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In a bid to improve fund managers’ access to investment research, the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is bringing back the outlawed practice of allowing brokerage firms to bundle research and trade execution services.

The FCA is proposing to unwind a prohibition that was adopted in 2018 under European trading rules, which required asset managers to pay directly for research from brokerage firms, in an effort to stamp out the conflicts that arise when brokerage services are bundled together.

The regulator is proposing to once again allow firms to bundle third-party research together with trade execution, as a way to expand the arrangements that asset managers can use to pay for research.

“This greater choice should suit firms of varying business models and sizes, helping to promote competition,” the FCA said in a release. It noted that “the current options available to U.K. asset managers can be operationally complex and may, in some instances, favour larger asset managers.”

Additionally, the FCA said the proposals would make it easier for U.K.-based fund managers to buy research in other markets that allow bundling arrangements.

“High-quality, easily accessible investment research is a vital part of a healthy, dynamic capital market,” said Sarah Pritchard, executive director, markets and international, with the FCA, in a release. “It supports the decisions investors make. We are proposing to provide more options on how to pay for such research, helping boost competition and making it easier to buy research across borders.”

The proposals are out for comment until June 5.

The FCA said it aims to produce final rules in the first half of 2024, but that the timetable for adopting reforms will depend on the outcome of the consultation.

The policy reversal comes in the wake of a 2023 review that examined the market for investment research, which recommended a series of reforms designed to solidify the U.K.’s competitive position in the capital markets, including a proposal to allow research bundling once again.

That review also proposed establishing a centralized clearinghouse for investment research on smaller companies that don’t otherwise attract much coverage, and adopting reforms to improve access to research for retail investors.

The regulator said it will continue to work with government policymakers on the other recommendations of the investment research review.