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As MiFID nears, this risk officer is looking forward to February

(Bloomberg) --After dealing with the biggest regulatory upheaval for his industry in more than a decade, the next few weeks can’t pass quickly enough for Mark Burke.

Mediolanum Asset Management Ltd.’s chief risk and compliance officer reckons the firm’s ready to face MiFID II after months of preparations to avoid disruption. The Dublin-based business manages about $45 billion for clients.

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A financial trader points to data displayed on computer screens at the Wiener Boerse AG stock exchange in Vienna, Austria, on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015. Wiener Boerse is in talks to sell its majority stake in the Budapest stock exchange, Austria's WirtschaftsBlatt newspaper reported, citing unidentified people with knowledge of the talks. Photographer: Akos Stiller/Bloomberg

It’s been “a very difficult and challenging, stressful phase for compliance and risk,” Burke said in an interview. By the end of January, everyone in the industry “is going to breathe a sigh of relief hopefully that we have survived,” he said.

Compliance officers -- normally operating in the background as star money managers hog the limelight -- have been at the forefront as firms rush to adjust to the revised Markets in Financial Instruments Directive, which seeks to boost transparency and protect investors and comes into force on Jan. 3.

Their tasks have ranged from ensuring that the right technology is put in place to dealing with a myriad of new reporting obligations and working out how fund managers should avoid research they haven’t paid for. “All of this will resolve itself after a while,” Burke said.

“The key challenge really is the few days leading up to it, where we’ll probably want to be testing as much as possible and really engaging proactively with our trading teams to see that we have tested every conceivable eventuality” “I would imagine that on the day itself, the trading activity will continue as normal. There might be a scenario where one isn’t able to report the trade,” and companies might be faced with a compliance issue Regulators have signaled that as long as companies can show they’ve been “doing everything humanly possible to be ready, then the expectation is that some regulatory forbearance will be necessary and available.”

Mediolanum Asset Management is a unit of Italy’s Mediolanum Banking Group.

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