Mutual Funds and Investment Advisers

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.
Continue Reading Limited Recourse Provisions in Futures Customer Agreements: Part 2 – I Cannot Guarantee Your Client’s Losses

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.
Continue Reading Limited Recourse Provisions in Futures Customer Agreements: Part 1 – I Only Control My AUM

On November 29, 2018, in remarks before the 2018 Financial Stability Conference in Washington, D.C., Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) supported the adoption of the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”) as the new benchmark for short-term unsecured interest rates.  SOFR is currently produced by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (“New York Fed”) and is based on transactions in the repurchase agreement transaction (“repo”) markets.  Chairman Giancarlo’s statements and support of SOFR come on the heels of a series of market and regulatory developments relating to benchmark reform.

Since 2017, regulators and financial market industry leaders have been working to design alternative interest rate benchmarks.  Significantly, in June 2017, the Alternative Reference Rates Committee (“ARRC”), an organization convened by the Federal Reserve Board (“FRB”) and the New York Fed, selected a broad repo rate as its preferred alternative reference rate.  In choosing a broad repo rate, ARRC considered factors including the depth of the underlying market and its likely robustness over time; the rate’s usefulness to market participants; and whether the rate’s construction, governance, and accountability would be consistent with the IOSCO Principles for Financial Benchmarks.
Continue Reading CFTC Chairman and Market Participants Weigh in on the Transition to SOFR

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.
Continue Reading CBOE and CME Self-Certify Bitcoin Futures, Cantor Self-Certifies Bitcoin Binary Options and NFA Issues Investor Alert

Many buy-side market participants are in the process of grappling with issues related to the amendment of their derivatives trading documentation in order to account for new U.S. margin requirements that will apply to non-cleared swaps beginning on March 1, 2017 (the “Implementation Date”).  But, in our experience, a large number of market participants have not yet begun to consider how they are going to implement the required changes despite the fact that the Implementation Date is only a little over three months away.  In this posting, we offer a few thoughts on a protocol that was recently published by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (“ISDA”) to facilitate amendments to ISDA Master Agreements and related Credit Support Annexes that account for the new non-cleared swap margin rules recently enacted by U.S. regulators.
Continue Reading Don’t Forget March 1, 2017: Amending Trading Documentation to Account for New Non-Cleared Swap Margin Requirements

On your list of things for which to be thankful, remember to add “the ability to electronically file a CFTC Form 40 / 40S”.

Here is a very courteous reminder from the CFTC’s Division of Market Oversight that the new era of submitting electronic Form 40 is about to begin.

In case some readers do

The SEC has finalized a rule requiring registered advisers to report certain information related to the use of derivatives and borrowings in separately managed accounts (“SMAs”).  The release can be found here (the “Release”).  This posts seeks to provide advisers with a quick snap shot of the information they will need to collect and disclose.  The compliance date is October 1, 2017.
Continue Reading Quick Guide to New Form ADV Derivative and Borrowings Disclosure

In an earlier post, I noted that Release No. IC-10666 was issued before interest rate swaps were invented. This may have been unfortunate, because swaps present unique challenges to Release 10666’s approach to asset segregation. I believe that difficulty with applying Release 10666 to swaps has contributed to inconsistency in the segregation requirements for different derivatives.

Swaps: The Revenge of Middle School Algebra
Continue Reading Release 10666 and the Problem of Swaps

I’ve been discussing comments on the SEC’s proposed Rule 18f-4 in light of the SEC’s initial regulation of derivatives in Release No. IC-10666 (“Release 10666”). As explained in my first post, the objectives of the proposed rule include limiting the “speculative character” of funds that use derivatives and assuring they have sufficient assets to cover their obligations. Release 10666 used one means, asset segregation, to achieve both ends. Several comment letters appear to question whether this approach is still tenable.
Continue Reading Should Asset Segregation Do Double Duty?