Trend Monitor in brief
We did not foresee the coronavirus pandemic when we published our 2020 Trend Monitor, nor did we expect to see a scenario in which our economy would contract by almost 9% in one quarter. A degree of modesty in this 2021 edition is therefore appropriate. In the 2021 Trend Monitor, we attempt to give an overview of some reasonably clear-cut trends that will affect the financial sector and our supervision in the coming years. These are foreseeable developments for which the sector, consumers and the supervisor can prepare.
Low interest rates
Low interest rates are pressuring the profitability of banks and insurers, are negatively affecting investment results at pension funds and are contributing to rising house prices. They also create a search for yield that entails risks in the form of excessively high valuation of risky assets and the emergence of ill-intentioned investment providers making unrealistic promises.
Digitalisation and sustainability
Another trend concerns continuing digitalisation, and with it the increasing mingling of traditional parties with businesses whose earnings model has been built primarily around data processing. The rising social awareness of sustainability is increasingly affecting the sector as well.
The coronavirus crisis has reminded us that resilience of households, businesses and financial institutions cannot be taken for granted. The highly abrupt collapse in demand and production as a result of the coronavirus outbreak and the second wave that has just begun is making the system more vulnerable. A hard Brexit could provide an additional shock.
The AFM has set itself the goal of strengthening financial resilience and with it sustainable financial well-being in the Netherlands. The Trend Monitor addresses a number of themes where there is work to be done, some in the short term and others in the longer term.
Each year, the Trend Monitor takes a more in-depth look at three issues affecting the sector and our supervision. The 2021 Trend Monitor accordingly focuses on responsible mortgage lending, market regulation for European trading platforms and the effects of data usage on the structure of the financial markets.
Responsible mortgage lending
Households taking out a mortgage are protected against the risk of residual debt and payment risk because a limit is set for the maximum amount that can be lent. There are several trends that increase the likelihood that, in certain situations, households may in practice enter into more onerous mortgage obligations than is responsible. The potential vulnerability of first-time buyers in the current economic environment requires special attention.
Competition between stock exchanges and trading platforms within a single European capital market
Partly as a result of European policy designed to create a strong market structure for securities dealing, stock exchanges are changing from national monopolies into internationally competing platforms. The revision of regulation (MiFID II) and future policy need to ensure that this development is not at the expense of liquidity and price formation. As a result of Brexit, several large trading platforms have chosen to relocate to the Netherlands, making policy developments in the area of trading infrastructure even more relevant for the AFM’s supervision than was previously the case.
The effects of data usage on the structure of the financial market
The use of data is becoming an increasingly important production factor in the financial sector as well. Financial market parties are gaining increasing insight into customer behaviour as a result of the enrichment and linking of customer data. The potential for this ‘data capitalisation’ is increasing due to European regulation that is making financial data more accessible for third parties. This is changing both the way in which financial institutions organise themselves and the market structure in which they operate. Bigtechs and fintechs are entering the market, creating new joint ventures and dependencies and therefore also operational risks.