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Forex Brokers Regulation in Croatia
Croatia, the beautiful country on the Mediterranean Sea, has lately risen to prominence with its stock market and the Forex business. After Croatia gained its independence in 1991, it slowly started to build up its stock exchange, whose activity has been limited during Croatia’s Communism days. Croatia’s Zagreb Stock Exchange has been flourishing ever since and represents the main spot for securities exchange. By 2000, the stock exchange witnessed a tenfold increase in capitalization.
The market in Croatia can be divided into two parts; Regulated Market and the Multilateral Trading Facility. Croatia represents the backbone of the current regional Forex market since it initiated several projects with neighboring countries, like Macedonia and Bulgaria, for a better integration of the regional market. Recently, the Zagreb Stock Exchange acquired Slovenia’s Ljubljana Stock Exchange. Since the two countries border each other, and share similar features and work similarly, the acquisition is seen as something that could work for both sides.
HANFA (Croatian Financial Services Supervisory Agency)
HANFA is the abbreviation of Hrvatska agencija za nadzor financijskih usluga which translates as the Croatian Financial Services Supervisory Agency, and it is the body that takes care of the non-banking financial sector and non-banking financial activities in Croatia. All persons and entities that are dealing with securities, futures, insurance, have to report back to HANFA. Forex broker regulation is also part of HANFA’s responsibilities. HANFA has also the top Forex brokers listed on its registers.
The Establishment of HANFA
HANFA actually came to being as a result of a merger of three other regulatory bodies, i.e. the Croatian Securities Commission, the Financial Services Supervisory Agency, and the Agency for Supervision of Pension Funds and Insurance. With this merger, the Croatian capital market became more centralized since there is now only one authority to dictate the rules on the market.
HANFA was established under the law and entrusted with the power to issue licenses for Forex and other companies, as well as to impose sanctions and suspensions if these companies break the law. Finally, it can also ban any company from the market if they do not respect the regulations.
HANFA, as a publicly established body, is supervised by the Croatian Parliament, and it also has to submit regular reports on its activities to the Parliament.
What Does HANFA Do?
As we already have said, HANFA is in charge to control and supervise all companies that are active in the capital market. It supervises activities in the stock market including the Zagreb Stock Exchange, investment companies, securities companies, brokers, financial advisers, insurance companies, and insurance mediators and representatives, pension funds, Croatian Veteran funds, etc.
The Body’s Power
HANFA not only imposes rules and regulations on the above-mentioned companies and activities, but it can also influence the drafting of new capital market legislation. In other words, it has the right to make proposals to the lawmakers what to include, what to modify, what to exclude, etc. HANFA’s supervision consists of making sure that legislation is respected by its subjects of supervision and that all of them comply with it.
As a professional supervisory body, HANFA also has a warning list on its website, just like UK’s FCA, where unregistered subjects and suspicious activities are published advising investors and Forex traders to stay away from them.
Objectives and Aims of HANFA
HANFA does everything in its power to promote transparency and trustworthiness, as well as market stability. HANFA makes sure to update traders and market participants on the latest event with the aim to strengthen mutual trust between all parties involved in the market.
HANFA’s work is visible from the increased interest in the Croatian capital market which attracts significant foreign investments. International Forex brokers also showed an interest, and there are already several very prominent names from the Forex business that actively participate in Croatia. Of course, international, as well as domestic Forex brokers have to obtain a license from HANFA to operate in the country. Some of the prominent Forex names that can be found in Croatia are FreshForex, HYCM, XTrade, IronFX Global, and many others. This is the opportunity for Croatian traders to join the Forex scene at the international level, and they can be sure to trade in a safe environment since HANFA watches their back at every step of their trade.
HANFA often warns Forex traders to avoid unregulated brokers, even if they are covered with another license, but the license has yet to be verified by at least one EU issuer, like CySEC, the Cypriot counterpart of HANFA, which is also an EU-approved license issuer.
Future predictions for Croatia are very positive, and many believe that HANFA and the Zagreb Stock Exchange will live up to the expectations.
HANFA seems to offer the stability that the Croatian market needs and traders can feel safe to a certain extent. Nevertheless, the Forex market will always be a risky undertaking, and supervisory bodies can limit the risk of fraudulent activities, but yet they cannot provide a completely risk-free trading environment, since Forex is, by nature, very decentralized and fluctuant.