Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Regulatory Actions Drive Lasting Change

New SEC Chairman Sets Out His Regulatory Vision

In his first address as Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Jay Clayton reaffirmed his dedication to the Commission’s guiding principles and historic approach to regulation. At the same time, however, Chairman Clayton said he sees areas where the SEC’s regulations need to evolve to "reflect the realities of our capital markets.” One of these realities is that implementing regulatory change has costs, and over time cumulative regulation and the associated costs can drive behavior that has dramatic effects on the market.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Beefing Up Public Company Audit Reports

New Standards for Public Company Audit Disclosure

On June 1, 2017, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) voted to adopt new standards for public company audit reports. The new auditing standard, AS 3101, is the result of nearly eight years of work by the PCAOB with members of the public accounting profession, regulators, academics, and investor groups. If approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission, this new standard will change the scope of the current auditor’s report. AS 3101 retains the unqualified versus qualified (pass versus fail) opinion of the existing auditor's report, but makes significant changes to the auditor's report by adding a new section highlighting what the PCAOB calls “critical audit matters” (CAM). Adding CAM to audit opinions is intended to better highlight key areas of risk information to reduce the information asymmetry between users of a company’s financial statement and the company's management.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Lack of Haircut Data Hampers E.U. SFT Risk Assessment

The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA)’s report on Trends, Risks, and Vulnerabilities No. 1, 2017 (TRV) is the body’s latest effort to highlight areas of risk facing European financial markets. Noting that financial markets remained relatively calm since its last quarterly assessment, ESMA said that risks in the markets "remained at high levels, reflecting very high risk in securities markets, and elevated risk for investors, infrastructures, and services.” ESMA’s overall risk assessment remained unchanged with market and credit risks remaining at "the highest level,” while liquidity and contagion risk remained merely “high." The report also identified political and policy uncertainties following Brexit and the U.S. elections as well as potential repercussions from the upcoming elections in some E.U. member states as the main risk drivers for 2017. ESMA also expressed concerns about haircut levels in securities financing transaction (SFT) markets but said that lack of haircut data was a significant impediment to assessing risks in SFT markets.  

Thursday, March 30, 2017

OFR Launches Initiative to Reduce Regulatory Reporting Burden

In a March 16, 2017 address before the Financial Data Summit in Washington, DC, Richard Berner, Director of the Office of Financial Research (OFR), announced an initiative to identify areas of “duplication, overlap, and inefficiency in regulatory reporting.” The initiative is being undertaken in partnership with with the Financial Stability Oversight Council (and its member agencies). The goal of the project is to “improve data quality and reduce the reporting burden” faced by regulated financial firms. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

ISDA Says it's Time to Revamp the Derivatives Markets

The fast pace and broad scope of new regulation are driving participants in the complex derivatives markets to adapt quickly. Layers of old infrastructure and practices built up over time need to be overhauled to keep up with new regulation, technological change, and overall structural changes in derivatives markets.  In a September 15, 2016 white paper, the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, Inc. (ISDA) has called for greater standardization and automation of derivatives trade processes in order to improve efficiency, reduce complexity, and lower costs for market participants.  According to ISDA’s chief executive Scott O’Malia, "More recently, the sheer pace of regulatory change has meant firms have been under pressure to tackle the next pressing deadline. The result is a derivatives infrastructure that is duplicative and based on incompatible operating standards, and this isn’t sustainable.”  The white paper identifies a number of ways the ISDA proposes to automate and streamline the significant reporting, trading, clearing and collateral management requirements that have emerged as a result of regulatory changes. In addition, the paper highlights areas where greater standardization and investments in technology, like blockchain, can make traded processing faster, more efficient, and more cost-effective at all stages of derivatives trading.

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