Reflections of the CEO – Looking to 2019

With many of us back at our desks for almost two weeks, the shape of the year ahead is already becoming clearer as we think about priorities for 2019.

Inevitably, much of what we have before us is part of a well-trodden path from 2018, including the preoccupation with Brexit. However, against this continued political deliberation over the UK’s position, we should not forget that 2019 will see a new European Parliament and Commission in Brussels.  Although we won’t know the full extent of their mandate for some time, certain areas of familiar regulation and policy will undoubtedly feature on their agenda.

Against that backdrop, the ISLA Board completed a day of discussion and debate on Thursday to frame the Association’s agenda in 2019.  From a regulatory perspective, we already know the scale and scope of SFTR, but the commencement of the adoption process prior to the year-end has provided better clarity around delivery timelines. ISLA has already devoted more specific resources to this project, and we expect it to be a permanent feature of our work in 2019 and well into 2020. Notwithstanding the strategic importance of SFTR, the group acknowledged that CSDR will also demand our attention. Here, we want to work with the industry to use our tried and tested approach to market best practise in the post trade world, and drive through the very real changes needed in behaviour to reduce the impact of the mandatory buy-in and fails regime. You should expect to hear more from us shortly, as I am keen that we not only deliver Best Practise but work with key industry stakeholders to implement those recommendations.  As we look ahead to the new Commission, we already know that sustainability will certainly feature prominently in their considerations.  It will be important for ISLA to work with the industry and other key stakeholders therefore, to ensure that securities lending can play an important and active role within the ESG world. In particular, we would want to think more about the critical issue of good corporate governance and responsibilities of investors to discharge this obligation whilst being able to potentially capture incremental alpha for their investors through lending. Board members certainly acknowledged the growing importance of this issue within their respective firms, and ISLA will therefore be opening further dialogue with interested groups in due course.

As I look to our broader messaging, communications and events focus for 2019,  we have a number of new and exciting initiatives that I would like to highlight.  Firstly, our first roundtable of the year that we will be running jointly in Luxembourg with our friends at ALFI, has already attracted over 130 delegates!  With an excellent agenda and an impressive array of speakers, I am confident this is going to be one of our most successful events to date. We also have plans to return to both Dublin and the Middle East in the coming 12 months, so please look out for further announcements on these. The European conference in Madrid is starting to take shape, and once again will provide the perfect platform for the Association to showcase many of these new but also familiar themes.  Sustainability, diversity and the growing momentum around digitalisation in financial markets, to name but a few.

Finally, 2019 will see the relaunch of the ISLA website.  Securities Lending plays a pivotal role in the well-functioning of capital markets, and ISLA sits at the very heart of the messaging to regulators, policymakers, industry stakeholders, and most importantly its members.  The new website framework hopes to deliver improved navigation to visitors, as well as an array of new features and content.

Andrew Dyson, CEO

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