Progress Slows On Global LEI Program

Terry Flanagan

Although the Financial Stability Board (FSB), the G20’s regulatory body, has signaled March 2013 as the go-live date for the global legal entity identifier (LEI) program, implementation might be several years away as problems over who the LEI issuers will be are still to be ironed out.

“Having just returned from an industry conference this week in Amsterdam, there remains a significant amount of discussion around how long it will take, and who will be the issuers of LEIs for entities and in jurisdictions not covered by the current DTCC/Swift initiative [for LEIs],” said James Redfern, chief executive of CounterpartyLink, which maintains legal entity information for financial services companies.

The FSB has begun laying the framework for such a regulatory capability.

In parallel to this, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), a U.S. regulator, has instigated a provisional LEI, called the CFTC’s Interim Compliant Identifiers, or CICI, which is designed to be an identifier for all legal entities dealing in OTC derivatives falling under CFTC jurisdiction and which the CFTC hopes will morph seamlessly into a future global LEI system, which is expected by March 2013.

“March 2013 is talked about as the date for the release of the global LEI—however at the event yesterday, comments were made during a panel discussion that it will probably be many years until this implementation will be rolled out globally and for all entities, which of course makes it a realistic view,” said Redfern.

“Having said that, there seems to be overwhelming support for such a standard—it is just the practicalities of issuing it, maintaining it, commercializing it and possibly how duplication of effort across multiple future issuers of the LEI for the same legal entity can be avoided.”

While a few banks are able to refresh risk information intra-day, real-time updates are viewed as a distant prospect.

“While senior risk executives are required to play a more strategic role and drive capital optimization in the post-crisis world, they are in danger of being undermined by a restrictive legacy technology that severely impedes the value of risk information,” said Stuart Grant, financial services business development manager at technology provider Sybase, an SAP company.

The FSB recommends a three-tier structure for the global LEI system: a regulatory oversight committee (ROC), a central operating unit (COU) and a local operating unit (LOU).

CounterpartyLink “is only aware of one LEI system that is defined by the FSB, has been ratified with a draft standard by ISO and is currently created by the DTCC/Swift utility,” said Redfern at CounterpartyLink. “However, CPL is aware that there are discussions afoot to organize and select other parties to be issuers of the LEI in regions not covered by the DTCC/Swift utility.”

CounterpartyLink has enhanced “depth of data” as part of its latest product, which already includes the provisional LEI, or CICI.

The company currently carries the LEI—currently defined as the ‘provisional LEI, and which is also labeled the CICI by the CFTC—as part of its standard data set and made available through its online and data feed products.

“CounterpartyLink will continue to carry this identifier as it is made freely available to the market, and CounterpartyLink will continue to associate value-added data content to the Provisional LEI/CICI and, most importantly, continually validate by reference to primary sources such as registration authorities and regulators the data that CounterpartyLink researches that relates to each entity,” said Redfern.

The International Organization for Standardization, the international standard-setting body, has established a draft standard, called ISO 17442, for the LEI and it is planned to be operated as an at-cost utility by the U.S. Depository Trust & Clearing Corp (DTCC), the post-trade financial services group, and Swift, or the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, a society that operates a messaging service for financial messages, whose headquarters are in Brussels, Belgium.

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