This CEO Says Many Traders Aren’t Ready for Europe’s Huge Regulatory Overhaul

With only five months to go before Europe’s MiFID II overhaul of financial markets, the head of one of the world’s biggest exchanges says many firms aren’t ready.

“We’re going on sales calls and cold calling people to talk about these things, and they look at us like we have three eyes and don’t understand what it is we’re talking about,” Intercontinental Exchange Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Sprecher said on an earnings conference call Thursday.

Financial firms are frantically building data-reporting systems to comply with the law, which regulators estimate will cost up to 732 million euros ($869 million) to implement. Most money managers are still unprepared, according to a survey of buy-side firms in published in June.

MiFID II is designed to bolster trading transparency and root out conflicts of interest in financial markets. It’s widely expected to have ripple effects beyond the continent’s borders. Sprecher’s firm, though based in Atlanta, does significant business in Europe. The advent of additional regulatory reporting requirements and standards is expected to spell extra business for firms that help money managers ensure they are obeying the new rules.

ICE is one of the companies that stands to benefit from the changing landscape. In one example, asset manager T. Rowe Price Group Inc. announced this week that it will use an ICE Data Services tool to assess whether it’s getting the best outcomes on bond trades. Sprecher said MiFID II has already been a boon to ICE’s fixed-income business. The company runs clearing houses, operates exchanges including the New York Stock Exchange, and sells data and listing services.

— With assistance by Neil Callanan

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