Asset Managers, Systemic Risk and the Need for Tailored SIFI Regulation

A post by guest blogger Joeri De Smet (Jan Ronse Institute, KU Leuven)

The age of asset management may be upon us. The industry has grown rapidly over the last decade and the market power of its major players has been analysed from different points of view, including corporate governance and competition policy. In a recent paper, I analyse the nexus between asset management and financial stability. Specifically, I ask the question whether asset managers can be systemically important and, if so, how EU and US regulators should respond.

Both jurisdictions already regulate systemically important financial institutions: the US implemented such regulation as part of the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010; the EU included it in the 2013 Capital Requirements Directive. Systemically important financial institutions or “SIFIs” are institutions that can cause or amplify systemic risk. Systemic risk, in turn, is “a risk of disruption to financial services that is caused by an impairment of all or parts of the financial system and has the potential to have serious negative consequences for the real economy” (as defined by the IMF, FSB and BIS in 2009). But current SIFI regulation does not account for a scenario in which asset managers and/or investment funds become systemically important. The designation procedure and regulation in the EU is tailored to banks, while the US system does leave room for designation of asset managers but makes it impossible in practice – particularly after reforms under the Trump administration. In addition, there is no scholarly consensus on the question whether SIFI regulation for asset managers would be useful.

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