Compliance and legal executives from some of the largest banks, brokers and asset managers in Europe gathered in Amsterdam on October 12-13 for AFME’s first conference since the pandemic. The crisis constituted one of the biggest involuntary business continuity tests in history and everyone had contributed, said Bharat Samani, Managing Director, Head of Compliance, Europe, at BBVA (also co-chair of AFME’s Compliance Committee) as he opened proceedings. Regulators asked compliance officers to demonstrate that their operations were working well from home – generally they were and compliance could prove it.
The move back to the office has presented a new demand from regulators who are now asking the same questions about continued efficient operation in a hybrid environment. Samani mentioned the recent enforcements related to the use of unauthorized communications at some of the world’s largest banks as presenting a new challenge to be addressed.
AFME is working on a new report on the evolving role of compliance which will analyze the resource demand for the modern compliance team and the specialisms that are now required to cover all the various areas of risk such as surveillance and sanctions compliance, as these roles require very different resource profiles.
James Kemp, Managing Director, Global FX, Technology and Operations and Policy Divisions, GFMA and AFME, followed this by stating that finance had been agile during a tough time and so had AFME. The organization was offering a diverse programme over the two-day conference. Sessions of note included digital asset compliance where regulatory interest has grown but there is still a need for a legal and regulatory framework that will properly address the institutional digital asset space.
The word that seems to never leave the lips of compliance people in Europe is still MiFID and most of the second day of the event was devoted to it, focusing on EU bond and equity markets and the consolidated tape. Investor protection was also covered alongside time for a panel on market abuse and the MAR review.
The opening closed with an audience poll asking the compliance community present to predict what would be the biggest compliance challenge for their firms in the next 12 months:
- 34% – ESG compliance;
- 28% – crypto compliance;
- 26% – EU/UK regulatory divergence;
- 5% – investor protection;
- 4% – MiFID;
- 3% – other.