Monday, 30 September 2013

EIOPA's FINAL preparatory guidance for national supervisors - it's on at last!

Sporting less change than a busker's flatcap, EIOPA have published their final version of the preparatory guidance for the EU's National Competent Authorities (NCAs) to get themselves ready for Solvency II ahead of the anticipated implementation date of 2016. You can catch my post on EIOPA's consultation papers here if you want to dig out their position prior to the consultation, which saw over 4,000 comments offered.

EIOPA - Thanks for the feedback,
here's your change...
Over the last week, while I have been recuperating from yet another rugby injury, there is plenty of chatter recently about the kick-off date, Omnibus II's progression through trilogues (and hopefully parliament before the May 2014 elections), etc elsewhere, so I've just had a run through the final guidance to see what got lobbied out, and whether that is a win for all stakeholders, or just the industry. As the PRA have already made it clear that should the go-live date move, their expectations on supervisory reporting will also move (p3), whether it is 2016, 2017, etc. is kind of a moot point.

The mainstream press has trumpeted the big wins as being in the reporting space which, judging by the IRSG's scathing take on that topic, should be no surprise to anyone. However, it would appear that EIOPA have refused to bend for much else, adopting a relatively sniffy tone in response to stakeholders concerns/complaints.

Below are links to separate blog posts covering the more contentious highlights for each of EIOPA's 4 hot topics, while Mike Claffey and the Milliman crew have quickly summarised the changes here;

System of Governance - Final Guidance (EIOPA Doc)

ORSA/Forward Looking Risk Assessment - Final Guidance (EIOPA Doc)

Reporting/Submission of information to NCAs - Final Guidance (EIOPA Doc)

Pre-application for Internal Models - Final Guidance (EIOPA Doc)

ORSA/Forward Looking Assessment of Risk - EIOPA's FINAL preparatory guidance for national supervisors

EIOPA reuse the preamble from the System of Governance guidance in their ORSA/FLAOR guidance, save for confirming that an assessment of overall solvency needs will be expected in 2014 and 2015 (more on that later). I will use ORSA rather than EIOPA's shiny new acronym for my own convenience throughout this post!

It ultimately reads in parts as a circuitous and convoluted piece due to the way that EIOPA have had to splice the ORSA requirements into three component parts, as per Article 45.1 of the Directive, to accommodate the postponement of some elements until 2015. An horrific example of this is point 3.112, which to paraphrase Chris Morris, reads like the ramblings of a drugged horse.

That said, they have clearly had to contend with a mountain of feedback since the initial consultation paper was released, and have done a better job of explaining why most comments were, in EIOPA's view at least, misguided.

Again from the practitioner's perspective I would highlight in general that;
  1. There is almost no discernible movement in EIOPA's position, even after lobbying;
  2. That explanations for the inclusion of contentious content are generally forthcoming, though for this subject are more forthright and pragmatic (perhaps naturally due to the lack of L1 and L2 substance);
  3. That 2014 ORSA is a genuine piece of work which will require the attention of the most senior staff in insurance firms - it would be a brave company that play-acts at any elements of the documentation, processes and outputs of the assessment.
Supporting arguments for EIOPA's final views are listed below, along with any relevant commentary from my practitioner's angle; 

Clarification re Omnibus II
3.49 - If go-live in 2016 does not happen due to further Omnibus II delays, "...undertakings will still be expected to perform the [overall solvency needs] assessment from 2014 onwards"

Clarification re continuous compliance with SCR and Technical Provisions calculations requirements, and the deviation from SF SCR assumptions assessment
3.50 - Confirm that these elements are postponed until 2015, and that technical specifications will be forthcoming from EIOPA by year-end to aid in the conduct of some of this activity.

Parallel running Sol I/Sol II concerns
3.53 - basically, not EIOPA's problem!

Compulsion for model applicants to also use SF in the assessment
3.54 - clarify that this in NOT about benchmarking models, rather "taking into account contingencies" should a firm's model not get through IMAP. A thoroughly negative and unsympathetic approach from EIOPA on this one I'm afraid

3.58 - "EIOPA considers it necessary that all undertakings perform the assessment of overall solvency needs at least two times during the preparatory phase, once in 2014 and once in 2015...[and] at any time during 2014"
3.60 - Stress that " is for the undertaking to decide on the appropriate reference date for its FLAOR", though couched in an expectation that financial year-end is most likely.

Guideline 5 - Delegation of activity by the AMSB
3.73 - "not acceptable" to delegate full responsibility for ORSA to sub-committees of the AMSB

Guideline 7 - ORSA Policy
3.62 - " is necessary to develop a full policy during the preparatory phase"
3.63 - "...[The ORSA Policy] may be part of the policy on Risk Management", though must be clearly identifiable

Guideline 8 - Record of the ORSA
3.64 - Rather bizarrely suggest that the ORSA Record is " less, but maybe even more important during preparation that after the start of Solvency II", but either way the message is clear - maintain the records carefully

Guideline 9 - Sharing information internally
3.77 - "It is for the AMSB to decide which parts of the information will be distributed to whom" - clearly some panic amongst respondents that they may have to start telling the 'proles' about their future employemnt prospects!

Guideline 10 - Supervisory Report
3.66 - EIOPA "...does however not expect that the first report will necessarily already be perfect"
3.69 - AMSB sign-off, accepting the results of the ORSA is the trigger for the 2 week window in which to submit the Supervisory Report
3.70 and 3.71 - Some rather confused paragraphs which seem to indicate that, if there is enough resistance to the results internally, that extra time may be afforded to the firm

Guideline 11 - Valuation bases
3.79 - EIOPA scrutiny postponed until 2015, but justifications on bases used expected

Guideline 12 - Overall Solvency Needs assessment
3.83 - EIOPA expect " will take several years" before this assessment is good enough, hence they expect the preparatory phase to include practice!

Guideline 14/15 - Continuous compliance with SCR requirements and Technical Provisions calculation rules
3.85 - Postponed until 2015, and again justify activity prior to Solvency II going live by using a practice makes perfect mantra, noting that attempting to do this will "...intensify the learning experience"! I wonder if anyone ever used that phrase in their budgeting requests...

Guideline 16 - Deviation of one's Risk Profile from SF SCR assumptions 
3.89 - Postponed until 2015, and also note that quantifying one's deviation from the SF assumptions will not be necessary "...if there is no indication that the deviation is significant". I guess modellers will have to wind their necks in around Credit Risk assumptions in particular on this matter, bearing in mind the diversity of methods currently on display.

Ultimately, little opportunity for shortcuts then, but perhaps enough time to review what's already in place before resource planning your 2014 activities.

System of Governance - EIOPA's FINAL preparatory guidance for national supervisors

Based on feedback received since their initial consultation paper was released, EIOPA make the following generic clarifications/statements in the preamble of their guidance doc for System of Governance preparations;

  • That proportionality will not be defined or presented as examples in the guideline text (p5-6)
  • That NCAs are "expected and evaluate the quality of the information provided to them" - bad news for the PRA, who were clinically uninterested in reviewing Solvency II reporting attempts according to one blogger (p6)
  • The emergence of a new ORSA acronym, "FLAOR", which looks more like something an amused teenager would write on Facebook (p6)
  • The expectation that 2015 will see submissions of (2014) ORSAs to NCAs (p7)
  • While there is no generic take on what enforcement action should take place in this interim period, firms are expected to (a) Discuss any negative findings from their ORSA/Governance systems with their supervisor, and (b) To produce SCRs using information of appropriate quality. Enforcement action in the absence of this WILL NOT consist of capital add-ons, apparently (p7)
  • That the submission date calendar for all of the information expected will be reviewed at the end of this year, so that EIOPA can take Omnibus II progress into account (p8)
  • That the explanatory text in each set of guidance is NOT part of "Comply or Explain" (p9)
  • That the reasons behind a negative "Comply or Explain" decision from any country will be kept secret as standard (p10, and disgraceful, frankly).
They then go on to focus on some of the larger bones of contention within the 52 guidelines provided. The following generic points stand out for me as a practitioner;
  1. There is almost no discernible movement in EIOPA's position, even after a volumous lobbying effort;
  2. That explanations for the inclusion of contentious content are generally forthcoming, though on a number of occasions, flimsy;
  3. That planning for 2014 full-year mothballing of Solvency II programmes is not an option, particularly for ICAS+ candidates - some may get away with a few months of inertia, depending on the quality of their paperwork (strategies, policies, process guides/maps, terms of reference, charters etc).
The following supporting arguments for EIOPA's final view were, in my mind at least, poorly formulated, regardless of whether the end result is still agreeable;

3.48 (Guideline 6)
- Refused to add more definition around what constitutes a "significant decision", which is poor form.

3.58 (All of Chapter III)
- That the expectations of Risk Management in insurers  "...comprise risk management standards which are considered to be matter-of-course and wide spread activities" - extraordinarily loose, considering the lack of a majority-accepted global, or indeed pan-European standard on the subject (IRM/ISO/COSO/FERMA/FSB's efforts notwithstanding)

3.65 (Guideline 19)
- That, while it is "not an easy task", Operational Risks should be quantifiable, and therefore subject to tolerance limits - I don't think it would have hurt to suggest (or even compel the use of) a method if it is that difficult.

3.68 (Guideline 25)
- That firms should maintain Investment Risk-related KRIs outside of what might be provided by normal parties (for example, ratings agencies), which would help "...increase overall risk management" - not entirely convinced that a generic "increase" is any kind of worthy ambition. 

3.74 (Guideline 31)
- That a capital management policy and capital management plan is both necessary (though for not entirely convincing reasons when tying back to the Directive)

3.78 (Chapter VI [Internal Control])
- That there is already plenty of clarification on what the Compliance function is charged with. I would agree in principle, but have heard evidence to the contrary in practice.

3.81 (Chapter VII [Internal Audit])
- That they neither wish to mandate or discourage rotation of Internal Audit staff or whistleblowing direct to NCAs - in which case, why mention it!

- A bizarre comment in response to a suggestion that a public statement should be released by the AMSB annually regarding the discharge of responsibilities around the system of governance that the Directive "...only deals with internal governance, not corporate governance" - think I know what they are fishing at, but terribly worded.

- Justify their decision not to define risk appetite and risk tolerance in the context of these guidelines

They have however provided some more defendable clarifications, for example;

3.51 (Guideline 11)
- Clarified that the gold-plated "Fit and Proper" requirements apply to AMSB/Control Function staff only, as well as specify what is expected from Outsourcers.

3.57 (Chapter III [Risk Management])
- That in the context of separating the duties of the Risk and Actuarial functions, the Directive is abundantly clear and that undertakings "...cannot deviate from [the Directive's] distribution of tasks"

3.62 (All "Policy"-related guidelines)
- That efforts should be targeted towards drafting the required documents during the preparatory phase. I would imagine this would be "re-working" in the UK, where such activity is most probably long done.

3.67 (Guideline 19)
- That there is no compulsion for firms to operate an electronic database to store operational risk events

3.85 (Chapter VIII [Actuarial])
- That, regardless of the absence of a valuation framework for TPs, the processes behind their co-ordination and calculation justify early activity, rather than "wait and see" on Pillar 1.

- Regarding Op Risk, activity will have to include "...identifying all operational risks that have crystallised and their near misses" (my emphasis)

Relatively easy in summary then - if it was a gap/issue in your system of governance in March, it probably still is, so go and fix it!

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Financial Reporting Council - documenting 'principal risks' in Strategic Reports

I had recently spotted that the UK's Financial Reporting Council had issued draft guidance on the compilation of the Strategic Report for listed entities. This segment of a company's Annual Report and Accounts (currently called the 'Business Review') has been a rather ubiquitous and clunky affair regardless of industry, delivering little information to prospective and existing shareholders about how the company's risk profile, appetite, preferences etc. are catered for when executing its strategy.

Strategic reporting for UK companies 
- elimination of flannel?
Insurers have been prominent in efforts to improve this, though driven more by the need to pacify the FSA/PRA than by Parliament - see "risk appetite" break out from its box in  Aviva's AR&A between 2007 and 2012 for example - but the fact that a substantial piece of statutory reporting generally in the hands of executive management can potentially stray from the lexicon and structure of their increasingly professionalised Control Functions (and for banks and insurers, potentially their Internal Models), is clearly one that warrants some focus.

The Strategic Report will be compulsory content for Annual Reports and Accounts from October (Companies Act 2006 414C). The FRC's (non-mandatory) guidance regarding the incorporation of risk-related material into this section is to address the requirement on p2 that the Strategic Report;
...should include a description of the principal risks and uncertainties facing the company
The FRC's specific definition of Principal Risk is found on p35 of the draft guidance as;
A risk or combination of risks that can seriously affect the performance, future prospects or reputation of the entity. These should include those risks that affect the viability of an entity.
The draft guidance (p23) aims to tack on a few definitional aspects of how "risks and uncertainties" are reported in the context of strategy, most pointedly;
  • [The risks] should be limited to those considered by the entity’s management to be the most important to the future development, performance or position of the entity. They will generally be matters that the directors regularly monitor and discuss because of their likelihood, the magnitude of their potential effect on the entity, or a combination of the two
  • Principal risks or uncertainties with potential effects of such a magnitude that they may threaten the entity’s viability (ie its solvency and/or liquidity) should be explained fully and given due prominence
  • Directors should consider the full range of business risks including commercial, operational and financial risks
  • The descriptions...should be 
    sufficiently specific that a shareholder can understand why they are important to the 
    entity. This might include a description of the likelihood of the risk, an indication of when 
    the risk might be most relevant to the entity and its possible effects. Significant changes...
    such as a change in likelihood or possible effect, or the inclusion of new 
    risks, should be highlighted and explained. An explanation of how the principal risks and 
    uncertainties are managed or mitigated should also be included.

  • Where the risk or uncertainty is more generic, the description should make 
    clear how it might affect the entity specifically.
Prudential provide a good example here (from p72) of how this is currently done by an insurer - the fact that it is buried in 75 pages of 'Business Review' underlines why the streamlining of this work has become of statutory interest!

Interestingly, the FRC note that definition for "principal risks" has been developed/derived from previous FRC work, supplemented by work from the Sharman Inquiry - all of that therefore feels well divorced from anything produced by the IRM/Actuarial Profession/EIOPA around risk categorisation, and leads to the same bridging work I have been involved in previously; namely, reconciling how one manages and monitors risk within the business against what one reports externally. Might we have expected to see some kind of compulsory categorisation of "principal risks" in here that favours the financial services industry who arguably carry the largest set? 

Much of the other compulsory material in the Strategic Report (with exemptions) touches on other topical or sensitive matters such as;

  • Inclusion of key performance indicators in the report ("...where possible, they should be accepted and widely used")
  • Information on environmental matters, staff and social/community/human rights issues
  • Information on gender splits at Board, Senior Management and All-company level
I may throw some feedback in to the FRC on this paper- comments welcome until late November. Externally, the main change for insurers will be trimming down some of the fluff and flannel already produced in the space. Internally, aligning the concept of "principal risks" with existing ERM programme/Internal Model lexicon may be a bigger job for anyone operating on a shoestring.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Towers Watson - 'Risk Appetite revisited' (did we ever leave it?)

I have been doing a little work on Risk Appetite in the background recently, so was intrigued to have a read through this recent release by Towers Watson on the subject, seemingly targeted at North American and UK markets, but relevant to any practitioner in this space. Somehow I wasn't put off by p6 when, in response to the hypothetical question 'What is Risk Appetite', they responded with, "...we do not want to focus too much on the issue..."!
Appetite - second helpings?

I had blogged earlier this year on Risk Appetite, covering the expectations of EIOPA on the matter (which are few), as well as the more pokey/proddy stakeholders like the PRA/Central Bank of Ireland/S&P (which are several!), so the backdrop of risk appetite's practical significance to insurers doesn't need to be repeated here, more how consultants and practitioners are improving their game on the ground. Worth noting here that a few of the other consultancies have proffered their two cents on the matter over the last year or so (here, here, and here).

While interest in 'risk appetite' is currently piqued at governmental level thanks to the forensic examination of the banking industry's failings (multiple references in Parliamentary Commission evidence here and here for example), the driver of activity in the UK and Ireland is predominantly from the regulatory compliance perspective rather than expectations of bespoke, strategy-driving activity. In addition, we now see the emergence of Internal Audit as a party with a vested interest in the matter, which has the potential to draw the subject even more to a tidy, but ultimately superfluous documentation exercise.

With that in mind, Towers note that this paper is focused on "...enhancing risk appetite by improving its articulation, via clearer linkages to mission and strategy", and a rather derisive tone is therefore applied throughout regarding the familiar quantification methods preferred by regulators to monitor likelihood of insolvency in the next 12 months, giving equal billing to non-monetary capital and qualitative measurements. The paper also crosses some familiar ground, such as a lack of consistent terminology, which it tries to address (below).

Oddly, the document does not reference the FSB's thematic review of risk governance earlier this year, which will surely drive efforts in this space in the medium term, if only due to the paucity of certainty on the subject. That the FSB believe that regulators have "more work to do" is striking, and while they also bemoan the lack of common terminology, they don't let that prevent them from offering definitions of their own, as well as listing their "Key features" of a Risk Appetite Framework.

More obvious statements

  • "..clearer linkages are needed to mission and strategy for risk appetite to be effective"
  • "risk appetites must include boundary constraints"
  • "We suggested that greater clarity around the definition of risk is needed..."

  • Risk - "In this context, risk should be defined in terms of those events and circumstances that may result in an insurer failing to deliver on its mission."
  • Risk appetite - "...the manner in which a company expresses an identified set of risk-trading opportunities, and sets boundaries on its risk-trading among those opportunities, aligned with successfully delivering on its mission."
  • Risk strategy - "The company’s risk strategy articulates how risk fits with the mission".
  • Risk tolerance - "Risk tolerances are a quantitative extension of the risk strategy...risk tolerances must be measurable...[and] place quantitative boundaries on the company’s strategy"
  • Risk limits - "Risk limits are more granular tolerance levels expressed for specific risk sources, business units, and/or products that are used to implement the risk tolerances."
  • Risk appetite statement - "...risk appetite statements should be taken as the combination of risk strategy tolerances and preferences, bringing together qualitative and quantitative enterprise perspectives on risk as both opportunity and threat."
  • Mission - "mission is the insurer’s unique multi-period and multi-stakeholder value creation proposition."
Technical suggestions

  • They promote four facets of risk assessment: size, likelihood, impact and significance.
  • For those working on statement content, they recommend "...since published mission statements can be fairly terse, the risk appetite may need to look beyond the explicit elements of the mission and consider elements that are implicit." Instinctively that feels unfair, but I guess the world of implicity is one for the second line to inhabit, while the first line concentrate on value-adding.
  • Concept of adaptive buffers sits nicely with me - the most visceral ones being economic capital and reinsurance/hedging/liquidity facilities, but TW attempt to expand that over qualitative areas of the risk appetite statement
  • Risk preference ranking of 0-4 depicted at the back is a handy schematic

Sore points

  • "Some take the view that risk appetite can be expressed as a single metric, or perhaps a small set of metrics, that capture the organisation’s willingness and ability to bear risk." - that 'some' would include the FSB, COSO, the Central Bank of Ireland and the IRM, so I wouldn't be too sniffy at efforts to-date
  • "Much of the work to-date on risk appetite statements has been driven by solvency supervision requirements, many statements tend to focus primarily on potential losses of capital"- a natural and by no means unwelcome by-product of having regulators in the box-seat, as opposed to stakeholders combining their efforts to establish compulsory risk appetite statement content?
  • "While most insurers have, by now, developed risk appetite policy statements and discussed them with their boards, many have expressed dissatisfaction with the exercise" - that feels a rather loose statement, and if true says more about the personnel charged with performing the work.

I'll take a look at the diversity of definition in the risk appetite space across different bodies in a separate post - for now, just enjoy this tidy piece of work for what it is.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Deloitte on 'regulatory uncertainty in Europe' - embedding a new modus operandi (?)

In a wonderful example of predicting the present, Deloitte have released a white paper (sign-up required) giving their take on regulatory uncertainty in the European insurance industry, and how the volume of new regulations (and their inability to land on time) is driving emerging best practices in the consideration of regulatory risk at Board level.

New Modus Operandi - alloy wheels optional?
Of course, it is always best to wait for such matters to emerge before proselytising, and the current cup of omni-postponed over-elaborate regulations is running over (Sol II, IFRS 4 Phase II, FATCA, etc), naturally causing difficulties for all those responsible for preparing for them, as well as the execs who take the topics into the boardroom every quarter, only to say "it's been delayed again, can I have more money"...

From my perspective, it was particularly interesting to see that proactivity is recommended regardless of nature/scale/complexity, bearing in mind the first time I spoke to a Board of Directors at a tiny insurer regarding Solvency II preparations was in 2009 - only consultants could comfortably suggest that an new executive-level role is established, and Board agenda time is regularly set aside, only to explain the latest delays in multi-jurisdictional regulations (I certainly know what my old CEO would have said to that!)

That aside, they suggest that two major problems need to be overcome; that few insurers have a single view of regulatory risk; and that regulatory insight is poorly represented in the strategic workings of insurers, both of which are easy to agree with purely on circumstantial evidence.

Whilst this frequently reads like a paper written to justify bringing consultants in to compensate for failing in risk and compliance professionals' armoury, Deloitte make the following noteworthy assertions/recommendations in it;


  • That most insurers prefer to 'wait and see' rather than be 'first mover' when it comes to regulatory preparations - after the Solvency II experience, does that surprise anyone?
  • That "...Deloitte's view is that regulation can be regarded as a 'structural' driver of the insurance industry"
  • That "...Deloitte's considers a regulatory dividend can and should be sought", which is not necessarily my experience of consultancies when on site, who (presumably for legal reasons) prefer to promote a gold-plated complaince approach to regulation-driven projects.
  • Cost of compliance is now materially diluting return on equity in EU insurers
  • That Conduct Risk is likely to become high profile across Europe over a longer period of time than its current flavour of the month feel, thanks to IMD2/PRIPS/MIFID
  • National regulators are increasingly impeding on day-to-day running - examples given (all of which have a whiff of IMAP requirements about them), include documentation improvements and influencing risk appetite/capital allocation work.
Costs and volume

  • Regulation prep cost the European insurance industry €4.2-€4.7bn in 2012 - they go on to expand that to €8.1-€9.2bn over the last 3 years.
  • UK industry will be subject to 29 new pieces of legislation of the next 5 years (surprisingly lower than the French at 35, and the Germans at 32!)
  • That the "cost of doing nothing" while waiting for regulatory clarity may be significant - as significant as consultancy spend preparing for something which never arrives perhaps?
  • That compliance functions are naturally struggling to cope with the current volume of initiatives
Solvency II-specific
  • They extrapolate an estimated €550m cost of Solvency II compliance preparations in 2012 into a €1.5bn-€1.8bn 'top 40 insurers' number, and a €2.4-€2.9bn figure for the whole industry - feels a bit light, bearing in mind 'UK plc' must have done the best part of £1bn on Solvency II alone in 2012.
  • They quote one strategy director as saying that "Solvency II is killing European M&A..." - p10
Their recommendations (from p19) are too woolly in aggregate to help a normal practitioner - they are probably targeted more towards programme directors and managers - but the recommendation  to establish a Regulatory Assessment and Response Executive with a suitable remit is a smart idea, even if from a practical perspective this might need to either be balled in with the responsibilities of an existing executive, or only be a mid/senior management role, in smaller companies. 

These recommendations also include the marvellous suggestion to "embed a new modus operandi" - an expression normally reserved for profilers of serial killers, and perhaps the hardest sell since Isle of Man beach holidays.

PS I apparently missed the memo where the oft-ridiculed speech of Donald Rumsfeld used to support war against Iraq became de rigeur in risk management/insurance white papers. If there is one "known known" in this world, it is that I will never use that expression on the job!

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Omnibus II Plenary delayed until March 2014 - 2016 out of the question?

Confirmation was provided today, if needed, that the Omnibus II Plenary vote was being pushed back into 2014 - that it needs until March 2014 perhaps underlines the swell of discord at the trilogue table, all of whom have seemingly been digesting EIOPA's long term guarantees report for, well, a long term...

Solvency II Spuds - hoofed
While July and August naturally died a death while the Eurocracy topped up their tans, any thoughts that compromise and camaraderie were on the various parties minds can now be unequivocally hoofed in the spuds, as can any notion of January 2014 being a meaningful date for anyone aside from EIOPA, its national satellites, and the 'soft launch' we have seemingly acquired.

A few of the Big 4's rather underemployed Solvency II experts have commented today on this latest delay and the rammifications, which contrasts against the optimism shown yesterday on  by Insurance Europe in particular. I guess what is particularly disappointing is that the ITER listings haven't changed in respect of Omnibus II before and after the summer break (here and here), so why wasn't something said earlier?

I had already blogged on the shifting sands before the summer break, and the stance of BaFin in particular, and it would appear a market analyst sees the German approach (including an uncited reference of a desire for 20 year transitionals) as being a genuine show stopper, rather than a mere irritant.

That may be a touch dramatic, but by shifting the Plenary vote to March, when retiring/deselected MEPs will be on autopilot, and careerists will be electioneering (indeed, Primary activity starts before the end of 2013), is the trilogue's hope that this might squeeze through via fatigue-inspired lack of inquisition? Does the alternative of a fresh crop of politicians picking holes in the work of technical experts from summer 2014 bear thinking about?

Finally, with Sr. Bernadino having already pronounced that 2016 would not be viable without Omnibus II agreement having been reached by the end of this year, can we provisionally move on to 2017 as the new 'go live' date?