Derivatives and Uncleared Margins
Posted by Dan Ryan, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, on Saturday, November 21, 2015
Dan Ryan is Leader of the Financial Services Advisory Practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. This post is based on a PwC publication by Mr. Ryan, Mike Alix, Adam Gilbert, Armen Meyer, and Christopher Scarpati.
Over the past two weeks, the US banking regulators released their much anticipated final margin requirements for the uncleared portion of the derivatives market.  This portion amounts to over $250 trillion of the global $630 trillion outstanding and has up to now been operating in “business as usual” mode,  while other derivatives have been pushed into clearing. The final rule’s release completes a long process since it was proposed in 2011 and re-proposed in 2014. 
The good news for the industry is that the final rule is generally aligned with international standards  and similar requirements proposed in major foreign jurisdictions. Most notably, the final rule increases the threshold of swap activity that would bring a financial end user (e.g., hedge fund) within the rule’s scope from $3 billion to $8 billion. This change, which aligns the rule with European and Japanese proposals, eases the compliance burden of smaller, less-risky market participants.