10. When is a securities index considered to have sufficient renown, track record and transparency and when does a securities index serve as a benchmark?

'A securities index has sufficient renown, track record and transparency and serves as a benchmark where the following conditions are met:

  • the index has been in existence for at least one year;
  • the index price can be consulted via a freely accessible source (website or Belgian press) and the method of calculation used as well as the composition of the index must have been published in an appropriate manner;
  • the index is used by several other professional and unrelated market operators. This condition is met if there are derivative contracts (more specifically, warrants and/or futures/options) or ETFs with the index as their underlying. In order to be taken into consideration, these derivatives and/or ETFs must be issued by operators that are not related to the issuer/distributor of the structured product ;
  • it must have a clear, single investment objective in order to represent an adequate benchmark. The clear, single investment objective may be defined in relation to three different types of criteria, which may be used cumulatively:
  1. geographical criterion: the index may apply to a specific geographic market (Europe or South America, for example) and/or
  2. sectoral criterion: the index may apply to a specific economic sector (pharmaceutical and biotech companies, or the banking sector, for example) and/or
  3. 'thematic' criterion: the index may apply to one specific qualitative topic, e.g., the topic of ESG (environment, social and governance), or 'high dividend' or 'low volatility'.
  • its composition must be sufficiently diversified (i.e. it complies with the diversification criteria laid down for UCITs) ;
  • the frequency with which it is rebalanced must not be too high (maximum quarterly).'