UK financial services faces bonfire of the vanities

Simoney Kyriakou

Simoney Kyriakou

What are we to make of the past week's unravelling of some of the rules governing regulated investment products?

Already we have seen headlines such as 'Goodbye Mr Priips' (a personal favourite of mine - well done, the Association of Investment Companies for that one), and 'Drop the 10% Drop'.

Coming just a few days after the Financial Conduct Authority pushed through thousands of pages worth of proposals and consultations about the future of financial advice and regulated investments, this latest 'rip up and burn' of some of the EU regulations embedded in financial services seems reactionary.

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Some of the logs on this bonfire of the regulatory vanities have been sitting in the 'to burn' pile for a long while, however.

In 2018, all eyes were on the 10 per cent drop rule as outlined in Mifid II - one of the many European initiatives to regulate and harmonise investment regulations across the continent. 

Under Mifid II, the rule meant some clients would receive a notification when their portfolio drops by more than 10 per cent.

Even as far back as 2018 and 2019 commentators had warned this could lead to irrational portfolio actions among clients, not least the fear of them panic-selling in a falling market (as indeed some did when the markets collapsed in March and April 2020 thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic).

As reported by FTAdviser at the time, the FCA had consulted in 2021 on dropping the controversial rule and, with platforms and discretionary managers already being told late last year they had a further 12-month reprieve when it comes to warning clients of drops of more than 10 per cent, this seems like a sensible move. 

Given how shaky markets have been this year with Putin's unjustifiable war against Ukraine, it makes sense to drop the drop altogether. 


Then came the FCA's consultation on how investors should be informed about their investments, and what sort of information they should need instead of the key information documents. 

This was after HM Treasury announced on December 9 the regime was 'not fit for purpose'. 

This would see the Priips and Ucits regulations chucked on the bonfire. I mean, that's over 20 years of my life writing on investments gone right there, not least the fun I've had in asking newcomers to tell me what the acronym 'Ucits' stands for, but the industry seems to have welcomed it.

As Richard Stone, chief executive of the AIC said: “The investment company industry has just breathed a collective sigh of relief on seeing the proposed abolition of the Priips regulation. We have lobbied long and hard for the abolition of Key Information Documents which dangerously mislead investment company investors. 

“We applaud the abolition of Priips and will be arguing for a disclosure regime which helps investors make better investment decisions and puts investment companies and open-ended funds on a level playing field.