MiFID II: 5 Top Tips for Compliance

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MiFID II came into force at the start of the month/year, but many businesses are still not compliant. Luckily for them, there’s a six month grace period before they’re actually in trouble. With that in mind, here’s 5 top tips for compliance from Joanne Smith, Group CEO of TCC and Recordsure.

MiFID II, hailed as the key to overhauling the financial markets and implementing the lessons learned following the financial crisis, is finally here. The legislation is designed to drive significant changes around transparency, investor protection and effective governance. It also aims to harmonise the various regulatory regimes that exist across the European Union.

With such broad and wide-reaching goals, the legislation, and the changes firms are required to implement in response, are significant and shouldn’t be underestimated. Yes, MiFID II is already in play, but with so much uncertainty in the build-up to implementation, firms may be less prepared than they might have hoped, or uncertain of how to ensure ongoing compliance.

Here are five top tips to help firms set themselves up for ongoing MiFID II compliance and strengthen their business for ongoing commercial success.

  1. Make Culture King

There’s no doubt that culture is one of the most important components of effective governance frameworks. Firms that are focussed on treating customers fairly and delivering the right outcomes are more likely to have greater commercial success and a more positive relationship with the regulator than one with a poor culture, or one which isn’t sufficiently embedded throughout all levels of the organisation. Recent FCA thematic output has identified how firms with objective self-challenge built into their processes are able to more effectively demonstrate that good customer outcomes are central to their business.

Firms should have gained a thorough understanding of their culture prior to making any changes to their business in response to MiFID II. However, culture isn’t static, it evolves over time and so firms will need to continually measure and evidence their culture and the impact it has on consumer outcomes. When assessing this, firms should keep MiFID II’s core aims of transparency and investor protection in mind and assess the extent to which internal practices are aligned.

  1. Consider the Impact of MiFID II on Future Strategy

Now that MiFID II is here, firms should keep the requirements front of mind when considering any strategic business changes, as the requirements do impact, whether directly or indirectly, on a significant number of business areas.

In the near future, the industry is likely to see changes in the distribution landscape, with firms exploring direct to client offerings and increased use of digital services to serve clients and offset the increased costs the legislation will bring.

  1. Get Reporting Systems in Order

The reporting requirements of MiFID II gives firms and regulators greater insight into the market, enabling them to monitor and identify emerging threats and potential instances of market abuse. Given the FCA’s more proactive regulatory approach in recent years, firms should expect to see the regulator pay close attention to how firms are utilising the information collected as part of their MiFID II compliance programmes and its own work to increase the effectiveness of its supervisory approach.

Firms should review their reporting systems and data infrastructure regularly to ensure that they are meeting regulatory expectations. Making full use of the insights available can also be used to inform strategy and ensure appropriate outcomes are being achieved.

  1. Keep on top of staff training and communications

Many employees are facing large scale changes to the way they perform their duties in the wake of MiFID II. It’s important that firms think beyond any initial training requirements and have plans in place to monitor compliance, reinforce expectations and deliver refresher training when issues or knowledge gaps are identified.

It’s also important that employees have a clear understanding of the standards and rules that apply to them and are held accountable for their conduct, particularly as the FCA turns its attention to rolling out the Senior Managers & Certification Regime (SM&CR) to the wider industry in the coming months.

  1. Explore the wider benefits of the legislation

In the face of such wide-ranging changes, it can be very easy to focus on the changes needed to comply with the regulations and forget to explore the wider benefits those changes could bring to the business and its bottom line.

Take MiFID II’s conversation recording requirements as an example. Having records in a secure and accessible format is key to demonstrating compliance, providing evidence in the event of a complaint and ensuring appropriate oversight of business activity, but the benefits don’t end there.

The data provided by recorded conversations can highlight areas where process efficiencies can be made, provide greater customer insight and can drive staff training and performance management programmes. The management information (MI) from conversation recording can also help firms identify where future risks lie across the business, not just those areas MiFID II impacts.

MiFID II is now in force, but firms shouldn’t relax just yet. In order to maintain compliance and meet regulatory expectations, firms need to be regularly reviewing their arrangements to ensure they continue to meet the appropriate standards and deliver consistent outcomes.

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