Global watchdogs call for regulations on market analysis

LAGONISSI (Reuters) – A global market watchdog group called yesterday for a ban on investment analysts taking part in road shows and other sales pitches as it unveiled its proposals for ensuring unbiased research at banks. The International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO), seeking to set a standard for regulators worldwide, also proposed severing any links between analysts’ pay and any investment banking deals. Analysts also should not report to their investment banking division or need prior approval for their reports, it said. The IOSCO recommendations were eagerly awaited by the financial industry following a landmark $1.4 billion settlement in the United States between 10 investment banks and regulators over allegations of misleading stock research. Roel Campos, a US Securities Exchange Commission officer who had overseen the preparation of the principles, said it was now up to national watchdogs to decide whether they would implement them in their regulations. «These do not present a recipe for regulation… In an area like this, it is very important to have a benchmark and these (principles) will serve that,» he told a news conference after a two-day session at a beach resort 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Athens. Asked whether implementing the principles would create extra costs for banks, Campos said: «There may be some costs involved, but these should be seen as an investment.» IOSCO also called for barring analysts’ employers from promising corporate clients favorable research coverage or ratings in return for business and a ban on trading by analysts and their employers in securities and derivatives ahead of publishing research that would affect them. The organization also produced a similar set of principles for credit-rating agencies, highlighting the need to preserve their independence and freedom from economic and political pressures. Europe’s market regulators have signaled they are looking to guiding principles rather than US-style rules to avoid conflicts of interest, putting the onus on the banks to keep stock research free from bias. Jamie Stewart, head of research at UK brokers Eden Group, said the principles don’t go far enough and won’t until research is pulled entirely out of the hands of investment banks. «Analysis should be tendered out to regulated independent researchers who by definition will not have any connection to bankers looking for investment banking business,» he said.

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