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AFME welcomes start of 2023 EU-wide stress test
31 Jan 2023
Following the launch of the EU-wide stress test by the European Banking Authority today, the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME) issued a statement on behalf of its members, the majority of which will be part of this year’s test. Caroline Liesegang, Head of Prudential Regulation at AFME, said: “Region-wide stress tests are an important element of idiosyncratic and systemic risk assessments at banks under common macro scenarios. This year’s stress test is particularly interesting, given that this is the first time European entities of third country firms are part of the exercise. Their inclusion allows for a comparison of the robustness of operations of all large banks that provide important wholesale market services in support of the European economy. The stress test also gives insights into one of the most pressing macro-financial issues, i.e. the reversal of interest rate levels back towards long-term trends. However, this year’s EBA methodology puts undue restrictions on bank’s interest earning capacity, which may negatively impact the assessment of banks by their investors.” In particular: AFME notes the increased sample now includes larger entities of third country banks due to the size and complexity of their operations in the EU. The exercise will help banks and supervisors alike to understand the commonalities and differences across jurisdictions. Going forward, AFME also suggests regional stress test methodologies could be further aligned across the world with a view to harmonising requirements for banks and reducing the related operational burden. AFME welcomes the EBA’s and ESRB’s recognition of the effect of interest rate paths across jurisdictions on banks’ risk profiles and income. However, AFME cautions that this year’s stress test methodology mechanically controls banks’ net interest income and thereby artificially constrains firms’ ability to account for interest income even under a rising interest rate scenario. Under this methodology banks will show higher losses than they would actually incur given their business model. This might have an unintended impact on investors raising questions around banks’ seemingly higher sensitivity to macro shocks. Inflation is projected to play a key part in the functioning of the world economy over the next years reverting to target inflation levels by the end of 2025 under the baseline scenario for the Euro area, UK and US, and hovering around the 3% mark under the adverse scenario. Therefore, this will most likely not drive the impact significantly. AFME notes that successful supervisory stress tests require adequate quality assurance. This lies in the hands of the (national) competent authorities. AFME encourages supervisory authorities to engage in informed conversations with firms when assessing the results and to allow banks sufficient time to run the calculations. It is essential to strike a good balance between cross-sectional benchmarking and recognition of idiosyncratic specificities in the results. - ENDS -
AFME welcomes ECON Committee vote on Basel 3 package
24 Jan 2023
The Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME) welcomes the agreement by the European Parliament'sCommitteeonEconomicand Monetary Affairs (ECON) on the CRR3 legislation, voted today. Caroline Liesegang, Head of Prudential Regulation at AFME, said: “Today’s agreement is an important step in finalising the EU implementation of the international Basel III reforms. The Parliament has made positive steps forward via changes to the Commission’s legislative proposal which should be given due consideration during interinstitutional negotiations. More work is still needed on the crypto assets proposal to better define its scope to ensure tokenised securities are not captured. It is also vital that cross-border trading on financial markets can continue through the removal of the requirement for banks to establish a subsidiary or branch in the EU under Article 21c.” In particular: The industry welcomes the decision of the Committee to apply the Output Floor at the consolidated level, which reflects how it was calibrated at Basel. AFME welcomes the recognition of the important role of securitisation in the financing of the economy. The ECON Committee has included transitional adjustments to mitigate the negative impact the introduction of the Output Floor would have on this mechanism a until a wider review of the securitisation framework is undertaken. AFME further welcomes the alignment of the Parliament and Council on the implementation of the trading book reforms. The use of a delegated act for market risk is a critical tool to ensure a globally consistent and aligned implementation of the market risk capital rules. AFME also welcomes some of the clarifications brought to the treatment of equity investments in funds under the FRTB, including the extended definition of third-party vendors. AFME also welcomes the Council and Parliament postponement of the implementation of the CRR2 mandated Trading book (TB) and banking book (BB) boundary to 1 January 2025. This change helps implement the TB/BB boundary that has been split between the CRR2 and CRR3 coherently, easing the operational burden, complexity and potential rigidity in instrument designation that would have resulted from the two-step approach. AFME suggests it will be important to avoid the significant adverse impact of the proposed access requirements for third country undertakings on the ability of EU financial institutions, corporates, governmental entities, and individuals to access international markets and cross-border services. In this respect, AFME supports the Council approach to remove the requirement for Member States to require third country undertakings to establish a branch in their territory, via deletion of proposed Articles 21c and 48c(1). Finally, AFME notes the European Parliament has proposed an interim treatment to apply a 1250% risk weight to crypto assets until 31 December 2024. However, there is no definition of crypto assets in the CRR and therefore the requirement may apply to tokenised securities, as well as the non-traditional crypto assets the interim treatment is targeted at. The scope of application should be clarified in the trilogue process to ensure a faithful implementation of the finalised Basel standard to avoid any unintended impact on securities markets during the interim period. - ENDS -
AFME welcomes Council agreement on some aspects of MiFIR, but further progress needed
20 Dec 2022
The Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME) has today issued a comment in response to the European Council agreement on the MiFIR proposal to strengthen market transparency. Adam Farkas, Chief Executive of AFME, said: “This is a milestone agreement which moves forward negotiations on MiFIR – a regulation which governs how secondary markets function in the EU and which is fundamental for their competitiveness and attracting investments within and into the EU. While we still need to understand the details of the Council agreement, the progress made is clearly a step in the right direction and we commend the Czech Presidency’s hard work for getting this over the line. “AFME members in particular welcome the progress made by Member States in reaching this agreement by recognising the need for investor choice in equities trading mechanisms which will allow for cheaper and more efficient execution to be delivered to end investors. However, imposing artificial limitations on investors’ choice by maintaining a hard volume cap in the level one framework may still hinder the EU’s ability to attract global investors to its markets. “AFME is concerned with the rigid approach the Council has adopted to bond market transparency. These policy changes are not justified by any data analysis and, as a result, there is a significant risk that liquidity provision in illiquid or large sized bond trades could be hampered. The Council’s approach removes the possibility for flexibility to be allowed during periods of stress where investors’ demand for liquidity can spike significantly. It represents another constraint on market makers, which are already subject to strict regulatory limitations on the use of their balance sheets for liquidity provision. “Going forward, AFME would urge the European Parliament to follow suit in agreeing its own position, ensuring that it keeps the attractiveness of EU fixed income and equity markets for investors at the forefront of its considerations. AFME also suggests that it carefully reviews the potential negative impact of hard coding deferral periods for bonds into level one legislation. As an alternative approach, AFME would encourage the Parliament to consider delegating greater powers to supervisory authorities, which should adopt a data driven approach to the calibration of the deferral regime and consider the combined impact of transparency rules and other regulatory requirements on banks’ capacity to serve their clients.” Separately, the Council has also agreed an approach on the Central Securities Depositories Regulation. Adam Farkas, said: “AFME has long argued that the implementation of mandatory buy-in requirements would have a disproportionately negative impact on the liquidity and competitiveness of EU capital markets. While we believe that a complete removal of the mandatory buy-in regime is the best approach, we welcome the Council’s position to view mandatory buy-ins as a measure of last resort, to be activated subject to assessment and only in the case where the level of settlement fails would be substantial in the EU. We support further focusing on all other tools that would be more appropriate to support settlement discipline and efficiency in Europe.” In more detail: On Consolidated Tape The establishment of a properly constructed consolidated tape for equities and bonds is an important incremental step toward further integrating EU markets, reducing home biases in EU citizens’ investments and attracting international capital to the EU. AFME would nevertheless liked to have seen more ambition in the Council’s approach by the establishment of a real time pre-trade, as well as post-trade, tape for equities. We are somewhat perplexed, however, that consolidated tape revenue share is not extended to all execution venues providing their market data. Equity market structure issues: We are pleased to see the general direction of travel towards reducing complexity in EU equities market structure. This acknowledges that restrictions targeting only certain execution methods, such as those originally proposed on systematic internalisers and midpoint trading, would reduce the facilitation of cheaper, more efficient equity transactions to the detriment of end investors. However, maintaining a volume cap remains directly at odds with international best practice, threatening the EU’s objective to effectively compete with other markets globally and it detracts from the EU’s status as a destination to invest or raise capital. On Fixed Income While we support having 5 categories of bond deferrals, we are disappointed to see that maximum deferral times continue to be hardcoded into the Level One legislation. Not only does this approach lack the flexibility that is critical, especially in times of market volatility, it does not appear to be justified by any data driven analysis.An incorrectly calibrated regime,resulting in inadequate deferral periods that lead to liquidity providers experiencing undue risk, will upset the fine balance between transparency and liquidity and end up negatively impacting end investors. On Designated Publishing Regime: We are supportive of the Council’s inclusion of the Designated Publishing Entity to create a regime where firms will be able to opt in as designated reporters, thereby decoupling the reporting requirement from the obligations under the systematic internaliser regime. – Ends –
Unprecedented sustainability-linked financing and changing regulatory policy mean European High Yield market is fast-evolving
15 Dec 2022
AFME has today published an updated set of ESG due diligence questions for use by European capital markets participants. The updated guidelines follow on from the April 2020 release of the first ever set of ESG guidelines for the European high yield market. According to AFME research, the European high yield sustainability-linked bond market grew significantly during 2021 to €15.7bn on 42 deals. This compared to no European high yield sustainability-linked bonds issued in or before 2020. In 2022, and in line with general market conditions, such issuances fell significantly, but AFME expects that these kinds of bonds will remain an important part of the European high yield market. In response to such large issuance volumes, regulatory policy and market practices are also evolving. The AFME due diligence questions have therefore been updated since 2020 to reflect these changes and are intended to provide a suggested framework for market participants’ ESG due diligence. Gary Simmons, Managing Director of AFME’s High Yield Division, said: “ESG finance is a fast-evolving market. We originally published our guidelines at a time when the ESG market was still developing. Over 2020 and 2021, we saw unprecedented growth in the market for green and sustainability-linked financings. The AFME High Yield Division’s remit is to ensure that the European high yield markets are able to run as efficiently and effectively as possible, so it was important to reflect recent ESG best practices and provide the benefit of our learning over the last two years to everyone in the market.” Cynthia Cheung, Vice-Chair of the AFME High Yield Division and Managing Director and Associate General Counsel at Bank of America, said: “COP 27 caused a lot of us to pause and think again about the ways in which our markets can have a positive impact on the wider world, and it seemed the right time to look at our materials again. Like so much of AFME’s work, we believe that these updated materials have immediate practical usefulness for market participants, and our work in this area will continue.” Adam Farlow, member of the AFME High Yield Sustainable Finance Committee and Partner at Baker McKenzie, added: “As shown at COP 27, commitment to net zero and the inherent significance of climate finance within that have never been stronger. It is vital that AFME continues to support issuers and market participants in their transitions and these revitalised ESG due diligence questions provide excellent parameters to guide production of full and cogent disclosure, accurately reflective of the rapidly evolving underlying current and lending legislation.” The updated 2022 due diligence questions are available here. AFME is concurrently working on a full update to its ESG guidelines for release in early 2023 -ENDS -
AFME disappointed by ESAs’ inaction on securitisation – EU legislators should provide leadership to address regulatory imbalances
13 Dec 2022
Commenting on the publication of the European Supervisory Authorities’ (ESAs) response to the European Commission's Call for Advice on the review of the securitisation prudential framework, Shaun Baddeley, Managing Director of Securitisation at the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME), said: “We are very disappointed on first reading of the report. There is a weight of evidence supporting recalibration of both the bank and insurance prudential frameworks, but the ESA’s recommendations conclude that no real change is needed at this stage. Postulating that it is probably not worth making calibrations more risk sensitive and proportionate because they cannot quantify the benefit is no justification for inaction. Regarding advice on the banking sector: “There is a wide consensus among issuers and investors that existing regulatory imbalances have been a decisive factor in the stagnation of securitisation in Europe. It is fundamental to address aspects of the regulatory framework which remain miscalibrated and are holding back the tool’s potential to support the economy. “The EBA makes eight recommendations to the Commission, which primarily focus on resolving inconsistencies with Basel standards. None of these deal head on with two key prudential challenges for banks that are holding back the securitisation market in Europe, including the miscalibration of bank capital for securitisation and the disproportionate treatment of securitisation within the Liquidity Coverage Ratio. Both of these challenges disincentivise banks from participating in this asset class. What is needed here is a temporary adjustment to the p factor until a review of the securitisation standardised formula is concluded and any long-term adjustments are made. “On a positive note, the EBA does recognise the merit in rethinking the formulation behind securitisation risk weights if this is done at the Basel level. “One of the EBA’s recommendations is to reduce the risk weight floor for originators of “resilient” transactions to support issuance of significant risk transfer transactions of granular SME and corporate portfolios, for example. However, this change will be negated for banks impacted by the phase in of Basel III, due to major distortions created by the output floor formulation for securitisation, as evidenced by recent AFME and Risk Control Ltd research. Regarding advice on the insurance sector: “EIOPA’s section provides no recommendations but posits that while there may be logic in developing a risk sensitive framework, there is little point in doing so, given the limited impact the implementation of a proportionate framework would have. AFME disagrees with this view as it disregards the evidence that in the run up to the implementation of Solvency II, substantial insurance ABS assets under management were sold as a result of the impact of Solvency II on their own capital positions. What is needed here is for EIOPA to deliver on many of their findings and introduce a risk-based framework that recognises the differencebetween senior, mezzanine and junior risk for both simple, transparent and standardised (STS) and non-STS securitisations and assign appropriate capital charges at each level. “The report also suggests that there may be other elements, regulatory or other, that need to be considered, which likely inhibit the resurgence of the market, i.e. it argues that the prudential framework is not the sole factor driving a decade of decline in Europe. While this is true, it ignores the fact that European prudential frameworks are disproportionately punitive when compared with comparable asset classes within Europe or with prudential frameworks across the world. “EU legislators should use the opportunities provided by the CRR 3 discussions and Solvency 2 discussions to acknowledge the importance of a well-functioning securitisation market and introduce targeted adjustments to support proportionate and risk-sensitive requirements for this mechanism in Europe.” – Ends –
Potential of green securitisation could exceed €300 billion annually by 2030
12 Dec 2022
The Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME) has today published a study setting out a comprehensive overview of the current European regulatory landscape for green securitisation, highlighting the challenges preventing it from fully contributing to Europe’s green transition, as well as the full scale of its potential growth by 2030. Shaun Baddeley, Managing Director of Securitisation at AFME, said: “Through this report, we are aiming to provide a clear picture of the current status of the European green securitisation market and to highlight the huge potential that it has to contribute to Europe’s green financing needs. Outside Europe, securitisation has already become an important tool to channel capital into green lending, however Europe is lagging far behind other global markets such as the US and China. This is partly due to regulatory impediments which prevent the growth of the wider European securitisation market. Another reason is the current lack of green assets to be securitised – although, this is expected to increase in the coming years. “The EU Green Bond Standard legislation (EuGBS) has the potential to be an important enabler for the growth of the market. However, it is vital that a well-designed framework for green synthetic securitisation is incorporated into the EuGBS at the earliest opportunity as it is the most cost effective way of securitising project finance and other green assets which cannot be easily securitised via true-sale (or traditional) securitisations.” AFME’s latest report highlights that the European green securitisation market is lagging behind other global jurisdictions, including: In the course of five years, only 24 securitisation transactions with ESG characteristics have been issued. Although Europe is a leading region for green and sustainable bonds, Europe’s green securitisation market remains subdued. For instance, between 2019-2022 green securitisation issuance represented only 1.4% of total European green issuance, whereas it accounted for 8.1% in China and 32.3% in the US. The report goes on to highlight the potential scale of future green securitisation issuance by 2030 providing estimates for growth based on data from S&P Global Ratings. The findings are: Residential mortgage loans on energy-efficient properties: Gross green mortgage lending could reach €125 billion annually across eight European RMBS markets, i.e. Belgium, France, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the U.K. Lending for green home renovation: If residential buildings reach a 3% renovation rate by 2030, this could generate an annual funding requirement of about €75 billion, which may partly be addressed by further mortgage advances that are securitisable. This figure assumes a fully-funded typical renovation cost of about €17,000 per property, and considers the same eight European RMBS markets mentioned above. Electric auto financing: In respect of new battery electric vehicles, securitisable financing could reach €80 billion annually, while there could be a further €30 billion in annual financing required for used ones. These estimates concern only the five major European auto ABS markets, namely France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.K. AFME’s key recommendations for unlocking the potential of the green securitisation market, include: Introducing a framework for green synthetic securitisation in the scope of the EuGBS in short order. Addressing the imbalances in the broader securitisation framework which hold the wider European securitisation market back; Ensuring a well-designed EuGBS which fully accommodates the characteristics of securitisation; and Pursuing a proportionate approach to sustainability-related disclosures under the EuGBS framework and more broadly; - ENDS -
AFME welcomes latest CMU proposals
7 Dec 2022
The Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME) has today issued a comment in response to the European Commission’s latest package of measures on Capital Markets Union. Adam Farkas, Chief Executive of AFME, said: “Today’s package of proposals is a welcome step towards progressing the Capital Markets Union further, which is a vital project for supporting European capital markets, particularly in light of recent economic and geopolitical pressures. “On the Listing Act proposal, an attractive environment for Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) and other capital raisings in public markets is vital to support innovative, fast-growing companies, as well as an expansion of Europe’s equity markets. A well-functioning IPO market is also important in the pre-IPO environment as it impacts on exit strategies and therefore the provision of risk capital. In order to allow companies to access capital effectively, policy makers should support measures that strengthen the competitiveness of EU markets in order to improve the ability of all types of companies to raise funds on European capital markets. “AFME welcomes the focus on promoting multiple voting right share structures. Subject to appropriate checks and balances, these structures have the potential to attract founder-led high-growth companies looking to list. Their promotion should however apply to all listing platforms and not be limited to SME Growth Markets”. “AFME looks forward to debating the proposals in the EU Listing Act, including those in relation to the Prospectus Regulation, Market Abuse Regulation and investment research. Features of the existing EU framework that are unclear, inconsistent, disproportionately burdensome on issuers and/or which fail to provide adequate reassurance to investors should be addressed in this review. The proposals should strike the right balance between the needs of issuers, investors and participants providing diverse services such as underwriting and market-making.” - ENDS -
Regulatory complexity is making it harder for Financial Institutions to adopt Cloud services
6 Dec 2022
A new report published today by the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME) and Protiviti outlines four key barriers holding back the pace of Cloud adoption within the Financial Services sector. The report entitled “State of Cloud Adoption in Europe - Preparing the path for Cloud as a critical third-party solution” finds that while Cloud can clearly be an enabler for financial services innovation, some key barriers are currently making it harder for firms to adopt and fully leverage its potential. Fiona Willis, Associate Director of Technology and Operations, at AFME, said: “The benefits of Cloud technology for the growth of the financial services sector are clear, allowing financial institutions to deliver agile, scalable and resilient services to their clients. However, our report finds the rate of adoption of Cloud technology is currently being held back by overly complex and unharmonised regulation.” “AFME members believe it is essential that policymakers, in the EU and globally, do not inadvertently impact the continued adoption of Cloud services. We therefore make key recommendations to help ensure regulators and policymakers can work together to unlock the full potential of cloud opportunities for the financial services sector.” James Fox, Director, Enterprise Cloud at Protiviti, said: “Cloud technology is increasingly critical for financial institutions, creating a significant opportunity to increase productivity, flexibility and resilience in support of their digital transformation initiatives. Regulators are quite rightly taking steps to make sure that the application of Cloud technologies within financial services is properly regulated to avoid any potential risks or issues that could harm the global financial system. However, a careful balancing act needs to be struck between properly regulating Cloud technologies and not stifling innovation and competition within the financial services sector, and as our recent report shows, the current regulatory complexity is making it more difficult for financial institutions to adopt the Cloud.” The paper sets out four key challenges that financial institutions are currently experiencing, including: Concentration of Cloud Services:​Globally, 65% of Cloud services are provided by just three entities, whose dominance is raising concerns among financial regulators, highlighting the risk of concentration in the Cloud marketplace. Regulatory Complexity:Regulatory fragmentation, uncertainty and the time required for regulatory approvals is preventing financial institutions from innovating, slowing the pace of Cloud adoption. FIs are also subject to multiple different regulators that may ask for the same information in different formats and through different channels. Data Localisation:The forthcoming EUCS certification framework could have far-reaching negative implications if the proposals to achieve “immunity against third-country law” via EU control requirements are adopted. Management of Disruption in the Cloud:Several high-profile Cloud service outages have highlighted the need for greater visibility and confidence in Cloud providers’ abilities to predict, manage and communicate disruptions to their Cloud services. Regulators expect FIs to have primary responsibility for resisting threats to operational resilience, to guard against service disruptions and to recover from incidents. The paper provides 9 recommendations for policy makers in order to help address these challenges: Concentration of Services We urge policymakers to consider how CSPs could be encouraged to provide greater transparency on resiliency, dependency and security issues within cloud services, specifically greater visibility and analysis of dependencies between regions and the underlying control plane[1] within each CSP. We recommend that the adoption of multi-cloud strategies should remain at the discretion of individual FIs and should not be mandatory, as such a mandate could increase, rather than address, systemic concentration risk. Regulatory Complexity We request that authorities consider an approval model for deploying services to the cloud at a platform level or remove time requirements for notifications, in order to reduce delays in the approval process. We encourage greater co-ordination between the European Central Bank (ECB), European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) and National Competent Authorities (NCAs) to ensure a consistent application of the outsourcing and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) third-party registers to ensure minimum duplication for FIs and supervisors. Data Localisation We request that policymakers and regulators refrain from requiring localisation of data or cloud hosting solutions, as it challenges resilience, inhibits innovation, and increases operational complexity. Management of Disruption in the Cloud We encourage CSPs to proactively help FIs understand their tools, resources, and configuration settings and ensure that workloads and data running within the CSPs infrastructure are properly secured. In addition, CSPs should help FIs understand the Service Level Objectives (SLO) across each service provided and the resiliency and recovery metrics. We request that CSPs aid FIs in proactively architecting for greater resilience by providing dependency mapping between services and geographies, for example, that two different services share a single point of failure or how an outage that occurs in one region may affect the underlying CSP control plane. We encourage CSPs to provide greater transparency and detail of Root Cause Analysis (RCA) for incidents and outages within a CSP and create a library of previous RCAs, so that incident trends can be tracked, understood and better managed moving forward. We ask CSPs to provide sufficient education and notice to FIs for service updates that may impact FIs’ responsibilities and obligations in areas such as security or resilience. – Ends –
AFME welcomes UK consultation on implementation of Basel rules
30 Nov 2022
Following the publication of the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA)’s consultation paper on the UK implementation of Basel 3.1 rules today, Caroline Liesegang, Head of Prudential Regulation and Research of the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME), said: “Today’s consultation from the PRA is important as Basel 3.1 is the final step to implementing post-crisis reforms in the UK and is welcome by the banking industry. AFME will be responding on behalf of its members, which are the largest systemically important banks with active presence in Europe. “AFME is pleased to see the PRA has struck a good balance in its approach to implementing the international Basel standards. It is positive that the UK regulator has sought to ensure a coordinated approach through the proposal of a 1 January 2025 deadline, which is in line with the EU’s proposed timeline. It is also good to see that the proposal addresses certain UK specific issues in the implementation, a regional approach the EU has also taken to address its own requirements. “However, while there have been a number of positive adjustments, such as the treatment of unrated corporates, this has been offset by the removal of preferential treatment elsewhere in the framework, for example, in the SME supporting factor and the increase in capital requirements for trade finance.AFME believes that risk sensitivity and preferential treatment for certain asset types should be retained as they enable banks to support the real economy at a time when the financial, corporate and retail mortgage sectors are under enormous economic strain. “The combined effect of all these changes will need to be carefully assessed to ensure that the overall calibration of UK regulation is appropriate.” - ENDS -

Rebecca Hansford

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