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Working for market access in Asia

An interview with FIA’s Tze Min Yeo

3 December 2019

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Tze Min Yeo became FIA’s vice president of legal and policy for Asia Pacific in March 2019, charged with continuing FIA’s longstanding mission of providing regional policy expertise and serving as a local resource to assist our partners in Asia.

FIA's Tze Min Yeo

A graduate from the London School of Economics, Tze Min is qualified in Singapore and the U.K. She has served in private practice with Allen & Gledhill, one of Singapore’s biggest law firms, as well as with Clifford Chance in London. She was also a part of SGX’s legal and regulatory team that worked on the establishment of its clearinghouse for IRS and NDF products. She also has in-house legal experience, having worked at both RBS and Société Générale before joining FIA. This time in private practice equips her with a breadth of experience, and Tze Min has a unique perspective of Asian derivatives markets and their relationship to the rest of the world at a time of great change.

MarketVoice caught up with her recently to discuss market access issues, policy priorities and her expectations for the coming year.

MV: What are the current policy priorities or issues that you are working on on behalf of FIA’s members in Asia?

TMY: Our priorities right now are to encourage global best practices amongst participants in the APAC region, and to promote the exchange-traded derivatives industry across the nascent markets in our region. We also continue to promote and advocate CCP risk solutions. Much like our efforts to secure the commitment of Japan to cap their liability in July 2020, we will continue our advocacy efforts with other CCPs who do not follow the best practice principles set forth by our members.

MV: China has taken steps recently to open doors for derivatives markets. How important are these moves from a global perspective, and what do you think the future holds?

TMY: Looking forward, we can expect further participation in global markets both onshore and offshore in China. Derivatives markets will then see more globalized pricing from the inclusion of a more diverse set of producers and consumers of the underlying products. There are naturally opportunities created locally by these moves by China, but the broader benefit for derivatives markets is that they are made more transparent and competitive as a result.

MV: Individual investors are major players in Asian financial markets. How does this influence products and policies, and how do they differ from other regions?

TMY: Individual investors do make up the lion’s share of daily traded volumes on the APAC regional exchanges. A number of the jurisdictions where we are involved are highly concerned with protecting these participants. In other regions, there is a lower percentage of retail investors and the focus of the regulators there appear to be more around market integrity than protecting individual investors. We have taken the initiative to educate and explain to the regulators here that there is a difference between protecting individual investors and restricting institutional participation. Our goal, as always, is to encourage and promote a level playing field for all members of the exchange traded derivative community.

MV: What items do you expect to be on the agenda for derivatives markets in Asia in 2020?

TMY: Internationalization and encouraging the implementation of global standards in China is a key issue. As I mentioned before, China’s recent steps to become an equal partner in global derivative markets is important for transparency and competition. But market fragmentation remains an area of focus and concern. It’s important for Asian markets to be transparent and accessible, but it’s equally important that other nations also remain open and avoid the risks of fragmentation. This is a top priority for FIA across all geographies. Beyond this larger priority, fintech will be a growing focus
in 2020 and beyond. As new applications are brought online and adoption increases, FIA will be further advancing our participation in this community. The same is true for ESG, or Environmental, Social and Governance issues. FIA has already had preliminary discussions
around ESG issues as sustainability is becoming a focus to participants across various business sectors.

MV: What are your thoughts so far on the last year or so working with FIA and its member organizations?

TMY: It’s a completely different experience. I’ve always been in big organizations, whereas the team here is small—but mighty! The work environment is very different because we all work very closely together and it’s very much “all hands on deck” when the need arises. The work scope is also different since many organisations such as banks or law firms are usually organised based on geography, practice area or product type. At FIA, we cover a very broad range of issues from legal to risk to compliance for the whole of APAC across our entire membership. That includes FCMs, proprietary traders, commodity firms and exchanges. As a result, the range of people and issues we get exposed to here is second to none. It’s exciting, keeps things very interesting, and ensures constant learning opportunities. It also feels great when members approach us on a particular issue or look for ways to be more involved with FIA. It’s been very heartening to get to know our members and work directly with them to bring about positive change.

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