Friday, February 09, 2007

MiFID where art thou?

I am becoming increasingly sceptical of the IT vendors that are crawling out of the woodwork as the deadline for transposition to the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive looms.

As I reported a couple of weeks ago from Finexpo, even MiFID thought leaders like JWG-IT and MiFID Connect believe a number of key questions around MiFID still need to be clarified, not least the most fundamental component of the regulation, what constitutes best execution?

That hasn't prevented vendors from jumping on the MiFID bandwagon. The latest one is IT consultancy Fintecs which has launched a visual software aid, MiFIDMap Workbench, a heat mapping tool developed specifically to show compliance officers how MiFID is likely to impact their own trading processes and to what extent their business processes are compliant.

The idea behind the tool is to help companies in their planning and testing for MiFID compliance in the run-up to the November deadline, enabling companies to compare their own internal data against details of the MiFID Directives.

Anything that can help companies prepare for the minefield that is MiFID is not an unwelcome addition. However, the industry cannot afford to lull itself into a false sense of security that MiFID compliance is as straightforward as implementing a piece of software. And whilst MiFIDMap may be a helpful monitoring tool for compliance officers, unlike previous change events such as Y2K, MiFID entails changes across the business and a number of these changes are open to regulatory interpretation.

If all else fails, one can always turn to the latest tome penned by Chris Skinner, chairman of think tank Balatro Ltd. The book entitled,The future of investing in Europe's markets after MiFID, is published by Wiley.

Yes, it may be difficult to contemplate that MiFID has inspired a book, which is unlikely to knock Zadie Smith off the bestseller list any time soon. However, for those buy- and sell-side firms embroiled in MiFID and anyone interested in finding out how it will change the investment landscape in Europe, Skinner's tome provides a comprehensive overview of the regulation, how it will work, what impact it will have and the technology implications, with chapters contributed by leading industry thought leaders like MiFID Connect, Accenture, the European Commission and the MiFID Joint Working Group.

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