On 1 October the Financial Stability Board (FSB) published a progress report on implementation of its September 2014 recommendations for reforms to FX benchmarks. One of the principal aims of the recommendations of the FX benchmarks report was to reduce the incentive and opportunity for improper trading behaviour by market participants around the benchmark fixes.

Overall there has been good progress in implementing many of the recommendations; however, in some cases progress has been mixed. The report re-emphasises that the FSB recommendations are intended to apply to all FX benchmarks, not just the WM/Reuters (WMR) 4pm London fix. Key points from the report:

  • Useful steps have been taken to reform the methodology of the widely used benchmark WM/Reuters (WMR) 4pm London fix, though there is scope for further progress on reforms in this area. Several central banks have also undertaken reviews of their processes for producing FX reference rates.
  • Recommendations to support more transparency in customer pricing for fixing transactions have seen good implementation among the largest market participants and for the most used benchmarks, but elsewhere there is scope for further improvement. Similarly, steps to separate dealers’ fixings business from other activities are being taken by the larger participants and in the most active markets, but again there is room for further implementation in other areas of the FX market. For the execution of benchmark transactions, industry-led initiatives to promote greater use of independent netting and execution facilities are seeing welcome progress.
  • Work is underway to improve market conduct practices, both within individual firms and through market-wide initiatives, including the global effort to develop a single code of conduct for the FX market through the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) Markets Committee working group on FX markets.
  • While many index providers and end-users have increased their focus on the due diligence around FX benchmark use, there is scope for greater follow-through on this on the part of some market participants.