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ASIC places interim stop orders on securities lending product

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By Reporter
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3 minute read

The regulator has identified deficiencies in the target market determination and product disclosure statement of Interactive Brokers’ Stock Yield Enhancement Program.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has announced that it has made two interim stop orders preventing Interactive Brokers Australia from issuing Stock Yield Enhancement Program (SYEP) Derivatives to retail investors.

In a statement on Thursday, the regulator said that it had identified deficiencies in the product’s target market determination (TMD) and product disclosure statement (PDS).

The interim orders prohibit Interactive Brokers from offering, issuing, giving a PDS for or providing general advice in relation to SYEP Derivatives to retail investors and are valid for 21 days unless revoked earlier.

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“ASIC made the interim orders to protect retail investors from acquiring SYEP Derivatives where they may not be suitable for their financial objectives, situation or needs. ASIC is also concerned that the PDS is defective,” the regulator said.

The regulator explained that SYEP Derivatives are arrangements whereby a retail investor may agree to lend eligible securities to Interactive Brokers, which may on-lend the securities to other parties for short selling or other purposes. 

In return, Interactive Brokers pays consideration, less its fees and commissions, to the retail investor and delivers cash collateral to secure its obligation to return the securities to the investor. 

“Retail investors in SYEP Derivatives are exposed to risks related to securities lending, including the impact of short selling on the value of their securities, counterparty risk if Interactive Brokers defaults, loss of voting rights and tax consequences associated with substituted dividend payments and corporate actions,” ASIC said.

ASIC said that it was concerned that the TMD for the product inappropriately included in the target market investors who declare that their investment objectives include preservation of capital and income generation, or hedging, “whereas these objectives are likely inconsistent with the features and risks of the product”.

The regulator said that it was also concerned that the TMD included knowledge and experience criteria for the target market that are not described with objective, tangible parameters; specified an unreasonably long period for distributors of SYEP Derivatives to report complaints and other matters to Interactive Brokers; and specified inadequate and poorly defined triggers for reviewing whether the TMD remains appropriate.

“Further, ASIC was concerned that the PDS was defective because, among other things, it omitted important information about the benefits, fees and commissions of the SYEP Derivatives, contained a misleading statement about forfeiture of voting rights, and was not worded and presented in a clear, concise and effective manner,” it said.

The regulator expects Interactive Brokers to consider the concerns raised regarding the TMD and PDS and take “immediate steps” to ensure compliance. 

“ASIC will consider making a final order if the concerns are not addressed in a timely manner. Interactive Brokers will have an opportunity to make submissions before a decision is made about any final stop orders,” the regulator added.

To date, 24 interim stop orders have been issued by the regulator under the design and distribution obligations (DDO), including the order for SYEP Derivatives. 

Of these, 19 interim stop orders have been lifted following actions taken to address ASIC’s concerns or where the products were withdrawn, while five remain in place.

ASIC places interim stop orders on securities lending product

The regulator has identified deficiencies in the target market determination and product disclosure statement of Interactive Brokers’ Stock Yield Enhancement Program.

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