ASIC today released Report 652 Wholesale FX practices in Australia, summarising our work in wholesale foreign exchange (FX) markets during 2018 and 2019. The report highlights our observations of better practices and some poor practices used by participants operating in the market.
FX is a key global market and is of systemic importance to the Australian economy. To function effectively, the FX market relies on participants to act with integrity and fairness. As of April 2019, total global FX volume was around USD6.6 trillion per day, and the Australian dollar is the fifth most traded currency in the world.
As part of our enhanced focus on wholesale fixed income, foreign exchange (FX) and commodities (collectively ‘FICC’) markets, FX markets have been a focus for ASIC in 2018 and 2019. We are addressing threats to these markets which may cause harms to the real economy and consumers and have expanded our oversight to drive behavioural change.
This work included various onsite and thematic reviews of participants, as well as monitoring ANZ, CBA, Macquarie, NAB and Westpac’s compliance with the requirements under their respective FX Court Enforceable Undertakings.
The report provides our observations in the areas of:
- governance and supervision
- FX mark-ups
- last look
- handling confidential client order information
- surveillance and monitoring
- staff training on conduct risk
- staff personal training.
Participants should review these observations and practices and consider how the better practices may be applied in their own FX businesses to enhance their approach to managing conduct risk.
ASIC Commissioner Cathie Armour said, ‘As a market and conduct regulator, ASIC has been enhancing our oversight of FICC markets, and been very active in our surveillance and enforcement of conduct in the FX market. We are pleased to see widespread adoption of the FX Global Code but there are still areas for improvement.’
The report builds on Report 525 Promoting better behaviour: Spot FX (REP 525), which ASIC published in 2017. REP 525 described how conduct in the wholesale spot FX businesses of some of Australia’s largest market participants had fallen short of our expectations, and the enforcement action we took where regulatory obligations were not complied with.