ASIC is calling on market operators and participants to continue to implement its expectations to improve the resilience of the Australian equity market during outages, including by facilitating trading on alternative markets. 

ASIC released Report 708 ASIC’s expectations for industry in responding to a market outage (REP 708) in response to the ASX equity market outage in November 2020. Market operators and participants are required to implement the expectations to maintain compliance with their obligations under the law and to ensure they can continue to service their clients during a market outage.

ASIC Commissioner Danielle Press said, ‘While progress has been reasonable given the industry is balancing other significant market system changes and volatile trading conditions, there is considerably more to do.’

‘There have been some delays for market participants due to uncertainty about how the market operators may respond, and the services they will provide during an outage. ASX’s consultation paper (the first of three) on its proposed improvements should help to address some of this uncertainty,’ said Ms Press.

ASIC’s expectations on market outages coincide with other important changes in the industry, including CHESS replacement, Cboe’s technology upgrade and the implementation of new market integrity rules. While these are important competing priorities, they have become interrelated and market operators and participants should plan to implement these initiatives in a reasonable timeframe.

‘By early to mid-2023, we anticipate that all market participants will have arrangements for at least new orders to trade on an alternative market during an outage, and that market operators will support this outcome,’ said Ms Press. 

ASIC is pleased that large institutional investors, who are key users of Australia’s financial markets, have actively engaged on market outage protocols. They expect market gatekeepers (market operators and participants) to continue to facilitate trading during market outages.

Market operators’ progress

Market operators have assessed their current adherence with ASIC’s expectations and have developed work plans to address any gaps. 

ASX intends to consult in three stages on the issues raised in REP 708, including incident communication, session states, certainty about order and trade positions, intraday checkpoints and cut-off times, and business continuity planning and IT disaster recovery. ASIC encourages stakeholders to respond to the ASX consultations, and expects ASX to consider the feedback it receives, and implement changes within a reasonable timeframe. 

Cboe plans to implement new technology systems in February 2023, which is expected to enhance its operational resiliency. ASIC encourages industry stakeholders to provide Cboe with input on market resiliency, including feedback on business continuity planning and scenarios, incident management and testing processes that affect stakeholders.

Market participants’ progress

Many market participants will complete implementation of the expectations during 2022. However, progress for some others has been slower than ideal with expected completion dates in 2023.

Of a sample of market participants representing around 90% of equity market trading, around 74% either met all of ASIC’s expectations or are progressing the necessary changes. The remaining 26% are scoping the required work and many are reliant on the capabilities provided by third-party vendors. 

Some market participants have made good progress in meeting our expectations. For example, by removing dependencies on ASX’s systems and data, providing access to the alternative market and incorporating market outage scenarios into their business continuity plans.

Other market participants plan to coordinate their changes with those required for the new Cboe trading system and some plan to connect to Cboe for the first time. These market participants need to get on with preparing for this transition and be ready to swiftly implement our expectations along with the Cboe changes in early 2023. 

Some changes will be informed by where ASX’s consultations land; for example, on playbooks and business continuity plans, but this should not delay broader planning and change programs. 

ASIC will continue to monitor progress by market operators and participants against the expectations.