Investors are still nowhere near ready for Mifid II rules, despite being more aware of them, new survey shows

Lucy White
Michel Barnier, in his former role as European Union commissioner for internal market and services, welcomed the Mifid II rules (Source: Getty)

Asset managers still feel hugely underprepared for the EU's latest set of rules to come into force, which aim to increase transparency in the investment industry.

The second Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (Mifid II) was published in 2014, but has caused a lot of head-scratching for investors and an increasing sense of panic as its implementation deadline approaches.

Rsrchxchange's latest survey showed that 54 per cent of the 562 respondents, who were mainly from across Europe, believed they still had not had enough information from their relevant regulator.

Even UK asset managers have expressed this concern to City A.M., despite the fact that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) just this week set the imminent deadline of 3 July for firms to register their compliance under Mifid.

The survey also showed that the majority of firms are leaving compliance until the last minute, with only 7.1 per cent saying they plan to be compliant now.

This compared to the 44.2 per cent who said they would wait until the legislation kicked into force next January.

This number has rocketed from the final quarter of last year, suggesting many asset managers are finding compliance harder than expected.

Read more: More than half of European traders fear increased regulation, while Brexit ranks as a minor concern

The biggest challenge, named by 39.1 per cent of respondents, was setting a budget for research.

Under Mifid II, asset managers will no longer be able to lump together the sums they pay investment banks and brokers for research and execution.

They must instead “unbundle” these costs, and research must be paid for out of the manager's pocket or separately and clearly charged to the client. It seems few asset managers are sure of what this will actually cost.

“Although we see overall Mifid II readiness slightly pushed back towards the fourth quarter of 2017 or early 2018, there is no doubt that the unbundling process is well underway,” said Rsrchxchange co-founder Jeremy Davies.

Due to the added complication of unbundling, 77 per cent of respondents said they expected the number of research providers to fall.

Rsrchxchange noted this would be a “worrying trend” for active managers as cutting the breadth of views would be likely to have an impact on alpha generation, or the amount by which a fund outperforms a benchmark.

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