Tag Archives: Forex

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.

Recent Issues with NFA Annual Questionnaire

As we discussed in an earlier post on NFA Annual Questionnaire, NFA Member Firms are required to complete the questionnaire on an annual basis.  The information helps the NFA in a variety of ways and the NFA encourages members to update their questionnaire on a regular basis, although firms are only required to complete it, at a minimum, on the anniversary of their NFA Membership date.

Number of Half-turn Trades Issue

One issue that we are seeing clients deal with is the last question which applies to commodity trading advisors (CTAs) and commodity pool operators (CPOs).   The question is as follows:

For CTAs and CPOs only: Provide the following information for accounts held by CTAs and/or CPOs:

How many total domestic futures and options trades (half-turns) did your firm place directly with an FCM in the last 12 months? Please include trades for customer, commodity pool (both regulated pools and pools exempt pursuant to CFTC Part 4 Regulations) and proprietary accounts, but do not include trades that were actually placed by another money manager on behalf of any of these accounts.

The issue is that the question asks for the total amount of half-turn trades were completed over the last 12 months.  This could be an absolutely huge number and it would be onerous for a CTA or a CPO to go back and actually count each trade (unless the broker/clearing firm was keeping track for the CTA or CPO).  Accordingly, I have now talked with the NFA twice about this issue and they have confirmed that an approximate or estimated number is sufficient for the purposes of the questionnaire.  While such informal guidance is not binding, it seems like the NFA wants to have a general idea of the trading volumes and is not going to “ding” a manager if the exact number is not determined.

Issues for Forex CTAs and Forex CPOs

Even before the forex registration regulations were proposed, many forex-only managers registered with the CFTC as either forex CTAs or CPOs.  I asked the NFA compliance department how such managers should answer the above question as would not make sense in the spot forex context.  The NFA said that such managers should answer the above question by placing a 0 (zero) in the appropriate box (assuming there was only spot forex trading).

If you have other questions or issues when you are completing the annual questionnaire, you can either call the NFA or your compliance professional.  Also, please let us know what your issues are so we can update this article accordingly.

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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.

FLOORED Film Peeks Inside Chicago Trading World

Audience Reacts Positively to James Allen Smith’s Documentary on Chicago Floor Trading

On Thursday evening at the Roxie Theatre in San Francisco, the professional women’s organization 100 Women in Hedge Funds sponsored the showing of Floored, a documentary by ex-floor trader James Allen Smith that offers a peek inside the lives, successes, and struggles of former traders of the Chicago trading floor (a.k.a. the “pit”).

Those who showed up to watch the film made for the perfect audience–traders, hedge fund managers, and other financial industry professionals schmoozed over wine and cheese before the showing, during which boos, laughter, applause, and verbal comments erupted each time the audience could relate to traders’ stories or make fun of their often idiosyncratic comments. Upon leaving trading, one notable former trader (and quite the character) Mike Walsh took up the hobby of hunting lions, giraffes, and other wild animals.

Through interviews and live footage of pit trading, the documentary tells the story of the Chicago Board of Trade’s (now the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, CME) humble beginnings–it opened in 1898 as the Chicago Butter and Egg Board because it only traded butter and egg contracts!–to the roller coaster ride experienced by floor traders during the peak of futures and options floor trading in the mid-1990s.

Starting in 1992 and still in use today in the pit is the combination of open outcry, the system of loudly shouting over competitors often associated with floor trading, and GLOBEX, an electronic trading system which works alongside open outcry to make trading more efficient. The idea behind trading revolves around buying a commodity at one price and then trying to sell it for a better price in order to make a profit.  In the film, the traders described this system as a game–one trader stated that when the bell goes off (to initiate the opening of trading hours), he experiences an adrenaline rush as if he were playing a sports game.  Another trader commented, “Trading is not a normal job. When you are in there [the pit] from 8:30 to 3:15, it’s all about money!”

The main issue traders discussed was the shift from floor trading to electronic trading. The majority opinion was that computers changed the dynamic of trading in an unfavorable way and that trading in person helps make the price of commodities more efficient. One trader commented that open outcry was more “honorable”. There is also a generational issue, as older traders who did not grow up using computers had trouble figuring out complicated electronic trading platforms. Essentially, those traders who still had enough money to continue trading and who were able to use the electronic systems continued trading, while those who lost too much money in the pit were forced to leave trading altogether.

According to the CME, the options and futures trading floor remains grounded in floor trading, which accounts for 90% of trades with the remaining 10% occurring electronically. The futures pit, however, has seen the biggest crossover to electronic trading, with approximately 85% of trades taking place on the computer and the remaining ones in the pit.

After the film, Smith, who watched the film alongside his audience, stood at the front of the theatre for a Q&A session. He was asked about his background–he went to art school then found himself doing web design for finance businesses in Chicago, where a friend suggested he make a movie about floor traders. He even dabbled in trading and reached out to his network when casting traders for the film. When asked why former traders were willing to open up about their personal lives on film, he commented that less successful traders are often more likely to talk, while more successful traders remain tighter-lipped. Finally, when asked what impression of traders he wanted to leave with audiences, Smith replied that traders are usually stereotyped as “greedy a**holes”, and he wanted to show that traders are more “dynamic than just that part of their personalities” by offering a “more rounded impression [of traders]” through his film.

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For information about future Floored showings, click here.

Other related Floored and CME articles include:

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

Retail FOREX Registration Regulations Proposed

Forex Managers Required to be Registered Under New Regulations

The much anticipated off-exchange retail foreign currency regulations were proposed today by the CFTC.  The release announcing the publication in the Federal Register is reprinted below and can be found here.  We will be providing an overview of the major provisions shortly.

The full proposed rules are posted here: Proposed Retail Forex Registration Rules

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Release: 5772-10

For Release: January 13, 2010

CFTC Seeks Public Comment on Proposed Regulations Regarding Retail FOREX Transactions

Washington, DC – The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) today announced the publication in the Federal Register of proposed regulations concerning off-exchange retail foreign currency transactions. The proposed rules follow the passage of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, Pub. L. No. 110-246, 122 Stat. 1651, 2189-2204 (2008), also known as the “Farm Bill,” which amended the Commodity Exchange Act in several significant ways. In particular, the Farm Bill:

  • clarified the scope of the CFTC’s anti-fraud authority with respect to retail off-exchange foreign currency transactions;
  • provided the CFTC with the authority to register entities wishing to serve as counterparties to retail forex transactions as well as those who solicit orders, exercise discretionary trading authority and operate pools with respect to retail off-exchange foreign currency transactions; and
  • mandated minimum capital requirements for entities serving as counterparties to such transactions.

“These proposed rules for retail foreign exchange trading are important steps in implementing the additional consumer protections authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill,” CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler said. “The Commission looks forward to receiving and considering the public’s comments on this important issue.”

Pursuant to this authority, the Commission is proposing a comprehensive scheme that would put in place requirements for, among other things, registration, disclosure, recordkeeping, financial reporting, minimum capital, and other operational standards. Specifically, the proposed regulations would require the registration of counterparties offering retail foreign currency contracts as either futures commission merchants (FCMs) or retail foreign exchange dealers (RFEDs), a new category of registrant created by the Farm Bill. Persons who solicit orders, exercise discretionary trading authority and operate pools with respect to retail forex would also be required to register, either as introducing brokers, commodity trading advisors, commodity pool operators, or as associated persons of such entities. As was the case prior to the passage of the Farm Bill, “otherwise regulated” entities such as financial institutions and SEC-registered brokers or dealers remain able to serve as counterparties in such transactions under the oversight of their primary regulators.

The proposed regulations also include financial requirements designed to ensure the financial integrity of firms engaging in retail forex transactions and robust customer protections. For example, FCMs and RFEDs would be required to maintain net capital of $20 million plus 5% of the amount, if any, by which liabilities to retail forex customers exceed $10 million. Leverage in retail forex customer accounts would be subject to a 10-to-1 limitation. All retail forex counterparties and intermediaries would be required to distribute forex-specific risk disclosure statements to customers, and comply with comprehensive recordkeeping and reporting requirements.

Comments regarding the proposed regulations may be submitted by any of the means listed in the Federal Register release and should be received by the Commission within 60 days of the date of publication.

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Other related FOREX law articles include:

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

NFA Provides Social Networking Compliance Guidance

Member Firms Subject to Increased Oversight & Compliance Responsibilities

In early December the National Futures Association (“NFA”) submitted two proposed amendments proposed amendments to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) regarding NFA Member Firms and their use of the internet and social media networks.  The amendments focus on communications by firms over the internet in various capacities including blogs, chat rooms, forums, and various social media websites (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc). While these amendments will increase the oversight responsibilities for Member Firms, it makes sense for the NFA to alert members to their responsibilities with regard to these growing forms of communication.  This post describes the two amendments, application to forex managers, the NFA social media podcast and the impact these amendments are likely to have on all NFA Member firms.  The NFA’s Notice to Members on this issue is also reprinted at the end of this post.

Overview of Amendments

Amendment to Rule 2-29

Rule 2-29 was broadened by the following changes (underline and strikethrough):

(h) Radio and Television Advertisements.

No Member shall use or directly benefit from any radio or television advertisement or any other audio or video advertisement distributed through media accessible by the public if the advertisement that makes any specific trading recommendation or refers to or describes the extent of any profit obtained in the past that can be achieved in the future unless the Member submits the advertisement to NFA’s Promotional Material Review Team for its review and approval at least 10 days prior to first use or such shorter period as NFA may allow in particular circumstances.

By broadening the rule the NFA effectively is requiring Member Firms to make sure all audio and video internet advertising (i.e. podcasts, youtube, voiceover presentations, etc) be reviewed prior to use.  Effectively groups who have used these channels to market their services will need to (i) have all such media reviewed by the NFA or (ii) take all media off of the internet.

Interpretive Notice: Internet Communication & Social Media

This interpretive notice is not so much an amendment of an existing Interpretive Notice as it is simply the creation of a new notice.  The full Interpretive Notice can be found in the proposed amendments link above, but I have also reprinted some of the more interesting parts of the notice:

The form of communication does not change the obligations of Members and Associates who host or participate in these groups, and electronic communications must comply with Compliance Rules 2-9, 2-29, 2-36, and 2-39.

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Therefore, content generated by the Member or Associate is subject to the requirements of NFA Compliance Rules 2-29, 2-36, or 2-39. The same is true for futures, options, or forex content written by a Member or Associate and posted on a third party’s site.

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Members should have policies regarding employee conduct. These policies could require employees to notify the employer if they participate in any on-line trading or financial communities and provide screen names so that the employer can monitor employees’ posts periodically. Alternatively, the policy could simply prohibit participation in such communities. The Member must, of course, take reasonable steps to enforce whatever policies it adopts.

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The issue becomes more complicated for user-generated comments responding to a Member or Associate’s blog and for Members and Associates who host chat rooms or forums. What is their responsibility for posts from customers or others over whom the Member or Associate has no direct control? When inadequately monitored, social networking sites may contain misleading information, lure customers into trades that they would not normally make, or be used in an attempt to manipulate prices.

The biggest take-away is that the NFA is expecting NFA Members to integrate a social media awareness into their current compliance program.  Accordingly, compliance programs (especially those parts dealing with Compliance Rules 2-9, 2-29, 2-36, and 2-39) will need to be updated appropriately to reflect the requirements of the Interpretive Notice.  Member Firms will also need to vigillantly follow their new/revised compliance procedures and monitor their employees – it will be very easy for the NFA to do simple internet searches and potentially “catch” firms who do not adequately comply the Interpretive Release.

Issues for Forex Managers

Forex is specifically discussed throughout the Interpretive Notice so it is clear that the NFA’s intent is to make sure that forex communications, especially, are subject to monitoring and oversight.  Currently this rule applies to those firms who are NFA Member Firms (currently registered) and, in the future, after the forex registration rules have been adopted, it will apply to all registered forex firms (CTAs, CPOs, IBs and FDMs/FCMs).  The NFA has made it clear before that forex managers/traders are in the NFA’s regulatory cross-hairs and this Interpretive Notice reinforces that impression.

NFA Podcast on Social Media

The NFA has produced a podcast titled “Use and Supervision of Online Social Networking Communication” and can be found with other NFA produced podcasts.  This podcast is helpful to provide Member Firms with some helpful guidance on some of the major issues to consider when developing a social media policy to comply with the Interpretive Notice and Rule amendment.  There are a number of considerations that firms will need to make and the social media policy must be tailored to the business practices of the firm.  There are likely to be a number of hot button issues which will develop regarding Member Firms and this policy, especially concerning oversight of associated persons.  The podcast also hints at one of the big compliance issues which managers should be aware of – the reposting of content.  Because internet posts are routinely “scraped” from the original website and reposted on other websites, Member Firms should be aware of this issue and create appropriate procedures.

It is recommended that compliance officers listen to this podcast when developing their social media compliance policies and procedures.

Impact on NFA Members

I view these amendments as relatively major – because so many firms use the internet for marketing and because prior NFA rules essentially did not address the issues of social networks there has been a bit of a regulatory gap.  However, I do think that the NFA is doing the right thing by publicly notifying Member Firms that this will be a compliance issue going forward – this is much better than a retroactive interpretation of existing NFA compliance rules. One thing I think that member firms should be especially concerned with is potential liability for what 3rd parties do with information which is posted online.  On the podcast, the NFA specifically suggested that firms should be policing their content and actively follow how it might be used by 3rd parties which is obviously problematic given the way the internet works.

Because these amendments affect both a current NFA Rule as well as the NFA’s Interpretive Releases, these amendments may make their way (eventually) onto the various exams (Series 3, Series 30, Series 34 especially).

These rules are also likely to create a compliance nightmare for many firms which have utilized the internet previously (and social media specifically).

Compliance Recommendations

The safest approach to social media compliance for all NFA Member Firms is to not allow the use any social media websites or other means of internet communication which would subject the firm to have a robust social media policy (including record retention policy for such media).  It will be much less costly to put a blanket prohibition on these types of activities than to develop and monitor such a policy.  For those firms who are willing to spend the time and money to implement a policy, such firms should make sure that all major aspects of the amendments are included in the policy.  Such items to consider will include: internet and social media content review, recordkeeping and storage, oversight of employees (including spot-checking internet posts and activity), and reposting review procedures, among other issues to consider.  It will be absolutely critical to make sure the policy addresses all issues raised in the Interpretive Notice and podcast because the NFA has not minced words – this is going to be a hot-button issue and it will be something the NFA will actively pursue during examinations.

Of course we will be able to provide greater guidance over the next few months as we see how the NFA handles this issue during and outside of examinations.

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Notice to Members I-10-01

January 5, 2010

Effective Dates of NFA Requirements Regarding On-Line Advertising and Social Networking Groups

NFA has received notice from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) that NFA may make effective certain proposed amendments regarding the use of internet and on-line social networking groups when communicating with the public. The Interpretive Notice entitled “Use of On-Line Social Networking Groups to Communicate with the Public” makes clear that on-line communications are subject to the same standards as other types of communications with the public and provides guidance to Members to meet their responsibilities in this area. The Interpretive Notice became effective on December 24, 2009.

A related amendment to Compliance Rule 2-29(h) requires that any audio or video distributed through media accessible by the public (e.g., through the internet) that makes any specific trading recommendation or refers to the extent of profit previously obtained or achievable in the future must be submitted to NFA for review and approval at least 10 days prior to first use. In this way the amendment subjects certain on-line advertising to the same requirements as similar television and radio advertising. To allow Members sufficient time to submit these types of advertisements to NFA for approval, the amendment becomes effective as of February 1, 2010. Accordingly, any audio or video advertisements that a Member posts on-line after January 31, 2010, must have been previously reviewed and approved by NFA.

NFA’s December 8, 2009, submission letter to the CFTC contains a more detailed explanation of the changes. You can access an electronic copy of the submission letter at: http://www.nfa.futures.org/news/PDF/CFTC/CR2-29_IntNotc_re_OnLine_Social_Networking_120209.pdf.

Questions concerning these changes should be directed to Sharon Pendleton, Director, Compliance ([email protected] or 312-781-1401) or Michael A. Piracci, Senior Attorney ([email protected] or 312-781-1419).

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Other related hedge fund law blog articles include:

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 Discusses Recent Forex Regulations

Answers Regarding Prohibition of Hedging Spot Forex Transactions

(www.hedgefundlawblog.com)  The NFA has certainly taken a lot of heat over its controversial rule to ban the practice of “hedging” in a single spot forex account.  Many retail investors have already begun establishing brokerage accounts offshore in order to utilize this trading strategy.  I recently talked with a compliance person at the NFA and they said that they are aware that US persons are going to offshore forex brokers in order to utilize this trading strategy.  We will see if in the future the NFA relents on this issue, but for now the NFA has provided guidance on some of the more technical aspects of the new Compliance Rule 2-43.

The NFA guidance is reprinted in full below and can also be found here.

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NFA Compliance Rule 2-43 Q & A

NFA has received a number of inquiries regarding the application of new NFA Compliance Rule 2-43. This Q & A answers the most common questions.

CR 2-43(a), Price Adjustments[1]

Q. Section (a)(1)(i) of the rule provides an exception from the prohibition on price adjustments where the adjustment is favorable to the customer and is done as part of the settlement of a customer complaint. Does that mean a Forex Dealer Member (“FDM”) can’t make a favorable adjustment if the customer does not complain?

A. It depends on the circumstances. The intent of this provision is to ensure that FDMs can settle customer complaints before or after they end up in arbitration. It was not meant to prohibit FDMs from adjusting prices on customer orders that were adversely affected by a glitch in the FDM’s platform. A firm may not, however, adjust prices on customer orders that benefited from the error (except as provided in section (a)(1)(ii)). Furthermore, an FDM may not cherry-pick which accounts to adjust.

Q. An FDM operates several trading platforms. Two provide exclusively straight-through processing, but one does not. Can the FDM make section (a)(1)(ii) adjustments for trades placed on the two platforms that provide straight-through processing?

A. No. The Board intended to limit the relief to those firms that exclusively operate a straight-through processing business model, and the submission letter to the CFTC uses this language when explaining the rule’s intent. NFA recognizes, however, that the use of the word “platform” in the rule itself may be confusing, and we intend to ask the Board to eliminate that word at its August meeting.

Q. For price adjustments made under section (a)(1)(ii), the rule requires written notification to customers within fifteen minutes. If the liquidity provider informs an FDM of the price change twenty minutes after the orders are executed, can the FDM still make the adjustment?

A. No. The rule provides that customers must be notified within fifteen minutes after their orders are executed, and it was written that way intentionally. Since a customer’s subsequent trading decisions may be based on the customer’s belief that a particular trade was executed at a particular price, the rule provides a narrow window for price adjustments.

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[1] For purposes of this discussion, the term “adjustment” also refers to cancellations.

CR 2-43(b), Offsetting Transactions

Q. CR 2-43(b) states that an FDM cannot carry offsetting positions. If a customer with a long position executes a sell order or a customer with a short position executes a buy order, does the FDM have to close the position immediately or can it wait until the end of the day?

A. The FDM may wait until the end of the day to offset the positions, but it must do so before applying roll fees.

Q. The rule provides that positions must be offset on a first-in-first-out (FIFO) basis. If the customer places a stop order on a newer likesize position and the stop is hit, may the FDM offset the executed stop against that position?

A. No. The only exception to the FIFO rule is where a customer directs the FDM to offset a same-size transaction, but even then the offset must be applied to the oldest transaction of that size.
Related Issues

Related Issues

Q. One of an FDM’s platforms is offered exclusively to eligible contract participants (ECPs). Does Rule 2-43 apply to transactions on that platform?

A. No. Rule 2-43 does not apply to transactions with ECPs.

Q. May an FDM transfer foreign customers to a foreign entity that allows customers to carry offsetting positions in a single account?

A. Yes. If done as a bulk transfer, however, the Interpretive Notice to NFA Compliance Rule 2-40 (located at ¶ 9058 of the NFA Manual) requires that the foreign entity must be an authorized counterparty under section 2(c) of the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA).

Q. May an FDM transfer U.S. customers to a foreign entity that allows customers to carry offsetting positions in a single account?

A. Only if the transactions are not off-exchange futures contracts or options. The legal status of “spot” OTC transactions that are continually rolled over and almost always closed through offset rather than delivery is currently unsettled. Therefore, if an FDM chooses to transfer U.S. customers to a foreign entity so they can continue “hedging,” it does so at its own risk. In any event, a bulk transfer can only be made to a counterparty authorized under the CEA.

Q. If the transactions are not futures or options, does that mean none of NFA’s rules apply?

A. Most of NFA’s forex rules do not depend on how the off-exchange transactions are classified. This includes Compliance Rule 2-36(b)(1), which prohibits deceptive behavior, and Compliance Rule 2-36(c), which requires FDMs to observe high standards of commercial honor and just and equitable principles of trade. An FDM that misrepresents the characteristics of “hedging” transactions (e.g., by touting their “benefits”) or NFA’s purpose in banning them or that implies that transferring U.S. customers offshore will make the transactions legal violates those sections of CR 2-36. Furthermore, NFA Compliance Rule 2-39 applies these same requirements to solicitors and account managers.

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Please feel free to contact us if you are interested in starting a forex hedge fund or a forex managed account.  Other related forex law and regulation articles include:

Offshore Forex Brokers Race To Fill “Hedging” Gap

NFA Compliance Rule 2-43 Outlaws Forex “Hedging” For NFA Registered Forex Dealers

(www.hedgefundlawblog.com) The new forex regulations have affected the industry in a number of ways.  Rule 2-43 especially has been a source of ire for some forex managers who have utilized a “hedging strategy” as part of their investment program.  In the forex hedging strategy a trader will have both a long and a short position in a single currency pair.  While these positions are essentially offsetting, some trend following forex traders will hold such positions in order to profit once a trend has been detected.  This strategy was effectively eliminated by the passage of Rule 2-43 for managers trading with forex firms which are registered with the CFTC and NFA Member firms.

This rule provides an opening for offshore forex dealers (who are not NFA Members) to offer this strategy to forex traders.  What you are likely to see, then, is an exodus of trading capital to those brokers which allow hedging strategies (see the two press releases below).  I can think of no clearer example of how regulation is actually forcing capital to go overseas where forex brokers may face lower levels of regulation.  This in turn may actually make forex traders more susceptible to fraudulent practices at the brokerage level (when they trade in countries with less regulation).  Interestingly enough, this movement of money to offshore forex dealers was predicted by the US forex dealers when the rule was announced.

From NFA Release on Compliance Rule 2-43

Although many of the FDMs admit that customers receive no financial benefit by carrying opposite positions, some FDMs believe that if they do not offer the strategy they will lose business to domestic and foreign firms that do.

While some traders may move money to offshore forex dealers, these traders should, however, beware that by trading forex with a non-NFA member firm, they may become subject to state level regulation (and accordingly CFTC registration).  As this is a developing and complex area of law, I always advise forex managers to discuss their business operations with an experienced forex attorney.

Please contact us if you have a question on this issue or if you would like to start a forex hedge fund.  If you would like more information, please see our articles on starting a hedge fund.

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InvestTechFX To Continue Forex HEDGING For Traders After NFA Ruling

InvestTechFX released today that the 1 PIP Forex Corporation will continue to allow all types of hedging after the NFA (National Futures Association) ruling against hedging goes into effect on May 15, 2009. As InvestTechFX is not an NFA regulated broker, it is not obligated to adhere to the NFA’s anti-hedging policies. www.investtechfx.com

Toronto, Canada (PRWEB) April 24, 2009 — InvestTechFX the leading 1 PIP Forex Corp commented on the NFA’s new anti-hedging law (NFA Compliance Rule 2-43 regarding Forex orders) currently scheduled to take effect on May 15th, 2009, and released that the No Dealing Desk Forex broker and Software Solutions Corp will be immune to the new law. InvestTechFX’s industry expert noted that the NFA’s move is not entirely unexpected; the spirit of the new regulation is to protect traders from wasteful over-hedging, but the practical implications of the new regulations will likely be counter-productive. Traders who rely on hedging in their strategies will simply take their business to brokers outside the influence of the NFA, such as InvestTechFX. Ironically, the NFA may put US Forex brokers at a disadvantage by barring them from providing the hedging options that their international competitors will not hesitate to offer.

InvestTechFX the leading 1 PIP Forex Corp welcoming hedging explained that “hedging” generally refers to the practice of taking opposite positions against a previous open position in order to reduce risk. In a broader sense, hedged trading means investing to limit exposure and reduce risk. There are several methods of hedging Forex positions, particularly opening short and long positions within the same currency pair at the same time. This type of hedging will be much more difficult after May 15th, 2009, as the new regulations will put strict limits on such strategies. Positions opened prior to May 15th will not be penalized under the new rule, but all positions opened after the initiation date will be effected. Traders who want to continue hedging while staying with an NFA-regulated broker may now have to open separate accounts for their long positions and short positions; something not all traders can afford to do.

InvestTechFX the leading 1 PIP Forex Corp. welcoming hedging strategies noted that new restrictions on hedging are not the only new regulations set forth in the NFA’s new ruling. After May 15th, 2009, all NFA brokers will have to notify traders in writing prior to adjusting or manipulating trades, with the exception of instances in which the adjustment is favorable to a trader or at a trader’s request. Furthermore, the written notification of intent to adjust must take place within 15 minutes or less of the time of execution. This new regulation (Rule 2-43a) will not be going into effect until June 12th, 2009. In regard to customer orders adjusted because of changes in the price structure of a liquidity provider, written notification must be given to customers prior any initial trading (price increases on the account of transaction clearing must be stated before trading takes place, not after or during trading). InvestTechFX’s analyst explained that these new regulations are likely an attempt to increase cost transparency and reduce the hidden fees that many brokers, particularly market makers, rely upon to limit customer profits. Since market makers must always provide the counterparty for a trade (always buy from a seller and sell to a buyer), there is a strong ulterior motive to undercut customer profits, as customer profits always come at the market maker’s expense.

InvestTechFX the leading 1 PIP Forex Corp. welcoming hedging’s analyst elaborated on the threat of expanding regulation in the Forex market, and the unforeseen consequences that well-meaning regulation agencies can impose upon the market. Forex trading is a fast-growing, highly competitive industry, and because of its inherently global nature, traders are not limited to the Forex providers in their own countries. While many would likely work with a local broker, traders can relatively easily move their business abroad if regulation in their own regions becomes more of a burden than a protection. Government guidelines regarding trading clear policies and risk disclosure can serve to keep the industry legitimate and transparent, but regulating hedging in this way borders on telling traders what strategies they can and can’t use. There is ongoing debate over who the NFA is “protecting” with the new policies, as many of the larger regulatory bodies have a reputation for acting out of the long-term interests of companies instead of retail traders. InvestTechFX’s representative explained that the company could not decisively endorse or condemn the use of mirror position hedging, but did state that the position of InvestTechFX is that the decisions regarding trading strategies should be left to the traders, not the regulators.

InvestTechFX the leading 1 PIP Forex Corporation welcoming hedging is a No Dealing Desk Forex Broker and Federal Canadian Corporation. InvestTechFX offers a 1 PIP fixed spread on 6 major currency pairs, along with a comprehensive account groups system, including interest free, scalping, EA, Micro, and VIP accounts. As a No Dealing Desk, InvestTechFX never takes positions against customers, and has no interest or influence over the trades executed by its customers. www.investtechfx.com

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New Forex Trading Rule by NFA About Hedging Positions Will Change the Trading Game

Forex market is getting revised by continuous trade rule changes. In such uncertain times, Forex Profit Farm may be the perfect solution for people looking to succeed in forex trading.

New York, NY (PRWEB) April 30, 2009 — The forex market is booming with addition of new players every minute because of the high and lucrative potential of making money. Such fast growth poses its own challenges, but at the same time also present with the opportunity to redefine the industry by writing new rules or guidelines.

One such rule that NFA came up with recently is regarding Anti-Hedging. This rule is coming into effect starting 15 may 2009. As per this new law, the trader community cannot create hedged trades.

Rahul Gupta, owner of Forex Profit Farm says, “Currently a forex trader can have two opposite directional trades open at the same time on a single currency pair. So say if you are trading EUR/USD currency pair, you can have short as well as a long trade opened at the same time, which is what is called hedging. The traders do that mostly to judge the direction of the market. Though a hedged open long and short trade on a single currency pair will offset the gain of one position against the other, but when the direction of market trend becomes clear, traders close the losing trade and keep the winning one going. It is a cruel way to trade, but it is very common.”

With that now going to be not possible come May 15, 2009, all traders who use such forex trading practices, will now have to come up with different trading strategies. This is a clear concrete step by NFA to make the forex industry more mature and keep the exponential growth under check.

But Rahul says “Traders who are using best forex trading system don’t have to worry about anything at all. A good trading strategy is independent of such techniques and always remain non-effected from changing rules of similar nature. Traders who use sound trading principles, won’t feel the effect of this new rule at all.”

This is very true because National Future Association (NFA) has passed this new rule to make the unfair practices offered by some of the traders as ineffective, but at the same time preserve the interest of the experienced traders who trade forex for a living.

Like any new rule which is introduced by a governing body, this one also has its share of traders opposing it, but most of the experienced traders see it as a positive step towards regulating the forex trading industry. In such time, a sound trading strategy is all that a trader needs to keep making money by selling one currency against other.

About Forex Profit Farm:

Forex Profit farm is one of the Best forex system available which can help traders achieve the financial independence they always wanted. The system not only comes with an accurate trading strategy with clearly defined instructions on when to enter and when to close the trade, but it also covers the important aspect of trade management that will help traders to make maximum profit from their trades. Covered in multiple manuals and videos, Forex Profit Farm is a must-have system for anyone looking to make money by trading forex.

Series 30 Exam Information

Overview of Series 30 Exam

The Series 30 exam is a National Futures Association sponsored exam which is required for those persons who are branch office managers of a NFA member firm (see our post on CPO and CTA Branch Office Information).  Generally if a NFA Member firm (such as a CPO or CTA) has a branch office (any place of business other than the main office), the firm will need to make sure that a branch office manager is employed at each such branch office.

Exam Specifics

  • Branch Manager Examination.
  • 50 True/False and Multiple Choice questions.
  • One hour long.
  • $70.
  • 70% correct answers required to pass

Signing up for the Exam

The Series 30, like all of the other exams sponsored by the NFA, is administered by FINRA.  Accordingly, an applicant will need to first register to take the exam by completing a FINRA Form U-10.  After the U-10 has been completed, submitted and processed, the applicant will be “in the FINRA system” and will be able to sign up for an exam time at either a Prometric or Pearson testing facility.  Applicants can determine available times and locations by visiting these websites.  The test is generally given a number of times a day, six days a week.

Series 30 Exam Topics

BRANCH MANAGER EXAM—FUTURES

SERIES 30

The following is a general listing of the major subject areas covered by the examination and does not represent an exhaustive list of the actual test questions.

A. General

  • Books and records, preparation and retention
  • Order tickets, preparation and retention
  • Written option procedures
  • Handling of customer deposits
  • NFA Compliance Rule 2-9, supervision of employees
  • Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plan
  • Registration requirements—who needs to be registered, sponsor verifi cation, NFA Bylaw 1101, AP termination notices, temporary licenses
  • NFA disciplinary process
  • Reportable positions
  • NFA Arbitration Rules
  • On-site audits of branch offices
  • Bona fide hedging transactions
  • Trading on foreign exchanges

B. CPO/CTA General

  • Registration requirements
  • Books and records to be maintained
  • Reports to customers
  • Bunched orders

C. CPO/CTA Disclosure Documents

  • Management and incentive fees
  • Performance records
  • How long a CPO or CTA can use a disclosure document
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Pool units purchased by principals
  • Business backgrounds of principals
  • Amendments to disclosure documents
  • Disclosure of disciplinary actions
  • NFA review of document before each use

D. NFA Know Your Customer Rule

  • Client information required
  • Responsibility to obtain additional client information
  • Risk disclosures

E. Disclosure by CPOs and CTAs Required for Costs Associated with Futures Transactions

  • Disclosure of upfront fees and expenses
  • Effect of upfront fees and organizational expenses on net performance

F. Disclosure by FCMs and IBs Required for Costs Associated with Futures Transactions

  • Explanation of fees and charges to customers

G. IB General

  • Accepting funds from customers
  • Guarantee agreements
  • Responsibilities of guarantor FCM
  • Minimum net capital requirements
  • Time stamping of order tickets
  • Books and records to be maintained

H. General Account Handling and Exchange Regulations

  • Risk Disclosure Statement
  • Margin requirements
  • Stop loss orders
  • Preparing orders
  • Proprietary accounts
  • Positions limits and reporting requirements
  • Trade confirmations

I. Discretionary Account Regulation

  • Requirements relating to discretionary accounts
  • Supervision and review of discretionary accounts

J. Promotional Material (Compliance Rule 2-29)

  • Definition of promotional material
  • Standardized sales presentations
  • Use of a third-party consulting or advertising firm
  • Reprints of articles from industry publications
  • Recordkeeping of promotional material
  • Past performance
  • Hypothetical trading results
  • Written procedures for promotional material
  • Supervisory review of promotional material

K. Anti-Money Laundering Requirements

  • Developing policies, procedures and internal controls
  • Customer identification program and recordkeeping
  • Detection and reporting of suspicious activity
  • Training staff to monitor trading activity
  • Recordkeeping
  • Designation of individual or individuals (“compliance officer”) to be responsible for overseeing the program
  • Employee training program Independent audit function

Other NFA Information

The NFA also has this to say about the Series 30 exam:

Branch Manager Examination – Futures (Series 30)

NFA must receive evidence that individuals applying to be a branch office manager have passed the Series 30. However, NFA will not require evidence that they have passed the Series 30 if, since the date they last ceased acting as a branch office manager, there has not been a period of two consecutive years during which they have not been registered as an AP. Additionally, individuals whose sponsor is a registered broker-dealer may, in lieu of the Series 30, provide proof that they are qualified to act as a branch office manager or designated supervisor under the rules of FINRA.

Please contact us if you have a question on this issue or if you would like to start a hedge fund, CPO or CTA.  If you would like more information, please see our articles on starting a hedge fund.  Other related hedge fund law articles include:

Discussion with CFTC Regarding Forex Registration

[http://www.hedgefundlawblog.com]

No New Information on Forex Regulations

I have been getting more and more questions regarding forex registration and unfortunately I have not had much to say because there has been little information coming from the CFTC.  The NFA has done a good job of anticipating what those rules will generally look like, but the NFA (like us) must wait for the CFTC to propose (and then adopt) regulations requiring the registration of forex managers.  Accordingly any preliminary guidance from the NFA should be taken as that – preliminary guidance.  The fact that the regulations are coming obviously puts pressure on legal professionals and forex managers alike as we all try to figure out what will need to be done, when and how.

For this reason I have been calling the CFTC to try to figure out when we might hear something.  After calling the CFTC daily for over a week now, today I finally received a call back from a representative of the CFTC’s Division of Clearing and Intermediary Oversight.  Unfortunately, the representative was as tight-lipped about the future regulations as the CFTC has been up to this point.

During the conversation, I asked several questions and did not receive any responses other than what you would expect from a government agency.  The gist of the conversation was that the CFTC is working on the regulations and the reason that it is taking so long is that there are many aspects to the regulations which must be thoroughly reviewed be many different members and parts of the CFTC.   It sounded like the regulations could be quite detailed – the representative stated that it is not just simply these managers with this amount of assets must register, that the regulations will be comprehensive.  Another issue which remains unanswered is whether there will be exemptions from the registration provisions, similar to the current CPO exemptions and CTA exemptions from registration.

So with that being said, there is not much new to report.  Forex managers are still in a bit of a limbo until the CFTC promulgates the proposed regulations.  Until that happens it would be wise for forex managers to consider getting ready for registration by discussing the issue with a forex attorney.  Managers may also decide to move forward and begin taking the Series 3 exam and the Series 34 exam.  Managers (especially forex hedge fund managers) are especially encouraged to talk with their attorney about potential registration requirements under their state commodity codes – I will be posting more on this issue tomorrow.

I know this does not tell you very much, but please feel free to contact me if you have any specific questions or if you would like to find out more about forex CPO, CTA or Introducing Broker registration.

For more articles related to forex law and registration, please visit our forex hedge fund articles page.