The Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) has today published its 2019 annual report. On that occasion, the FSMA also provided explanations (available in Dutch and French only) of the impact of the coronavirus crisis on investment and pension funds, amongst others, and about the actions that it has taken in light of the crisis.
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.
One of the most important focal points of the FSMA during the coronavirus crisis was a heightened monitoring of the impact of the crisis on Belgian investment and pension funds. The monitoring revealed that the most significant impact on investment funds was in mid March, when the value of the assets held by those funds fell by 16 per cent as compared to the end of 2019. Thereafter, the situation recovered. By the beginning of June, the value of investment funds’ assets was down only 4 per cent from the end of 2019. In general, covering assets of pension funds have also held their own. At the beginning of June, the coverage of the short- and long-term commitments of these funds amounted to 144 and 117 per cent respectively, as compared to 153 and 124 per cent at the end of 2019.
In addition to close monitoring of the financial markets, the FSMA also provided the necessary guidance for entities under its supervision and the necessary information for consumers. As part of its consumer protection mandate, the FSMA launched a campaign last week against online investment fraud. Fraudsters brazenly take advantage of the current COVID-19 pandemic to make new victims. More information about this campaign is available in this FSMA press release.
The coronavirus made it necessary to postpone the opening of the FSMA’s new financial education centre, the Wikifin Lab. The Lab is a digital and interactive centre, and is fully ready to welcome the first secondary school students. To offer a foretaste of the Wikifin Lab, the FSMA’s annual report is illustrated with photos taken in the Lab.