As COVID-19 continues to affect almost every aspect of our daily personal and professional lives, I hope that many of you will have had the opportunity to take a break over the summer period, and enjoy some sunshine and rest either abroad or in your respective home country.
Hopefully recharged and back to work (somewhat similar to students beginning a new school year), September encourages us to turn our attention to what lies ahead, and focus on factors other than the pandemic that may shape the remainder of this year and beyond.
One of the most important developments for many will likely be the UK’s departure from the European Union . In amongst the continued corona chaos, this week marked the eighth round of talks in London over a post-Brexit trade deal. Leaving to one side the ongoing negotiations on fishing and state aid, what is clear is that the UK will have to adapt to being seen as a third country in the context of its relationship with the EU. Notwithstanding whatever political deal is reached or not reached therefore, and looking closer to home, this will mean potential changes to the way many financial institutions will have to manage businesses that have a footprint in the EU 27, but that have been traditionally managed or controlled from the UK
Over the coming weeks and months, and as the post-transition period draws closer on 31 December, ISLA remains focused on ensuring that it maintains strong member and business connectivity to Europe. This is especially true in respect to our advocacy efforts across the region, as many opportunities to shape agendas on regulatory change are still in the early days of formation. Whilst our connections to the regulators and national competent authorities across the UK and Europe have grown and strengthened over time, we want to continue that momentum, and share our views and ideas across a range of matters; from transaction reporting (SFTR) and settlement disciplines (CSDR), to ESG and sustainable finance. Foremost is our commitment to our membership across Europe, Middle East and Africa. Post-Brexit, we want to ensure that we are not viewed simply as a UK-based trade association, but an important voice for securities lending across the entire region, one that will continue to influence the future shape of the global industry.
In this vein, and as the pandemic continues to make travel difficult across the continent, and therefore our ability to hold physical conferences and regional briefing events in key European locations, ISLA has placed even greater emphasis on virtual member and industry engagement. Firstly, through its working groups, which have been instrumental in lobbying, but also producing proposals for industry best practice and guidance across a number of key regulatory and operational areas. We will in due course be launching a new Brexit working group, which we hope will have representation from across the UK as well as the EU 27, helping us to address some of the aforementioned uncertainties, formulate our policy and approach, and keep us aligned to the broader needs of our members . If you are interested in being a part of this, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our second area of continued focus has been bilateral member firm meetings, allowing us the opportunity to gain invaluable insights and feedback. On a relative scale, ISLA is a small association and therefore we recognise the tremendous input and support we receive from our members; this is what drives our agendas, and helps us to meet our ambitious goals and targets.
Alongside our core membership, our connectivity to other trade associations has become an increasingly important and valuable part of ISLA’s continued growth and success. Only in the past few months, there been a number of joint association letters to the European Commission, ESMA and IOSCO (to name but a few) on the digital future of financial markets as well as key legislative acts such as SRD II and CSDR. We view these collaborative efforts as an increasingly powerful theme in the post-Brexit era .
Closely aligned to this, last month we were delighted to establish a reciprocal relationship with ISSA – The International Securities Services Association. As two associations that share similar goals and parallel work streams, we are excited to collaborate with ISSA as well as further strengthen our contact base across Europe.
As we have learnt over the past six months, global pandemics do not recognise boundaries created by states, countries or legislation; COVID-19 looks to be the biggest influencer generations may ever see in reuniting us as a planet. Brexit in some ways threatens to unravel that ‘unity’, adding further challenges to this process. ISLA’s desire is support its 160+ members through these unprecedented times, and ensure they continue to be represented, irrespective of their domicile.
Jamila Jeffcoate, Head of Finance & Administration/Chief of Staff