ALFI comments on the European Commission’s proposition to give more supervising authority to the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs).
Following the publication of the European Commission’s proposed amendment to the ESA Regulation to give more supervising authority to ESMA, EBA and EIOPA, ALFI expresses its surprise and concern about the new role for ESMA in the authorisation procedure of delegation arrangements.
Denise Voss, Chairman of ALFI, says:
“We question this proposed additional layer in the authorisation procedure, required when a fund wants to delegate part of its activities to third countries. This is increased bureaucracy, it lengthens time to market and it increases costs. This will undoubtedly have a negative effect on the competitiveness of EU funds as a whole, and ultimately on the investor. We see no added value in this as the local regulators, being close to the asset managers and the market, remain best placed to authorise and oversee funds and their operations.”
She continues: “The stipulations in the Commission proposal on the authorisation procedure of delegation arrangements are a new element since the initial consultation, which closed in June and to which ALFI responded. These provisions do not prohibit delegation to third countries and ESMA will not directly supervise UCITS funds and AIFs which delegate, amongst other activities, portfolio management to third countries, but the involvement of ESMA will add an addition layer to fund authorisation process and, as such, time to market will be affected. Costs will increase because the proposal would require additional resources at ESMA. These costs would be borne by the industry, on top of the industry’s current financing of the local financial supervisors. Ultimately these costs are likely to be passed on to the investor.
“Delegation is a tried and tested business model that gives investors in funds – including millions of European investors - access to expert portfolio management from managers based around the globe. This model has worked well over the last 3 decades since the introduction of UCITS, and is applied in financial centres throughout Europe”. Explaining how the delegation model works, she says: “Delegation of certain functions back to a company’s headquarters, to other parts of a group or to specialist third party asset managers, while effective decision making and oversight of risks remains in the country from which delegation takes place, is a time-honoured practice not only in Europe but across the globe. It is part and parcel of the global financial system and it is an inherent feature of the European fund model which, in turn, is recognised as a success story worldwide.
“Similarly, in order to give investors access to expert portfolio management skills and experience delegation enables a fund manager in the EU to outsource some portfolio management to a specialist in, for example, Japan or Hong Kong, who knows the local market. Equally a fund management company can delegate to a portfolio manager in e.g. London – whether the UK is in or outside the EU makes absolutely no difference in this context.
She said: “This proposal risks initiators from third countries turning their back on using European UCITS or AIFs to raise capital in Europe or offer investment solutions to a European client base. It could have a significant impact on the competitiveness of European financial services and products as a whole. UCITS in particular are a European success story, with UCITS investors resident in over 70 countries – in and outside of Europe.
The delegation model has been both good for European investors – in terms of investment choice - and for Europe, in terms of jobs created in the financial centres throughout Europe. It is difficult to understand the rationale for the Commission’s proposals, which impact not only asset managers and investment funds, but also banks, investment firms and insurance companies, especially given the goals of the Capital Markets Union – which ALFI strongly supports - that seeks to facilitate additional sources of financing economic growth and jobs in Europe.”
ALFI continues to examine the nearly 300 page text and has set up a high-level task force to look into the current proposal for a regulation to amend the ESA Regulation and other sector actors and to coordinate ALFI’s response.
Hear more on the topic at ALFI’s Leading Edge Conference in London, “Risk Management Substance, Delegation -Trends in an Evolving Environment “, on 03 October 2017 at Church House Westminster London. Further details here.
On the final day of the ALFI Global Distribution Conference 2017, held in Luxembourg on 19 and 20 September, MackayWilliams, the independent mutual fund market analysis and research company, presented the inaugural MackayWilliams Distribution Achievement Awards.
Announcing the winners of the awards, Diana Mackay, joint CEO of MackayWilliams, said: “There is no shortage of awards in our industry but until now the focus has been on the investment strategy and the skills of the men and women that manage the wealth of Europe’s savers. That is as it should be. But there is another army of people who work tirelessly and creatively, not only to ensure that their company’s investment expertise is explained to the wider market but also to meet the growing demand for transparency from both regulators and distribution intermediaries.”
“Our focus for these awards is therefore on three functions that are now critical to a group’s ability to differentiate itself and stand out from the crowd: Brand, Sales Services and Marketing.”
The winners are as follows:
Star provider: Fidelity International
Rising star: Goldman Sachs Asset Management
Marketing and Communications
Star provider: BlackRock
Rising star: Nordea Investment Funds
Star provider: BlackRock
Rising star: Nordea Investment Funds
Star provider: Lannebo Fonder
Download the press release in English.
In response to recent political and macro-economic developments, the Association of the Luxembourg Fund Industry (ALFI) has announced a series of initiatives to support asset managers and investment funds in fulfilling their role of serving investors and fostering economic growth. The main focus of these actions will be the potentially disruptive consequences of Brexit, technology, investor education, operational efficiency and cost management.
In the first edition of its 2020 Ambition paper, defined in 2015, ALFI had identified eleven ‘global macro-drivers’ that continue to represent major challenges for the international fund and asset management industry.
“Since then, some of these factors have materialised in concrete, sometimes unexpected ways or had an even more profound impact on business models, products and strategies than expected””, says ALFI chairman Denise Voss. “Thus, ALFI decided to reinvigorate its initial Ambition paper by adding new initiatives in various areas.”
All ‘global macro-drivers’ identified in 2015 have proven to be accurate, namely
- Protectionism, with developments such as Brexit creating a growing risk of barriers, however harmful this may be for citizens and investors;
- Growing public sector pension liabilities due to demographic developments, reinforcing the need for individuals to assume more responsibility for their own financial well-being, including ensuring adequate retirement income;
- The quest for return in an environment of persistently low or even negative interest rates; and
- Shift in investment strategies favouring not only capital flows to passive investment vehicles and ETFs, but also towards responsible investing and impact investing.
The trend to seal off national markets from international competition could impact economic growth in general and the fund industry’s cross-border distribution models in particular.
The stricter scrutiny of financial services as a result of the 2008 financial crisis has made sound governance, regulatory and business compliance basic requirements for all industry players, emphasising the advantage of choosing well-regulated fund centres such as Luxembourg. To that end, the tried and tested delegation model has functioned well in the Luxembourg fund centre over the last three decades, giving European and non-European investors in funds access to expert portfolio management.
Increasing costs of regulatory compliance as well as increasing strain on margins arising from the proliferation of ETFs will continue to put pressure on asset managers to improve operational efficiency, enhance productivity and reduce costs.
To support its members in meeting these challenges, ALFI is reinforcing its strong commitment to support the EU Commission’s Capital Markets Union (CMU) initiative. By encouraging greater cross-border distribution of investment funds and facilitating personal savings to secure adequate revenues for retirement, the CMU action plan is indeed tackling several of the challenges identified by ALFI.
In this context, ALFI will intensify its efforts to articulate the essential role of investment funds for the global economy that extends from building savings and funding pensions to financing innovation and infrastructure or achieving social impact. ALFI will namely actively work on the implementation of the EU’s proposal for a pan-European personal pension product (PEPP), as Luxembourg’s long experience in cross-border fund distribution will position it as a hub for European PEPP providers.
Regarding savings and personal pensions, ALFI also intends to step up its efforts related to investor education and will soon launch a fundamentally revised version of its trilingual online platform www.understandinginvesting.org.
Building on its success in Australia, which gives institutional investors easier access to Luxembourg UCITS, ALFI is stepping up efforts in Latin America, China, South-East Asia and other regions with the aim to connect investors with worldwide market opportunities.
ALFI and its Digital/FinTech Forum will intensify their efforts to raise awareness, identify the challenges and develop the opportunities inherent in Blockchain, Big Data and new digital technologies to innovate in service delivery, operational efficiencies and better address the next generation of investors by enhancing the customer experience.
Last but not least, linked to its objective to stimulate innovation, research, education and talent development, ALFI is sponsoring a four-year project with the University of Luxembourg to create a database of Luxembourg investment funds. Modelled on a similar database of US mutual funds, it will lay the groundwork for academic research benefitting the industry and its stakeholders.
Together with the Luxembourg House of Training, the Association will continue to adapt its professional training programs and workshops, as well as e-learning solutions, to a constantly evolving demand from industry professionals to broaden and deepen the talent pool in Luxembourg and abroad.
Download ALFI Ambition: the mid-term report.
On 7 August 2017, ALFI responded to the ESMA consultation on draft technical advice, implementing technical standards and guidelines under the Money Market Fund Regulation.
Click here for ALFI’s response.
On 11 July 2017 ALFI responded to the ESAs’ consultation on a draft joint RTS on measures to take to mitigate AML/CFT risks where a third country’s law does not permit the application of group-wide policies and procedures.
The consultation aimed at fostering a consistent approach to identifying and managing the ML/TF risk to which credit and financial institutions are exposed as a result of their operations in such countries and sets out minimum actions that should be taken in this context. In particular, issues such as individual money-laundering and terrorist financing risk assessments, customer data sharing and disclosure of information related to suspicious transactions are addressed in this paper.
Read the ALFI response.
The Association of the Luxembourg Fund Industry (ALFI) welcomes the European Commission’s initiative to create a regulatory framework for an innovative pan-European personal pension product (PEPP). ALFI believes that the investment fund industry in general, and Luxembourg’s internationally oriented fund sector in particular, can play a key role in facilitating long-term savings in Europe and in allowing individuals to build up additional retirement income.
ALFI has already expressed on many occasions its conviction that there is an urgent need to encourage second and third pillar retirement provisions to complete insufficient first pillar retirement provisions and that the asset management industry has an important role to play in this context.
ALFI therefore welcomes the fact that the PEPP is conceived as a new type of voluntary personal pension that can be used in parallel with existing state-based, occupational and national personal pensions.
It is also commendable that PEPPs should have the same standard features wherever they are sold in the EU and that they can be offered by a broad range of providers, such as insurance companies, banks, occupational pension funds, investment firms and asset managers.
It is of essential importance that PEPP providers benefit from an EU passport, allowing providers based in one EU Member State to offer personal pensions in other EU Member States and allowing savers to sign up for a personal pension offered in other EU Member States. This will offer consumers more choice.
Last but not least, the foreseen "portability" of the PEPPs, enabling savers to transfer the benefits accumulated in one or more Member State(s) when moving from one Member State to another is an important feature to foster the increasing – and necessary – mobility of workers within the EU.
“Luxembourg is very well positioned to support the swift uptake of the PEPP”, ALFI chairman Denise Voss says, “given its long standing experience in both (i) pass-porting funds such as UCITS across borders, as well as in (ii) setting-up and administering pension fund vehicles, in many cases as cross-border and multi-employer funds.
ALFI would like to highlight, however, that aside from considering the tax treatment for PEPPs, additional efforts at the level of investor education will be key to make the PEPP a true success story.”
 The Luxembourg law foresees three types of pension fund structures, the CAA (Commissariat aux Assurances) funds, the SEPCAV (Société d’Epargne-Pension à Capital Variable) or ASSEP (Association d’Epargne-Pension)
The Association of the Luxembourg Fund Industry (ALFI) welcomes the decision of MSCI to include China A-Shares (5%) into the MSCI Emerging Markets Index, resulting in an approximate weight of 0.73% in the index which was announced yesterday.
“The decision of the MSCI to include China A-shares into the MSCI EMI has been long awaited by all market participants. Over the past few years, authorities in China have embarked on an ambitious agenda for the liberalisation of capital markets in the mainland, which is now reaping benefits,” said Marc-Andre Bechet, Director of Legal and Tax Affairs at ALFI.
“The weight which is assigned to China A-shares is still modest compared to the size of China’s economy, now the second largest in the world. From a market stability standpoint, this is a smart move as it is unlikely to create any disruption in equity markets,” added Bechet.
Luxembourg has had a long tradition of acting as a facilitator for inbound and outbound investment in mainland China, particularly in the asset management sector.
“Luxembourg recognises the opportunity to act as the centre of reference for investors looking to gain access to China’s equity markets and beyond to invest in other asset classes. Luxembourg investment funds were the first European funds to make use of Stock Connect, as early as December 2014 for Shanghai HK Stock Connect and more recently in December 2016 for Shenzhen HK Stock Connect.
Similarly, QFII/ RQFII schemes have been used as early as 2002 (QFII) and 2013 (RQFII). Since the granting of a Luxembourg quota, seven Luxembourg-based institutions have been granted an RQFII licence and quota.
“In light of the MSCI decision, Luxembourg investment funds are ideally placed to take advantage of this new and strategic opportunity,” concluded Bechet.
The Association of the Luxembourg Fund Industry (ALFI) has re-elected Denise Voss for an additional two-years term as Chairman of its Board of directors.
Denise Voss has been a member of the ALFI board of directors since 2007 and has been Vice Chairman for International Affairs since 2011 before being appointed Chairman in June 2015. Denise is Conducting Officer of Franklin Templeton Investments and has worked in the financial industry in Luxembourg since 1990.
Before the Association’s Annual General Meeting held today at the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, an Extraordinary General Membership Meeting adopted a modernisation of the Association’s statutes. The main modifications concern the introduction of a limit on the number of consecutive terms of Board members and an adaptation of the annual membership fee calculation principles.
Fostering team work and cooperation between ALFI’s various bodies, its General Secretariat and its members who join efforts in the Association’s 150 Technical Committees and Working Groups will continue to rank as one of her top priorities for the next two years, Denise Voss said when presenting her program.
The implementation of regulation, including MiFID II, PRIIPS and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, will continue to occupy much of the industry’s time and resources in the years to come. In this context, providing input to consultations from both EU and non EU bodies as well as regular communication with the European institutions and the Luxembourg government should continue to be focus areas.
As the Luxembourg fund industry is moving towards 4,000 billion euros of assets under management, new structures and investment vehicles, including those used for non-traditional assets, have proven to be successful, and new jurisdictions such as Brazil and Australia have opened up to the distribution of Luxembourg funds. The impact of Brexit on the fund industry and businesses will be high on ALFI’s agenda over the next two years.
Denise Voss also stressed the importance of governance and of the role of the management company. “It’s vital that ALFI continues to explain the delegation model that the Luxembourg fund industry has operated over the last 30 years since the introduction of UCITS. The delegation model continues to be tried and tested in many industries throughout the world and in the case of UCITS brings the expertise of portfolio managers from around the world to investors in over 70 countries”, Denise said.
Talking about the opportunities offered by a rapidly changing environment, Denise Voss highlighted the asset management industry’s increasing role as a source of financing jobs and growth in Europe in the context of Europe’s Capital Markets Union and the chance – and need – to pro-actively use the arising digital technologies to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the fund industry and its companies.
The ALFI chairman also expressed the conviction that the fund industry is now recognising its responsibility to engage with investors and fund distributors in respect of investor education, key to the financial well-being of individuals in and outside of Europe.
In order to best address the challenges the industry is facing, ALFI is adapting itself. Following a member survey, the Association has reviewed the governance of its internal bodies as well as the concept and organisation of its events – the first result having been the very well received transformation of the Spring conference into the ALFI European Asset Management Conference. Last but not least, a re-designed intranet went “live” in 2016 as a means of facilitating communication and exchange with and between ALFI members.
Read more about ALFI’s activities and achievements in the Associations online annual report.
ALFI’s new Board of Directors is as follows:
- Georges Bock, KPMG Luxembourg, S.C.
- Freddy Brausch, Linklaters
- Dirk Bruckmann, Deutsche Asset Management S.A.
- Stéphane Brunet, BNP Paribas Asset Management Luxembourg
- Michèle Eisenhuth, Arendt & Medernach
- Jacques Elvinger, Elvinger Hoss Prussen S.A.
- Michael Ferguson, Ernst & Young S.A.
- Bettina Graeber, Pictet & Cie (Europe) S.A.
- Jonathan P. Griffin, JPMorgan Asset Management (Europe) S.à r.l.
- Holger Hildebrandt, Deka International S.A.
- Lou Kiesch, Deloitte General Services S.à r.l.
- Rudolf Kömen, Credit Suisse Fund Management S.A.
- Nils Kruse, GAM (Luxembourg) S.A.
- Steven Libby, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Société Coopérative
- Maria Löwenbrück, Union Investment Luxembourg S.A.
- Geoff Radcliffe, BlackRock Fund Management Company S.A.
- Gilbert Schintgen, UBS Fund Management (Luxembourg) S.A.
- Thomas Seale, European Fund Administration S.A.
- David Suetens, State Street Bank Luxembourg S.C.A.
- Denise Voss, Franklin Templeton International Services S.à r.l.
- Marc Wathelet, FIL (Luxembourg) S.A.
- Revel Wood, FundRock Management Company S.A.
- Alastair Woodward, Schroder Investment Management (Luxembourg) S.A.
- Julien Zimmer, DZ PRIVATBANK S.A.
Download a picture of the new ALFI Board of Directors.
ALFI annual report website is now online !
For its 2016-2017 report, ALFI created a dedicated website to facilitate access to key information and activities of the association.