Tag: license procedure

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Banking Business in Germany: 5th revised edition is now available

I am happy to announce that the 5th revised edition of Banking Business in Germany is now available. You can order it at „Fachverlag Moderne Wirtschaft“ (34,50 EUR). It is also available as an E-Book at ciando (28,50 EUR).

Cover picture of "Banking Business in Germany", 5th revisededition

Banking Business in Germany, new 5th revised edition

 

“Banking Business in Germany” is again a joint project of the Association of Foreign Banks in Germany and PwC.

From the Preface, written by Thomas Schäfer, Minister of Finance of the State of Hessen:

Now in its fifth edition, „Banking Business in Germany“ presents the legal and economic frameworks for the banking sector in Germany.

[…]

With the European Central Bank and the Bundesbank located here, Frankfurt is a leading location for international monetary and currency policy. And since the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) has been placed under the auspices of the European Central Bank in November 2014, the financial centre of Frankfurt as a whole has become even more valuable and attractive for foreign institutions. And so, together with the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) and the European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB), Frankfurt is not only the centre of European monetary policy, but has also become a centre for regulatory authorities and supervisory agencies that can boast a competitive regulatory environment.

Over the last few years, the main objective of regulatory efforts at international, European and national level has been the rebuilding of trust in the financial markets. The creation of a Capital Markets Union and the implementation of new European requirements for financial market products are just two of the changes we will have to adapt to. I believe that Frankfurt should contribute towards achieving a change of direction: after years with a focus on regulation, it is now time for the simplification and optimisation of framework conditions. If these challenges can be actively addressed, I am confident that Frankfurt will be able to successfully defend its market position among the competition provided by global financial centres.

[…]

We welcome all financial institutions coming to Germany and contributing to this financial market, thereby enabling customers to choose from a diverse range of financial products.

I hope you will enjoy reading this publication and I cordially welcome you to Germany.

 

SSM licensing procedure – first impressions

On November 4, 2014, the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) became effective. It entrusts the European Central Bank (ECB) with the final approval of a credit institutions licence application. Here some first impressions from one of the SSM licensing procedures currently on the way:

Theory and practice of an SSM licensing procedure

While the corresponding EU-provisions describe ECB’s involvement in an SSM licensing procedure as having 10 (20) working days for its final approval once the national application procedure came to a positive preliminary result, the practice is rather different. In reality, ECB will be involved in an SSM licensing procedure from the first day the applicant approaches the national competent authority (the national regulator). Thereafter, ECB and the national regulator will liaise closely. The national regulator will remain the first point of contact for the applicant in the daily operations of the licensing procedure. However, ECB will join the meetings with the applicant once the application is filed.

Learning by doing

Beside this basic approach, ECB and national Regulators seem still busy with establishing their internal procedures and aligning them with each other. ‘Learning by doing’, sometimes paired with ‘try and error’, seems to be one of the best practices currently used. As an example, we experienced a situation where the national regulator cancelled a meeting for preparing the application on short notice by ECB. We were told that ECB would not allow any bilateral meetings between the applicant and the national regulator. We found such strong influence of ECB at this stage rather surprising. Especially so, since the application was not filed at that moment and, thus, the SSM procedure had not even started. Obviously, also our contact persons at the national regulator were baffled by ECB’s approach: They struggled in this situation to explain their next steps. A week later we were informed that there was a misunderstanding between the national regulator and ECB: ECB thought the application had already been submitted.

Digitalisation of application to come?

We also had the chance to have a first glance at the web portal which ECB currently develops for the national regulators to submit information on the application during the SSM licensing procedure. It seems that currently there is a lot of data keying expected from the national regulator’s staff. Maybe over time this will lead to a boost in digitalisation requirements regarding the format of an application.

It will be interesting to see which further usance for the SSM licensing procedure will develop from this ongoing liaising process between ECB and national regulators.

License procedure of AIFM under KAGB: Experience from the first months

Nearly half a year went by since the Kapitalanlagengesetzbuch (German Investment Act; “KAGB”) entered into force in July 2013.  Time for a first resume of the issues which crystallised in the due course of the license procedures for Alternative Investment Fund Managers (“AIFM”) since then.

Capital requirements and regulator’s usance in this area

While most of the draft applications complied with the general capital requirements pursuant to section 25 KAGB, it was sometimes necessary to remind of existing regulator’s usance in order to avoid otherwise predictable feedback by the regulator on this issue.  Occasionally applicants omitted that the volumes requested by section 25 par. 1 and 4 KAGB are minimum requirements, which can be missed, especially in case of starting losses.

Also it must be recognised that the regulator expects a sustainable business case:  This expectation includes usually that the own funds necessary to cover the starting loss were already provided by the initial capital contribution. Any additional capital contribution during the planning period of the planned figures filed with the application should therefore be avoided.

Appropriateness of the managing directors

As in all regulatory license procedures, the regulator ascribes also under the KAGB highest importance to the reliability and competence of the managing directors.

The regulator turns its attention especially to whether the approved business experience of the managing directors covers all types of assets and funds applied for. In single cases even two managing directors for each type of asset/fund were requested. Similar to the rules under the former Investment Act, the regulator requests also under the KAGB a corresponding restriction of the license application and thereby the later license to individual types of assets/funds. Especially in case of expansive business models the scope of license should therefore be considered carefully.

However, regarding the managing directors’ reliability the regulator seems rather pragmatic: Initially there were concerns that especially managing directors from the former unregulated business of closed funds could, due to their “insolvency experience” gathered there, would receive intensive feedback from the regulator regarding their reliability. In the current practise, however, only few remarks were recorded. The same applies regarding the number of additional activities due to parallel managing director positions in the individual AIF-companies, where also only few enquiries were raised; however, many managing directors already waived such parallel positions in anticipatory obedience.

Organisational requirements

With regard to the business organisation of the AIFM, the regulator especially picked up planned outsourcing arrangements. The transformation of existing business models usually involves either to add the AIFM as a most confined extension to the existing structure or the existing organisation is transferred to the new licensee thereby retaining a minimum structure for settling the unregulated former business which enjoys grandfathering. In both cases the smaller unit usually receives services from the bigger organisation under various outsourcing agreements. It was not always ensured that the regulated AIFM must be vested with appropriate authority to give directives and monitoring rights. In some case the unregulated unit was even designed as a fall back solution for the rather small organisation of the AIFM. The regulator did not appreciate such approach in the licensing procedure.

General observations

The license procedure takes usually more time than most of the applicants were expecting. Some applicants filed their applications already in July and still await the end of their license procedure. During this time some applicants felt being subjected more restrictive requirements compared to other license applications. At time one could get the impression that the coordination process between the regulator’s individual staff in charge for the application is still in an early stage. It remains to be seen how the regulator’s practise is going to even out. This would be helpful since another wave of applications can be expected to be filed during the now starting second half of the grandfathering period.

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