The European Securities and Markets Authority has fast tracked proposed regulations and standards implementing a wide range of provisions under the recently enacted MiFID II legislation, including on high frequency trading, derivatives and investor protection. MiFID is a cornerstone of the regulation of financial markets in the European Union This is the first step in the process of translating the MiFID II requirements into practically applicable regulations to address the effects of the financial crisis and to improve financial market transparency and strengthen investor protection. The public comment period on the proposals will end on August 1, 2014; and ESMA expects to deliver advice to the European Commission sometime in December of 2014.
MiFID II introduced changes that will have a large impact on the EU’s financial markets, including transparency requirements for a broader range of asset classes; the obligation to trade derivatives on-exchange; a requirement on high-frequency-trading, and new regulatory 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; and the disclosure of costs and charges.
ESMA proposed enhanced transparency and trading obligations, including pre- and post-trade transparency for exchange-traded funds and derivatives, as well as limitations on the trading of shares over-the-counter, with new obligations to trade derivatives on trading venues;.
ESMA would also refine the definition of high frequency trading and direct electronic access and specify the requirements for operating in the market using algorithmic techniques. New regulatory tools for commodity derivatives are also proposed,, including position limits.
With regard to enhancing investor protection, ESMA proposes new limitations on the receipt of commissions, as well as rules distinguishing independent from non-independent advice. Product governance is front and center, with proposed requirements on the manufacture and distribution of financial products including target market and risk identification. Improved information on costs and charges is also mandated, with 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 that they can understand the overall cost and its effect on their investment’s return.