Central Bank of Ireland and IOSCO report on retail market conduct issues arising from Covid-19

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The International Organization of Securities Commission’s (IOSCO) Retail Market Conduct Task Force (RMCTF), co-chaired by the Central Bank of Ireland and the Australian Securities & Investments Commission, has published the Retail Market Conduct Task Force Report: Initial Findings and Observations About the Impact of COVID-19 on Retail Market Conduct.

The IOSCO Report details common retail market conduct risks caused or exacerbated by COVID-19 including:

  • the unique market environment emanating from the pandemic;
  • the impact on firm and investor behaviour;
  • common drivers of retail misconduct; and
  • corresponding challenges and opportunities for regulators.

In addition, the Report identifies a number of common themes experienced during COVID-19 which highlight the vulnerabilities and risks for retail investors, market participants and regulators, such as high market volatility, heightened financial and psychological stressors, social distancing and remote work requirements.

The Report also highlights case studies specific to member organisations during COVID-19, including a surge in retail investor trading and an increase in predatory scams and unlicensed financial advice.

To mitigate the identified risks and promote investor protection, the Report details practical regulatory tools member organisations can utilise such as:

  • proactive supervisory monitoring, including of offerings targeting vulnerable investors;
  • targeted and effective enforcement action;
  • close cross-border cooperation and regulatory coordination; and
  • leveraging the experience from previous crises to enhance agile regulatory approaches.

Derville Rowland, Director General, Financial Conduct at the Central Bank of Ireland and co-chair of the IOSCO RMCTF, said: “A hugely positive and important aspect of the challenges posed by Covid has been the degree to which regulators globally have worked together to identify and mitigate risks. This report forms another key element of that work – helping regulators to share best practices and measures and tools used to combat misconduct. The Central Bank welcomed the opportunity to contribute to this report, in keeping with our mission to safeguard monetary and financial stability and ensure the financial system works in the best interests of consumers, investors and the wider economy.”

Details of Central Bank interventions to mitigate retail market conduct risks, and guidance to investors, can be seen on the Central Bank’s COVID-19 hub on our website https://www.centralbank.ie/consumer-hub/covid-19.

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