In a rare display of unity, banks, futures brokers, hedge funds and asset managers have joined together to urge global regulators to resolve the growing chaos around reporting requirements for trades.
Eleven of the financial industry’s most high-profile trade associations have called on authorities around the world to present them with consistent and harmonised standards for the market to follow.
The letter has been sent to watchdogs around the world, such as the European Central Bank and the Financial Stability Board, as global regulators gather in London over the next few days for an annual meeting to discuss common legislative issues.
The letter is notable since it is rare for participants in markets to agree a common position on an issue. Groups including the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, the International Swaps and Derivatives Association and The Investment Association, have warned a “lack of standardisation and differences in requirements across jurisdictions increase the risk of misinterpretation”.
Widespread industry confusion has undermined global regulators’ attempts to gain better insight into trading on opaque over-the-counter derivatives markets. To prevent leverage building up in the financial system without being noticed, authorities wanted to establish vital data stores in new warehouses known as trade repositories.
The six trade repositories in Europe process more than 300m trades per week and have collectively seen more than 16.5bn in the 15 months of their existence.
Only last week Verena Ross, executive director of the European Securities and Markets Authority, told a derivatives conference in London that “it is rare to see data quality at an acceptable level”. Others, such as the CFTC, have admitted its vagueness has contributed to the uncertainty.
For their part, market participants have complained at requirements to fill in between 30-80 reporting fields per trade, depending on where it takes place.
The trade associations said regulators should identify and agree on the trade data they need and then issue consistent reporting requirements. They also called on policy makers to adopt open standards such as legal entity identifiers.
They also called for laws to be amended so regulators could share data around the world. Some authorities are prevented from swapping information across borders by local privacy laws.
At the same time global regulators are cracking down. Merrill Lynch was fined a record £13m in April by the Financial Conduct Authority for incorrectly reporting 35m transactions in a seven-year period to November 2014. The UK watchdog said the high fine was in part because previous industry punishments had not been sufficient deterrents.
Others signatories include the Australian Financial Market Association, the Alternative Investment Management Association, the British Bankers' Association, the German Investment Funds Association, the Futures Industry Association and the Managed Funds Association.