There are only 33 days left before all the firms that the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) designated as Category-2 entities must central clear the majority of their over-the-counter (OTC) swaps trades and the next four or five weeks and it looks like it will be hellish for more than half of them.
Do not expect anyone working to meet this deadline to attend your Memorial Day barbecue or expect them to have any thoughts on summer blockbusters that opened before June 11.
According industry research firm Celent, 48% of buy-side firms are still looking for clearing or collateral management partners, 24% are almost ready to meet the deadline and 28% are ready to clear trades and handle the new collateral requirements, according to data from the firm’s latest research report Maximizing Collateral Advantage.
Celent analysts interviewed more than 25 Tier-1 (30%), Tier-2 (33%) and Tier-3 (37%) buy-side firms based in Europe (33 %), North America (33%) and Asia (26%) for this study.
Although the numbers sounds dire, one round-table attendee estimated that although Category 2 has more members than Category 1 or Category 3 but that those firms trade swaps only three or four times a year. He added that the market already clears most of the OTC swaps volume and has since March 11, when Category 1’s swaps dealers, major swaps participants and active funds began meeting their mandatory clearing obligations.
I’m much better at citing sources usually, but I needed to promise not to quote or identify participants or attendees directly to attend this no-press industry event.
Panelists and attendees also questioned the conventional wisdom that an estimated 2,000 counterparties will need to clear trades. Many thought the figure was closer to 600 and that 2,000 might have referred to sub-accounts, but not financial institutions or legal vehicles.
By the wee hours of June 11, most buy-side organizations will know how well they prepared for the CFTC deadline when the first margin calls start arriving. Those who did a good job of taking into account the added clearing and affirmation expenses will be fine. Those who had not are going to have some real uncomfortable conversations with their supervisors.
If you are in London and want to benchmark your firm’s preparedness against that of your industry colleagues, Omgeo and DerivSource will host the same event locally on May 23. It’s worth a look.