Global Financial Regulatory Blog

Reducing Socioeconomic Bias in the UK Financial Services Sector: Emerging Best Practice

Posted in Conduct of Business, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)

The Financial Services Skills Commission has issued an insight paper outlining how companies can collect and evaluate data on employees’ socioeconomic backgrounds.

By David Berman, Nicola Higgs, Rob Moulton, and Dianne Bell

Socioeconomic backgrounds of employees and socioeconomic diversity at senior levels across the UK financial services industry is beginning to feature more prominently in diversity and inclusion (D&I) discussions. Several government and industry taskforces and studies conducted on the issue of social mobility and class advantages/disadvantages have revealed striking impacts of this bias within the UK financial services sector. Not only is the sector significantly reliant on individuals from higher socioeconomic backgrounds at the leadership level, but the studies also indicate that employees from working class or lower socioeconomic backgrounds are held back in a number of ways (which may lead to their eventual departure from the sector).

  • Progression gap: Employees from working class or lower socioeconomic backgrounds progress 25% slower than peers despite no difference in job performance, and they find conforming to the dominant cultures “exhausting” and this impacts on their individual performances.
  • Pay gap: A class pay gap of £17,500 appears to exist in financial services (compared with £5,000 in the technology sector).
  • Opportunities to upskill talent: Findings suggest that individuals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are less likely to sign up for training opportunities.

From a regulatory perspective, this lack of diversity at the senior level impacts the culture of a firm, raising concerns around, for example, groupthink and its impacts on effective decision-making.

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CFTC Mandates Clearing for Interest Rate Swaps on IBOR Alternatives

Posted in Benchmark Regulations

A new rule removes the requirement to clear IBOR-based swaps and extends mandatory clearing to swaps on IBOR alternatives.

By Yvette D. Valdez and Adam Bruce Fovent

On August 12, 2022, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) voted to amend its mandatory clearing requirements for interest rate swaps (the Rule). The vote furthers the CFTC’s  efforts in the global transition away from inter-bank offered rates (IBORs) towards alternative reference rates. Continue Reading

Recap on Reforming the UK Capital Markets

Posted in Capital Markets

A reminder of the ongoing reforms to implement recommendations from the Lord Hill and Kalifa Reviews.

By James Inness, Anna Ngo, and Johannes Poon

The outcome of the UK Secondary Capital Raising Review, launched on 12 October 2021 to improve further capital raising processes for UK publicly traded companies, was published by HM Treasury on 19 July 2022. (For further details, please see this Latham blog post).

Below is a recap on the other key developments on reforming the UK capital markets following the Lord Hill and Kalifa Reviews. Continue Reading

Major Reforms to UK Secondary Capital Raising Processes

Posted in Capital Markets

The landmark UK Secondary Capital Raising Review Report takes a holistic approach in making bold and comprehensive recommendations to improve the UK secondary capital raising processes and ecosystem.

By James Inness, Anna Ngo, Ryan Benedict, and Johannes Poon

On 19 July 2022, HM Treasury published the UK Secondary Capital Raising Review Report (the Report) that sets out a series of recommendations to improve further capital raising processes for publicly listed companies in the UK. Continue Reading

European Central Bank Announces Plans to “Green” the Debt Capital Markets

Posted in Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)

The policy change integrates climate change considerations for the first time into the ECB’s quantitative easing and repo facilities.

By Roberto Reyes Gaskin, Edward Kempson, and Peter Neuböck

On July 4, 2022, the European Central Bank (ECB) announced that it would integrate climate change considerations into Eurosystem monetary policy through changes to its corporate bond asset purchase program and its credit operations, to be implemented from October 2022 (the 2022 Announcement). The initial disclosure regarding this policy shift was tantalizingly brief, but nonetheless the 2022 Announcement has a number of implications for sustainable finance, the European investment grade debt market and, by extension, the entire European debt capital markets. Continue Reading

SEC Adopts Amendments to Form 13F

Posted in Securities Regulation

Changes include switching from paper to electronic filing requirement for confidential treatment requests.

By Stephen P. Wink, Naim Culhaci, Jackie Rugart and Matthew Lee

On June 23, 2022, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopted certain amendments to Form 13F (the Adopting Release) that will become effective at the beginning of 2023. Continue Reading

CFTC Issues Request for Information on Climate-Related Financial Risk

Posted in Derivatives, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)

The agency will use the information to take further steps to address climate risks in the commodity derivatives markets.

By Jean-Philippe Brisson, Yvette Valdez, Douglas Yatter, Joshua Bledsoe, Michael Dreibelbis, Qingyi Pan, and Deric Behar

On June 2, 2022, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) issued a Request for Information (RFI) to inform its understanding and oversight of climate-related financial risk relevant to the derivatives markets and underlying commodities market. The CFTC is seeking public feedback on all aspects of climate-related financial risk that “may pertain to the derivatives markets, underlying commodities markets, registered entities, registrants, and other related market participants.”

According to the RFI, public response may be used to inform new or amended guidance, interpretations, policy statements, regulations, or other potential CFTC action. The information will also inform CFTC’s response to the recommendations of the Financial Stability Oversight Council 2021 Report on Climate Related Financial Risk (see Latham’s blog post on the FSOC Report) and inform the work of the CFTC’s Climate Risk Unit (CRU) (see Latham’s blog post on the CRU). Comments on the RFI were originally due by August 8, 2022. On July 18, 2022, the CFTC extended the deadline by an additional 60 days; comments are therefore due by October 7, 2022.  Continue Reading

FCA Proposes to Unify the Listing Regime for Commercial Companies Under a Single Listing Segment

Posted in Regulatory Reform

The regulator continues its Primary Markets Effectiveness Review to promote the competitiveness of a UK listing.

By Chris Horton, James Inness, Anna Ngo, and Johannes Poon

On 26 May 2022, the FCA published a discussion paper (DP22/2) to seek further views on how to make the UK listing regime more effective, easier to understand, and more competitive. This paper contains suggested reforms from the FCA to elicit feedback, rather than a formal consultation on proposed rule changes. Continue Reading

FCA Finalises Rules to Improve Transparency Around Diversity of Boards and Executive Management

Posted in Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)

The new rules provide issuers with flexibility to report on representation of women by reference to either gender identity or sex.

By Chris Horton, James Inness, Anna Ngo, Nicola Higgs, David Berman, Rob Moulton, and Johannes Poon

On 20 April 2022, the FCA published its final policy decision on the proposals set out in CP 21/24 “Diversity and inclusion on company boards and executive committees”.

New diversity reporting requirements

The updated Listing Rules require in-scope issuers (broadly, premium or standard listed companies, excluding OEICs and “shell companies”) to incorporate into their annual reports certain disclosures on the diversity of their boards and executive management, including:

  • A “comply or explain” statement setting out whether they have met the following diversity targets:
    • At least 40% of the board are women
    • At least one of the senior board positions is held by a woman (Chair, CEO, Senior Independent Director, or CFO)
    • At least one member of the board is from a minority ethnic background (defined by reference to categories recommended by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), excluding those the ONS lists as coming from a White ethnic background)
  • Numerical data on the sex or gender identity and ethnic diversity of their board, senior board positions, and executive management in a standardised table (with issuers able to add to the fields “men” and “women” to include “non-binary” or other gender identities)

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UK Launches Taskforce to Take the Lead in Climate Transition Plans

Posted in Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)

HM Treasury’s Transition Plan Taskforce aims to influence international standard setting and make the UK the world’s first net zero-aligned financial centre.

By Paul A. Davies, Michael D. Green, Nicola Higgs, Anne Mainwaring, James Bee, and Dianne Bell

On 25 April 2022, HM Treasury (HMT) announced the launch of the UK Transition Plan Taskforce (TPT) to help drive decarbonisation by ensuring that financial institutions and companies prepare plans to achieve net zero, as well as to support efforts to tackle greenwashing. This move is an important step connected with the UK’s development of the new Sustainability Disclosure Requirements (SDR) regime that Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced at his Mansion House speech in July 2021. HMT’s stated aim is to develop “a gold standard for climate transition plans” and for the UK to become the world’s first net zero-aligned financial centre.

An increasing number of companies are making public commitments to decarbonise their operations and reach net zero emissions, but transition plans announced so far are, according to the TPT, “varied in detail and quality”,[i] thereby limiting the ability of stakeholders to assess the credibility of such transition plans. Proposed rules announced by the Chancellor at COP26 would require large companies and certain financial sector firms to publish a transition plan from 2023. The TPT will, over the next two years, develop: (i) a sector-neutral framework for private sector transition plans; (ii) a sector-specific guidance for finance and other sectors; and (iii) recommendations regarding the preparation and use of transition plans. The TPT’s expectations are for such transition plans to be science-based and to help inform the UK’s SDR. (See Latham’s recent briefing for an outline of the SDR regime.) Continue Reading

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