The Loan Market Association (which represents the views of the syndicated loan market in EMEA) has recently published the results of a survey of its members which aimed to understand their plans for adopting new financial and legal technology.
A number of strong themes emerge. Overwhelmingly, LMA members perceive that the growth of FinTech has already had an impact on their organisations, and most see FinTech as offering an opportunity (rather than being a threat).
By contrast, only 11.5% of respondents felt that they know enough about it to understand how it will affect their businesses. In particular, most felt that they could benefit from having a better understanding of the practical application of FinTech to their business needs. Over a fifth would like to improve their knowledge of the legal and regulatory issues. Although there are a number of challenges to the adoption of technology for syndicated loans, nearly half agreed that the biggest challenge is to agree scalable solutions which operate together across the loan market.
Syndicated loans businesses are split as to whether they have (or plan to have) a technology strategy. Of those that do, 14% have already received a return on their investment, while over half expect to.
The survey revealed that the most popular emerging technologies are documentation automation and electronic platforms for document negotiation or transaction management. However, most felt that the law needs to be more permissible to allow technology solutions to flourish, particularly concerning the rules on document execution.
The LMA is not the first to raise document execution as an issue. Currently, the Law Commission is reviewing the rules on the electronic execution of documents. In particular, it has identified that, although English law is flexible and allows contracts to be formed in many ways (including electronically), there is still considerable uncertainty in the market, particularly where certain types of documents require certain procedures such as witnessing.
The Law Commission is yet to issue its final report and its final proposals for law reform. Hopefully, change will come, giving the green light to businesses across the financial services sector to adopt FinTech solutions widely and confidently.