A&O launches JV with Deloitte to help banks tackle regulation

Allen & Overy (A&O) has partnered with Deloitte to create a new tech-driven system to help banks deal with upcoming regulatory requirements.

MarginMatrix is the first major collaboration between an international law firm and one of the Big Four accountants. A&O will run the programme and provide legal input, while Deloitte will be responsible for project management across multiple regions.

The system is specifically designed to deal with new rules that will come into force for the over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives market from 1 September this year.

All counterparties to derivatives contracts, which are not cleared through an authorised clearing system, will have to provide additional margin for their net exposures under the European Market Infrastructure Regulation framework.

MarginMatrix is designed to codify the laws in various jurisdictions and automate the production of tailored documents. Time-saving benefits include drafting one of these documents in three minutes instead of three lawyer hours and handling 10,000 contracts in a 12-week period rather than 15 years in lawyer hours. The latter calculation is based on one person working 40 hours a week for 48 working weeks per year.

A&O London derivatives partner David Wakeling, who came up with the concept, said: “It seems that the regulators are now more disjointed, with the EU moving at a different speed to other jurisdictions such as the US. We see MarginMatrix as a game changer for people operating in this space. It will relieve some of the pressure and also reduce the possibility of a non-compliant outcome.”

Europe and the US are the largest jurisdictions for trading in the OTC derivatives market, estimated at nearly $500trn (£353trn). The market is dominated by major banks that frequently trade with each other to hedge risks.

Around 20 A&O partners are involved with implementing the programme. A&O City derivatives partners Emma Dwyer, Guy Antrobus and Paul Cluley worked alongside Wakeling through the process.

Other partners on the project include Hong Kong derivatives partner Ross Stewart and regulatory partner Yvonne Siew, Singapore capital markets partner Matthew Hebburn, New York derivatives partners Deborah North and David Lucking, and Washington DC-based partner Bill Satchell.

Deloitte’s team comprises its New York, Hong Kong and London offices and is led by City partners Hugo Morris and Katelyn Brown.

The move comes as A&O looks to build out its flexible lawyer business Peerpoint – which drafts in banks of the firm’s alumni to assist on projects in periods of high demand – globally, most recently launching in Australia in March. In February 2015, it also opened a branch in Hong Kong.

It has been operating in the UK since its creation in late 2013.