The Dutch Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM) is publishing its 2019 annual report today, giving account of its activities and the results thereof. The supervisor also considers the impact of the corona crisis on the financial markets and consumers.
AFM chair Laura van Geest: ‘This annual report is published at a time when the impact of the coronavirus on the financial system is being felt to the fullest extent. Combating the virus and limiting the effects on the real economy are now the major priorities. The financial markets are still so far robust, despite the huge price volatility. It is good to see that the sector is taking the initiative to help consumers encountering temporary problems as a result of the crisis. The AFM is monitoring that this happens in a responsible manner, so that solutions for today do not become problems later on.’
Large groups of consumers are facing substantial financial setbacks. Financial institutions have a responsibility to come up with adequate solutions. The duty of care remains as important as ever, the customer’s interests must still be kept in mind and any new and unreliable credit providers must be kept out of the market. The AFM is monitoring whether credit providers are able to manage the flood of questions and requests for postponements effectively.
The capital markets are so far operating well, despite the impact of the crisis. The AFM is monitoring developments and conduct in the markets especially closely. The AFM understands that listed companies may not be able to publish their annual reports by 30 April, as long as all the requirements for the timely disclosure of price-sensitive information are met.
Reaching an agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom by the end of this year is now especially challenging due to the corona crisis. There is still a real risk of a no-deal Brexit. But even if the transition period is extended, the uncertainty regarding the effects of Brexit will continue to hang over the market. This means that it is still unclear how many parties will actually relocate their operations to the Netherlands, and when this will happen. The AFM issued over 50 licences last year.
Work is currently progressing on the details of the pension agreement concluded between the government and employer and employee organisations last June. This presents an opportunity to simplify the pensions system. If the underlying system is overcomplicated, it is difficult to provide clear communication. Complexity also weakens public support for the Dutch pensions system and creates problems for administration. A recent review by the AFM shows that the complexity of the current system causes mistakes to be made in communication to participants.
In his response to the recommendations of the Committee on the Future of the Audit Sector (Commissie Toekomst Accountancysector, or CTA), the Minister has chosen to introduce a broad package of measures to improve the quality of statutory audits. All the links in the reporting and auditing chain will be called upon to fulfil their roles and responsibilities. Since effective supervision stands or falls with adequate enforcement powers and financial resources, the AFM welcomes the Minister’s commitment to strengthen the enforcement instruments at its disposal. It is important that audit firms can be held directly responsible for the quality of audits. The decision to make the AFM also responsible for supervision of all non-PIE audit firms means a substantial increase in our duties.
Journalists can contact Kees Versluis, AFM Press Officer, on 0031 (0)6 2144 5720 or at [email protected].