Tag Archives: cftc

New Forex Regulations: Overview of Public Comments

Leverage, Inaccessibility for Smaller Traders, and Offshore Threat are Focus of Public Comments

As we’ve discussed in related posts, the CFTC has proposed rules regulating the off-exchange spot forex industry (see Retail FOREX Registration Regulations Proposed).  The CFTC has requested comments from the public and there are currently about 100 public comments on CFTC’s website written in response to the new rule. The comments mainly focus on:

  • Leverage reduction rule (approx. 75/100 comments)
  • Forex industry becoming inaccessible to smaller traders (approx. 35/100 comments)
  • Threat of investors moving their money to offshore firms (approx. 25/100 comments)
  • Opposition to government interference/regulation (approx. 20/100 comments)

[Note: over the weekend the CFTC published some of the backlog of comments it received.  Much of this article was written prior to review of these extra comments (which total approximately 3,663).  We will provide an update on such comments in the future.]

To view all of the comments, click here.

The following is our summary of the comments which have been made thus far.

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Leverage Reduction

Approximately 75 of the 100 comments mention a strong or very strong opposition to the new leverage proposal of 10:1. The issue with a reduction of leverage to 10:1 is that investors will have to invest much more money in order to trade what they can currently trade with less capital. Comments regarding leverage include phrases like “strongly object”, “terrible idea”, “unintelligent”, and “strongly oppose”.  The majority opinion is that people should have the freedom and the choice to trade with a higher amount of leverage, and that the federal government’s attempts to lower leverage to 10:1 are “unnecessary” and “intrusive”. John Yeatman Jr. writes,

Please DO NOT reduce leverage in US Forex trading to 10:1…THIS WOULD HAVE A MAJOR IMPACT ON TENS OF THOUSANDS OF TRADERS AND THEIR FAMILIES WHO RELY ON 100:1 LEVERAGE AVAILABILITY TO SUPPORT THEIR FAMILY AND THIS ECONOMY. Please do your part in helping to keep this country great and it’s [sic] freedoms true BY NOT ALLOWING ANYTHING LESS THAN 100:1.

Other comments regarding the leverage proposal include:

  • … strongly objects to new leverage of 10:1
  • … proposed reduction not consistent with futures, which allow a significantly higher leverage
  • … virtually no flexibility trading at 10:1 leverage unless trader has gigantic account balance
  • …reduction in leverage not fair to public…bad for America
  • … new leverage line “out of line with general idea of protecting consumers”
  • …limiting leverage to 10:1 is “a bad idea”
  • …current leverage limit is “more than enough”
  • … CFTC is “unintelligent” to change leverage to 10:1
  • … terrible idea to lower leverage
  • … leverage change is “perversion of the free markets”
  • …leverage restriction “grave injustice” for many who work to secure the American dream of prosperity for themselves and families
  • …leverage limits would delay achievement of financial independence
  • …leverage not dangerous; misuse is
  • …leverage decrease will kill forex business and worsen economic situation in states and worldwide
  • …amount of leverage needs to be at discretion of investors

Smaller Traders

Another argument is that lower leverage will making trading inaccessible for smaller traders but leave the door wide open for larger institutions, since lower leverage requires higher margin (meaning that more money needed to be invested in order to trade). Comments regarding this proposed rules potential affect on smaller traders include:

  • …will stamp out small-time investor
  • …drive smaller guys out of market or offshore
  • …anything lower would be insane for small-time traders
  • …gets rid of investors with small capital so rich can stay rich and poor can stay poor
  • …pushes out small-time investor
  • …denies small trader opportunity
  • …disparate and unintended impact on small traders with lower capital
  • …leave the small, independent traders alone
  • …small businesses are heart of US economy
  • …all small-scale actors will be stifled
  • …10:1 leverage will have unintended consequence of locking out hundreds or thousands of small traders
  • …quit treating the small guy like an idiot
  • …are you trying to allow only rich to trade forex?

Government Interference/Regulation

Many of the comments suggest anger with the government for interfering too much with the forex industry. Michael Thomas writes,

I do not live here in this “free” society to have someone from the government babysitting me. The message that your proposed rules send is that 1) we are not free to make our own choices. 2) The federal government believes that we the general public are too stupid to make decisions for ourselves….I don’t need you, or do I want you getting in the way of my being able to trade as I wish in the United States of America.

Other comments regarding an opposition to increased government interference include:

  • …don’t add more government
  • …not intention of our ancestors to create government which controlled/regulated all aspects of citizens’ lives
  • …the government has no right to control my ability to make profit
  • …unnecessary for Federal government to regulate against individual’s ability to take risks
  • …don’t need government protection; we’re adult traders
  • …not responsibility of government to take away choice from consumers
  • …”big brother” attempt to protect people from “evil” traders and forex hedge funds
  • …stay out of trying to run my personal life

Offshore Threat

In at least 25 of the comments, the public is arguing that the new rules, specifically lower leverage, will drive traders offshore to overseas brokers who may or may not be regulated. Further, a major argument is that the forex industry in the United States will essentially cease altogether as a result of traders moving their forex activities offshore. Comments regarding this offshore threat include:

  • …will send business to London and unregulated offshore markets
  • …consumers will take accounts offshore
  • …will drive smaller guys out of markets entirely or to offshore, unregulated brokers
  • …when traders move accounts offshore, CFTC and NFA will have no control of clients’ trading
  • …I’ve already moved my account offshore
  • …people will do business with offshore brokers

Government Regulation

In terms of the new regulation proposal as a whole, some people support more industry regulation while others are against the idea entirely. Bradford Smith writes,

I feel that regulation of firms is needed…regulation is needed to help people understand the risks such as risk disclosure. [Regulating] the  retail forex market in a similar fashion to how commodities and futures are regulated is a good idea. Stopping companies from trading against their clients is a high priority issue that needs to be stopped.

John M. Bland, on the other hand, who views the proposal as “unfair”,  writes,

…the CFTC has done a lot in recent years to correct many of the problems in the industry…this decision is unfair and anti-competitive.

Other comments regarding opposition to the proposal and/or government interference include:

  • …new rules will destroy US financial firms business and lead to loss of thousands of jobs during the worst economy in decades
  • …regulation should be aimed at encouraging economic growth and innovation vs. restricting it
  • …against proposal
  • …how did forex regulation get in the Farm Bill?
  • …whoever initiated proposal has no knowledge of forex…this rule is utter nonsense…rules for forex in the USA are already quite strict
  • …you are busybody bureaucrats with intrusive minds…you are interested in only one thing: bureaucratic power and complete control of every microscopic aspect of life…you are monsters
  • …rules will harm people who make an honest living trading currency
  • …important to educate and inform, not regulate and ban
  • …proposal is a disaster-in-warning for traders
  • …if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it
  • …proposal is lunacy-communist-legislation
  • …I do not support the proposal…proposal closes doors for forex investors and will make forex market accessible to financial institutions only
  • …vehemently against new, narrow-sighted legislation

Agreement/Disagreement with Proposal

Many of the comments discuss that education about forex and trading risk is the best solution. On a similar note, many traders expressed the fact that anyone who trades in the forex market is aware of the inherent risks, so people who decide to trade are willing to take these risks. There is a general consensus that it is the individual’s, and not the government’s, responsibility to evaluate the level of risk that s/he is willing to take. Remember, higher leverage will be reflected in both your profits and your losses. Thus, if you have high leverage and profit, you will profit a lot more than if your trading had not been leveraged. But the same goes for losses; if you lose, you will lose a lot more based on the higher leverage.

Conclusions Thus Far

The biggest concern thus far is the proposed reduction in leverage to 10:1. Almost every comment mentioned a strong opposition to this rule. Furthermore, most people seem to be concerned that the new regulations will significantly decrease forex activity in the US—if not kill it off—and drive most investors overseas to offshore firms. We will continue to monitor comments received until the March 22 due date. Please leave us a comment below with your feedback. Should you feel inclined, you may submit your own comment to the CFTC through the methods listed above.

To view CFTC’s proposed rules, click here.

How to Comment

Comments must be received by March 22, 2010 and can be submitted the following ways:

  • Through the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov/search/index.jsp. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
  • By e-mail: [email protected] Include “Regulation of Retail Forex” in the subject line of the message.
  • By fax: (202) 418-5521.
  • By mail: Send to David Stawick, Secretary, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, 1155 21st Street, NW., Washington, DC 20581.
  • Courier: Same as Mail above.

(Note that all comments received will be posted without change to http://www.cftc.gov, including any personal information provided.)

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Other related CFTC articles include:

Bart Mallon, Esq. of Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP runs the Hedge Fund Law Blog and provides forex registration services to forex managers. Mr. Mallon also runs the Forex Law Blog.  He can be reached directly at 415-868-5345.

CPO Annual Financial Report Filing

Information on Filing Annual Report with NFA

Commodity Pool Operators (“CPOs”) are required to distribute an Annual Report, certified by an independent public accountant, to each participant in each pool it operates (i.e. the investors in the commodity/futures hedge fund) within 90 days after the pool’s fiscal year-end (normally December 31).  CPOs are also required under the Commodity Exchange Act and commission regulations to file this report electronically with the National Futures Association (“NFA”) through the NFA’s EasyFile system.  Alternate due dates exist for pools that are operated as a “fund of funds“.  CPOs can monitor their filings and review their due dates for each pool in the EasyFile system.  We have included an overview of the requirements and process below and Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP would be able to help CPOs to make this filing as well.

Filing Overview

  • Who – all CPOs must file the annual financial report unless they are exempt under the CFTC Regulation 4.13.
  • What – a certified financial statement (PDF of the exact statement distributed to the pools limited partners) from an auditor needs to be filed with the NFA.  (Please note that CPOs who are exempt under the CFTC Regulation 4.7 does not need to have their statements audited.)
  • When – commodity pool annual reports must be distributed to pool participants and filed with the NFA within 90 calendar days of the pool’s fiscal year end.  (Mallon P.C. can also check the due date by logging into the EasyFile system on the Filing Index page.)
  • How – CPOs must submit annual reports to NFA electronically in accordance with NFA’s EasyFile electronic filing system and procedures.

NFA EasyFile System

Pool operators should have their NFA login and password to access the EasyFile system.  Submitting pool financial statements using EasyFile involves a three step process:

  1. The CPO (or compliance group) will upload a PDF of the identical pool financial statement provided to the pool’s limited partners, including the balance sheet, income statement, schedule of investments, footnotes, and the Independent Auditor’s Opinion, if applicable.
  2. The CPO (or compliance group) will then enter approximately 30 key financial balances into an electronic schedule. These balances will be pulled directly from the balance sheet, income statement and statement of changes in net asset value included in the pool’s PDF filing.
  3. The CPO (or compliance group) will finally submit the electronic filing, the system will run some basic edit checks. It will also prompt the CPO to read and agree to an electronic oath or affirmation. This oath or affirmation will apply to the information included in the PDF, as well as, the information entered into the schedule of key financial balances.

A common pitfall with this process include miscalculations with the key financial balances. In order to prevent this from occurring, the CPO should make sure the values/balances input into the system correspond with the PDF certified financial statement.  After submission, the CPO should ensure the updated status of the filing becomes “Received” by logging into Pool Index page the in the EasyFile system.  This status should show up within a few days after the filing has been submitted.

Conclusion

In addition to the various yearly compliance measures, such as the NFA Self-Examination Checklist, CPOs should be aware that they need to file their audited reports with the NFA.  This is especially important because the NFA has fined large firms for failing to file on time (see previous NFA Action).  If you need help with filing your annual financials, please contact Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP for further information on our commodities and futures compliance services.

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Other related NFA compliance articles include:

Bart Mallon, Esq. runs the Hedge Fund Law Blog and provides hedge fund information and manager registration services through Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP. He can be reached directly at 415-868-5345.

CFTC Provides Annual Guidance to CPOs

Annual Report Guidance for Commodity Pool Operators

In a recent release, which we have reprinted in full below, the CFTC reminds CPOs of their annual reporting requirements under Regulation 4.22.  The release includes a link to the 2010 CPO Annual Guidance Letter.  In general the letter provides another reminder to CPOs to file their annual reports with the NFA and provide a copy to the investors in the pool.  I have outlined below the major parts of the letter.

General Issues to consider

  • Commodity pool annual reports must be distributed to pool participants within 90 calendar days of the pool’s fiscal year end.  For most funds this means by March 31, 2010.
  • Commodity pool annual reports must be filed with the NFA within 90 clendar days of the pool’s fiscal year end.  For most funds this means by March 31, 2010.
  • All documents must be filed electronically through the NFA’s filing system.
  • Extensions are available in certain circumstances.

Other Issues

For groups which have different or more complex structures, additional considerations need to be addressed.  Such groups include:

  • Master/feeder commodity pool structures
  • Commodity pool fund of funds
  • Offshore commodity pools
  • CPOs claiming an exemption under Regulation 4.13
  • Reports of commodity pools which are liquidating
  • Commodity pools established as a series structure (such as a series LLC)
  • Commodity pools which invest in non-exchange traded instruments may have additional issues

Moreover, the letter includes references to the recently amended CPO relations.

If a CPO will not be able to file on time, the CPO should file for an extension.  “Automatic” extensions can be granted to CPOs to fund of fund structures.  If you have questions with making a filing, please feel free to contact Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP. The following press release can be found here.

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CFTC’s Division of Clearing and Intermediary Oversight Provides Annual Report Guidance to Commodity Pool Operators

Washington, DC — The Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Division of Clearing and Intermediary Oversight has issued its annual guidance letter to registered commodity pool operators (CPOs). The letter is intended to assist CPOs and their public accountants in complying with the Commission’s regulations on the preparation and filing of commodity pool annual financial reports.

The highlights contained in this year’s letter include:

  • Recent amendments to Commission regulations pertaining to various reporting issues;
  • Annual report filing procedures and due dates;
  • Special considerations that apply to filings made for Master/Feeder and Fund of Funds structures;
  • Use of International Financial Reporting Standards in lieu of U.S. generally accepted accounting principles;
  • Reporting requirements for pools in liquidation;
  • Reporting requirements for series funds with limitation of liability among the different series; and
  • Various accounting developments that may impact report preparation.

For more information on CPO Annual Guidance Letter 2009, please see the Related Documents link.

Copies of the letter also may be obtained by contacting the Commission’s Office of the Secretariat, Three Lafayette Centre, 1155 21st Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20581, (202) 418-5100.

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Other related compliance articles for CPOs and CTAs include:

Bart Mallon, Esq. runs the Hedge Fund Law Blog.  He can be reached directly at 415-868-5345.

CTA and CPO Foreign Language Disclosure Documents

Translating a Disclosure Document to Another Language is Fine

NFA Member Firms are required to have their disclosure documents reviewed by the NFA generally before such firms can distribute the documents to potential investors.  One issue which sometimes arises is when the firm (generally either a CTA or CPO) has potential clients/investors who are non-U.S. citizens and do not speak English.  In these cases the question arises as to whether the CTA or CPO can translate their disclosure documents into another language.

I just recently spoke with a compliance representative at the NFA and the answer I received is: Yes, the CTA or CPO can have the document translated into another language.  The big issue obviously is that the NFA Member Firm must be able to represent to the NFA that the translation is exact and the firm must generally make the translated copy available to the NFA during examination.  Also, there are two central ways which firms will typically approch this situation:

Disclose to NFA – some firms will proactively disclose to the NFA that they have translated a disclosure document into another language.  This can be done in a number of ways including: (i) providing a note to the NFA during the document submission or (ii) calling the NFA directly and talking with a representative or compliance manager.

Do not disclose to the NFA – some firms will not disclose to the NFA that a document has been translated.  According to my phone conversation, this is fine, but the Member Firm will need to have a copy of the translated document and verify to the NFA that the translated version is exactly the same as the English language based version.

NFA Compliance Issues

Compliance.  CTAs and CPOs must remember that, as Member Firms, there are ongoing recordkeeping responsibilities.  Accordingly, the firm should have policies and procedures in place that address the issue of having translated disclosure documents.  Additionally, firms should remember that disclosure documents are usually good for nine (9) months and must be updated thereafter (or if there are any material changes to the document which must be disclosed) – this means that the translated copy should also be appropriately updated.

Forex.  These same rules will also apply to Forex CTAs and Forex CPOs.  The CFTC just recently announced that forex managers will need to register with the CFTC and become NFA member firms.  When forex managers register then, this will apply to them and they will need to follow these rules as well.

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Other articles applicable to NFA member firms include:

Bart Mallon, Esq. of Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP runs the Hedge Fund Law Blog.  He can be reached directly at 415-868-5345.

CFTC Amends CPO Reporting Regulations

CFTC Regulation 4.22 Amended

Earlier this year the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) proposed amendments to certain Part 4 Regulations.  Last week, after a lengthy comment and revision period, the CFTC published the amendments in the Federal Register.  The effective date of the amendments is December 9, 2009 and will apply to commodity pool annual reports for fiscal years ending December 31, 2009 and later.  [HFLB note: as we have discussed earlier, spot forex hedge fund managers generally are not required to be registered as forex CPOs with the CFTC.  However, when the forex registration rules go into effect, such forex CPOs are going to need to be aware of these reporting requirements.]

The following press release can be found here. The full discussion of the CFTC’s amendment making process and the amendments can be found in Federal Register at 74 FR 57585.  For more information regarding commodity trading and regulation, please see our CTA/CPO Registration and Compliance Guide.

The full amended text of CFTC Regulation 4.22 is reprinted below.

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Release: 5746-09
For Release: November 9, 2009

CFTC Adopts Amendments to Reporting Requirements for Commodity Pool Operators

Washington, DC —The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has adopted amendments to its regulations regarding periodic and annual reporting requirements applicable to commodity pool operators (CPOs). The amendments:

  • specify detailed information that must be included in the periodic account statements and annual reports for commodity pools with more than one series or class of ownership interest;
  • clarify that the periodic account statements must disclose either the net asset value per outstanding participation unit in the pool or the total value of a participant’s interest or share in the pool;
  • extend the time period for filing and distributing annual reports of commodity pools that invest in other funds;
  • codify existing Commission staff interpretations regarding the proper accounting treatment and financial statement presentation of certain income and expense items in the periodic account statements and annual reports;
  • codify exemptions staff has provided to CPOs that operate offshore funds that elected to use non-United States GAAP in the preparation of pool financial statements;
  • streamline annual reporting requirements for pools ceasing operation; and
  • clarify and update several other requirements for periodic and annual reports prepared and distributed by CPOs.

The amendments will become effective 30 days from publication in the Federal Register; changes that affect annual reporting requirements will be applicable to commodity pool annual reports for fiscal years ending December 31, 2009 and later.

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Full Text of Regulation 4.22 (effective December 9, 2009)

PART 4—COMMODITY POOL OPERATORS AND COMMODITY TRADING ADVISORS
Subpart B—Commodity Pool Operators

§ 4.22   Reporting to pool participants.

(a) Except as provided in paragraph (a)(4) or (a)(6) of this section, each commodity pool operator registered or required to be registered under the Act must periodically distribute to each participant in each pool that it operates, within 30 calendar days after the last date of the reporting period prescribed in paragraph (b) of this section, an Account Statement, which shall be presented in the form of a Statement of Operations and a Statement of Changes in Net Assets, for the prescribed period. These financial statements must be presented and computed in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles consistently applied. The Account Statement must be signed in accordance with paragraph (h) of this section.

(1) The portion of the Account Statement which must be presented in the form of a Statement of Operations must separately itemize the following information:

(i) The total amount of realized net gain or loss on commodity interest positions liquidated during the reporting period;

(ii) The change in unrealized net gain or loss on commodity interest positions during the reporting period;

(iii) The total amount of net gain or loss from all other transactions in which the pool engaged during the reporting period, including interest and dividends earned on funds not paid as premiums or used to margin the pool’s commodity interest positions;

(iv) The total amount of all management fees during the reporting period;

(v) The total amount of all advisory fees during the reporting period;

(vi) The total amount of all brokerage commissions during the reporting period;

(vii) The total amount of other fees for commodity interest and other investment transactions during the reporting period; and

(viii) The total amount of all other expenses incurred or accrued by the pool during the reporting period.

(2) The portion of the Account Statement that must be presented in the form of a Statement of Changes in Net Assets must separately itemize the following information:

(i) The net asset value of the pool as of the beginning of the reporting period;

(ii) The total amount of additions to the pool, whether voluntary or involuntary, made during the reporting period;

(iii) The total amount of withdrawals from and redemption of participation units in the pool, whether voluntary or involuntary, for the reporting period;

(iv) The total net income or loss of the pool during the reporting period;

(v) The net asset value of the pool as of the end of the reporting period; and

(vi)(A) The net asset value per outstanding participation unit in the pool as of the end of the reporting period, or

(B) The total value of the participant’s interest or share in the pool as of the end of the reporting period.

(3) The Account Statement must also disclose any material business dealings between the pool, the pool’s operator, commodity trading advisor, futures commission merchant, or the principals thereof that previously have not been disclosed in the pool’s Disclosure Document or any amendment thereto, other Account Statements or Annual Reports.

(4) For the purpose of the Account Statement delivery requirement, including any Account Statement distributed pursuant to §4.7(b)(2) or 4.12(b)(2)(ii), the term “participant” does not include a commodity pool operated by a pool operator that is the same as, or that controls, is controlled by, or is under common control with, the pool operator of a pool in which the commodity pool has invested.

(5) Where the pool is comprised of more than one ownership class or series, information for the series or class on which the account statement is reporting should be presented in addition to the information presented for the pool as a whole; except that, for a pool that is a series fund structured with a limitation on liability among the different series, the account statement is not required to include consolidated information for all series.

(6) A commodity pool operator of a pool that meets the conditions specified in paragraph (d)(2)(i) of this section and has filed notice pursuant to paragraph (d)(2)(ii) of this section may elect to follow the same accounting treatment with respect to the computation and presentation of the account statement.

(b) The Account Statement must be distributed at least monthly in the case of pools with net assets of more than $500,000 at the beginning of the pool’s fiscal year, and otherwise at least quarterly; Provided, however, That an Account Statement for the last reporting period of the pool’s fiscal year need not be distributed if the Annual Report required by paragraph (c) of this section is sent to pool participants within 45 calendar days after the end of the fiscal year. The requirement to distribute an Account Statement shall commence as of the date the pool is formed as specified in paragraph (g)(1) of this section.

(c) Except as provided in paragraph (c)(7) or (c)(8) of this section, each commodity pool operator registered or required to be registered under the Act must distribute an Annual Report to each participant in each pool that it operates, and must electronically submit a copy of the Report and key financial balances from the Report to the National Futures Association pursuant to the electronic filing procedures of the National Futures Association, within 90 calendar days after the end of the pool’s fiscal year or the permanent cessation of trading, whichever is earlier; Provided, however, that if during any calendar year the commodity pool operator did not operate a commodity pool, the pool operator must so notify the National Futures Association within 30 calendar days after the end of such calendar year. The Annual Report must be affirmed pursuant to paragraph (h) of this section and must contain the following:

(1) The net asset value of the pool as of the end of each of the pool’s two preceding fiscal years.

(2)(i) The net asset value per outstanding participation unit in the pool as of the end of each of the pool’s two preceding fiscal years, or (ii) The total value of the participant’s interest or share in the pool as of the end of each of the pool’s two preceding fiscal years.

(3) A Statement of Financial Condition as of the close of the pool’s fiscal year and preceding fiscal year.

(4) Statements of Operations, and Changes in Net Assets, for the period between (i) The later of: (A) The date of the most recent Statement of Financial Condition delivered to the National Futures Association pursuant to this paragraph(c); or (B) The date of the formation of the pool; and (ii) The close of the pool’s fiscal year, together with Statements of Operations, and Changes in Net Assets for the corresponding period of the previous fiscal year.

(5) Appropriate footnote disclosure and such further material information as may be necessary to make the required statements not misleading. For a pool that invests in other funds, this information must include, but is not limited to, separately disclosing the amounts of income, management and incentive fees associated with each investment in an investee fund that exceeds five percent of the pool’s net assets. The management and incentive fees associated with an investment in an investee fund that is less than five percent of the pool’s net assets may be combined and reported in the aggregate with the income, management and incentive fees of other investee funds that, individually, represent an investment of less than five percent of the pool’s net assets. If the commodity pool operator is not able to obtain the specific amounts of management and incentive fees charged by an investee fund, the commodity pool operator must disclose the percentage amounts and computational basis for each such fee and include a statement that the CPO is not able to obtain the specific fee amounts for this fund;

(6) Where the pool is comprised of more than one ownership class or series, information for the series or class on which the financial statements are reporting should be presented in addition to the information presented for the pool as a whole; except that, for a pool that is a series fund structured with a limitation on liability among the different series, the financial statements are not required to include consolidated information for all series.

(7) For a pool that has ceased operation prior to, or as of, the end of the fiscal year, the commodity pool operator may provide the following, within 90 days of the permanent cessation of trading, in lieu of the annual report that would otherwise be required by § 4.22(c) or § 4.7(b)(3):

(i) Statements of Operations and Changes in Net Assets for the period between—

(A) The later of: (1) The date of the most recent Statement of Financial Condition filed with the National Futures Association pursuant to this paragraph (c); or (2) The date of the formation of the pool; and (B) The close of the pool’s fiscal year or the date of the cessation of trading, whichever is earlier; and

(ii)(A) An explanation of the winding down of the pool’s operations and written disclosure that all interests in, and assets of, the pool have been redeemed, distributed or transferred on behalf of the participants;

(B) If all funds have not been distributed or transferred to participants by the time that the final report is issued, disclosure of the value of assets remaining to be distributed and an approximate timeframe of when the distribution will occur. If the commodity pool operator does not distribute the remaining pool assets within the timeframe specified, the commodity pool operator must provide written notice to each participant and to the National Futures Association that the distribution of the remaining assets of the pool has not been completed, the value of assets remaining to be distributed, and a time frame of when the final distribution will occur.

(C) If the commodity pool operator will not be able to liquidate the pool’s assets in sufficient time to prepare, file and distribute the final annual report for the pool within 90 days of the permanent cessation of trading, the commodity pool operator must provide written notice to each participant and to National Futures Association disclosing:

(1) The value of investments remaining to be liquidated, the timeframe within which liquidation is expected to occur, any impediments to liquidation, and the nature and amount of any fees and expenses that will be charged to the pool prior to the final distribution of the pool’s funds;

(2) Which financial reports the commodity pool operator will continue to provide to pool participants from the time that trading ceased until the final annual report is distributed, and the frequency with which such reports will be provided, pursuant to the pool’s operative documents; and

(3) The timeframe within which the commodity pool operator will provide the final report.

(iii) A report filed pursuant to this paragraph (c)(7) that would otherwise be required by this paragraph (c) is not required to be audited in accordance with paragraph (d) of this section if the commodity pool operator obtains from all participants written waivers of their rights to receive an audited Annual Report, and at the time of filing the Annual Report with National Futures Association, certifies that it has received waivers from all participants. The commodity pool operator must maintain the waivers in accordance with § 1.31 of this chapter and must make the waivers available to the Commission or National Futures Association upon request.

(8) For the purpose of the Annual Report distribution requirement, including any annual report distributed pursuant to §4.7(b)(3) or 4.12(b)(2)(iii), the term “participant” does not include a commodity pool operated by a pool operator that is the same as, or that controls, is controlled by, or is under common control with, the pool operator of a pool in which the commodity pool has invested; Provided, That the Annual Report of such investing pool contain financial statements that include such information as the Commission may specify concerning the operations of the pool in which the commodity pool has invested.

(d)

(1) The financial statements in the Annual Report must be presented and computed in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles consistently applied and must be audited by an independent public accountant. The requirements of § 1.16(g) of this chapter shall apply with respect to the engagement of such independent public accountants, except that any related notifications to be made may be made solely to the National Futures Association, and the certification must be in accordance with § 1.16 of this chapter, except that the following requirements of that section shall not apply:

(i) The audit objectives of § 1.16(d)(1) concerning the periodic computation of minimum capital and property in segregation;

(ii) All other references in § 1.16 to the segregation requirements; and

(iii) Section 1.16(c)(5), (d)(2), (e)(2), and (f).

(2)

(i) The financial statements in the Annual Report required by this section or by § 4.7(b)(3) may be presented and computed in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards issued by the International Accounting Standards Board if the following conditions are met:

(A) The pool is organized under the laws of a foreign jurisdiction;

(B) The Annual Report will include a condensed schedule of investments, or, if required by the alternate accounting standards, a full schedule of investments;

(C) The preparation of the pool’s financial statements under International Financial Reporting Standards is not inconsistent with representations set forth in the pool’s offering memorandum or other operative document that is made available to participants;

(D) Special allocations of ownership equity will be reported in accordance with § 4.22(e)(2); and

(E) In the event that the International Financial Reporting Standards require consolidated financial statements for the pool, such as a feeder fund consolidating with its master fund, all applicable disclosures required by generally accepted accounting principles for the feeder fund must be presented with the reporting pool’s consolidated financial statements.

(ii) The commodity pool operator of a pool that meets the conditions specified in this paragraph (d)(2) may claim relief from the requirement in paragraph (d)(1) of this section by filing a notice with the National Futures Association, within 90 calendar days after the end of the pool’s fiscal year.

(A) The notice must contain the name, main business address, main telephone number and the National Futures Association registration identification number of the commodity pool operator, and name and the identification number of the commodity pool.

(B) The notice must include representations regarding the pool’s compliance with each of the conditions specified in § 4.22(d)(2)(A) through (D), and, if applicable, (E); and

(C) The notice must be signed by the commodity pool operator in accordance with paragraph (h) of this section.

(e)

(1) The Statement of Operations required by this section must itemize brokerage commissions, management fees, advisory fees, incentive fees, interest income and expense, total realized net gain or loss from commodity interest trading, and change in unrealized net gain or loss on commodity interest positions during the pool’s fiscal year. Gains and losses on commodity interests need not be itemized by commodity or by specific delivery or expiration date.

(2)

(i) Any share of a pool’s profits or transfer of a pool’s equity which exceeds the general partner’s or any other class’s share of profits computed on the general partner’s or other class’s pro rata capital contribution are ‘‘special allocations.’’ Special allocations of partnership equity or other interests must be recognized in the pool’s Statement of Operations in the same period as the net income, interest income, or other basis of computation of the special allocation is recognized. Special allocations must be recognized and classified either as an expense of the pool or, if not recognized as an expense of the pool, presented in the Statement of Operations as a separate, itemized allocation of the pool’s net income to arrive at net income available for pro rata distribution to all partners.

(ii) Special allocations of ownership interest also must be reported separately in the Statement of Partners’ Equity, in addition to the pro-rata allocations of net income, as to each class of ownership interest.

(3) Realized gains or losses on regulated commodities transactions presented in the Statement of Operations of a commodity pool may be combined with realized gains or losses from trading in non-commodity interest transactions, provided that the gains or losses to be combined are part of a related trading strategy. Unrealized gains or losses on open regulated commodity positions presented in the Statement of Operations of a commodity pool may be combined with unrealized gains or losses from open positions in non-commodity positions, provided that the gains or losses to be combined are part of a related trading strategy.

(f)

(1)

(i) In the event the commodity pool operator finds that it cannot distribute the Annual Report for a pool that it operates within the time specified in paragraph (c) of this section without substantial undue hardship, it may file with the National Futures Association an application for extension of time to a specified date not more than 90 calendar days after the date as of which the Annual Report was to have been distributed. The application must be made by the pool operator and must:

(A) State the name of the pool for which the application is being made;

(B) State the reasons for the requested extension;

(C) Indicate that the inability to make a timely filing is due to circumstances beyond the control of the pool operator, if such is the case, and describe briefly the nature of such circumstances;

(D) Contain an undertaking to file the Annual Report on or before the date specified in the application; and

(E) Be filed with the National Futures Association prior to the date on which the Annual Report is due.

(ii) The application must be accompanied by a letter from the independent public accountant answering the following questions:

(A) What specifically are the reasons for the extension request?

(B) Do you have any indication from the part of your audit completed to date that would lead you to believe that the commodity pool operator was or is not meeting the recordkeeping requirements of this part 4 or was or is not complying with the §4.20(c) prohibition on commingling of property of any pool with the property of any other person?

(iii) Within ten calendar days after receipt of an application for an extension of time, the National Futures Association shall:

(A) Notify the commodity pool operator of the grant or denial of the requested extension, or

(B) Indicate to the pool operator that additional time is required to analyze the request, in which case the amount of time needed will be specified.

(2) In the event a commodity pool operator finds that it cannot obtain information necessary to prepare annual financial statements for a pool that it operates within the time specified in either paragraph (c) of this section or § 4.7(b)(3)(i), as a result of the pool investing in another collective investment vehicle, it may claim an extension of time under the following conditions:

(i) The commodity pool operator must, within 90 calendar days of the end of the pool’s fiscal year, file a notice with the National Futures Association, except as provided in paragraph (f)(2)(v) of this section.

(ii) The notice must contain the name, main business address, main telephone number and the National Futures Association registration identification number of the commodity pool operator, and name and the identification number of the commodity pool.

(iii) The notice must state the date by which the Annual Report will be distributed and filed (the ‘‘Extended Date’’), which must be no more than 180 calendar days after the end of the pool’s fiscal year. The Annual Report must be distributed and filed by the Extended Date.

(iv) The notice must include representations by the commodity pool operator that:

(A) The pool for which the Annual Report is being prepared has investments in one or more collective investment vehicles (the ‘‘Investments’’);

(B) For all reports prepared under paragraph (c) of this section and for reports prepared under § 4.7(b)(3)(i) that are audited by an independent public accountant, the commodity pool operator has been informed by the independent public accountant engaged to audit the commodity pool’s financial statements that specified information required to complete the pool’s annual report is necessary in order for the accountant to render an opinion on the commodity pool’s financial statements. The notice must include the name, main business address, main telephone number, and contact person of the accountant; and

(C) The information specified by the accountant cannot be obtained in sufficient time for the Annual Report to be prepared, audited, and distributed before the Extended Date.

(D) For unaudited reports prepared under § 4.7(b)(3)(i), the commodity pool operator has been informed by the operators of the Investments that specified information required to complete the pool’s annual report cannot be obtained in sufficient time for the Annual Report to be prepared and distributed before the Extended Date.

(v) For each fiscal year following the filing of the notice described in paragraph (f)(2)(i) of this section, for a particular pool, it shall be presumed that the particular pool continues to invest in another collective investment vehicle and the commodity pool operator may claim the extension of time; Provided, however, that if the particular pool is no longer investing in another collective investment vehicle, then the commodity pool operator must file electronically with the National Futures Association an Annual Report within 90 days after the pool’s fiscal year-end accompanied by a notice indicating the change in the pool’s status.

(vi) Any notice or statement filed pursuant to this paragraph (f)(2) must be signed by the commodity pool operator in accordance with paragraph (h) of this section.

(g)

(1) A commodity pool operator may initially elect any fiscal year for a pool, but the first fiscal year may not end more than one year after the pool’s formation. For purposes of this section, a pool shall be deemed to be formed as of the date the pool operator first receives funds, securities or other property for the purchase of an interest in the pool.

(2) If a commodity pool operator elects a fiscal year other than the calendar year, it must give written notice of the election to all participants and must file the notice with the National Futures Association within 90 calendar days after the date of the pool’s formation. If this notice is not given, the pool operator will be deemed to have elected the calendar year as the pool’s fiscal year.

(3) The commodity pool operator must continue to use the elected fiscal year for the pool unless it provides written notice of any proposed change to all participants and files such notice with the National Futures Association at least 90 days before the change and the National Futures Association does not disapprove the change within 30 days after the filing of the notice.

(h)

(1) Each Account Statement and Annual Report, including an Account Statement or Annual Report provided pursuant to §4.7(b) or 4.12(b), must contain an oath or affirmation that, to the best of the knowledge and belief of the individual making the oath or affirmation, the information contained in the document is accurate and complete; Provided, however, That it shall be unlawful for the individual to make such oath or affirmation if the individual knows or should know that any of the information in the document is not accurate and complete.

(2) Each oath or affirmation must be made by a representative duly authorized to bind the pool operator, and

(i) for the copy of a commodity pool’s Annual Report submitted to the National Futures Association, such representative shall satisfy the required oath or affirmation through compliance with the National Futures Association’s electronic filing procedures, and

(ii) for a commodity pool Account Statement or Annual Report distributed to participants, a facsimile of the manually signed oath or affirmation of such representative may be used so long as the manually signed original is retained in accordance with §4.23.

(3) For each manually signed oath or affirmation, there must be typed beneath the signed oath or affirmation:

(i) The name of the individual signing the document;

(ii) The capacity in which he is signing;

(iii) The name of the commodity pool operator for whom he is signing; and

(iv) The name of the commodity pool for which the document is being distributed.

(i) The Account Statement or Annual Report may be distributed to a pool participant by means of electronic media if the participant so consents; Provided, That prior to the transmission of any Account Statement or Annual Report by means of electronic media, a commodity pool operator must disclose to the participant that it intends to distribute electronically the Account Statement or Annual Report or both documents, as the case may be, absent objection from the participant, which objection, if any, the participant must make no later than 10 business days following its receipt of the disclosure.

(Approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control number 3038–0005)

(Secs. 2(a)(1), 4c(a)–(d), 4d, 4f, 4g, 4k, 4m, 4n, 8a, 15 and 17, Commodity Exchange Act (7 U.S.C. 2, 4, 6c(a)–(d), 6f, 6g, 6k, 6m, 6n, 12a, 19 and 21; 5 U.S.C. 552 and 552b))

[46 FR 26013, May 8, 1981, as amended at 46 FR 63035, Dec. 30, 1981; 47 FR 57011, Dec. 22, 1982; 52 FR 41986, Nov. 2, 1987; 65 FR 81334, Dec. 26, 2000; 67 FR 77411, Dec. 18, 2002; 68 FR 47234, Aug. 8, 2003; 68 FR 52837, Sept. 8, 2003; 71 FR 8942, Feb. 22, 2006]

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Other related hedge fund law articles include:

Bart Mallon, Esq. of Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP runs the Hedge Fund Law Blog as well as the forex registration website.  He can be reached directly at 415-868-5345.

CTA Lead List Basics

By Bart Mallon, Esq. (www.colefrieman.com)

“Purchased Lead Lists and How to Use Them”

A good resource for CTAs that are actively trying to raise money are lead lists – lists of names and contact information of potential future clients or investors.  This overview is for the CTA Expo 2009 program entitled Purchased Lead Lists and How to Use Them.  The program was sponsored by Patke & Associates and featured Jacques DeRouen of Pinnacle Alternative Investments.

Jacques started off by telling all of the CTAs that they need to get out and market to investors.  The point is to get your story to willing listening.  He then provided us with a brief background of how he got involved with lists and how he learned to use lists effectively.  The biggest takeaway is that getting good at using lead lists takes time and dedication – but don’t let the list intimidate you.  From here he discussed a number of items about lead lists in general.

Lead Lists in General

There are many different types of lists and the lists come in a variety of different formats and include various different types of information.  CTAs should research exactly what they will get with these lists and some questions which the purchaser should ask include the following:

  • Has the list maker described their list and what they provide?
  • What is the reputation of the list maker?
  • Does the list have references, if no, then why?
  • Is there a free sample?
  • What information is on the list – key contact names, size of the investor, email addresses.

CTA managers should think about making some calls to the investors on the sample lists which are released.  Basically the manager wants to make sure that the list is not something that was simply culled from the phone book – the leads need to be warmer.  If they are providing a general list of investors, this is ok but it will probably take you more time.

Budget

The biggest thing to consider is your budget.  If you don’t have money in the budget to buy a list, then don’t buy it.  A CTA should always be aware of the fees coming in and be able to justify any expenses, which includes a list.

Prepping an Investor Database

When you get a lead list it will typically be in some sort of spreadsheet like excel and it will be up to the CTA to clean up the data and make it user friendly.  There are a number of different ways to establish databases that will work for keeping track of investors contacted and to contact.  After formatting a database or input, the CTA should always back-up the new, manipulated data.  From here the CTA will want to export the manipulated data to a CRM.  There are a number of customer relationship management (CRM) software solutions which allow managers to manipulate large raw sets of data, such as the lead lists. It is very important for the CTA to take good notes about the interactions with the leads.

Notes About Emailing Investors from Lead Lists

Emailing your marketing presentation can be a very effective way to market to some of the investors on the lead lists.  However, CTAs should not send every piece of marketing material that they have.  A CTA may want to think about emailing a summary presentation with bullett points.  A teaser like this sets the plate so that when the CTA follows up with the lead (with a phone call), the lead has a little bit of background on the manager, but is not overwhelmed (or worse, annoyed).  CTAs should be aware that even with the best lead lists there is likely to be some email kickback from natural changes in the composition of the company.  The best systems are likely to have 2-3% kickback, the middle tiered lists are likely to have 5-10% kickback and the lower quality lists are likely to have much more.

Approaching Fund of Fund Investors

While many fund of fund investors don’t actively advertise that they allocate to emerging managers, they do and CTA firms should be calling these managers.  Even if a FOF manager decided not to invest with the CTA manager, calling is still a good way to connect and develop a relationship – potentially that relationship can develop down the line.  Fund of fund managers do like CTA and other emerging managers not only because of the potential returns but also because the FOF managers are likely to be able to negotiate carve-outs of the CTA manager’s future capacity.

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This article first appeared in the CTA Expo Blog run by Bart Mallon, Esq.  Mr. Mallon also runs the Hedge Fund Law Blog and is committed to providing useful and easy to understand information for CTAs and CPOs which can be found in our CTA and CPO Registration and Compliance Guide. For more information on CTA registration or compliance services please contact Mr. Mallon at 415-868-5345.

CTA Regulatory and Compliance Discussion

By Bart Mallon, Esq. (www.colefrieman.com)

“Compliance in a Changing Environment”

As we are all well aware both the investing and the regulatory environments have experienced a dramatic refocusing on compliance and related issues in the wake of the 2008 meltdown and the Bernie Madoff affair.  This overview is for the CTA Expo 2009 program entitled Compliance in a Changing Environment.  The program was sponsored by Woodfield Fund Administration and featured Kate Dressel of Strategic Compliance Solutions as well as Patty Cushing of the National Futures Association.

Ms. Dressel announced that compliance and processes and procedures have become increasingly important, especially since investors are now concerned about fraud.  The best defense with regard to fraud, and an theme that pervaded this and other discussions, is that a CTA needs to have a reputable accountant and auditor.  Having reputable service providers (including administrators, auditors and legal firms) will help potential investors/clients to feel more comfortable with the CTA and the investment program.

Ms. Cushing, who is the associate director for Risk Management and Member Education at the NFA, began by emphasizing that CTA performance information needs to be accurate.  She also mentioned that CTAs really need to be focused on trading and the other business issues, especially accounting and legal, should be done by experienced people or service providers.  Ms. Cushing made reference to the NFA’s spreadsheet (although I could not find this on the NFA’s website) as well as an informative webscast by the NFA discussing CTA Performance Reporting webcast.  Basically she said that if you don’t want to spend the time making sure that all of the numbers are perfect, then you are going to need to use a consulting firm.

If you self administrer you are going to need to think about an outside administrator so that there will be increased oversight.

Ms. Dressel talked about the current industry buzzword – transparency.  Transparency is important, she went on, not just in trading but in all aspects of the CTA business.  Compliance and operations, especially, need well ordered and solid procedures in place.  Oversight is the key and it is very important that the principals are aware of everything that is going on in the firm.

[Note: Ms. Cushing talked about forex managers and noted that forex managers needed to make sure they were submitting their forex disclosure documents to the NFA for review.  I spoke with Ms. Cushing after the session was over to gain clarification over her statement and also discuss the forex registration rules which were supposed to be proposed by the CFTC some time ago.  For clarification, I want to point out that forex managers only need to have the NFA review their forex disclosure documents if they are already a member of the NFA – that is, if they are already registered as a CTA or CPO.  Forex only managers who are currently not registered with the NFA (and who trade only in the off-exchange spot markets) currently do not need to register with the NFA.  I discussed this with Ms. Cushing and asked if she had seen a draft of the registration rules or if she had heard anything from the CFTC as to when the rules might be proposed – she said that the CFTC has been working on the rules but that she has no idea when or if the rules will be proposed.  She seemed to be parroting the CFTC on this issue – the agency has told me a number of times that they are working on the rules and that they will be proposed shortly.]

Ms. Cushing mentioned that some CTA firms will actually use a previous NFA audit as a kind of “stamp of approval” by the regulatory agency.  Although the NFA audit is only designed for the NFA Member who was subject to the audit, some Members will send these to their clients.  Accoring to Ms. Cushing, the NFA is taking no opinion with regard to this practice.  She did note, however, that such reports might not be the best source of information regarding a firm’s procedures as it might be out of date.

Ms. Dressel mentioned that mock audits for CTAs are good to pursue – you can contact a number of outside firms like her own that can help a manager through a mock audit.  Not only does a mock audit help a firm for an actual NFA audit, but it will also help to identify operational issues which the manager can refocus upon.

One of the most important items that CTAs should be aware of is their marketing materials and disclosure documents.  It is imperative that CTA firms make sure that every statement in the disclosure documents and other marketing materials be true.  CTA firms should not try to stretch the truth – potential investors are check and there is a whole new paradigm.  Any stretched truth will be uncovered during the due diligence process which now includes, for some managers, phorensic accounting to make sure that trading parameters have been consistently adheared to.  Investors now need absolute confidence in who you are and what you do.

CTA firms should be vigilant about making sure they stick to the trading parameters in the disclosure documents.

A very good piece of advice is that if there is anything in your disclosure documents which is not true, you need to update your documents.  [BM note: and potentially discuss the change with your current investors/clients.]

Ms. Cushing noted that there a number of ways to that your firm can prepare for an NFA audit.  The first step is to read and be aware of the NFA’s yearly self-examination checklist.  [Note: if you do not know about the self-exam checklist, and if you do not have a compliance program in place, please see a CTA attorney or compliance person immediately to become compliant.  The self-exam checklist is a central part of a good compliance program.]  Ms. Cushing urged those firms who have questions about the checklist to call the NFA (although, in practice, this is usually an effort in futility as the staff will generally not ask questions and tell firms to consult with an attorney or other compliance professionals).

Questions From Audience

After this we had an opportunity to move onto questions from the attendees.  One comment came from Fred Gehm who has worked in due diligence for a fund of funds which allocated to the CTAs through separately managed accounts.  He made the statement that if the manager doesn’t have an external administrator the FOF will not allocate to that CTA – even if the CTA has audited returns.  He also made the comment that 10-15% of the time CTAs (or other managers) will lie to him and he will catch it.  Obviously in these cases the FOF does not allocate to such a group.  He said that many times if the manager had been honest about fact in the first place, it would likely have been something that would have been passed over but for the lied.

Ms. Cushing and Ms. Dressel emphasized that the CTA is ultimately responsible for making sure that the books and records are correct – even if there is an outside administrator, the CTA needs to take an active role in this area.

The next questioner noted that family offices and pensions are beginning to get involved in the CTA space and he wondered how smaller CTAs can set up structures to be well positioned for such investors.  Ms. Dressel suggested that the CTA manager get as much of the program together as possible – this means the manager should try to get the best administrators, auditors and legal counsel that they can afford.  The manager should also be able to completely answer a standard due diligence questionnaire – these questionnaires highlight some of the important structural and governance items that family offices and pensions will be focusing on.

Mr. Gehm mentioned that he is concerned with two central issues when allocating to small CTAs: (1) custody and (2) risk management.  With the first, custody, he said he was especially concerned with who signs the checks and where is the dollar control.  Fred recommended that CTAs have secondary signer for disbursements.  With regard to the second issue, risk management, he said he looked for a structure where someone with independent authority had authority with regard to this issue.  The key here is that the risk manager should have no fear of losing his job, that there is contractual safeguards for him doing his risk management.

There were a couple of other brief questions before the session ended.  One takeaway with regard to risk management is to think about things throughout the organization – key man provisions and plans for odd eventualities.  The more that a CTA manager really thinks about and understands the risk of his business, the better it will be for the investors and the more likely for the CTA manager to have an easier time raising capital.

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This article was first printed on the CTA Expo Blog.  This article was contributed by Bart Mallon, Esq. who runs the Hedge Fund Law Blog and is committed to providing useful and easy to understand information for CTAs and CPOs which can be found in our CTA and CPO Registration and Compliance Guide. For more information on CTA registration or compliance services please contact Bart Mallon, Esq. at 415-868-5345.

CTA Expo 2009

Commodity Trading Advisor Conference

Next week there will be a conference for Commodity Trading Advisors held in Chicago at the Hotel Monaco.  The conference, entitled the CTA Expo 2009, will be held on Wednesday and will feature a variety of topics of interest to CTAs.  The agenda includes:

I will be representing my firm, Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP, at the conference and I look forward to meeting with the different traders and service providers at the event.  Each entrant will also receive a CTA Directory which will include a “tear sheet” on all of the groups which attended.  Please see the Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP description of CTA services.

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Event information can be found here.  There is also a CTA Expo LinkedIn Group.

CTA EXPO 2009
October 21, 2009
Hotel Monaco Chicago, Illinois

CTA EXPO consists of a day of roundtables and seminars for Commodity Trading Advisors on marketing strategy combined with an all day schedule of thirty minute presentations by individual CTAS to small groups of professional money raisers, asset allocators and interested clients who are seeking to identify additional trading talent.

The debut conference in 2008 sold out in advance and was attended by over thirty-five CTAs and over sixty people who registered as professional money raisers and asset allocators. We have increased capacity for 2009 and interest in this year’s event has already been tremendous and we are anticipating another sold out event.

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The hedge fund law blog is committed to providing useful and easy to understand information for CTAs and CPOs which can be found in our CTA and CPO Registration and Compliance Guide.  For more information on registration or compliance services please contact Bart Mallon, Esq. at 415-868-5345.

OTC Derivatives Markets Act of 2009 Passes House Committee Vote

CFTC Chairman Gensler Applauds “Historic Progress”

In a first step towards increased regulation of the over-the-counter derivatives markets, the House Financial Services Committee approved the Over-the-Counter Derivatives Markets Act of 2009.  The act is one of several initiatives to increase regulatory oversight of the financial markets and if passed by Congress would be signed into law by President Obama. Among other things the act would require Swap dealers and major swap participants to register with either the CFTC or the SEC.

Below I have reprinted press releases from both the House Financial Services Committee and the CFTC.

UPDATE: The Securities Industry Financial and Markets Association (SIFMA) just issued a press release reposted below as well.

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Financial Services Committee Approves Legislation to Regulate Derivatives

Committee completes work on a key element of President Obama’s plan to bring accountability and responsibility to Wall Street

Washington, DC – {The House Financial Services Committee today approved legislation that would, for the first time ever, require the comprehensive regulation of the over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives marketplace. Today’s bill, which was approved by a vote of 43-26, represents a key part of a broader effort by Congress and President Obama to modernize America’s financial regulatory system in response to last year’s financial crisis.

Under the bill, all standardized swap transactions between dealers and large market participants, referred to as “major swap participants,” would have to be cleared and must be traded on an exchange or electronic platform. A major swap participant is defined as anyone that maintains a substantial net position in swaps, exclusive of hedging for commercial risk, or whose positions creates such significant exposure to others that it requires monitoring. OTC derivatives include swaps, which are contracts that call for an exchange of cash between two counterparties based on an underlying rate, index, credit event or the performance of an asset.

The legislation then sets out parallel regulatory frameworks for the regulation of swap markets, dealers, and major swap participants.  Rulemaking authority is held jointly by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), which has jurisdiction over swaps, and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which has jurisdiction over security-based swaps.   The Treasury Department is given the authority to issue final rules if the CFTC and SEC cannot decide on a joint approach within 180 days. Subsequent interpretations of rules must be agreed to jointly by the Commissions.

Description of the Over-the-Counter Derivatives Markets Act of 2009

Clearing

The legislation provides a mechanism to determine which swap transactions are sufficiently standardized that they must be submitted to a clearinghouse. For transactions that are clearable, clearing is a requirement when both counterparties are either dealers or major swap participants.  Clearing organizations must seek approval from the appropriate regulator—either the CFTC or the SEC—before a swap or class of swaps can be accepted for clearing.

Transactions in standardized swaps that involve end-users are not required to be cleared. Such customized transactions must, however, be reported to a trade repository.

Mandatory Trading on Exchange or Swap Execution Facility

A standardized and cleared swap transaction where both counterparties are either dealers or major swap participants must either be executed on a board of trade, a national securities exchange or a “swap execution facility”—as defined in the legislation.  If none of these venues makes a clearable swap available for trading, the trading requirement would not apply.  Counterparties would, however, have to comply with transaction reporting requirements established by the appropriate regulator.  The legislation also directs the regulators to eliminate unnecessary obstacles to trading on a board of trade or a national securities exchange.

Registration and Regulation of Swap Dealers and Major Swap Participants

Swap dealers and major swap participants must register with the appropriate Commission and dual registration is required in applicable cases.  Capital requirements for swap dealers’ and major swap participants’ positions in cleared swaps must be set at greater than zero.  Capital for non-cleared transaction must be set higher than for cleared transactions.  The prudential regulators will set capital for banks, while the Commissions will set capital for non-banks at a level that is “as strict or stricter” than that set by the prudential regulators.

The regulators are directed to set margin levels for counterparties in transactions that are not cleared.   The regulators are not required to set margin in transaction where one of the counterparties is not a dealer or major swap participant.  In cases where an end user is a counterparty to a transaction, any margin requirements must permit the use of non-cash collateral.

Reporting and Public Disclosure of Swap Transactions

Reporting and recordkeeping is required for all over-the-counter derivative transactions.  Clearing organizations must provide transaction information to the relevant Commission and a designated trade repository.   Swap transactions that are not cleared and for which no trade repository exists, must be reported directly to the relevant Commission.   The legislation also provides for public disclosure of aggregate data on swap trading volumes and positions—in a manner that does not disclose the business transactions or market position of any person.  Large positions in swaps must also be reported directly to regulators.

Swap Execution Facilities

Swap execution facilities, or facility for the trading of swaps that are not Boards of Trade or National Securities Exchanges, must register with the relevant regulator as a swap execution facility (SEF).  SEFs must also adhere to core regulatory principles relating to enforcement, anti-manipulation, monitoring, information collection and conflicts of interest, among others. The CFTC and SEC are required to prescribe joint rules governing the regulation of swap execution facilities.  A Commission may exempt a SEF from registration if it is subject to comparable, comprehensive supervision and regulation by another regulator.

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Statement of Chairman Gary Gensler on House Financial Services Committee Passage of OTC Derivatives Regulatory Reform Legislation

October 15, 2009

Washington, DC – U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Gary Gensler today commented on the OTC Derivatives Markets Act of 2009, passed this morning by the House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services.

Chairman Gensler said:

“Today’s vote by the House Financial Services Committee represents historic progress toward comprehensive regulatory reform of the over-the-counter derivatives marketplace. The Committee’s bill is a significant step toward lowering risk and promoting transparency. Substantive challenges remain. I look forward to building on this Committee’s hard work with Chairman Frank, Chairman Peterson and others in the House and Senate to complete legislation that covers the entire marketplace without exception and to ensure that regulators have appropriate authorities to protect the public.”

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Release Date: October 15, 2009

Contact: Andrew DeSouza, (202) 962-7390, [email protected]

SIFMA’s Bentsen Statement on Committee Passage of Derivatives Regulation

October 15, 2009, Washington, DC—The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association today released a statement from Ken Bentsen, Executive Vice President, Public Policy and Advocacy in response to the House Financial Services Committee’s passage of the Over-the-Counter Derivatives Markets Act of 2009.

“Bringing greater regulatory transparency and oversight to derivatives markets and products is a key component of reforming our financial system. That oversight must also recognize the important role these risk management tools play for countless companies across the country and for our broader economy. Mandating particular transaction modes, as this bill does, could raise transaction costs while not necessarily reducing risk in a commensurate amount—results that we believe are contrary to our shared reform goals. As the legislative process continues we look forward to working with the Congress toward a bill that strikes a balance between the need for transparency and risk management efficiency.”

The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association brings together the shared interests of more than 550 securities firms, banks and asset managers. SIFMA’s mission is to promote policies and practices that work to expand and perfect markets, foster the development of new products and services and create efficiencies for member firms, while preserving and enhancing the public’s trust and confidence in the markets and the industry. SIFMA works to represent its members’ interests locally and globally. It has offices in New York, Washington D.C., and London and its associated firm, the Asia Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, is based in Hong Kong.

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Bart Mallon, Esq. runs hedge fund law blog and has written most all of the articles which appear on this website.  Mr. Mallon’s legal practice is devoted to helping emerging and start up hedge fund managers successfully launch a hedge fund.  If you are a hedge fund manager who is looking to start a hedge fund, or if you have questions about investment adviser registration with the SEC or state securities commission, please call Mr. Mallon directly at 415-868-5345.

CTA and CPO Registration and Compliance Guide

Practical guidance for CTA and CPO firms

Commodity Trading Advisors (CTAs) and Commodity Pool Operators (CPOs) have been contacting me with greater regularity and we have decided to provide those firms with more detailed information on their registration and compliance requirements. Over the course of the next few weeks we will be continually updating this page with more legal and business guidance for CTAs and CPOs. Specifically, we will be providing information on the following topics:

CTA and CPO Registration – this article discusses the how-to’s of registration with the CFTC. The article details the general requirements for firms, principals, and associated persons. Included in this discussion is information on CTA/CPO exam requirements and an overview of the registration process through the NFA’s electronic registration system.

CTA and CPO Registration Exemptions – while the Commodities Exchange Act will generally require CTA and CPO firms to register with the CFTC, there are some important exemptions from the registration provisions. Review this article to see if your firm might be able to claim an exemption from the registration provisions.

CTA and CPO Compliance Overview – CTAs and CPOs are subject to a number of laws, regulations and rules. Not only must CTAs and CPOs follow CFTC laws and regulations, but as Members of the NFA, these groups must also follow all of the rules developed by the NFA. We will be discussing compliance best practices, major examination issues, major deadlines and the CTA/CPO compliance manual. Being prepared for an NFA examination is of great importance.

Recent NFA Actions against CTA and CPO Managers – the NFA and the CFTC have been quite active lately. In this article we will be discussing some of the most recent actions against NFA member firms. This article will also provide common-sense advice on what managers can do the protect themselves from examination deficiencies.

Important NFA Rules for CTA and CPO Firms – there are a number of rules which the NFA has regarding the conduct of CTAs and CPOs. In general CTAs and CPOs must hold themselves out with the utmost professionalism. This article will detail this and other important NFA rules.

CTA and CPO advertising – there are a number of important rules regarding advertising for CTAs and CPOs. CPOs, especially, must be careful about advertising because of the restrictions under Rule 506 of Regulation D, an exemption that many CPOs utilize in offering their fund interests. Websites will be touched upon in this post and will also be discussed in greater depth in a subsequent posting.

CTA and CPO websites – many CTA firms utilize the internet to advertise their services. CPO firms will also sometimes have a (minimal) internet presence. This article will detail the considerations that both CTA and CPO firms face when creating and maintaining an internet presence and how to deal with internet based inquiries from potential investors.

NFA Exam Requirements for CTAs and CPOs – individuals of NFA member firms will generally need to have a Series 3 exam license and potentially a Series 30 exam. Some individuals may need to have a Series 31 exam license and, potentially in the future, forex CTAs and CPOs will need to have a Series 34 exam license. This article will discuss these exams and the process an individual will go through in order to register to take the exams.

CTA Expo Blog – the unofficial blog of the CTA Expo most recently held in October of 2009.  Information for CTA managers on business, legal and compliance issues.  Included is a directory of CTA firms and service providers.

Forex CTAs and CPOs – the regulatory light has been focused on retail spot forex managers recently. Read this article to get up to speed on recent CFTC and NFA pronouncements regarding this area of the industry. We will also provide information on Forex IBs and Forex FCMs.

In addition to the above topics we are hoping to add others over time. We welcome all feedback and encourage you to leave comments below. We will also attempt to answer CTA and CPO frequently asked questions.

If you are a manager or firm that needs to register as a CTA or CPO, or if you are contemplating registration, please contact Bart Mallon, Esq. of Cole-Frieman & Mallon LLP at 415-868-5345.