The impact of technology, cryptocurrencies and the increase in trading by retail investors were themes at the FIX EMEA conference in London on 24 March.
A regulator on a panel said the influx of retail was one of the most important topics. He highlighted that the International Organization of Securities Commissions published a recent report on the development of a regulatory toolkit for jurisdictions to consider when addressing emerging retail market conduct issues.
IOSCO said the rise in retail participation in securities markets could mean they increasingly influence market trends and pricing, with corresponding regulatory implications for retail market conduct. Increased retail participation also carries the threat of misconduct.
Ashley Alder, Hong Kong SFC chief executive and chair of the IOSCO board, said in a statement: “Innovative technologies and social media are transforming important aspects of retail investing, giving rise to retail investor trends such as gamification and self-directed trading. IOSCO´s report on retail market conduct serves as a guide to help regulators around the world develop their approach to address these evolving trends and related conduct challenges.”
The regulatory panel also said improved post-trade transparency is a prerequisite for relaxing pre-trade transparency reporting requirements.
In November 2021 the European Commission’s Capital Markets Union package, including a legislative proposal for the MiFIR Review, proposed a real-time consolidated tape for equities.
Trade body AFME said at the time that the consolidated tape will only be as good as the data that feeds into it and it was encouraging that the Commission is prioritising data quality issues.
“In view of the poor quality of the existing trading data sets, we caution against further adjusting key fixed income or equity market structure features at this point without proper evidence and before the consolidated tape is enacted.” added AFME. “We would like to first see the development of a bond consolidated tape and to then make any necessary changes to the post-trade transparency regime once sufficient data has been gathered.”
A participant on another said a pan-European market for retail trading needed a consolidated tape to come to life.
A panel highlighted the need for regulated custodians to be able to hold digital assets in order for institutions to participate in the market.
One panellist said: “We are going to have to give up some decentralisation in order to make blockchain work for securities.”
For example, State Street Digital has chosen technology from London-based fintech Copper.co’s technology to develop and launch digital custody which will make it easier for large buy-side firms to invest in and launch products in the new asset class.
Participants agreed that traditional trading venues were unlikely to be replaced due to price formation, tight spreads and low latency. In addition, smart router technology is being developed to improve execution in crypto trading.
“We will see M&A activity and an increase in retail investors gain directly to exchanges rather than using wholesalers,” said one panellist. “We are in the early days but router technology and M&A will solve the fragmentation of liquidity in crypto venues.”
Distributed ledger technology is also expected to eventually provide immeasurable improvements in settlement networks.