Legal Entity Identifier

When Lehman Brothers failed in 2008, its counterparties struggled to assess their total exposure to Lehman. Financial regulators were also unclear about the consequences of a Lehman failure, in part because no industry-wide standards existed for identifying and linking financial data representing entities or instruments.

The Legal Entity Identifier, or LEI, is a data standard — like a bar code for precisely identifying parties to financial transactions. The OFR has led the global LEI initiative as it has progressed from concept to a fully-fledged operational system.

The LEI helps the financial industry, regulators, and policymakers trace exposures and connections across the financial system. It also generates efficiencies for financial companies in internal reporting; risk management; and in collecting, cleaning, and aggregating data. In addition, the LEI can ease companies’ regulatory reporting burdens by reducing overlap and duplication with respect to the multiple identifiers reporting firms must manage.

Since the launch of the LEI system, only some aspects of financial reporting in the United States and abroad require use of the LEI and these, in substantial part, rely on voluntary implementation. Although these steps have driven LEI adoption across the globe, with more than 1.7 million LEIs issued to entities in over 225 countries and territories as of September 2020, regulators should mandate the use of the LEI in regulatory reporting. Universal adoption is necessary to bring efficiencies to reporting entities and useful information to the Financial Stability Oversight Council, its members, and other policymakers.

Recent press release on the LEI

  • ROC Becomes the International Governance Body for the UTI, UP and CDE (10/1/2020)
    On October 1, the Regulatory Oversight Committee (ROC) formally assumed governance oversight of several new global financial data standards: the Unique Transaction Identifier (UTI), the Unique Product Identifier (UPI), and the Critical Data Elements (CDE) for derivatives transaction reporting. The ROC agreed to this expanded remit because of its experience and success overseeing governance of the LEI. The ROC has been the oversight body of the Global LEI System since its establishment in 2012.

Other publications on the LEI