Commodity Trading Advisors

On February 10th, the National Futures Association (NFA) published three Notices to Members identifying common deficiencies noted in examinations of commodity pool operators (CPOs), commodity trading advisors (CTAs), futures commission merchants (FCMs), forex dealer members (FDMs), introducing brokers (IBs), and swap dealers (SDs).

This blog post summarizes these notices and the identified deficiencies.

In addition, we have prepared A Summary of Deficiencies Found in NFA Exams February 2020 to supplement the information presented in this blog post.


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The Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the “CFTC”) announced parallel enforcement orders against an investment adviser (the “Adviser”) and its Chief Executive Officer for derivatives-related oversight failures.  The alleged failures related to the Adviser’s management of a registered investment company that invested primarily in options on stock-index futures contracts.  The Adviser was regulated by the SEC and the CFTC as a registered investment adviser and registered commodity pool operator (“CPO”), respectively.

This blog post will summarize these enforcement orders, since we believe that they are relevant to investment advisers subject to joint oversight by the SEC and the CFTC.  As a general matter, we also believe that this matter highlights the importance of disclosure and consistent risk management practices in connection with any advisory client’s derivatives-based investment strategy.


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In its November 25, 2019 Open Meeting, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) commissioners voted to approve final rules amending Part 4 of the CFTC rules addressing registration and compliance requirements for commodity pool operators (“CPOs”) and commodity trading advisors (“CTAs”). The CFTC proposed amendments to Part 4 in October 2018. The final rule will be effective thirty days after publication in the Federal Register.

This post summarizes select key amendments in the rule and what action must be taken by firms intending to take advantage of the new amendments, if any.


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This post is Part 2 of a series of posts that addresses the impact of recent regulatory developments on the use of limited recourse provisions in futures customer agreements entered into between a futures commission merchant (an “FCM”) and an investment manager on behalf of one or more of the manager’s clients.

In this post, we provide an overview of recent regulatory pronouncements from two divisions of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the “CFTC”) and the Joint Audit Committee (the“JAC”) of several large futures exchanges and the National Futures Association that prohibit the use of limited recourse provisions in futures customer agreements.
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Historically, many investment managers have negotiated limited recourse provisions into derivatives trading agreements entered into by the managers on behalf of their clients with banks, broker-dealers, and futures commission merchants (FCMs).  In short, these provisions state that only the assets in the specified account under the control of that particular manager can be used to make the other party to the agreement whole for losses and costs that relate to the specified account.

However, recent regulatory pronouncements from two divisions of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the “CFTC”) and the Joint Audit Committee (the “JAC”) of several large futures exchanges and the National Futures Association prohibit the use of limited recourse provisions in futures customer agreements.  This blog post is Part 1 of a series of posts that will address the impact of these recent regulatory developments on investment managers.

We start with the basics – investment management relationships and the use of limited recourse provisions in derivatives trading documents.  Additional posts in this series will address the regulatory pronouncements and how those pronouncements may impact relationships that investment managers have with their clients and the FCMs through which the managers are trading on behalf of their clients.
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This post is the fourth in a series that outlines key considerations for investment funds and their advisers regarding the application of the U.S. commodity laws to cryptocurrency derivatives.  This post is intended to be a primer on the topic and is not legal advice.  You should consult with your counsel regarding the application of the U.S. Commodity laws to your particular facts and circumstances.

In this Part 4, we discuss the commodity interests that are likely to be of greatest interest to crypto funds and advisers: futures contracts, swaps and retail commodity transactions.

At the outset, a sincere thanks goes out to Conor O’Hanlon and Michael Selig for their invaluable assistance and time spent thinking through many of the issues that are at this heart of this post and, more generally, this series.


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This post is the third in a series that outlines key considerations for investment funds and their advisers regarding the application of the U.S. commodity laws to cryptocurrency derivatives. This post is intended to be a primer on the topic and is not legal advice. You should consult with your counsel regarding the application of the U.S. commodity laws to your particular facts and circumstances.

In Part 1, we focused on the status of cryptocurrencies as commodities and how that status relates to the jurisdiction of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the “CFTC”). In Part 2, we provided an overview of the regulation of commodities and the commodity markets under the Commodity Exchange Act (the “CEA”), explaining in particular that while the authority to prevent fraud and manipulation may apply to any transaction in interstate commerce that involves a commodity, the CFTC’s “substantive regulation” applies only if a transaction involves a “commodity interest“.

Here, in Part 3, we explain why the concept of a commodity interest can be described as a “linchpin” to the substantive regulation  of CPOs and CTAs.


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This post is the second in a series that outlines key considerations for investment funds and their advisers regarding the application of the U.S. commodity laws to cryptocurrency derivatives. This posting is intended to be a primer on the topic and is not legal advice. You should consult with your counsel regarding the application of the U.S. commodity laws to your particular facts and circumstances.

In Part 1, we focused on the status of cryptocurrencies as commodities and how that status relates to the jurisdiction of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the “CFTC”). Here, in Part 2, we provide an overview of the regulation of commodities and the commodity markets under the Commodity Exchange Act (the “CEA”).


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It was a busy morning at the intersection of derivatives and virtual currencies.  Here is an overview of what happened and some thoughts about what it means for the world of virtual currencies.
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In CFTC Letter 17-48, the Division of Swap Dealer and Intermediary Oversight (the “Division”) of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the “CFTC”) indicated that it would not recommend enforcement action against the manager of a oil and gas fund and its subsidiaries for failure to register as a commodity pool operator (“CPO”) or a commodity trading advisor (“CTA”).  As background, the manager intended to use over-the-counter swap transactions (“Swaps”) to hedge commodity price risks relating to oil and natural gas investments made by the fund and its subsidiaries (collectively, the “Fund”).  The following are the key facts presented in CFTC Letter 17-48:
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