Senior managers at financial services firms are seriously underestimating the impact of the European Union's Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) on their organisations, according to an EU-wide survey of bank executives conducted by KPMG and the Economist Intelligence Unit.
MiFID is expected to come into force in November 2007. The directive will enable banks to offer financial products across all 25 EU member states. Banks across the region will be able to trade shares internally, off an exchange, but will be required to publish the prices of intended trades to the rest of the market beforehand.
KPMG says of all the legislation to come out of the EU's Financial Services Action Plan (FSAP) over the last five years, it is MiFID that is likely to have the greatest impact, but "regulatory fatigue" appears to be obscuring this fact.
The survey of 199 executives, which was conducted in January, found that almost half - 43% - felt that senior managers have a 'poor' or 'very poor' understanding of the implications of the directive.
As a result around a third (35%) of respondents see a lack of awareness in top management as one of the biggest threats to the successful implementation of MiFID within their organisation. This was despite the fact that nearly half of the respondents (47%) pointed to board level executives as the ones with responsibility for implementing the directive.
Fewer than half the respondents said their firms had even reviewed the directive, and only 29% of respondents said their bank had assigned a project manager to oversee implementation.
The study also found that the budget banks have set aside this year for MiFID-related IT expenditure is relatively low, with only eight per cent of respondents saying their organisations have allocated more than 10% of IT budgets to MiFID in 2006.
However, when asked to choose which group of businesses will benefit most from MiFID, the majority of survey respondents picked out IT consultancies (68%) and software developers (61%).