Each month, FactSet's Regulatory team offers a rundown of the most important developments in compliance and regulatory news. Read on to see which stories dominated the conversation last month.
ESG AROUND THE WORLD
EU Commission Adopts Several New Sustainable Finance Measures
The European Union (EU) Taxonomy Climate Delegated Act supports sustainable investment by making it clearer which economic activities most contribute to meeting the EU's environmental objectives. The delegated act should be formally adopted at the end of May 2021.
A new proposal for a Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) aims to improve the extended flow of sustainability information in the corporate world. It will help sustainability reporting by companies to be more consistent and will create comparable and reliable sustainability information.
Six amending delegated acts on fiduciary duties, investment, and insurance advice will ensure that financial firms include sustainability in their procedures and their investment advice to clients. These six amendments will be scrutinized by the European Parliament and Council and are expected to apply as of October 2022.
New Zealand Introduces Law on Mandatory Climate Disclosures
A new law has been presented to New Zealand’s parliament introducing mandatory climate-related disclosures for most listed issuers, along with large registered banks, licensed insurers, and registered managers of investment schemes. It will require the financial sector to disclose the impacts of climate change on their business and explain how they aim to manage climate-related risks and opportunities.
These disclosures should be required for financial years commencing in 2022, meaning the first disclosures for around 200 organizations will be made in 2023.
FCA Appoints New ESG Director
The UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has appointed Sacha Sadan director of environment, social, and governance (ESG). He will oversee developing and advocating for the FCA’s approach to sustainable finance domestically and internationally.
SEC Issues Risk Alert Regarding ESG Disclosures
On April 9, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Division of Examinations, issued a risk alert highlighting staff findings of disparities between ESG disclosures and practices observed in recent exams of investment advisers, registered investment companies, and private funds offering ESG products and services. Among other staff observations, section III of the alert enumerated the following:
Portfolio management practices were inconsistent with disclosures about ESG approaches
Controls were inadequate to maintain, monitor, and update clients’ ESG-related investing guidelines, mandates, and restrictions
Proxy voting may have been inconsistent with advisors’ stated approaches
Unsubstantiated or otherwise potentially misleading claims regarding ESG approaches
Inadequate controls to ensure that ESG-related disclosures and marketing are consistent with the firm’s practices
U.S. Treasury Announces Coordinated Climate Policy Strategy
On April 19, the U.S. Treasury announced a coordinated climate policy strategy to “bring to bear the full force of the Treasury Department on domestic and international policymaking, leveraging finance and financial risk mitigation to confront the threat of climate change.” Treasury indicated it will focus on a range of climate-related policy work on 1) climate transition finance, 2) climate-related economic and tax policy, and 3) climate-related financial risks. Treasury is creating a new Climate Hub and appointing a climate counselor to coordinate efforts.
ESMA Highlights Need for Increased Efforts on EMIR and SFTR Data Quality
On April 15, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) published its final report on the European Markets Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR) and Securities Financing Transactions Regulation (SFTR) data quality. The report highlights the progress in improving EMIR data quality for regulatory and supervisory use. Regarding SFTR, ESMA highlighted the fact that the SFTR reporting regime was launched only recently, and therefore presents a limited overview of SFTR data quality in terms of key data quality indicators.
ESMA Report on EU Alternative Investment Funds
On April 8, ESMA published its third annual statistical report on the EU Alternative Investment Fund (AIF) sector. The main risks faced by the sector relate to a disparity between the potential liquidity of assets and the redemption timeframe offered to investors. The report also highlights that the AIF sector was heavily impacted by the COVID-19 related market stress during the first quarter of 2020.
The following consultations are still open on the ESMA website:
28 May: Consultation on draft technical standards on crowdfunding under the European crowdfunding service providers regulation (ECSPR)
30 June: Consultation on EU Money Market Funds Regulation (MMFR) – Legislative review
FCA to Create “Regulatory Nursery” for Newly Licensed Firms
The FCA is to establish a “regulatory nursery” to ensure closer oversight of newly authorized institutions. This should help to avoid having firms that recently gained regulatory status be treated in the same way as a firm with a long track record.
New UK Global Anti-Corruption Sanctions Regime
On April 26, the UK announced the establishment of a global anti-corruption sanctions regime. The UK has made its first 22 designations under this new regime, including individuals in Russia, South Africa, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and South Sudan.