London — Everyone in European finance has been abuzz over an obscure acronym — MiFID II — that’s about to radically change how assets from stocks to commodities are traded and investors’ money is managed. Banks and asset managers across the EU have spent more than $2bn preparing for it. Regulators say it will protect investors, boost transparency and rebuild trust that was tarnished by the 2008 global crash. The industry has even spent months finding ways to sidestep parts of it. But you’d be forgiven for not paying attention: MiFID II is a law set to be enacted on January 3, which, according to one count, is already close to 7,000 pages in length with all its addendums. That’s five times longer than Tolstoy’s War and Peace — and vastly less readable. It has taken seven years to get the second iteration of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive into shape because of its wide scope. For starters, it alters how investment research is paid for, how trades are documented and exe...

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