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Europe’s retail FX CFD ban ‘ineffective’ before being scrapped

Esma no longer feels it needs to impose EU-wide leverage limits on the FX contracts for difference (CFDs) market, but there is little evidence to suggest its efforts to protect retail traders have done anything other than push business offshore.


Poland's financial supervision authority Komisja Nadzoru Finansowego (KNF)

The European Securities and Markets Authority (Esma) recently confirmed it would not renew the temporary restriction on the marketing, distribution or sale of CFDs to retail clients in the EU.

A spokesperson for the securities markets regulator said this decision was taken on the basis that most national competent authorities (NCAs) had taken permanent, national product intervention measures that were at least as stringent as Esma’s.

The only notable outlier is Poland, where the financial supervision authority Komisja Nadzoru Finansowego (KNF) decided to introduce an additional level between retail and professional status – ‘experienced’ – where clients can trade with a maximum leverage of 1:100.

The KNF justified the lower margin requirement by referencing the results of surveys conducted by the authority and a Polish association of investment firms, which it said indicated that many Polish clients had opened an account with a broker registered outside of the EU to access higher leverage.

Offshore trading

It is impossible to know the exact extent to which this has happened, since offshore brokers don’t report their client numbers or volumes.

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