Free-mium research: ING gets around Mifid II by giving away its analysis

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Mifid II stipulates that any investment research offered to a firm must be separated from any other services and given its own price tag (Source: Getty)

While several banks and brokers have been worrying about how much to charge for analysis under the new Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (Mifid II) rules, Dutch bank ING has decided to give a load away for free.

ING today launched a website called Think, which offers research on “key economic and financial news and trends”.

It aims to make concepts easy for a public audience to understand, while its “eZonomics” section explains “everyday economic issues in plain language”.

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“Although the initial impetus came from customer feedback, Think is also part of our plan to be 'Mifid II ready',” said ING's global chief economist Mark Cliffe.

“We've come to the conclusion, having taken legal advice, that a majority of what we do doesn't fall under the scope of investment research so can be freely distributed.”

Mifid II, which comes into force in January, stipulates that any investment research offered to a firm must be separated from any other services and given its own price tag. This was designed to make it easier to understand what asset managers were paying for in their relationships with brokers.

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But for brokers, who typically bundled this analysis in with other services, the task of putting a price on research has proved somewhat of a headache.

The analysis must be paid for by a firm, according to Cliffe, if it is making investment recommendations or mentions specific securities.

By releasing more general macroeconomic research, ING hopes it might strengthen its relationship with a broader array of potential clients.

Yet Mifid II still throws up further work for the firm, in that ING clients which are not subject to the rules due to being outside the European Economic Area can keep accessing any analysis for free.

“That will affect the economics,” said Cliffe.

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