Mutual Funds and Investment Advisers

As we explained in an earlier post, the CFTC has recently amended its Regulation 4.5 to clarify that the commodity pool operator (“CPO”) of a registered investment company is the entity that serves as the registered investment adviser (“RIA”) to that company.

In this post, we will explore practical implications of this recent rule amendment.


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Mutual fund complexes relying on the exemption under Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) Regulation 4.5 from commodity pool operator (CPO) registration have to file:

(1) An initial notice of eligibility to claim that exemption; and

(2) An annual affirmation of continued reliance on the exemption within 60 days of each calendar year end.

In our experience, many mutual fund complexes “update” their Regulation 4.5 eligibility notices during the last two weeks of February.

This blog post is a reminder to clients and friends that the CFTC has recently amended its Regulation 4.5 to clarify that the registered investment adviser (the “RIA”) to a registered investment company is that company’s CPO.  This clarification will be of interest to any mutual fund complex that may have had an entity other than the RIA claim the CPO exemption with respect to the operation of a registered investment company.   


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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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On February 5, the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (“ISDA“) announced that it will seek additional information from market participants about the development of contractual language that can be used to replace references to LIBOR and other interbank offered rates in swaps and other the over-the-counter (“OTC“) derivative contracts.  ISDA refers to this replacement contractual language as “fallback language”.

On February 6, ISDA provided an updated timeline that relates to the development and implementation of this fallback language.  Also, ISDA confirmed that buy-side firms will not be charged a fee, if they adhere to the final fallback protocol within three months of its publication.

This post will provide additional information about these two developments.


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In my initial post on the SEC’s reproposed rules for regulating the use of derivatives by investment companies (“funds”), I noted favorably that the regulations would extend beyond funds to registered broker/dealers and investment advisers. I think this reflects a more comprehensive, less piecemeal, approach to these proposed rules. I also appreciate the coordination of

We previously explored the treatment of “leveraged/inverse investment vehicles” under SEC’s reproposal for regulating how funds  use derivatives in compliance with Section 18 of the Investment Company Act of 1940 (proposed Rule 18f-4), and related proposed Rule 15l-2 under the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 211h-1 under the Investment Advisers Act of

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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