European policymakers are working on ways to break the deadlock with stock exchanges and encourage them to share their highly prized trading data. One potential solution: pay them.
Over this summer, EU officials are reviewing how data on stocks and bonds is disseminated, in response to concerns among fund managers that trading information is too disjointed and expensive to help them measure trading costs and performance. Some investors feel let down by rules introduced last year that were designed to inject more transparency into the process.
Allowing exchanges to share in revenues from a centralised pot of data is a potential path forward for the European Commission, according to two people involved in the discussions.
Many investors complain the tougher Mifid II standards for financial markets have failed to improve their ability to see all trading see activity across Europe’s fragmented markets. Transactions are scattered across dozens of separate national exchanges and other trading venues, each with slightly different ways of publishing information on flows, transaction sizes, and prices. Brokers, fund managers, banks and brokers have also complained that data costs have risen, just at the time they are obliged to gather more information.
Now, the EU’s executive arm, is considering whether to create a single, near real-time record of trade prices, known as a consolidated tape, for equities and bonds. Data provider IHS Markit is among the companies that has made a presentation.
Mifid II mandates that Europe has one, but policymakers privately acknowledge the rules are open to interpretation and may require a tweak to encourage adoption.
Rather than impose a system that has little market backing, the European Commission is considering incentives to improve the existing commercial consolidated tapes offered by data providers like Refinitiv and Bloomberg, the people said. The EU has the power to appoint a private sector operator, but is considering the alternatives first.
For the equities market, a mandated tape would most likely include information on trades that have been completed, such as the name of the security, the time of trade, its size and the currency. The Commission declined to comment.
Anyone collecting trading data — whether exchanges, trading venues or private marketplaces run by banks — would be allowed to contribute.
Plans to develop a single record in the past have been undermined because brokers see it as too slow. Data feeds are also often poor and incomplete. Meanwhile, exchanges and banks have worried that a centralised monopoly would create risks and raise costs. But under current potential plans, any revenues earned by the tape provider could be distributed according to the quality of data that is supplied, helping to lift standards.
The tape would be overseen by committee consisting of industry stakeholders and the European Securities and Markets Authority (Esma), the regulator. “People providing data should get some revenues,” said one person would had reviewed the plans.
Authorities are considering other options, such as a tape for the bond market and setting up a not-for-profit consortium. Brussels is not likely to make a decision for several months but it is aiming to be prepared by the end of the year when Esma will deliver its own report and advice on the matter.
This article has been amended to clarify that IHS is not acting as an advisor to the Commission
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