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Charlotte Hill

Charlotte Hill

Partner

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Daniel Hirschfield

Daniel Hirschfield

Senior Professional Support Lawyer

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Autoren
Charlotte Hill

Charlotte Hill

Partner

Read More
Daniel Hirschfield

Daniel Hirschfield

Senior Professional Support Lawyer

Read More

1. Juli 2021

Financial services update – 3 von 21 Insights

Financial services regulatory update - July 2021

The topics covered in this month's update include:

  • HM Treasury response to proposed reforms to the financial promotion regime
  • FCA consultation on climate-related disclosures
  • The Bank of England discussion paper on digital money
  • The Basel Committee for Banking Supervision consultation document on prudential treatment of cryptoassets
  • The publication of the Bank of England's Climate Biennial Exploratory Scenario

Please also see our separate webpages 'COVID-19: how the UK financial regulators are responding' and 'COVID-19: how the European financial regulators are responding' for the latest regulatory updates in relation to the coronavirus pandemic.

General financial services regulation

House of Commons Treasury Committee: FCA regulation of London Capital & Finance plc

On 24 June 2021, the Treasury Committee published its report titled The Financial Conduct Authority's Regulation of London Capital & Finance plc. The report made recommendations and comments for the FCA and the Treasury, on:

  • the culture at the FCA, responsibility at the regulator
  • the perimeter of regulation
  • regulation of mini-bonds
  • financial promotions
  • an online safety bill.

FCA: new proposals on climate-related disclosure rules

On 22 June 2021, the FCA released two consultation papers that build on the Taskforce on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) recommendations, which led to the introduction of climate-related disclosure rules for premium-listed companies in December 2020. The intent is to make markets and investors better able to make decisions on the climate change impact of their investments. These are covered in the Securities, investments, and markets and Funds and asset management sections below. Both consultations are open for feedback until 10 September 2021.

HM Treasury: response to financial promotions proposed changes

On 22 June 2021, HM Treasury published its response to its consultation on Regulatory Framework for Approval of Financial Promotions, which we covered in our August 2020 update. The consultation sought to address government concerns that there is currently no specific assessment which firms must undergo before they are able to approve financial promotions of unauthorised firms under section 21 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA).  This creates the following potential risks: a lack of expertise in relevant approver firms relating to the particular product being promoted,  a lack of due diligence by approver firms, and regulatory oversight challenges for the FCA.  As a result of the consultation, the Treasury confirms that the government intends to amend section 21(2)(b) FSMA so that the general ability to communicate financial promotions that have been approved by authorised firms is restricted to authorised firms that have obtained the FCA's consent to provide such an approval through a "regulatory gateway" process.  A "Financial Promotion Requirement" will be applied to the permission of all firms which will prohibit them from approving the financial promotions of unauthorised persons.  New and existing authorised persons will be able to apply to the FCA to have the requirement varied or cancelled.  This will be done under the existing process for the variation of a requirement.  The government intends to bring forward  legislation when parliamentary time allows and the FCA will consult on its proposals to implement the gateway in due course. 

FCA: increase in cryptoasset ownership among UK adults

On 17 June 2021, the FCA released a consumer research note. The note reported an increase in the percentage of UK adults who hold cryptoassets from 3.9% in 2020 to 4.4% in 2021 (representing up to 2.3 million people) and a significant increase in the percentage of UK adults who are aware of cryptoassets (from 42% in 2019 to 78% in 2021). However, only 10% of those who had heard of cryptoassets were aware of consumer warnings on the FCA's website.

PRA: Annual Report 2021

On 17 June 2021, the PRA published its annual report for 1 March 2020 – 28 February 2021. The report sets out:

  • how the PRA worked to achieve its eight strategic goals for 2020/21
  • how the PRA complied with its duties under FSMA of acting in a way that advances the objective to promote the safety and soundness of PRA-authorised persons and to act in a way that contributes to securing the appropriate degree of protection for insurance policyholders
  • the PRA's annual competition report
  • a financial review of the PRA.

Members of the public are invited to make representations about the report to the PRA until 14 September 2021.

FCA: report on artificial intelligence in financial services

On 14 June 2021, the FCA-commissioned report AI in Financial Services was published by the Alan Turing institute. The report considers the potential benefits and harms of using artificial intelligence and machine learning in financial services, ethical and innovation challenges, and the role of transparency in the use of such systems to promote trust and responsible use. While the report does not assess the adequacy of regulation, it should be useful for firms planning to employ such technology in financial services.

Payment services and systems

PSR: five-year strategy consultation

On 10 June 2021, the Payments Services Regulator (PSR) published its consultation paper on its proposed strategy for the next five years.The strategy rests on four strategic priorities:

  • Ensure users have continued access to payment services they rely upon and to support effective choice of alternative payment options.
  • Ensure users are sufficiently protected when using the UK's payment systems, now and in the future.
  • Promote competition in markets and protect users where that competition is not sufficient, including a) between payment systems within the UK and b) in the markets supported by them.
  • Ensure the renewal and future governance of the UK's interbank payment systems supports innovation and competition in payments.

These four priorities in turn support four intended outcomes for payment services:

  • All users have access to payment services that meet their needs in terms of functions, quality, cost and other relevant factors.
  • Users’ interests are adequately protected when using payment services, so that they use systems and services with confidence.
  • Payment systems are designed and operated to enable effective competition in payment services.
  • Payment systems are efficient and commercially sustainable.

The consultation is open until 5pm on 10 September 2021 and the PSR hopes to have a final strategy published by the end of the year.

Bank of England: discussion on new forms of digital money

On 7 June 2021, the Bank of England published its discussion paper New forms of digital money.  The paper, which sets out the Bank's thoughts on a possible Central Bank Digital Currency (CDBC), considers:

  • the role of money in the economy
  • public policy objectives
  • an illustration of how a CDBC might operate with current monetary management
  • implications for macroeconomic stability that arise from use of a CDBC.

The discussion paper is open for comment until 7 September 2021 and feedback will support the work of the CDBC Taskforce, which was established in April 2021.  We reported on the CDBC Taskforce in our May 2021 update.

Consumer credit

HM Government: response to House of Lords Liaison Committee on tackling financial exclusion

On 16 June 2021, the government published its response to the House of Lords Liaison Committee follow-up report Tackling Financial Exclusion: A country that works for everyone?. The government states that it is committed to tackling financial exclusion and answers the 102 items raised in the report.  Interesting points for firms include:

  • The government will launch a consultation on legislative proposals to protect access to cash this summer. This supports the access to cash initiative under the Financial Services Act 2021, which allows consumers to withdraw cash via the cashback scheme from shops without making a purchase.
  • Firms are encouraged to consider areas for improvement identified by the FCA's 2020 review of basic bank accounts.
  • Public consultation on policy proposals relating to Buy Now Pay Later products will be brought forward as soon as parliamentary time allows.In an attempt to promote affordable access to credit, the government also plans to appoint an organisation to deliver the pilot No-Interest Loans Scheme.
  • A proposal to add an objective to the FCA for promotion of financial inclusion is deemed unnecessary, on the grounds that the FCA's existing strategic and operational objectives already grant scope for the FCA to proactively support financial inclusion.

FCA: consultation on changes to CONC

On 4 June 2021, the FCA published quarterly consultation 32, which included proposed changes to the Consumer Credit sourcebook (CONC) rule 6.7.4R.  Under this proposal, consumer credit firms would no longer have to apply for a modification under CONC 6.7.4R when they receive consumer money in payment for instalment plans, when that payment goes against the normal rule of attributing received money to the higher interest debt first.  There would also be a new rule that firms cannot offer a consumer an instalment plan unless they reasonably conclude that it would be in the consumer's best interest, and new guidance to define what counts as a "fixed instalment plan".  The consultation extends until 2 August 2021.

A minor change to CONC, proposed in the same consultation, would see high-cost short-term credit lenders and peer-to-peer lending platforms being required to send out new versions of the statutory information sheets to consumers who fall into arrears or default.  The consultation extends until 5 July 2021.

Banking and insurance

PRA: speech on Solvency II review process

On 15 June 2021, the PRA published a speech by Anna Sweeney (Executive Director, Insurance), which outlined a planned assessment on the impact of prudential policy changes as part of the Solvency II review and provided an update on the PRA's plans for stress testing firms in 2022. The PRA intends to conduct a quantitative impact study over the summer of this year that will cover the matching adjustment and risk margin, as well as elements of the transitional measure on technical provisions. 

PRA: statement on authorising Temporary Permissions Regime (TPR) firms

On 14 June 2021, the PRA published an update statement on considering the applications of TPR firms that apply for authorisation.  The regulator expects to process authorisations on a case-by-case basis as resources allow and notes that the timing of the granting of authorisations does not indicate the PRA's view of the risk profile of individual institutions.  The regulator has a dedicated webpage on its approach to TPR. 

Bank of England and Bank for International Settlement (BIS) launch new Innovation Hub

On 11 June 2021, the Bank of England and BIS announced the launch of the new BIS Innovation Hub London Centre.  This is the fourth new Innovation Hub Centre which BIS has launched in the last two years.  The Innovation Hub's work programme is focused on six areas:

  • use of technology in supervision (suptech) and regulation (regtech)
  • next generation financial market infrastructures
  • CDBCs
  • open finance
  • cyber security
  • green finance.

Basel Committee: consultation on prudential treatment of cryptoassets

On 10 June 2021, the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision published its consultative document Prudential treatment of cryptoasset exposures.  The proposal is that cryptoassets are divided into two groups when included on the balance sheets of banks, based on the volatility of the asset.  In Group 1 are the stablecoins and other tokens which are secured by a tangible asset, which are expected to be treated in the same way as other securities and the underlying assets.  Group 2 concerns cryptoassets that do not have these stability mechanisms, such as utility tokens like Bitcoin and Ethereum and derivatives of these.  Group 2 assets are to be given a 1250% risk weighting for prudential purposes, so that banks can lose the entirety of the Group 2 assets without depositors suffering a loss.  The Basel Committee is open to responses until 10 September 2021.

Bank of England: 2021 Climate Biennial Exploratory Scenario

On 8 June 2021, the Bank of England launched its Climate Biennial Exploratory Scenario (CBES).  With participation from UK banks, building societies, life insurers and general insurers, the exercise sets out three scenarios, which test risks to firms from the transition to a carbon net zero economy and to a global warming scenario with no policy changes made.  Submissions are due mid-October 2021 and the Bank will declare whether a second round will be held or material from this round published at the end of January 2022.

Securities, investments, and markets

Consultation paper CP21/18: Enhancing climate-related disclosures by standard listed companies and seeking views on ESG topics in capital markets 

The first of the two TCFD-aligned papers mentioned in the General Financial Services regulation section above.  This paper proposes to bring into scope of TCFD-aligned disclosure schemes standard listed equity shares but excludes standard listed investment entities and shell companies.  Listing Rule LR 9.8.6R(8) would apply to equity shares in such companies via the incorporation of a similar rule into LR14.  The consultation also requests views on requiring the central elements of Use of Proceeds (UoP) bonds to be published clearly in the prospectus.  The FCA is concerned that UoP bonds may contain language that limits liability to a "best endeavours" basis, and that investors might be made more aware of this if regulation intervened, although the regulator accepts that part of the problem is that there is no universal standard for Environmental, Social and Governance securities.

FCA and PRA: Dear Chief Risk Officer (CRO)

On 21 June 2021, the FCA and PRA published a letter from David Bailey (PRA Executive Director, International Banks Supervision), Sarah Breeden (PRA Executive Director, UK Deposit Taker Supervision) and Edwin Schooling Latter (FCA Director, Markets and Wholesale Policy) to CROs.  This letter encourages firms to incorporate good practices witnessed in relation to delivery versus payment clients risk management.  Such practices include:

  • Using a credit function, independent of the front office, to conduct basic risk assessments of every client's profile at on-boarding and ensure that clients are within a firm's risk appetite.
  • Making every client account subject to a pre-settlement credit exposure limit.
  • Conducting ongoing oversight of clients, including financial crime and money-laundering risks.
  • Using an automated monitoring system for market risk exposure, featuring appropriate built-in escalation measures.
  • Having robust trade fail management processes with systematic, predefined escalation trigger points for individual client accounts.

The regulators will request an update from firms on the steps which they have taken following this letter by the end of the fourth quarter in 2021.

Global Financial Markets Association (GFMA): global principles for climate finance taxonomies

On 16 June 2021, GFMA published Global Guiding Principles for Developing Climate Finance Taxonomies.  The paper calls on global policymakers, standard setters and market participants to agree on a minimum set of guiding principles and definitions to create globally aligned taxonomies.  GFMA suggests five principles:

  • Climate finance taxonomies should be broadened beyond use of proceeds to capture entity-level activities and all eligible sources of capital.
  • Climate finance taxonomies should be objective, supported by clearly defined metrics and thresholds aligned to the Paris Agreement, and science-based targets.
  • Climate finance taxonomies should have a consistent set of principles and definitions but provide flexibility for regional and temporal variation to align with differences in transition pathways.
  • Climate finance metrics should be defined and applied to sectors using science-based targets, balancing ease of use with transparency and robustness to both assess climate impact and support third-party verification.
  • Climate finance taxonomies should be based on a governance process that is robust, inclusive, and transparent, and has the flexibility for continued evolution.

The intention is that by following global guiding principles, international efforts can be aligned with the Paris Agreement goals.

FCA and Bank of England: call to participants in the US dollar interest rate swaps market

On 16 June 2021, the FCA and Bank of England published a press release, encouraging  liquidity providers in the US dollar linear interest rate swaps market, to move from LIBOR to Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) from 26 July 2021.  This supports the US-led 'SOFR First' initiative.  However, screens for LIBOR swaps and LIBOR-based swap spreads are expected to remain for information purposes only until 22 October 2021.

Funds and asset management

Consultation paper CP21/17: Enhancing climate-related disclosures by asset managers, life insurers, and FCA-regulated pension providers

The second of the two TCFD-aligned papers mentioned in the General Financial Services regulation section above.  This paper applies to investment portfolio managers, UCITS management companies, full-scope Alternative Investment Fund Managers (AIFMs), small scope AIFMs, life insurers and non-insurer FCA-regulated pension providers.  The main components of the proposed regimes would be the introduction of entity-level disclosures on how firms take climate-related risks and opportunities into account; and product or portfolio-level disclosures, which would be published in a TCFD product report or made available on request.

EU: Commission Implementing Regulation laying down ITS under Regulation on cross-border distribution of investment funds published in the Official Journal

On 15 June 2021, the Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2021/955 laying down implementing technical standards (ITS) produced under Articles 5(3), 10(3) and 13(3) of the Regulation on the cross-border distribution of investment funds ((EU) 2019/1156) was published in the Official Journal of the European Union.  This relates to the publication of national rules about marketing requirements for funds and the regulatory fees charged to fund managers for cross-border activities, which are published on the websites of national competent authorities, and to the notification by these authorities to ESMA for the establishment and maintenance of an UCITS and AIF database.  The Implementation Regulation will generally enter force on 5 July 2021, although Articles 1 and 3(1) apply from 2 August 2021 and Article 5 applies from 2 February 2022.

HM Treasury: extension of PRIIPs exemption for UCITS funds

On 1 June 2021, HM Treasury announced that the current exemption for Undertakings for the Collective Investment in Transferable Securities (UCITS) funds from the normal requirements of the Packaged Retail and Insurance-based Investment Products (PRIIPs) Regulation will be extended until 31 December 2026.  UCITS funds currently produce a Key Investor Information Document under the UCITS Directive, but the UK PRIIPs Regulation would require the production of a Key Information Document instead.

Investigations and enforcement

FCA: refusal for part 4A permission to a firm for incomplete application

On 8 June 2021, the FCA published a final notice to Sportz Commercials Ltd, refusing to award part 4A permission for limited permission credit broking on the grounds of failing to submit a complete application. The FCA had been in touch with the firm six times since the initial application submission to request further information, but ultimately was not sure that the firm will satisfy and continue to satisfy the relevant conditions for the regulated activity.  Accordingly, its part 4A permission was refused.

FCA: first notice for firm unable to monitor appointed representatives

On 24 May 2021, the FCA published a first supervisory notice for Marshall Sterling Investment Management Ltd, imposing requirements on its use of appointed representatives.  The firm was ordered to terminate its appointed representatives agreements and prevented from hiring further appointment representatives without prior written consent from the regulator, on the grounds that the firm does not have appropriate non-financial resources to monitor compliance or control the onboarding and ongoing monitoring of appointed representatives.

FCA: objection to change in control due to poor fitness of planned controller

On 11 May 2021, the FCA published a final notice for Ms Sherrie Jean Thackray, objecting to her proposed control over the firm Transfer Gurus Limited on the grounds of personal fitness. Ms Thackray acquired sole ownership of the firm on 1 September 2019 but submitted the appropriate notification to the FCA for the proposed change in control on 25 August 2020 and subsequently failed to cooperate with the requests of the regulator.  As a consequence, the FCA had grounds to: doubt Ms Thackray's integrity and professional competence under section 186(a) of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA); doubt her knowledge, skills and experience as sole controller under section 186(b) FSMA; and to believe that there was an increased risk of money laundering by the firm under section 186(f)(ii) FSMA.  Accordingly, the FCA has used its powers to object to the change in control.

Financial crime

Law Commission: discussion paper on corporate criminal liability

On 9 June 2021, the Law Commission published a discussion paper titled Corporate Criminal Liability.  The paper intends to improve on criticisms of the current law of corporate criminal liability, and particularly the identification doctrine from the case of Tesco v. Nattrass [1972] AC 153, which simply asks in corporate criminal cases "whose acts are those of the company?".  The Law Commission believes that the identification doctrine has the following issues:

  • The law makes it difficult in practice to prosecute companies.
  • Larger corporations will often be able to cause greater or more widespread harms than smaller companies, but the present doctrine of identification makes establishing guilt in corporate manslaughter ineffective.
  • The identification principle does not reflect real corporate decision-making and corporate knowledge.
  • Paradoxically, application of the identity principle makes it harder to temper the unfair application of strict liability.

A consultation has commenced concurrently to this paper and closes on 31 August 2021.

FCA: Temporary Registration Regime (TRR) extended for cryptoasset businesses

On 3 June 2021, the FCA announced an extension until 31 March 2022 for existing cryptoasset businesses to continue trading under the TRR.  Cryptoasset firms are required to register with the FCA for anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing supervision.  The regulator states that many businesses are failing to meet the standards under the Money Laundering Regulations, which has resulted in an "unprecedented number of businesses withdrawing their applications."

EBA: consultation on co-operation between prudential supervisors, Anti Money Laundering/ Countering Financing of Terrorism (AML/ CFT) supervisors and Financial Intelligence Units

On 27 May 2021, the European Banking Authority (EBA) published a consultation paper on draft guidelines on co-operation and information exchange between prudential supervisors, AML/ CFT (anti-money laundering and countering financing of terrorism) supervisors and financial intelligence units (FIUs) under the CRD IV Directive (2013/36/EU), as amended by the CRD V Directive ((EU) 2019/878).  The draft guidelines are designed to allow the various agencies to co-operate practically together, which they are expected to do under Article 117(6) of the amended CRD IV Directive, by helping them to exchange information in a clear and structured manner.  The consultation is open until 27 August 2021, after which the EBA will seek to finalise the guidelines.

FSR trivia

London is the site of a BIS Innovation Hub Centre.  Which of these cities does not currently have an Innovation Centre Hub?

  • Singapore
  • Hong Kong
  • Stockholm
  • Toronto

Answer to last month's trivia: the Banking Standards Board rebranded in April this year to the Financial Services Culture Board.

In dieser Serie

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Financial services update - December 2020

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Financial services update - November 2020

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Financial services update - October 2020

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Financial services update - September 2020

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Financial services update - August 2020

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Financial services update - July 2020

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Financial services update - June 2020

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Financial services update - May 2020

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Financial services update - April 2020

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Financial services update - March 2020

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Financial services update – February 2020

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Financial services update - January 2020

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