Heads of UK spread betting providers have hit out at the nation’s regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), for mishandling its latest clampdown on CFD brokers, claiming that sweeping measures to overhaul the industry could mean shifting headquarters as well as their London-based operations to other countries.
Britain’s watchdog shocked the sector earlier this month by unveiling a raft of measures to reform the activities of firms selling CFDs to retail customers.
The FCA’s overhaul hit the shares of financial betting giants, with IG Group faring worst after its shares fell 38% to its lowest levels in three years, while sending rivals CMC Markets and Plus500 tumbling.
In his latest public comments, Peter Hetheringon, the CEO of IG, Britain’s biggest player in spread betting sector with a 40 percent share of the market, has criticised the regulator for the turmoil it sparked.
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“IG had no inkling whatsoever of the proposed change, despite working closely with the FCA. We had three people from the FCA in last week attending our board meeting. We even had an FCA intern in until the summer. They send their staff here to get trained,” Mr Hetherington told the Financial Times.
Mr Hetherington also urged customers to share their views with the regulator, warning that they will have to raise trading margins in their accounts up to ten times should the FCA ultimately decided to proceed with plans to impose stricter rules on CFDs trading.
He added that the FCA has considerable powers which it is not using, and although it was strong in caring about consumer outcomes, the watchdog was “weak in some aspects of implementation.”
CMC Markets, another financial betting giant, has met with the UK and German regulators to discuss plans to move its headquarters from London to Germany, which proposed less tightened rules on contracts for difference.
The company, which saw its market value shedding $260 million, was concerned by the FCA plan to cap the leverage of customers’ bets, particularly for inexperienced traders, something the German regulator has stopped short of. However, CMC said the decision to relocate operations is at an embryonic stage, and no move will be taken until after the conclusion of the FCA’s consultation next year.
The FCA has proposed capping leverage at 50 times for retail investors and 25 times for traders who have less than 12 months’ active experience in trading CFDs.