Brussels to push for greater ETF trade transparency

European Commission is in discussion with data providers about developing consolidated tape
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Policymakers believe flaws in the availability, quality and consistency of the EU’s trading data are hindering retail investor participation © REUTERS

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Brussels is to put forward proposals to increase the transparency and decrease the cost of market data as it aims to boost the competitiveness of the EU exchange traded fund industry.

Tilman Lüder, head of the securities markets unit at the European Commission, said Brussels was currently in discussions with data providers about developing a consolidated tape.

Lüder, who was speaking at the FT Live ETF European Leaders Forum last week, said the commission now hoped that a beta version of the consolidated tape will be available to the market by 2023.

A consolidated tape is an electronic system in which data feeds from different exchanges are banded together to create a summary across all markets.

This article was previously published by Ignites Europe, a title owned by the FT Group.

Policymakers believe flaws in the availability, quality and consistency of the EU’s trading data are hindering retail investor participation, a key objective of the capital markets union project, and leaving Europe’s ETF industry trailing the US.

“Most likely it will be a consortium that is providing this. You need some form of consensus that the data contributors contribute the data to the provider and the provider then provides it to end users,” said Lüder.

This could boost the competitiveness of the ETF industry, according to Lüder, by “increasing the overall visibility of the ETF market and the overall attractiveness of the ETF products to a more broad base of investors”, which could enable more providers to enter the industry and offer a wider range of products.

While the creation of a tape has been a longstanding objective of policymakers, data providers have complained that the project lacks a commercial incentive and say aggregating data from over 200 trading venues operating in Europe would pose serious operational challenges.

Lüder said the commission intended to structure its legislative proposal for a consolidated tape, which is likely to be published in the autumn, so that the tape “can actually generate revenue and that revenue will have to be rebated back to the data contributors”.

The fact that France will hold the presidency of the European Council in the first half of 2022 is likely to give a fillip to the development of the tape.

“The French presidency is very interested in this project,” said Lüder.

Asset managers said they would welcome the development of a consolidated tape.

“A consolidated tape will really do a lot in improving the visibility of ETF liquidity across venues, helping a larger retail investor base develop the confidence to invest in the product directly,” said Federico Cupelli, senior regulatory policy adviser at the European Fund and Asset Management Association.

Cupelli, who was also speaking at the FT Live event, said that despite provisions in Mifid II requiring market participants to submit trade reports at a reasonable cost, “real post time data is still not available and aggregation [of market data] is not perfect”.

A consolidated tape could also increase the attractiveness of Ucits ETFs to investors in Asia and Latin America who currently opt for US-based vehicles as the market is “far larger and more transparent”, according to Cupelli.

“If we do get a consolidated tape in Europe those larger investors could migrate to Ucits ETFs,” he said.

*Ignites Europe is a news service published by FT Specialist for professionals working in the asset management industry. It covers everything from new product launches to regulations and industry trends. Trials and subscriptions are available at igniteseurope.com.

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