FCA Antitrust Probe Into Investment Banks

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has announced plans to launch its first wholesale market study into investment and corporate banking to assess whether competition in the sector is working properly.

This follows the publication of its review into competition in the wholesale sector, which found that limited clarity over price and quality of services may make it difficult for clients to assess whether they are getting value for money, and that the bundling and cross selling of services could make it difficult for new entrants or smaller established firms to challenge established large players in the market.

Christopher Woolard

Christopher Woolard


“We have chosen this particular area because the benefits of effective competition in the market could be significant,” said Christopher Woolard, the FCA’s director of strategy and competition. “The UK is a global hub for investment banking, and this sector plays a crucial role in our economy, helping companies raise capital for investment, expansion and funding ongoing operations.”

“What was clear from the discussions we had with stakeholders and firms was that there are unanswered questions about potential conflicts of interest and value for money in this market. This will form part of our wider work in the wholesale markets, alongside the Fair and Effective Markets Review.”

During the wholesale sector review the FCA met with around 70 organisations and individuals, through a combination of round-tables and one-to-one meetings and received 40 written responses.

This provided feedback on other potential competition issues that might benefit from further investigation in the future, including:

* How purchasers get value for money when buying asset management services.

* The pricing and availability of data and related services.

* Vertical integration of clearing and execution services.

* The impact of a reduction in the number of clearing members and a lack of client clearing on over-the-counter (OTC) derivative markets.

The FCA will consider undertaking a market study into asset management and related services later in the year. However, for the other potential competition issues identified, it is expected that forthcoming regulations will affect the way competition works, so there is no immediate plans to conduct further studies into these areas.

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