Regulatory Compliance at Top of Financial Executives’ Worry List

February 11, 2014 by Carla Main

Financial industry executives are almost as concerned about the growing demands of regulatory compliance as they are with market volatility, according to today’s survey of 400 financial companies by SunGard Financial Systems LLC and Longitude Research.

Preoccupation with existing and anticipated regulatory reforms dwarfs concerns such as weak growth outlook, shareholder pressure, liquidity shortfalls or the crackdown on tax avoidance, the survey showed.

The researchers studied senior executives from insurance, capital markets, asset management, retail banking and wealth management firms.

Compliance has resulted in allocation of staffing, time and resources during the past two years, according to the report. Regulatory burdens caused 50 percent to report a loss of focus from core business and 34 percent expect lower returns to shareholders in the future.

The study measured the effect of existing reforms with global impact including Basel II, the Dodd-Frank Act, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, European Union directives that affect hedge funds and the designation of insurers as systemically important. It also looked at the potential effect of upcoming reforms, including insurance industry capitalization rules of Solvency II and global derivatives regulations.

Regulatory pressure placed their companies under “high stress,” according to 46 percent of financial executives globally. Fewer than one-third anticipate they will be under the same high level of stress in two years, according to the survey.

The global survey included results from North America, Western Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Latin America, Asia and the U.K.