The Malta Independent 19 September 2019, Thursday

MFSA restricts sale of Contracts for Differences for retail clients

Tuesday, 20 August 2019, 15:20 Last update: about 29 days ago

As part of its ongoing efforts to enhance consumer protection, the MFSA said it has updated the Conduct of Business Rulebook to implement important changes essentially restricting the marketing, distribution or sale of Contracts for Differences (CFDs) to retail investors. This update follows an extensive consultation process which the Authority held with industry earlier this year.

During the last years, the European market has witnessed a rapid increase in the marketing, distribution or sale of CFDs to retail clients across the EU. CFDs are inherently risky and complex products. European regulators have expressed widespread concerns on the increasing number of retail clients trading in these products and having them losing their money. These concerns are also supported by the numerous complaints received from retail clients across the EU who have suffered significant losses when trading CFDs.

The permanent restrictions, introduced in the Conduct of Business Rulebook, include amongst other things, requirements that ensure that investors do not lose more money than they put in.  Moreover, there also restrictions on incentives offered to trade in CFDs and investors must be provided with understandable risk warnings so that they are aware of the high degree of risk involved when investing in such products. 

Moreover, the MFSA said it has introduced standardised warnings on the risk carried by such investments to ensure that customers are made aware of the high degree of risk involved when investing in such products. 

MFSA updates Conduct of Business Rulebook to include the relevant provisions regarding the permanent restriction on the marketing, distribution or sale of CFDs to retail investors in or from Malta o CFDs are complex and risky financial products with significant risk of loss of money o Investment firms will be required to warn retail clients of risks involved when investing in these products.

MFSA’s Head of Conduct Supervision Michelle Mizzi Buontempo, remarked that “these rules, in line with the MFSA’s Vision, seek to strike a balance between the market’s need to provide fair competition and client choice, while at the same time protecting consumers of financial services, and safeguarding the integrity and stability of the financial system.”

The European Securities and Markets Authority (‘ESMA’) has issued a formal opinion on the MFSA’s national product intervention measures relating to contracts for differences.

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