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May 2019

While the European securities post-trade industry is taking steps towards harmonisation and integration, a standardised interface for investors, as well as uniform rules and regulations, are still needed to drive true market efficiency

In the years following the financial crisis of 2008 to 2009, custodians have found themselves performing an increasingly difficult balancing act of complying with tightening regulatory requirements, while adapting to infrastructure changes and meeting the growing demands of their clients.

The industry as a whole has experienced considerable development, upheaval and financial commitment, but where does it leave us now? Participants could be forgiven for wondering whether it has taken us far enough. Why is it, for example, that physical goods can be ordered and delivered within the space of 24 hours, while an electronically delivered security still takes two days to arrive in the beneficiary’s account?

This paper explores how far the last 10 years of regulatory and industry change have taken us, what harmonisation has been achieved by initiatives such as TARGET2-Securities, and what barriers and threats to harmony remain. At the same time, it also explores what a future vision of a new “Amazonised” post-trade landscape might look like and how the industry can get closer to this kind of experience.

While the current post trade agenda takes us further forward, perhaps the largest challenges remain. Without a solid foundation, including tax and securities law reform, new technology and new market entrants will do little to shift the status quo. But, by tackling the challenges head on, removing the barriers which challenge the innovation and the evolution of the industry, there is an opportunity to create a new and exciting landscape for post-trade in Europe.

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