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UK’s FCA Rules Out Interventions in Financial Data Market Despite Concerns

 |  February 29, 2024

Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announced on Thursday its decision to refrain from implementing “significant interventions” in the stock and bond market data sector, citing potential lengthy timelines for addressing issues around overpricing data. The regulator’s scrutiny extended to the competition landscape surrounding credit ratings data provided by major players like Moody’s, S&P, and Fitch Ratings, as well as the highly concentrated market for data vendor services valued at £3.3 billion ($4.18 billion).

In its final report released on Thursday, the FCA highlighted areas where competition in these markets falls short, potentially leading banks and asset managers to pay inflated prices for essential data. Sheldon Mills, Executive Director of Consumers and Competition at the FCA, emphasized the critical role of wholesale data in ensuring the smooth functioning of financial markets. While acknowledging the need for improvements in data provision terms, Mills indicated that the FCA did not find sufficient grounds to warrant significant regulatory interventions at this time.

The decision aligns with the FCA’s preliminary findings from August last year, signaling a consistent stance on the matter. However, the regulator acknowledged the complexity of the issue, particularly considering the international dimensions of some market segments. As a result, any regulatory changes are expected to be a long-term endeavor, with the FCA cautioning that addressing these challenges could span several years.

The FCA’s stance resonated with industry sentiments, with the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME), representing users of financial data for trading activities, expressing alignment with the regulator’s concerns. The AFME emphasized the importance of ensuring fair and transparent terms in data provision, echoing the FCA’s commitment to exploring avenues to support the wholesale data market’s integrity.

While the FCA’s decision may disappoint some stakeholders hoping for immediate interventions to address data pricing issues, it underscores the complexities involved in regulating dynamic financial markets effectively. As the FCA navigates the path forward, collaboration with industry stakeholders and international counterparts is likely to play a pivotal role in shaping the future regulatory landscape of financial data markets in Britain.

Source: Reuters