Adorning First Round's desk at the moment is a rather special countdown clock. Much more important than a New Year's countdown, an Olympics countdown, or, one of First Round's personal favourites (admittedly less of a countdown, more of a count-up), the apocalyptic National Debt Clock looming over Sixth Avenue in Manhattan reminding passers-by that that the US owes $19.9 trillion dollars and counting, and that your family's personal share – yes, yours – is $168,869. Or thereabouts.
No, this exceptional countdown clock strikes off the days, hours, minutes and seconds until that most hotly anticipated of private equity moments: when the European Securities and Markets Authority's Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II comes into force.
For those of you who have yet to wrap your heads around MiFID II, it will essentially affect private equity firms that provide investment advisory services to manager affiliates as well as other firms that provide investment management and advisory services within the scope of the directive. (Got that? Good.)
The Tradeweb MiFID II clock – “counting down to one of the most important milestones in the European financial calendar”, according to its packaging – gives market participants the proverbial kick up the behind they no doubt need to get a move on and start getting their ducks in a row, or, as the packaging says, start “accelerating their preparation to be regulatory compliant”.
As First Round twiddles its thumbs at its desk, waiting for a visit from the journalism muse, it periodically catches glimpses of the clock and sees there's 286 days, 13 hours, 33 minutes and 36 seconds until the mighty MiFID II comes into force. Make that 32 seconds. No wait, 27…26…25…24…
Just in case you're struggling with the mental arithmetic, MiFID II comes into force on 3 January 2018. On your marks. Get set. Go.