The U.K.'s Financial Conduct Authority recently published two new sets of rules affecting the financial services industry. The first prohibits the promotion of Unregulated Collective Investment Schemes ("UCIS"), and similar products, to most retail investors. Only sophisticated investors and high net worth individuals will generally be allowed to invest in such instruments as exchange traded products, overseas investment companies, real estate investment trusts and venture capital trusts. Enterprise investment schemes and seed enterprise investment schemes, unless structured as UCIS, are also outside the scope of the rules. Marketing restrictions will be imposed on units in qualified investor schemes, traded life policy investments, units in UCIS, and securities issued by SPVs pooling investment in assets other than listed or unlisted shares or bonds. FCA Press Release.
The FCA also published amendments to the Financial Conglomerates Directive. The amendments address the conglomerate capital calculations methodology in light of the deletion of the Book Value calculation method; the inclusion of Asset Management Companies and Alternative Investment Fund Managers within the conglomerate identification process; the changes to conglomerate identification thresholds triggers; and the proposals for conglomerate stress testing. FCA Press Release.
The Bank of England published a quarterly bulletin on central counterparties, discussing what they are and how they are supervised. It also released a financial stability paper on foreign branch lending to U.K. borrowers, noting the role these institutions play in the domestic economy and the risks they pose.
The U.K. is involved in a number of disputes with the European Union concerning the regulation of the financial services industry. The U.K., for example has asked the European Union Court of Justice to review the European Securities and Markets Authority's ("ESMA") ban on short selling. As explained by Bloomberg, the U.K. believes that ESMA is exercising its discretionary authority too broadly. See also The Telegraph.
And as in the U.S., disagreements are arising in Europe over how swaps should be regulated. The U.K., Germany, and France, who are considered to be the principal countries concerned in this area, each have different objectives and agendas. According to Reuters, Germany opposes open access to clearinghouses for exchange traded derivatives because it could negatively impact Deutsche Bank. The U.K. however, supports greater competition among exchanges.