News

FCA acts to help mortgage prisoners

29 March 2019

Mortgage customers who have previously been unable to switch mortgages despite being up-to-date with their payments (commonly known as mortgage prisoners), could soon be able to find a cheaper deal after the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) proposed changes to how lenders assess whether or not a customer can afford the loan. In the final report of its Mortgages Market Study the FCA confirmed its earlier findings that the mortgage market is working well in many respects but falls short of the FCA’s vision in some specific ways. The consultation on new lending rules forms part of a package of remedies designed to help the market work better. Continue reading…

FCA fines UBS AG £27.6 million for transaction reporting failures

28 March 2019

UBS AG (UBS) has been fined £27,599,400 by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for failings relating to 135.8 million transaction reports between November 2007 and May 2017. Mark Steward, FCA Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight said: “Firms must have proper systems and controls to identify what transactions they have carried out, on what markets, at what price, in what quantity and with whom.  If firms cannot report their transactions accurately, fundamental risks arise, including the risk that market abuse may be hidden.” Continue reading…

FCA puts the spotlight on debt management firms

27 March 2019

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published its second thematic review of the debt management sector, looking at commercial and not-for-profit firms that provide debt advice and administer debt management plans to help customers deal with their debts. The FCA’s first thematic review in 2015 found significant concerns with the quality of advice being given by commercial providers in particular. Today’s review shows that most customers are getting better advice and outcomes today than was previously the case. Continue reading…

Merrill Lynch to Pay Over $8 Million for Improper Handling of ADRs

26 March 2019

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced that Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated will pay over $8 million to settle charges of improper handling of “pre-released” American Depositary Receipts (ADRs). ADRs – U.S. securities that represent foreign shares of a foreign company – require a corresponding number of foreign shares to be held in custody at a depositary bank.  The practice of “pre-release” allows ADRs to be issued without the deposit of foreign shares, provided brokers receiving them have an agreement with a depositary bank and the broker or its customer owns the number of foreign shares that corresponds to the number of shares the ADR represents. Continue reading…

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How to handle the ethical dilemmas caused by AI, Data Analytics and the Blockchain?

25 March 2019

by Geert Vermeulen

Since my visit to the World Economic Forum in 2018 I have been following the technological developments in IT and the medical sciences with great interest. These two industries have something important in common. The technological developments are progressing at an astonishing pace. Great benefits lie ahead of us. However, these same developments also trigger a whole lot of ethical dilemmas. Organizations struggle with them. They don’t know how to deal with these issues and as a result they ask for more legislation. So, I was thinking: Are new laws really the best answer to these ethical dilemmas? And who would be in a better position to facilitate this debate than the Ethics & Compliance Officers? I am going to let the developments in the medical industry rest for a future occasion and concentrate on the IT developments. In my view, we have recently witnessed a couple really exciting developments in this area, namely the rise of blockchain, data analytics and artificial intelligence. Continue reading…

Appointment of Carolyn Rogers

24 March 2019

The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision announced the appointment of Carolyn Rogers as its next Secretary General for an initial term of three years. Ms Rogers will also serve as the Chair of the Committee’s Policy Development Group. She has 20 years of executive management experience in the financial services industry, having worked in both the public and the private sector. Since mid-2016, Ms Rogers has been the Assistant Superintendent of Regulation at the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) in Canada and also OSFI’s representative on the Basel Committee. Ms Rogers will assume her new responsibilities on 14 August 2019.

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FCA puts the spotlight on debt management firms

22 March 2019

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published its second thematic review of the debt management sector, looking at commercial and not-for-profit firms that provide debt advice and administer debt management plans to help customers deal with their debts. The FCA’s first thematic review in 2015 found significant concerns with the quality of advice being given by commercial providers in particular. Today’s review shows that most customers are getting better advice and outcomes today than was previously the case. Continue reading…

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ESMA report values EU Alternative Investment Funds at € 4.9 trillion

21 March 2019

The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) published its first statistical report on European Union (EU) Alternative Investment Funds (AIF). The study finds that the EU AIF sector in 2017, as measured by Net Asset Value (NAV), amounted to €4.9tn or nearly one third of the total EU fund industry. The report is based on data from 26,378 AIFs, or 80% of the market, and will be published annually. Continue reading…

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Greece: Economy Improves, Key Reforms Still Needed

20 March 2019

Greece has now entered a period of economic growth that puts it among the top performers in the eurozone. It must now persevere with efforts to address crisis legacies and pursue needed reforms to ensure continued success, says the IMF in its recent assessment of the country’s economy. As the IMF concludes its latest assessment on the state of the Greek economy, IMF Country Focus sat down with Peter Dohlman, IMF mission chief for Greece, to discuss the report’s findings, key recommendations, and the IMF’s relationship with Greece. Continue reading…

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A binary future? How digitalisation might change banking

19 March 2019

Andrea Enria, Chair of the Supervisory Board of the ECB, at the Banking Seminar organised by De Nederlandsche Bank, Amsterdam, started her speech by saying: In 1995, the inventor of Ethernet, Robert Metcalfe, boldly predicted, and I quote, “the internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and, in 1996, will catastrophically collapse”. It seems that technological progress is hard to predict, even for experts. More than twenty years later, I feel fairly safe in predicting that we face a binary future. We face a binary future in the sense that ones and zeros will play an ever bigger role in our lives. The world will become even more digital. The world of finance is no exception; banks, too, face a binary future – one, they adapt; zero, they perish. That said, it is hard to predict exactly how digitalisation will change the business of banking and the structure of the market. Continue reading…