The Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) has today published its 2018 annual report. At its presentation of the report, the FSMA commented, amongst other things, on the inspections it conducted in the insurance sector, the preparations for a possible Brexit, its involvement in certain aspects of the fight against money laundering, the promotion of sustainable investment, and work on the creation of the new FSMA financial education centre.
The core mission of the FSMA is to contribute to an honest and fair treatment of financial consumers and to transparency in the financial markets. The FSMA’s areas of competence are: supervision of financial products, supervision of compliance with the conduct of business rules, market surveillance, supervision of financial service providers and intermediaries, supervision of supplementary pensions and contributing to the financial education of the public.
In 2018, the FSMA took measures and initiatives to prepare for the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union. A hard Brexit may impact financial players offering their services from the United Kingdom within the EU and vice versa. Consumers who are clients of a British financial service provider may also feel the impact. Guaranteeing continuity of contracts after Brexit has been the FSMA’s chief concern.
This past year was marked in particular by efforts to combat money laundering. New rules were transposed into Belgian legislation and explained to the financial players under the supervision of the FSMA. These rules require them to inventory, assess and understand the risks to which they are exposed and then to take the necessary measures. The FSMA has already conducted 105 on-site inspections in this area.
Sustainability is also at the top of the international and European agenda. The range of sustainable financial products on offer has recently grown substantially. The FSMA considers it important that the sustainability of a product should not be used purely as a marketing argument. While awaiting the new European legislation governing the taxonomy of sustainable economic activities, the FSMA will conduct a public consultation at national level on the marketing of sustainable financial products.
During its presentation of the annual report, the FSMA also provided more information about the creation of the Wikifin Lab. The FSMA’s financial education centre will be an experiential learning centre where young people can receive financial education in a fun, interactive and pedagogical manner. The Wikifin Lab will open its doors in the next school year.
The FSMA also conducted inspections last year into the way in which insurers apply the rules on conflicts of interest and on distribution fees for the sale of class 23 insurance products to consumers. More information on these inspections is available in a separate press release (in French or Dutch).