As you possibly know, the UK voted “out” on the European Union membership referendum last week.
Many non UK customers are wondering about the implications for FCA (UK) regulated companies like Darwinex, who use a MiFID passport to operate in other EU countries.
Neither us nor our compliance advisors have the benefit of a crystal glass, but what we know is:
- Short term, until further instruction, it’s business as usual
- Medium term, 3 scenarios open up:
- Bregret: The UK decides that the outcome of the referendum wasn’t conclusive and backtrack
- Amiable divorce: UK – EU negotiations minimize change – no impact on investment activities
- Sour grapes: UK – EU exit negotiations turn sour, and UK leaves
Whilst the outcome of the referendum was “out”, the result was narrow (51.9% vs. 49.1%) and unsurprisingly significant debate has emerged on whether a narrow simple majority outcome warrants the potential consequences of the exit effort.
At the time of writing, the UK has yet to formally invoke Article 50 in the Lisbon Treaty to request out of the EU. David Cameron has resigned and handed-over the decision to a new Conservative Leader – a successor unlikely to be found before October 2016.
A lot can happen between now and then…
Should the UK invoke article 50 the fact remains that:
- London is currently the EU’s unquestioned financial capital
- Most financial institutions in the EU had enough to worry about before Brexit
- In the event of a Brexit, most incumbents have more to lose by giving up the current status, than they have to win from any alternative set-up
Both sides to the table know this:
- The UK knows there’s an awful lot of jobs in South England at risk if London (and the FCA) loses their pre-eminent status
- The EU knows European Banks can ill afford another construction site looking for a new home to their capital markets activities
Which means: easiest way out would be to change everything for everything to remain the same. The Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) is the master legislation that harmonises regulation for investment services… in the European Economic Area, which comprises the 28 EU member states plus Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.
If you ask a humble Fintech CEO, leaving MiFID as it is and applying it to 27 member states of the EU plus UK, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein looks like a relatively pain-free way out of the conundrum 🙂
In this scenario, when it comes to financial regulation, Brexit remain a wikipedia entry & a couple of weeks of stress in the market.
Remainer or Leaver, the fact remains that a majority of UK citizens did vote to leave the EU.
The UK has sent a VERY clear message to European Union, and the message wasn’t lost on off-mainstream but growing political leaders in France, Netherlands, etc. who have requested follow-up referenda. This might tempt Ms Merkel into a hawkish stand on negotiation. Be tough with the Brits to fight off more referenda. The price to be paid would be sour divorce negotiations between the UK and EU: EU leaders would shoot the UK (hurt the City) in their own feet (EU banks would suffer the most).
Should grapes really turn sour, then thousands of European Financial institutions – including pretty much every European Fintech start-up – will seek a new home base to passport regulated activities into the remainder of the European Union. This will be a huge task with TONS of time wasted on tasks other than serving customers – which will imply a LOOOONGG transition period into an uncertain set-up.
Were this to happen, we’ll move giving plenty of notice & mutate into a legally new Darwinex, with the same old mission to serve active traders & investors.
The road from here: EVOLUTION!
Brexit or not, we still live in a world where the less you own, the worse you invest.
So, Mr. Cameron, Ms. Merkel, Mr. Johnson & Ms. Le Pen: go ahead and waste everybody’s time and money changing the fine print.
Meanwhile, we’ll continue to re-imagine the investing game: by the time the new UK Premier is even known and banks appoint their Brexit committees, we’ll have released a TON of functionality empowering active investors.
Bregret, Brexit or even end of the EU: the impact of Brexit on the independent traders’ movement is this blog-post.
Let’s face it, we’ve all got bigger fry going on.