S e c t i o n 2 : P r o v i s i o n s t o e n s u r e i n v e s t o r p r o t e c t i o n
Article 24 : General principles and information to clients
1. Member States shall require that, when providing investment services or, where appropriate, ancillary services to clients, an investment firm act honestly, fairly and professionally in accordance with the best interests of its clients and comply, in particular, with the principles set out in this Article and in Article 25.
2. Investment firms which manufacture financial instruments for sale to clients shall ensure that those financial instruments are designed to meet the needs of an identified target market of end clients within the relevant category of clients, the strategy for distribution of the financial instruments is compatible with the identified target market, and the investment firm takes reasonable steps to ensure that the financial instrument is distributed to the identified target market.
An investment firm shall understand the financial instruments they offer or recommend, assess the compatibility of the financial instruments with the needs of the clients to whom it provides investment services, also taking account of the identified target market of end clients as referred to in Article 16(3), and ensure that financial instruments are offered or recommended only when this is in the interest of the client.
3. All information, including marketing communications, addressed by the investment firm to clients or potential clients shall be fair, clear and not misleading. Marketing communications shall be clearly identifiable as such.
4. Appropriate information shall be provided in good time to clients or potential clients with regard to the investment firm and its services, the financial instruments and proposed investment strategies, execution venues and all costs and related charges. That information shall include the following:
(a) when investment advice is provided, the investment firm must, in good time before it provides investment advice, inform the client:
(i) whether or not the advice is provided on an independent basis;
(ii) whether the advice is based on a broad or on a more restricted analysis of different types of financial instruments and, in particular, whether the range is limited to financial instruments issued or provided by entities having close links with the investment firm or any other legal or economic relationships, such as contractual relationships, so close as to pose a risk of impairing the independent basis of the advice provided;
(iii) whether the investment firm will provide the client with a periodic assessment of the suitability of the financial instruments recommended to that client;
(b) the information on financial instruments and proposed investment strategies must include appropriate guidance on and warnings of the risks associated with investments in those instruments or in respect of particular investment strategies and whether the financial instrument is intended for retail or professional clients, taking account of the identified target market in accordance with paragraph 2;
(c) the information on all costs and associated charges must include information relating to both investment and ancillary services, including the cost of advice, where relevant, the cost of the financial instrument recommended or marketed to the client and how the client may pay for it, also encompassing any third-party payments.
The information about all costs and charges, including costs and charges in connection with the investment service and the financial instrument, which are not caused by the occurrence of underlying market risk, shall be aggregated to allow the client to understand the overall cost as well as the cumulative effect on return of the investment, and where the client so requests, an itemised breakdown shall be provided. Where applicable, such information shall be provided to the client on a regular basis, at least annually, during the life of the investment.
5. The information referred to in paragraphs 4 and 9 shall be provided in a comprehensible form in such a manner that clients or potential clients are reasonably able to understand the nature and risks of the investment service and of the specific type of financial instrument that is being offered and, consequently, to take investment decisions on an informed basis. Member States may allow that information to be provided in a standardised format.
6. Where an investment service is offered as part of a financial product which is already subject to other provisions of Union law relating to credit institutions and consumer credits with respect to information requirements, that service shall not be additionally subject to the obligations set out in paragraphs 3, 4 and 5.
7. Where an investment firm informs the client that investment advice is provided on an independent basis, that investment firm shall:
(a) assess a sufficient range of financial instruments available on the market which must be sufficiently diverse with regard to their type and issuers or product providers to ensure that the client’s investment objectives can be suitably met and must not be limited to financial instruments issued or provided by:
(i) the investment firm itself or by entities having close links with the investment firm; or
(ii) other entities with which the investment firm has such close legal or economic relationships, such as contractual relationships, as to pose a risk of impairing the independent basis of the advice provided;
(b) not accept and retain fees, commissions or any monetary or non-monetary benefits paid or provided by any third party or a person acting on behalf of a third party in relation to the provision of the service to clients. Minor non- monetary benefits that are capable of enhancing the quality of service provided to a client and are of a scale and nature such that they could not be judged to impair compliance with the investment firm’s duty to act in the best interest of the client must be clearly disclosed and are excluded from this point.
8. When providing portfolio management the investment firm shall not accept and retain fees, commissions or any monetary or non-monetary benefits paid or provided by any third party or a person acting on behalf of a third party in relation to the provision of the service to clients. Minor non-monetary benefits that are capable of enhancing the quality of service provided to a client and are of a scale and nature such that they could not be judged to impair compliance with the investment firm’s duty to act in the best interest of the client shall be clearly disclosed and are excluded from this paragraph.EN L 173/406 Official Journal of the European Union 12.6.2014
9. Member States shall ensure that investment firms are regarded as not fulfilling their obligations under Article 23 or under paragraph 1 of this Article where they pay or are paid any fee or commission, or provide or are provided with any non-monetary benefit in connection with the provision of an investment service or an ancillary service, to or by any party except the client or a person on behalf of the client, other than where the payment or benefit:
(a) is designed to enhance the quality of the relevant service to the client; and
(b) does not impair compliance with the investment firm’s duty to act honestly, fairly and professionally in accordance with the best interest of its clients.
The existence, nature and amount of the payment or benefit referred to in the first subparagraph, or, where the amount cannot be ascertained, the method of calculating that amount, must be clearly disclosed to the client, in a manner that is comprehensive, accurate and understandable, prior to the provision of the relevant investment or ancillary service. Where applicable, the investment firm shall also inform the client on mechanisms for transferring to the client the fee, commission, monetary or non-monetary benefit received in relation to the provision of the investment or ancillary service.
The payment or benefit which enables or is necessary for the provision of investment services, such as custody costs, settlement and exchange fees, regulatory levies or legal fees, and which by its nature cannot give rise to conflicts with the investment firm’s duties to act honestly, fairly and professionally in accordance with the best interests of its clients, is not subject to the requirements set out in the first subparagraph.
10. An investment firm which provides investment services to clients shall ensure that it does not remunerate or assess the performance of its staff in a way that conflicts with its duty to act in the best interests of its clients. In particular, it shall not make any arrangement by way of remuneration, sales targets or otherwise that could provide an incentive to its staff to recommend a particular financial instrument to a retail client when the investment firm could offer a different financial instrument which would better meet that client’s needs.
11. When an investment service is offered together with another service or product as part of a package or as a condition for the same agreement or package, the investment firm shall inform the client whether it is possible to buy the different components separately and shall provide for a separate evidence of the costs and charges of each component.
Where the risks resulting from such an agreement or package offered to a retail client are likely to be different from the risks associated with the components taken separately, the investment firm shall provide an adequate description of the different components of the agreement or package and the way in which its interaction modifies the risks.
ESMA, in cooperation with EBA and EIOPA, shall develop by 3 January 2016, and update periodically, guidelines for the assessment and the supervision of cross-selling practices indicating, in particular, situations in which cross-selling practices are not compliant with obligations laid down in paragraph 1.
12. Member States may, in exceptional cases, impose additional requirements on investment firms in respect of the matters covered by this Article. Such requirements must be objectively justified and proportionate so as to address specific risks to investor protection or to market integrity which are of particular importance in the circumstances of the market structure of that Member State.
Member States shall notify the Commission of any requirement which they intend to impose in accordance with this paragraph without undue delay and at least two months before the date appointed for that requirement to come into force. The notification shall include a justification for that requirement. Any such additional requirements shall not restrict or otherwise affect the rights of investment firms under Articles 34 and 35 of this Directive.
The Commission shall within two months from the notification referred to in the second subparagraph provide its opinion on the proportionality of and justification for the additional requirements.
The Commission shall communicate to Member States and make public on its website the additional requirements imposed in accordance with this paragraph.
Member States may retain additional requirements that were notified to the Commission in accordance with Article 4 of Directive 2006/73/EC before 2 July 2014 provided that the conditions laid down in that Article are met.
13. The Commission shall be empowered to adopt delegated acts in accordance with Article 89 to ensure that investment firms comply with the principles set out in this Article when providing investment or ancillary services to their clients, including:
(a) the conditions with which the information must comply in order to be fair, clear and not misleading;
(b) the details about content and format of information to clients in relation to client categorisation, investment firms and their services, financial instruments, costs and charges;
(c) the criteria for the assessment of a range of financial instruments available on the market;
(d) the criteria to assess compliance of firms receiving inducements with the obligation to act honestly, fairly and professionally in accordance with the best interest of the client.
In formulating the requirements for information on financial instruments in relation to point b of paragraph 4 information on the structure of the product shall be included, where applicable, taking into account any relevant standardized information required under Union law.
14. The delegated acts referred to in paragraph 13 shall take into account:
(a) the nature of the service(s) offered or provided to the client or potential client, taking into account the type, object, size and frequency of the transactions;
(b) the nature and range of products being offered or considered including different types of financial instruments;
(c) the retail or professional nature of the client or potential clients or, in the case of paragraphs 4 and 5, their classification as eligible counterparties.