Jan 2014

Don't Get Lost in the EMIR Jungle


Matthias Deschner's article about EMIR was published on several international plattforms. 

Even though most companies currently still focus their full attention on SEPA implementation, the next mandatory project is already waiting in the form of EMIR – the “European Market Infrastructure Regulation” directive. The deadline is ambitious – some of the new reporting requirements will have to be implemented in 2014 and certain risk management requirements already took effect in 2013. Implementing this directive leads to major changes in processes and procedures and is not restricted to multinational companies with large OTC and derivative trading volumes.

EMIR reporting starts in February – the most urgent task

When talking about EMIR, companies think first about the new reporting requirements. With the recent authorization of four trade repositories, reporting of OTC derivatives is expected to become mandatory on 12 February 2014. Reports must be created not only for transactions with banks but also for transactions with other group companies. In particular, complex organizations with large derivatives portfolios, as well as companies obligated to do the reporting on behalf of numerous subsidiaries, will find this task challenging and may need to implement substantial organizational changes.

First challenge – getting an overview

Treasurers need a clear overview of derivatives usage in the entire corporate group. Moreover, they should know which derivatives need to be reported. Some companies already use systems to manage all their financial transactions, which makes selecting the right derivatives easier. Others will have to gain the required overview manually and create yet another spreadsheet.

Second challenge – selecting the right method and the right repository

Currently, four trade repositories with different pricing models, different packages and different types of customer accounts are available and have been authorized. Companies have to choose one and need to find the most convenient method for EMIR reporting. BELLIN, for example, has decided to build a direct connection to REGIS-TR, one of the new authorized repositories. With a direct connection from treasury system to trade repository, companies are able to transmit the required reports seamlessly and quite easily. Some vendors offer to process reports to the trade repository on behalf of their customers as a third party. This service allows companies to save a lot of time and money by not having to register themselves directly. Moreover, SWIFT offers the possibility to use their network for transmitting the requested data.

Third challenge – creating and transmitting the reports

Companies have to generate reports in accordance with the ESMA guidelines, which define what has to be reported and when. Treasurers can of course try to create reports manually on their own. However, there are now several ways to create the data automatically and either export and download flat files or transmit them directly to a trade repository.

Clearing obligations

An existing requirement is that non-financial counterparties above the clearing threshold must ensure stricter timely confirmation of their derivatives contracts. They must also establish processes to meet requirements on portfolio reconciliation, portfolio compression and dispute resolution. For many companies, the transaction volume lies below the clearing threshold. Nevertheless, enterprises should definitely check their status, in particular if they have a complex organizational structure. This is especially true if they are linked to other groups or joint ventures, etc.

Remember risk mitigation

Many companies are so busy preparing for EMIR reporting that they could easily forget about the new risk management requirements. For non-cleared derivatives, EMIR requires companies to apply certain risk mitigation techniques. These include timely and, if possible, electronic trade confirmations and portfolio reconciliation, i.e. the reconciliation of a company’s transaction data with those of its counterparties at regular intervals. Frequently, companies ask their treasury consultants for details on the required measures to reduce risk. For example, the regulation stipulates that portfolios should be regularly checked for possible reductions in volume. In addition, EMIR requires companies to adjust bilateral derivatives portfolios regularly so that any discrepancies can be resolved. Therefore, it is important to have an overview, preferably electronically, of all derivatives transactions with counterparties to make future reconciliation processes simpler.

What does this mean for treasury systems?

Due to the new reporting requirements, several system changes are necessary on the master data level. Customers must be able to enter a LEI (Legal Entity Identifier) in their system. Ideally, they should also be able to generate reports in accordance with the ESMA guidelines without having to add data manually.

Some treasury systems offer the possibility to enter bank and intercompany transactions. For risk mitigation purposes, it is very convenient for companies to be able to “match” transaction data electronically within their system. This functionality provides a timely and electronic confirmation for external and internal transactions, greatly facilitating transaction management. In addition, some treasury solutions are capable of sending the group’s accumulated transaction information to a trade repository. This of course requires all group companies to be integrated in one treasury platform. Otherwise, collecting data to generate a central report would be a difficult task. This is a good example of how important it is that all group companies work on a single platform if an organization wishes to achieve group-wide transparency.

EMIR – not just a change but also an opportunity

EMIR is more than just a small change to be integrated into treasury systems; it is an opportunity for companies to take a closer look at their processes. This is particularly true for international corporate groups because EMIR is implemented differently from country to country. Internationally operating companies have to deal not only with local EMIR regulations but also with the corresponding regulations in other countries. When financial departments review the group-wide requirements for EMIR compliance, they can take advantage of this opportunity to optimize their processes.

All they have to do is to ask the right questions:

  • Are there ways to collect the reports of all group companies?
  • If we collect data about the financial transactions and derivatives of all our companies, is there a way to manage all of this data in a single system to enhance transparency?
  • How can we benefit from the mandatory risk mitigation measures for our corporate risk management in general?
  • Can we use instruments such as portfolio compression to improve our internal management of derivatives?

Don’t get lost in the “regulatory jungle”

The most important thing is that companies do not get lost in the “regulatory EMIR jungle”. Not all companies will have to invest in a TMS to become compliant with EMIR. It will become a necessity for those that process a certain number of intercompany transactions. Corporate groups with very few transactions, conducted exclusively with banks, may find delegating the reporting requirements to their banking counterparties to be a more practical solution. However, they would still be responsible for the data reported and would need to access the various repositories used by their banking partners. Those with many derivatives, however, are going to find EMIR a challenge. Such companies will be eager to have system-based support and automation to reduce some of the additional burden from the new regulations. Nevertheless, deciding which steps to take to be prepared is a highly individual process that depends on the company’s particular situation and complexity.

Many organizations have to prepare for EMIR despite limited capacities. Their treasury has to handle its daily work, SEPA implementation may not be finished yet, and they still have many questions to be answered and decisions to be made with regard to EMIR. That is why companies should get ready for EMIR in a targeted, solution-oriented way, with a certain amount of pragmatism – and maybe also with the advice of trusted consultants and EMIR experts who can help them navigate through the jungle.

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