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Tomorrow after TradeTech we’ll be asking the crowds, ‘what’s next in regulation?’ I imagine that answers will be as varied as some of the statements provided in the recent Raj Rajaratnam insider trading investigation.
Looking at the dialog to date foreshadows some answers. Some people are aware of specific new measures, such as the FSA’s new Remuneration Code and considerations around how Basel III will be implemented, particularly when it comes to stating the percentage of capital reserve the banks will be allowed to hold. Many are interested in the coming pan-European impacts of MiFID II, which will be quite dramatic. Some look to the role of the FSA itself – how its internal reorganization might give clues to a new approach to financial regulation, and what steps need to be taken to prepare for the regulator’s new powers. Surely, the continuation of the FSA’s ARROW visits are top of mind for most brokers, at least. And many seem to be wondering what knock-on effects the US Dodd-Frank legislation and resulting regulatory rules will have in the UK and elsewhere. Others already sigh in resignation or complain that regulation is coming faster than Warren Buffet’s next attack on social network investment.
It seems that almost every week new measures are being considered and new Acts are becoming law. It is clear that governments in the West still see the way markets are run as a problem to be put right, and the answer is always more regulation. In contrast, those involved in the industry see that regulations made in haste can cause more problems than they solve.
So, what we need when it comes to looking at what’s next in regulation is open dialogue and clear consultation processes to ensure industry voices are heard. Regulators need guidance from the industry on what questions to ask when addressing new markets and the advent of new technologies arriving in different asset classes. Dialogue must be appropriate and meaningful, with regulators acknowledging that the industry has already moved ahead with its own answers to the problems caused by the global financial crisis.
On the flip side, financial services institutions also need to take action to address the market uncertainty caused by the rapid rate of regulatory change. Instead of ignoring stories in the press about new moves to control everything from the minimum capital reserve requirements to the latest attempt to clamp down on proprietary trading and credit default swaps, it is high time they examined what lies within their own control, and put in place a strategy to become proactive around regulation.
Here again, these institutions need agility ‘built in’ to their businesses and technologies. A rigid infrastructure won’t change by itself as deadlines draw closer. Instead, market participants need to modify their trading and compliance strategies on their own terms, quickly adapting to new regulatory threats, and to new opportunities as well, without disrupting the entire business each time it needs to turn a corner.
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