OTC Multi-Regimes Reporting for APAC Financial Institutions: What are the challenges and how to address them
Despite being quite widely implemented across Asia-Pacific (APAC) jurisdictions for derivatives products, Over-the-Counter (OTC) trade reporting obligations remain at the top of the agenda of both regulators and financial institutions (FIs). On the one hand, regulators aim to harmonise the reporting constraints across jurisdictions for a global and systemic risk supervision. On the other hand, FIs seek to fulfill their reporting obligations and bring value back to the business through reporting data and finding the effective and operational ways of cost-saving.
In the last phase of implementation: OTC reporting have been broadly implemented across APAC jurisdictions for derivative products
Since 2012, the reporting obligations for OTC derivatives contracts for most major APAC markets have followed the European Market Infrastructures Regulation (EMIR) model. However, the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 has caused some delays in adoption of late-stage phases by some regulators such as the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)1 (Figure 1).
Derivatives reporting in both the European Union (EU) and APAC had, as objectives:
- To shed light on “shadow banking” and operations that were out of the regulators’ scope, while pinpointing the potential counterparty risks
- To streamline and harmonise practices and data to report across counterparties via the compulsory reporting via trade repository (TR)
The constraints of multi-regime reporting for APAC FIs
I. APAC market participants are grappling with plethora of OTC reporting constraints
A focus across APAC OTC derivatives reporting obligations across the jurisdictions shows how fragmented the markets are (Figure 2):
Consequently, where a European bank would have to deal with only two sets of regulations in Western Europe (i.e., EU and Swiss regulations), an Asian bank with a presence in multiple APAC countries has to comply with as many local regulations as places of operations (typically Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea), which significantly increases their compliance costs. As such, FIs with broad APAC market coverage need to produce multiple daily trade reports with various Central TRs depending on the jurisdictions they book or originate their trades.
Transactions reporting obligations in APAC have mainly focused on OTC derivatives since 2012. However, the scope is still evolving. For instance, last December, the SFC issued its consultation to introduce an OTC securities transactions reporting regime for shares listed on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong (SEHK)2.
APAC firms operating with European branches have also been impacted by the Securities Financing Transaction Regulation (SFTR), with the phased implementation that started in Q1 2020 for Investment Firms and Credit Institutions3 . It is inevitable that reporting obligations are increasingly cumbersome for FIs in APAC, and potentially holding them back from investing in other business areas.
II. Multiple reporting regimes increase the processes and data challenges of OTC reporting journeys
Faced with multiple OTC regulations across APAC, global banks must send multiple variations of reports to the different TRs. For each report, they must go through a demanding end-to-end report generation (Figure 3) and face specific data challenges:
- Data collection: Multiple static data must be sourced or generated ex-nihilo (Legal Entity Identifier, Unique Trade identifier)
- Data processing: Find synergies across the different reports to send regarding business rules, fields to report and TRs to interact with
- Data cleansing: Data fields in error must be corrected timely and pro-actively both before (intraday checks) and after having been sent to the TR (trades in error are reverted usually on Trade Day +3)
Solutions to tackle the multi-reporting challenges stem from the data management initiatives of both regulators and FIs
I. APAC regulators’ initiatives: Fostering common data standards to alleviate the operational burdens
In the aftermath of the OTC derivatives domestic reporting roll-out, supra national advisor entities started to call for a global harmonisation. The objectives of common dataset elements are to:
- Enable cross-jurisdictions analysis via the same sourcing rules and lessen the systemic market risks
- Facilitate reporting for FIs that can breakdown the data into different sets based on criticality, and use leaner architecture for their reporting
This road to harmonisation was first initiated under the guidance of the Financial Stability Board (FSB) in 2014. Since the initiation of FSB, the Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures (CPMI) and the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) have worked closely with market participants and regulators across the United States, Europe and Asia (Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore) to propose a set of guidelines. This was materialised in 20174 with common data standards proposed for OTC trade reporting, including:
- Unique Trade Identifier (UTI) common rules. As of today, in Australia, ASIC-registered FIs can report their transactions via a universal trade identifier, a single identifier, an identifier used by the trading venue, or – if none of those are available – an internal identifier
- Unique Product Identifier (UPI) code that is assigned to each distinct OTC derivative product to map reference data elements with specific values that describe the product
- Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) reporting party obligations to map all OTC participants, especially in the case of delegated reporting
- Other OTC Critical Data Elements (CDE) for trading reporting (such as beneficiary, collateral valuation, clearing, etc.)
These principles are afterwards translated into technical implementation guide by local APAC regulators, such as the Interface Development Guide (AIDG) issued by the SFC for UTI standards5.
However, there is still a long way to go before a global and harmonised regulatory framework for OTC reporting can be achieved. Currently, the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) have only agreed on less than 50% of common data practice6. 1 Yet, this leaves room for much higher discrepancies with Asian regulations unless the parties agree on a simple alignment.
II. In-house FIs’ initiatives: Striking a balance between cost-saving and regulatory obligation abidance with data management improvements
As the regulators chose a staggered approach towards the implementation of OTC trade reporting, the practice maturity across the different FIs do not stand on an equal footing. They largely depend on:
- The volume of the OTC derivatives operations dealt by, or delegated, to the FI
- A firm legal structure (e.g., asset manager, security firm, non-financial company, etc.), with incumbent obligations
As such, some FIs that have been reporting for a few years may focus more on challenges that come after the reporting, such as report automation, data quality and business value. Conversely, there are FIs new to reporting that will grapple with the more fundamental requirements, such as identifying what needs to be reported and how data is extracted.
Different solutions can be explored by the more advanced FIs to articulate data quality with operational efficiency improvements (Figure 4):
- Data quality framework enhancement: Develop common data dictionaries and pro-actively address data corrections before TR feedback
- Reporting life-cycle streamlining: Explore automation paths for the different reporting generation steps
- End-to-end errors supervision: Develop a central smart dashboard for investigation and automated tasks allocation for correction
These best practices can be supported by RegTech integration, with one-stop solutions covering submission to numerous trade repositories, data management or reconciliation. Regulators are currently pushing for firms to invest to keep the maximum level on counterparty oversight in-house. The HKMA, for instance, recently issued a two-year roadmap to “harness the power of RegTech for Compliance departments”7.
What’s next for OTC trade reporting in APAC
From a regulatory perspective, OTC reporting obligations are expected to embed more and more activities like potentially Securities Financing Transactions (SFTs) like in Europe.
From a technology standpoint, the adoption of Blockchain networks is also an option to tackle the rising expectations towards regulatory authorities and the high costs of regulatory compliance. Distributed Ledger Technology – or DLT – offers the possibility to significantly improve regulatory reporting by providing high data granularity, high data quality, and a transparent view on live transactions.
With DLT fully implemented, we can expect a major disruption in the reporting lifecycle with counterparties connected in real-time and the regulators informed accordingly, thus breaking the legacy cycle of reporting data collection that is followed by computation and submission.