extent, that will depend on what products are mandated to trade on organized platforms, which will be determined by ESMA in due course on the basis of the liquidity and whether it is already subject to the EMIR clearing obligation.

As an industry, we do not yet have all of the answers on MiFID II and we hope for greater clarity once ESMA’s technical standards have been published. But awareness and readiness still varies significantly from one firm to another, which is a cause for some concern. As 2017 draws ever closer, now is the time to start preparing.

Tags: FinReg, Blog , Regulation