The clock is ticking as Brussels delivers second-stage MiFID draft

IT directors in financial services are finally getting to grips with the European Commission's proposals for the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID).

IT directors in financial services are finally getting to grips with the European Commission's proposals for the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID).

The level-two draft, which was put out last week, contains some significant clarifications from earlier proposals, including the decision to make some key requirements - such as best execution, order handling and conduct-of-business standards -  directives rather than regulations.

The move allows for a greater degree of discretion in implementation, as well as a more relaxed evolution into national law.

Paul Beech of Atos Consulting said IT heads of investment banks and other affected businesses would also be relieved to see the removal of certain requirements that featured in earlier drafts -  particularly voice recording.

But he warned that despite the changes, the potential increase in infrastructure outlay could still cost affected UK businesses over £1bn.

Beech also emphasised the significance of the Commission's observation that "the first movers and the better prepared will be the winners" in the new, single European market for financial instruments that MiFID will create.

His warning echoed that of Bob Fuller, co-chair of the MiFID IT Joint Working Group, who told industry leaders late last month that the legislation was "not a box-ticking exercise", but would "change and modify trading behaviour over time."

Fuller said the striking thing about MiFID was that many of the technical and logistical challenges firms were likely to face were not predictable, and not even explicitly contained in the legislation.

He said it was important that businesses focus their attention on MiFID and try to predict how it might change the European financial services landscape when it comes into force in November 2007.

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