UK regulator advocates for asset managers to tokenize funds

Investment managers in the United Kingdom are receiving regulatory support to leverage blockchain technology to tokenize funds, breaking away from conventional record-keeping systems.

A recent report published by the Investment Association argued that fund tokenization — which refers to issuing tokenized units or shares on distributed ledger technology (DLT) — will lead to a more efficient and transparent financial industry. 

In particular, the use of a real-time record-keeping system shared across all parties servicing the fund will reduce fund administration costs and simplify the reconciliation process, allowing quicker settlement times. 

Sarah Pritchard, executive director of markets and international at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), emphasized that while the regulator is open to exploring innovative avenues for asset managers, it must also delineate the potential risks:

“This is an exciting milestone and paves the way for exploring more transformative use cases in the future. We want to support firms to implement technological solutions which enhance and strengthen the UK’s asset management industry, while addressing risks and potential harms.”

Meanwhile, the report proposed certain principles for implementing tokenized funds. 

These principles include ensuring relevance to both domestic and international investors and avoiding a narrow focus solely on the investment asset manager industry.

“Offer opportunities to the widest possible range of firms across the sector, rather than focusing on any specific type of firm, product type, asset class, or customer group,” the report noted. 

Furthermore, it articulated the need for an accompanying roadmap for delivery and a focus on competitiveness and efficiency within the sector.

Timeline of implementing fund tokenization. Source: The Investment Association

The fund would have to be established in the U.K. and be FCA authorized, along with adhering to traditional financial industry standards. It further stated that the legal and regulatory rules would remain the same. 

In a separate statement, the U.K. government reiterated its support for the blueprint model, declaring its commitment to improving innovative approaches within the nation:

“The government warmly welcomes this publication. It will advance the wider conversation on the role of technology in asset management, and signals that the UK is welcoming of innovation and open for the exciting new business of the future.”

Related: Token adoption grows as real-world assets move on-chain

This follows recent news that investment firms in the U.K. have been bolstering their staff dedicated to digital assets.

On Sept. 10, Cointelegraph reported that one-quarter of asset managers and hedge funds in the U.S., U.K. and Europe have recruited senior executives to oversee digital asset strategies.

According to a survey, 24% of asset management firms adopted a digital assets strategy, with an extra 13% planning to do so in the next two years.

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