MiFID II – Aggregated costs and charges
17 December 2018
Steve Bailey, director at compliance consultancy ATEB, provides guidance on how to deal with the new requirements for reporting aggregated costs and charges necessary under MiFID II.
MiFID II came into effect on 3 January 2018 and placed several new and enhanced requirements on firms.
One of the key areas of change was the requirement for firms to provide ‘aggregated costs and charges’ statements to clients. The practicalities of this can be difficult, not least in getting all the data required, and ATEB made a deliberate choice to hold fire on issuing detailed guidance until we could get a better grasp of the practice and practicalities from various parties involved – providers, platforms etc.
However, as the first statements will need to cover the 12-month period to 3 January 2019 and will need to be issued before April 2019, we believe that it is now time to provide some guidance.
The FCA’s Conduct of Business handbook (specifically COBS 6.1ZA) sets out two mandatory Costs & Charges disclosure requirements for firms covered by MiFID II – Ex-Ante (done at outset, based on forecasts) and Ex-Post (done at least annually, based on actual costs for the previous period)
Information to be provided to clients
As a minimum, firms need to aggregate all costs and charges in connection with the investment service and all costs and charges associated with the financial instruments. Third party payments received by investment firms in connection with the investment service provided to a client must be itemised separately. The total of the aggregated costs and charges must be shown both as a cash amount and as a percentage.
This much is mandatory. However, firms must also provide an itemised breakdown of the aggregate costs and charges if a client requests it.
There is no prescribed format for disclosing aggregated costs and the FCA has stated that it does not intend to issue any guidance around format because the number of different business models makes this impractical. However, the Tax Incentivised Savings Association (TISA) has developed a sample ‘ex post costs and charges template’, setting out how both the mandatory and optional charges could be presented to the client – click here to see it. The complete TISA guide can be seen here.
In addition to stating the aggregated costs, firms must also provide an illustration showing the cumulative impact of costs on the investment return. The statement should also include a description of the illustration and any anticipated spikes or fluctuations. The cumulative impact is the actual realised net return compared to the return before deduction of charges – an example is set out in the template.
Timing of the statement
While the provision of an annual statement is the minimum requirement, you could choose to produce a quarterly Ex-Post statement if desired.
If issuing statements quarterly, we recommend that firms also issue one annually as it is possible there is a risk that, say, the totals on the quarterly statements may not match the actual annual amount.
Existing clients – when to provide the Ex-Post statement
For clients who were already clients before January 2018, there are two reporting options:
As an example, consider a client who usually receives their annual review in June but who did not receive an Ex-Post costs and charges statement in June 2018. You could:
New clients – when to provide the Ex-Post statement
This depends on the Ex-Post 12-month calculation period you wish to use – let’s take an example using the same reporting period as above. Client invests on 1 February 2019 and you choose to follow a June to May Ex-Post statement cycle:
There is an option, where the calculation period is insignificant, to produce a first Ex-Post statement that covers more than a 12-month period. ‘Insignificant’ would be less than three months. For example, the client invests on 1 May 2019 and you follow a June to May Ex-Post statement cycle. In this case the first Ex-Post costs and charges statement could cover the period from 1 May 2019 to 30 May 2020. The report should be issued to the client within 3 months of the end date of the costs and charges statement.
What about clients who cease to be clients?
In this case, the client should be provided with a statement covering that part of the year during which they were a client.
Medium of disclosure
The new regulations make clear that statements can be issued in writing, by post, or via ‘a durable medium’. The FCA’s definition of ‘durable medium’ is “any instrument which enables the recipient to store information addressed personally to the recipient in a way accessible for future reference and for a period of time adequate for the purposes of the information and which allows the unchanged reproduction of the information stored”.
The instrument (e.g. website) used must be specifically chosen by the recipient when offered the choice between that instrument and paper.
There are undoubtedly real practical difficulties in producing aggregated costs statements for any clients other than those who have modest holdings invested via a single platform, and where the firm does not make any adviser charges to the client beyond those facilitated via the platform. In this case, it is likely that the platform will produce a statement that meets the requirements.
However, anything more complicated than this could well throw up real-life problems including obtaining accurate and comprehensive charges data, choosing a format and reporting period, calculating the cumulative effect of charges on the client’s investment return and, not least, having the resource to prepare and issue accurate statements at the right time.
Nonetheless, the end of the first reporting period is approaching rapidly so firms do now need to identify the process they must put in place to prepare and issue statements to clients.
Understand from the platforms you use how much of the costs and charges statement they are going to complete. All of it (i.e. product, service and third-party charges) or some of it (e.g. product charges only)? Or somewhere in between?
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