I decided to focus my remarks on how People’s investments in financial Products Progress over time, and the role of costs. Firstly, I will talk you through ESMA’s first annual costs and performance report on retail investment products. In particular, I will highlight how costs affect the value of an investment over time. Secondly, I will focus on the relevance of costs of investment services and products in the EU legislative framework that relates to the provision of investment services. Finally, given the importance of the role of costs on the value of an investment as mentioned above, I would like to emphasise the importance of cost disclosure in the context of the PRIIPs Regulation, and its upcoming review this year.
A key element to achieve the goal of a stronger participation of retail investors in capital markets is to provide them with clear, comprehensive and comparable information on retail investment products. Increased participation of retail investors in capital markets serves several purposes in a wider economic context. Capital market-based products tend to provide higher returns than deposits and thus can help meet the challenges posed by population ageing and low interest rates. Moreover, the last financial and sovereign crises highlighted the need for more diversified funding channels in the EU which can lead to a more balanced and improved allocation of capital.
Whilst we are confident our results for UCITS are robust, we are aware that there are challenges associated with the availability, quality, and comparability of cost and past performance data, which can inhibit assessment of retail investment products. This is something we will work on in future editions of the annual report. However, for retail AIFs and SRPs there is a lack of available and usable cost and performance data. This is a significant issue from an investor protection perspective. ESMA is also considering the implications of the report findings for further policy work within our investor protection mandate.
ESMA will continue paying great attention to costs, as an important factor to improve services and products addressed to investors, especially retail. This is needed in order to contribute to strengthening, or regaining, investors’ trust in the financial sector, and to increase their participation in the capital markets, including in the fund sector. I’m convinced that industry should actively participate in the efforts in this direction, and I’m confident it will.
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