Despite the growth of automated, electronic trading – whether high-speed or algorithmic or plain vanilla – voice trading is still a key element of markets in most asset classes, and in particular where trades need to be negotiated. We’d all expect firms
to keep archives of all electronic transactions, as with all of their computer data. But what happens about voice trades? And when your firm uses voice trading, how do you prove best execution?
These were topics that the industry raised in the run-up to the implementation of MiFID 1 over five years ago. In the meantime the economic crash has led legislators and regulators to become even more firm about the principles that they laid down, and new
regulations make it very clear that they extend to voice trading and not just electronic trading.
The UK FSA was one of the first regulators to require recording of desk-phone conversations with customers. MiFID II drafts extend this requirement to mobile phones as well. We are also now seeing the start of the same regulatory movement in the USA, with
the Dodd-Frank Act requirements for the recording of all oral communications that lead to the execution of transactions in some asset classes.
Recording all elements of all transactions is a technical challenge in its own right. But another challenge is in how firms are addressing the need to prove “best execution” when their communications with clients are spread across so many different types
of media, and when they have to show internally that they are complying with their own customer agreements and documented execution policies. And one shouldn’t assume that this is just an internal issue: the US Consolidated Audit Trail system is intended
to help regulators to monitor that firms are in fact doing what the regulations require.