Tag Archives: cpo compliance

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.

NFA Cracks Down on CPO Fraud with New Compliance Rule

Proposes Amendments to Compliance Rule 2-45

The National Futures Association (NFA) proposed new amendments to Compliance Rule 2-45 regarding prohibition of loans by pools to commodity pool operators and related parties.  The amendment states that no Member CPO may permit a commodity pool to use any means to make a direct or indirect loan or advance of pool assets to the CPO or any other affiliated person or entity.  The amendment is proposed in response to a recent NFA investigation which revealed that CPOs  had misappropriated pool funds through improper loans from pools to the CPOs or related entities.  The full NFA proposal can be viewed below.


May 27, 2009
Via Federal Express

Mr. David Stawick
Office of the Secretariat
Commodity Futures Trading Commission
Three Lafayette Centre
1155 21st Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20581

Re: National Futures Association: Prohibition of Loans by Pools to Commodity Pool Operators and Related Parties – Proposed Adoption of Compliance Rule 2-45

Dear Mr. Stawick:

Pursuant to Section 17(j) of the Commodity Exchange Act, as amended, National Futures Association (“NFA”) hereby submits to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC” or “Commission”) proposed Compliance Rule 2-45 regarding prohibition of loans by pools to commodity pool operators and related parties. This proposal was approved by NFA’s Board of Directors (“Board”) on May 21, 2009. NFA respectfully requests Commission review and approval.


(additions are underscored)


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No Member CPO may permit a commodity pool to use any means to make a direct or indirect loan or advance of pool assets to the CPO or any other affiliated person or entity.


In February, NFA took two Member Responsibility Actions (“MRAs”) against three NFA Member commodity pool operators (“CPOs”). Although the basis of both MRAs was the CPOs’ failure to cooperate with NFA in an investigation, the limited investigation that NFA was able to perform revealed that the CPOs had misappropriated pool funds through improper loans from pools to the CPOs or related entities. The CFTC charged all three of the CPOs with misappropriating pool assets through improper loans, and all three were charged criminally with fraud.

These two matters are not the first instances of CPOs misappropriating pool participant funds through direct or indirect loans from a pool to the CPO or a related entity. Over the years, there have been a number of regulatory actions involving this type of fraud. Given the significant losses suffered by pool participants as a result of these improper loans, NFA is proposing to prohibit direct or indirect loans from commodity pools to the CPO or any affiliated person or entity.

NFA staff discussed this matter with NFA’s CPO/CTA Advisory Committee, which supported prohibiting loans because it believes that absent extraordinary circumstances there is no legitimate reason for a pool to make a direct or indirect loan to its CPO or a related party. The Committee indicated, however, that participants, including a CPO’s principal, should not be prevented from borrowing against their equity interest in the pool.

NFA Compliance Rule 2-45 provides for a complete prohibition of direct or indirect loans or any advance of pool assets between a pool and its CPO or any other affiliated person or entity. NFA recognizes that there may be circumstances where a carve out to this prohibition may be appropriate, such as where a CPO permits participants, including a pool’s general partner, to borrow against their equity interest in the pool in lieu of a withdrawal, provided that the loan is collateralized by the participant’s interest in the pool. NFA believes that these types of situations are best handled on a case by case basis, with the CPO seeking a no-action letter from NFA.

NFA respectfully requests that the Commission review and approve proposed Compliance Rule 2-45 regarding prohibition of loans by pools to commodity pool operators and related parties.

Respectfully submitted,

Thomas W. Sexton
Senior Vice President and General Counsel


Please contact us if you have any questions or would like to start a hedge fund.  Other related hedge fund law articles include:

Annual Reminder for CPOs and CTAs

Commodity Firms Need to Complete Annual Regulatory Information

The NFA recently released a regulatory reminder to firms which are registered as commodity pool operators and/or commodity trading advisors.  The reminder reminds CPOs and CTAs that there are certain annual regulatory items which a firm must complete in order to remain in good standing with the NFA.  I have reprinted these two releases below.  As a summary, the reports emphasize:

  1. Firms must complete an annual update and questionnaire.  Firms must pay of yearly dues to the NFA (which can be done online).  Firms should also make sure that all employees are appropriately registered as Associated Persons, as necessary.
  2. Firms should review the NFA Self Exam checklist to ensure compliance.
  3. Firms should send Privacy Policy to all investors/ clients.
  4. Firms should review and test the Disaster Recovery Plan.  If necessary, adjustments should be made.
  5. Firms should review Ethics Training Procedures.   If necessary, appropriate ethics training should be provided.
  6. Firms should file any new exemption notices with the NFA, if necessary.
  7. Firms should review their Disclosure Document.  As a reminder, the Disclosure Document must be no more than 9 months old and reviewed by the NFA.  If the CPO or CTA firm also trades in the off-exchange forex markets, the Disclosure Document must incorporate the new forex rules which were adopted on November 30, 2008 (see NFA Compliance Rule 2-41 on post regarding NFA to Begin Regulating Forex).
  8. (For CTAs) If the firm places bunched orders, the firm must conduct (and document) quarterly analysis of the of order allocation method.  The order allocation method must be fair and equitable.
  9. (For CPOs)  Firms must distribute the pool’s Annual Report to investors; Annual Report must also be submitted to the NFA.

Many of the above items can be done online.  Many of the above items should be overseen by a hedge fund/ securities attorney or an experienced NFA compliance consultant.  Please contact us if you would like more information on our annual NFA compliance packages which can be modified based on your needs.  We can also provide compliance support on an hourly basis. Continue reading