Oxera was commissioned by the Financial Services Authority to examine the practice of soft commissions and bundled brokerage services, to establish whether they pose regulatory risks and/or competition problems.
In-depth interviews were conducted with pension fund trustees, fund managers, brokers, research companies, industry experts and regulators, to obtain insight into competitive conditions in the markets concerned, and into the various horizontal and vertical relationships and contractual arrangements between market participants. This was followed by an extensive questionnaire for pension funds, fund managers and brokers. The principal objectives were:
to obtain quantitative evidence to underpin the economic analyses of competition, bundling and soft commissions;
to estimate the order of magnitude of bundling and soft commissions;
to test various hypotheses and statements that have been made about these practices.
In addition, Oxera reviewed the literature on soft commission arrangements, and examined and compared regulations on soft commissions and bundled brokerage services in several major countries.
The Financial Services Authority used the research findings in formulating policy proposals, and subsequently commissioned Oxera to perform a cost–benefit analysis on the proposed set of new rules (see Related items).