AIFMD

A core function of Thomas Murray is to provide independent, detailed third-party monitoring of post-trade service providers in the world’s capital markets. It has done so for over two decades, and has established a considerable database across 100+ marketplaces, expertise, and a reputation for rigour.

Many people watch the movement of stock market indices, and perhaps also interest rate changes, and possibly even foreign exchange movements: but who considers with much frequency or depth how a corporate issuer paying its dividend or interest rate coupon figures out how much to send to each beneficiary, or how it gets paid out and finds its way to their individual accounts in some far-off country? For those who do not particularly think about what is behind a light switch such that a room is well lit at night, or ask themselves about how clean water arrives at their tap, both hot and cold, they are also not likely to consider how stocks and bonds are looked after when their savings are invested in them. Most of the time, all of this infrastructure works without further consideration.

From the outset of this third-party monitoring programme in 2012, Thomas Murray rapidly found itself accumulating what is possibly the world’s most detailed and best data and qualitative information set on one of the world’s least well-known cogs in the workings of the global financial system, transfer agents. Like any machine, when a single cog breaks down, so does a large part of the mechanism.

Transfer agents fall below the bar of what the global authorities consider to be a market infrastructure institution like a national payment system or central securities depository, and are for the most part outside the perimeter of national regulatory authorities as well. And yet, as is true for most of them, their critical functions involve receiving and making payments for public funds, and maintaining share ownership registries for those funds. These are not small matters.

The European Commission’s Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive, (‘AIFMD’), and Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities (‘UCITS V’), were introduced, in part, to provide greater comfort to the investment world in the wake of the Madoff scandal. These directives created a responsibility for the custodian community to engage in an increased level of monitoring and supervision of third-party service providers.

Luxembourg, the world’s leading UCITS centre and distribution hub, has over $2.5 trillion in assets under management in UCITS investment funds. It was the first jurisdiction to adopt the first iteration of UCITS in 1985, which attracted a large number of non-EU investors to Luxembourg to use the Principality as their gateway to European investments. Where Swiss and American investors led the way, international investors have followed from Asia and Latin America, all looking to distribute and invest in, UCITS fund vehicles.

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