Hong Kong Monetary Authority announces LIBOR transition milestones and provides guidance on prudential issues

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) has issued a circular to announce the key milestones that authorised institutions (AIs) should endeavour to achieve in the transition from LIBOR to alternative reference rates (ARRs).

This follows a statement by the Financial Stability Board (FSB) on 1 July 2020 in which it maintained its long-held view that “firms across all jurisdictions should continue their efforts in making wider use of risk-free rates in order to reduce reliance on IBORs where appropriate and in particular to remove remaining dependencies on LIBOR by the end of 2021”, notwithstanding the Covid-19 outbreak.

As advised by the HKMA, AIs should implement a detailed work plan (by product and by business line) to achieve the milestones. If they anticipate difficulties in achieving the milestones, they should reach out to the HKMA as soon as possible.

This e-bulletin provides an overview of the milestones, as well as recent developments in Hong Kong and internationally. Among other things, the HKMA issued a circular on 23 July 2020 to provide guidance to AIs on the frequently asked questions published by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS) on prudential issues relating to the benchmark reform. Continue reading

Lending Standards Board launches consultation on Contingent Reimbursement Model

On 15 July 2020, shortly after the first anniversary of its assumption of governorship of the Contingent Reimbursement Model (“CRM”) Code, the Lending Standards Board (LSB) launched a consultation which will form the basis of its post-implementation review of the CRM Code. The LSB’s review also extends to its Practitioners Guide (which is made available only to signatories of the CRM Code) and its Information for Customers document. Continue reading

FCA finalised guidance for payments firms: safeguarding customer funds and Covid-19

The FCA recently issued its finalised guidance for payments and e-money firms on safeguarding customer funds and Covid-19. The guidance is designed to mitigate, in the short-term, concerns that some firms are not complying with the Payment Services Regulations 2017 (PSRs) and Electronic Money Regulations 2011 (EMRs) safeguarding rules in the way the FCA expects. It is also designed to help prevent potential harm to customers in the event of insolvencies caused by Covid-19.

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Pressure Points: Covid-19 and Fraud

Covid-19 restrictions are being slowly eased, but the impact of the pandemic and related lockdown measures on financial crime risk and on related compliance measures continues to be a high priority for business. In our April briefing, we analysed the impact of the restrictions on the UK criminal justice system – in particular, the practical issues facing law enforcement agencies (LEAs), the courts and the prison service.  Continue reading

IOSCO proposes updated Outsourcing Principles as Covid-19 drives operational resilience to the top of the agenda

Having initially delayed its planned consultation exercise to allow the financial services sector to focus on responding to Covid-19, the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) subsequently found the pandemic a catalyst to proceed. Therefore, at the end of May, IOSCO launched its consultation on proposed updates to the 2005 Outsourcing Principles for Market Intermediaries and the 2009 Outsourcing Principles for Markets; feedback on the proposed new Outsourcing Principles (OPs) is requested on or before 1 October 2020. The decision to proceed reflects the acknowledgement that outsourcing is a key element for consideration when assessing operational resilience across the sector.

This post gives a high level summary of the consultation, with a link to our briefing that focuses in more detail on: the scope of application; IOSCO’s definition of outsourcing; intragroup arrangements; concentration risk; and access and audit rights. To provide additional context to IOSCO’s proposals, the associated briefing also catalogues relevant proposals and initiatives which are running concurrent to the consultation exercise.

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Megan Butler on the FCA’s response to Covid-19 and expectations for 2020

On 4 June 2020, Megan Butler, Executive Director of Supervision – Investment, Wholesale and Specialists at the FCA, delivered a speech on the FCA’s response to Covid-19 and expectations for 2020.

Addressing a virtual audience at PIMFA’s Virtual Festival, Ms Butler explored the FCA’s priorities and longer-term expectations, in particular for the wealth management and advice industry. Continue reading

FCA to carry out a survey of firms’ financial resilience

The FCA has announced that it will be surveying the financial resilience of around 13,000 firms from across 15 sectors. Between the 4 and 8 June 2020, firms will be sent a short survey by email to complete. In her speech at the PIMFA Virtual Festival, Megan Butler,  Executive Director of Supervision – Investment, Wholesale and Specialists, advised that firms will be given seven days to respond to the survey. The survey is intended to help the FCA better understand the effects that the Covid-19 pandemic is having on the finances of the firms it regulates and better guide its supervisory actions.

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FCA consultation on proposed guidance for payments firms: COVID-19 and safeguarding customer funds

After highlighting payment services as a priority in its 2020/21 business plan and following “evidence that some firms have not implemented the Electronic Money Regulations 2011 or Payment Services Regulations 2017 as [the FCA] expects”, the FCA has published a short consultation proposing further guidance for Payment Services Providers (PSPs), including Payment Institutions (PIs) and E-Money Institutions (EMIs).

The FCA gives the following as examples of areas where some firms are not fully complying with the safeguarding rules:

  • co-mingling of customer and firm funds;
  • failure to keep accurate records and accounts; and
  • insufficiently effective risk management procedures.

Following the consultation, the FCA plans to publish a “Dear CEO” letter incorporating the guidance (as amended). That guidance is intended to take effect temporarily, until the Approach Document is updated following a full consultation “later in the year”, which will likely include a proposal to incorporate the temporary guidance. The proposed guidance will also outline how firms can put in place more robust wind-down plans.

The FCA notes that payment services is an area that continues to undergo rapid development and that, while innovation is to be welcomed, many new entrants to the market are unprofitable at an early stage. The FCA is concerned, in particular, that these firms will face additional financial pressure as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which potentially threatens both customer revenues and the ability to seek external funding where required.

Next steps

Firms are asked to consider the proposed guidance and send any comments to the FCA by 12 June 2020.

Background and context

The proposed guidance follows an FCA review in H1 2019 of the compliance of 11 non-bank PSPs with the requirements for safeguarding service users’ funds under the Payment Services Regulations (PSRs) 2017 and Electronic Money Regulations (EMRs) 2011. This in turn led to the FCA’s issuance of a “Dear CEO” letter outlining the shortcomings found by the review and requesting non-bank PSPs to review their safeguarding arrangements, promptly remedy any inadequacies and attest to certain matters.

The rapid growth of both the payment services market and some firms in it, is both acknowledged by the FCA in its guidance and clearly reflected in the evolution of the surrounding regulatory landscape, marked by the revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2) which came into force in January 2018, four successive versions of the FCA’s Approach Document since September 2017 and a number of consultation papers by both the FCA and PRA.

Firms should continue to expect this to be an area of increasing regulatory focus, particularly amidst the current COVID-19 crisis. As with the client money regime for investment firms, it is likely that the FCA will view ongoing failures to comply with the safeguarding rules as a particularly serious matter.

 

Clive Cunningham
Clive Cunningham
Partner, London
+44 20 7466 2278

Mark Staley
Mark Staley
Senior Associate, London
+44 20 7466 7621

Harry Millerchip
Harry Millerchip
Associate, London
+44 20 7466 6447