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Secondary markets
ICMA as a self regulatory organisation and trade association initiates standard practices to help develop efficient and well-functioning secondary markets. The secondary market for trading in fixed income products remains largely over the counter (OTC).

ICMA’s rules and recommendations for the secondary market (available to members and subscribers) apply to transactions in international securities – an international security is defined as a security intended to be traded on an international, cross-border basis (i.e. between parties in different countries) and capable of settlement through an international central securities depository or equivalent. ICMA supports members with advice and guidance on the application of the rules and recommendations through its Legal & Regulatory Helpdesk.

Since the financial crisis began much regulatory attention has been focused on the issue of transparency in the OTC markets with intense debate on whether corporate bond markets would benefit from great post-trade transparency. ICMA has been actively involved in this area producing research papers and initiatives to help retail investors.

The key member committee in this area is The SMPC seeks to be the representative body of the European corporate bond secondary market through addressing practical issues directly relevant to market practitioners; standardising market best practice; disseminating relevant market information; and promoting the best interests of an efficient and liquid market.

Scope and functions

The SMPC is a trading committee focused on the European corporate bond secondary market. Its four key functions are:
  1. Agreeing best practice for the corporate bond secondary market.
  2. Maintaining and developing the ICMA Rules and Recommendations for the secondary market (‘The ICMA Rule Book’) to ensure that they remain relevant and consistent with regulatory requirements.
  3. Leading initiatives to improve corporate bond secondary market liquidity and efficiency.
  4. Providing a forum for discussing the likely impact of relevant regulation on secondary market practices, and for consolidating input and feedback in the regulatory consultation process.
SMPC Membership

The SMPC is currently an open forum for ICMA member firms engaged in corporate bond secondary markets. At a future date, the Committee will be formalized to compose of core members and auxiliary members. The core members will be senior European corporate bond traders from member firms, including both sell-side (broker-dealers) and buy-side (execution desks). Core membership will be limited to one representative from each member firm. Auxiliary members will be market experts from member firms who participate in relevant sub-committee Working Groups. These could include operational experts and representatives of infrastructure and other services providers. There will be no restriction on the number of auxiliary members from an individual member firm.

The SMPC’s main work-stream priorities for 2015 are:
  1. A review of the ICMA secondary market rules and recommendations, in particular in relation to buy-ins
  2. The development of an auction mechanism to clear up aged fails and avoid buy-ins, which will serve as the prototype for a buy-in auction mechanism
  3. A capabilities mapping initiative of electronic trading platforms (ETPs) for European fixed income instruments, which will create the foundations for working with members and platform providers to establish market best practice


Andy Hill
Director, Market Practice and Regulatory Policy; Secretary to the Secondary Market Practices Committee
Direct line: +44 20 7213 0335

Liz Callaghan
Director, Market Practice and Regulatory Policy; Secondary Markets
Direct line: +44 20 7213 0313

Alexander Westphal
Associate, Market Practice and Regulatory Policy; Secondary and Short-Term Markets
Direct line: +44 20 7213 0333

Fixed Income Certficate (FIC)