CFTC Repeal of Exemption From Commodity Pool Operator Registration

March 21, 2012

In February 2012 the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) rescinded the commonly used Rule 4.13(a)(4) exemption from the requirement to register as a commodity pool operator (“CPO”) under the U.S. Commodity Exchange Act (the “Rescinded Exemption”). Many U.S. and non-U.S. fund managers have relied on the Rescinded Exemption in order to avoid the requirement to register with the CFTC, so loss of the Rescinded Exemption will have significant consequences for many fund managers. This Alert addresses some of the key issues and options for non-U.S. fund managers. First, however, this Alert sets forth some background information on how the U.S. regulates the futures markets that may be helpful for many non-U.S. fund managers, including explanations of the sometimes mystifying terminology used by the CFTC.

This Alert is intended as a broad overview of CFTC registration requirements for CPOs and commodity trading advisers (“CTAs”) and the impact of these registration requirements upon non-U.S. managers. It is not intended as a comprehensive discussion of these requirements. Accordingly, for the sake of brevity and clarity, this Alert omits many details.

This Alert does not address the special issues that arise for advisers and sub-advisers to investment companies registered under the U.S. Investment Company Act of 1940 (the “1940 Act”), such as U.S. mutual funds or U.S. exchange traded funds. For information on these issues, please consult our Alert dated Feb. 24, 2012, entitled “Recent CFTC Amendments to CPO/CTA Registration and Reporting Requirements Will Significantly Affect Investment Advisers and Registered Investment Companies.”

What is the CFTC?

The CFTC is the agency of the U.S. government responsible for regulating the U.S. futures and futures options markets and participants in these markets. The authority of the CFTC is being expanded to include most types of swaps. In general, the CFTC regulates futures exchanges in the U.S., brokers that deal in futures contracts (in CFTC jargon “futures commission merchants”), firms that advise on investments in futures (“commodity trading advisers”), and persons that sponsor, promote, or offer shares in funds that invest in commodity interests, such as futures contracts and, under the new regime, swaps (these funds are referred to as “commodity pools” and their promoters/managers are accordingly called “commodity pool operators”).

The CFTC’s remit generally has included commodity futures contracts, options on futures contracts and retail off-exchange forex contracts. The CFTC has shared authority with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) for regulation and oversight of futures contracts on single stocks or narrow based securities indices, which are referred to as “security futures products.” The CFTC has exclusive authority over futures contracts on broad based securities indices. The Dodd Frank Act expanded the CFTC’s remit to include various types of swaps, although the SEC will have authority over security-based swaps. The rules defining the types of swaps subject to the respective authority of the CFTC and the SEC have not yet been finalized. In this Alert, the term “futures” refers generally to the types of contracts that fall within the CFTC fiefdom.

The CFTC registers, among others, futures commission merchants, swap dealers, commodity trading advisers and commodity pool operators on a basis broadly comparable to the manner in which the U.S. SEC registers securities broker-dealers and investment advisers. In addition, the CFTC requires the individuals who are responsible for conducting or supervising the futures related activities of these firms to be separately registered as “associated persons.”

What is the NFA?

The National Futures Association (the “NFA”) is not an agency of the U.S. government. Rather it is an association of the firms that participate in U.S. futures markets. Accordingly, the rules of the NFA bind only its member firms and futures professionals within those member firms.

However, when a firm registers with the CFTC it is also required to join the NFA and so becomes subject to the rules of the NFA. An NFA member that fails to follow NFA rules may have its NFA membership suspended or cancelled, with the result that it can no longer participate in the U.S. futures markets. Thus, as a practical matter, CFTC registrants must follow both CFTC regulations and the rules of the NFA.

The NFA handles many of the routine regulatory functions that might otherwise be undertaken by the CFTC. For example, much of the process for registering with the CFTC is administered by the NFA and applications for CFTC registration are submitted to the NFA. The NFA inspects its member firms for the purpose of enforcing both CFTC regulations and NFA rules.

What is a Commodity Pool Operator?

As noted above, in broad terms a “commodity pool operator” or “CPO” is a person that sponsors, promotes or offers shares in one or more funds that invest in futures. Thus an investment manager or fund manager that sponsors hedge funds or other funds that invest in futures may be considered a CPO.

The CFTC expansively interprets the CPO definition. Thus the manager of a fund that has any dealings in futures and swaps, however minimal, is considered a CPO, although as noted below it may be eligible for a de minimis exemption from the requirement to register as a CPO. Further, a fund-of-funds manager may be considered a CPO if any of its funds invest in any underlying funds that invest in futures.

A firm that falls within the CPO definition must either (1) register with the CFTC and join the NFA or (2) qualify for an exemption from the CFTC registration requirements for CPOs. The Rescinded Exemption provided a broad exemption from CPO registration that did not limit the amount or types of futures transactions that could be undertaken by a firm relying on the Rescinded Exemption. As a result, many fund managers relied on the Rescinded Exemption.

What is a Commodity Trading Adviser?

A “commodity trading adviser” or “CTA” is a person that for compensation provides advice on investing in futures. This would include both a person that holds trading authority over a client’s futures account and a person that provides advice on futures investing that is tailored to a client’s particular circumstances. A person that provides standardized advice not tailored to the circumstances of particular clients is not required to register as a commodity trading adviser. For example, the publisher of a newsletter that makes recommendations on futures trading would not be considered a commodity trading adviser for purposes of the registration requirements.

If a fund that invests in futures has both a manager and a sub-adviser to whom the manager delegates only the task of managing the fund’s investments, the manager would generally be a commodity pool operator and the sub-adviser would generally be a commodity trading adviser. However, this may vary depending upon the particular circumstances.

A commodity trading adviser is not required to register with the CFTC if the commodity trading adviser provided advice to 15 or fewer persons during the past 12 months and does not generally hold itself out to the public in the U.S. as a commodity trading adviser. It is not necessary to count investors in a fund that is managed as a common pool according to a single set of investment policies as separate clients for purposes of the 15 client threshold. Instead, the fund would count as a single client.

There are also exemptions from CFTC registration for commodity trading advisers that provide advice only to certain types of otherwise regulated entities.

When do CFTC Registration Requirements Apply to Non-U.S. Fund Managers?

If a CPO has a place of business in the U.S., it must either register as a CPO with the CFTC, or qualify for an exemption from CPO registration, regardless of whether its funds either (1) deal in futures on U.S. or non-U.S. markets or (2) have U.S. or non-U.S. investors. Similarly, if a CTA has a place of business in the U.S., it must either register as a CTA with the CFTC or qualify for an exemption from CTA registration, regardless of whether (1) its clients deal in futures on U.S. or non-U.S. markets or (2) it has U.S. or non-U.S. clients.

If a CPO or CTA has no place of business in the U.S., it is still required to either register with the CFTC as a CPO or CTA or qualify for an exemption from this registration if, in the case of a CPO, its funds that deal in futures have any U.S. investors or, in the case of a CTA, it has U.S. clients. However, as noted below, such a CPO or CTA may qualify for an exemption if it deals in, or advises on, futures only traded on non-U.S. commodity markets.

If a CPO or CTA has (1) no place of business in the U.S. and (2) no U.S. investors in its funds or no U.S. clients, it is not required to register with the CFTC as a CPO or CTA provided that any futures transactions made in U.S. markets are submitted for clearing through a futures commission merchant (i.e., futures broker) registered with the CFTC. This could become an issue under the new regime, where there may be non-cleared swaps that are within the CFTC’s jurisdiction.

What Exemption is Available for Managers of Funds With Only De Minimis Futures Dealings?

CFTC Rule 4.13(a)(3) provides an exemption from CFTC registration for CPOs that manage funds that deal in futures to only a limited extent (the “De Minimis Exemption”). The De Minimis Exemption is not being rescinded. In order for a CPO to qualify for the De Minimis Exemption, all of its funds that deal in futures must meet all of the following conditions:

(1) The fund’s offering of its shares or other securities must be exempt from registration under the U.S. Securities Act of 1933 — a fund that offers its shares in a private placement under Regulation D meets this requirement;

(2) The fund’s shares or other securities must be offered and sold without marketing to the public in the U.S. — again a fund that offers its shares in a private placement under Regulation D will generally meet this requirement;

(3) The fund at all times meets at least one of the two following limits on its futures positions:

(a) The 5 percent Initial Margin Test: The aggregate initial margin, premiums and required minimum security deposit for retail forex transactions required to establish such positions, determined at the time the most recent futures position was established, does not exceed 5 percent of the liquidation value of the fund’s portfolio, after taking into account unrealized profits and unrealized losses on any such positions it has entered into (for an option that is in-the-money at the time of purchase, the in-the-money amount as defined in CFTC rules may be excluded); or

(b) The Notional Value Not to Exceed Liquidation Value Test: The aggregate net notional value of the fund’s futures positions, determined at the time the most recent futures position was established, does not exceed the liquidation value of the fund’s portfolio, after taking into account unrealized profits and unrealized losses on any futures positions it has entered into. The Rule defines in some detail how “notional value” is to be calculated, but in broad terms “notional value” means the gross value of the assets that are the reference commodities by which the positions are valued, and not the market value of the futures positions;

(4) The CPO reasonably believes, at the time of investment (or, in the case of an existing fund, at the time it starts to rely on the De Minimis Exemption), that each fund investor either (a) is an “accredited investor” or “qualified purchaser” as defined under U.S. securities laws; (b) is a “Non-U.S. person” as defined in CFTC regulations; or (c) meets another suitability test specified in the De Minimis Exemption; and

(5) Investments in the fund are not marketed as or in a vehicle for trading in the commodity futures or commodity options markets — in order to meet this condition it is helpful to include in a fund prospectus or PPM an express statement to this effect.

In order to claim the De Minimis Exemption, a fund manager must file a short online notice with the NFA. In the future, fund managers relying on the De Minimis Exemption will be required on an annual basis to confirm that they continue to meet its conditions. A fund manager that currently relies on the Rescinded Exemption and wishes to shift to the De Minimis Exemption must first ask the NFA to cancel any notice previously filed to claim the Rescinded Exemption and then file a new notice claiming the De Minimis Exemption.

As noted above, a fund-of-funds manager may be considered a CPO if any of its funds invest in any underlying funds that invest in futures. Fund-of-funds managers may be able to rely on the De Minimis Exemption. An appendix to the De Minimis Exemption specifies in some detail how fund-of-fund managers should apply the limitations on futures positions set forth in (3) above.

Subject to various conditions, a CTA that provides advice only to a fund that relies on the De Minimis Exemption (and other types of entities specified in CFTC rules) may claim an exemption from the CFTC registration requirements for CTAs.

What Exemption is Available for Non-U.S. Managers of Funds That Deal Only in Non-U.S. Futures?

CFTC Rule 30.5 provides an exemption from CPO and CTA registration for persons that are not located in the U.S. and that only deal in, or advise on, futures on or subject to the rules of non-U.S. commodity exchanges or boards of trade. In order to claim this exemption a non-U.S. firm must file with the NFA a form that includes an appointment of the NFA as an agent for service of process in the U.S. This filing is made online, and a small filing fee applies. This exemption is subject to confirmation by the NFA. A non-U.S. firm that deals in, or advises on, futures contracts and options on futures contracts on or subject to the rules of U.S. exchanges may not rely on this exemption.

Registering With the CFTC

If a fund manager currently relies on the Rescinded Exemption in relation to one or more of its funds, the fund manager will need to either rely on another exemption from CPO registration or register as a CPO with the CFTC by Dec. 31, 2012. If a fund manager wishes to start a new fund before the end of this year, it may do so and rely on the Rescinded Exemption with respect to that fund until Dec. 31, 2012, provided that the firm launches the fund and makes an appropriate claim to rely on the Rescinded Exemption by April 23, 2012. For any new fund proposed to be launched after April 23, 2012, the fund manager will need either to register or avail itself of another exemption as to that fund.

The registration process often takes around three or four months. One uncertainty is whether, if there is a flood of new registration applications in light of the rule change, that period gets extended because of stretched resources at the NFA. The key elements of the application process include:

(1) Submission of various online application forms to the NFA — these forms relate both to the firm making the application and to its employees that participate in or supervise its futures related activities;

(2) Various employees of the firm must pass the NFA Series 3 exam and submit their fingerprints (in some cases it is possible to apply for a waiver of the exam requirements);

(3) Payment of relatively modest application and other fees; and

(4) Design and implementation of a program for complying with CFTC regulations and the rules of the NFA, including ethics training for employees, annual compliance reviews, inspections of branch offices, registration of new employees with the CFTC/NFA and disaster recovery planning.

The registration process for CTAs is similar to the registration process for CPOs. Many firms register as both CPOs and CTAs.


CFTC regulations set forth detailed disclosure, reporting and recordkeeping requirements that registered CPOs and CTAs must generally observe in relation to the funds or client accounts that they manage or advise. CFTC Rule 4.7 provides an exemption from most of these requirements and substantially reduces the compliance burden for CPOs of funds in which each investor is a “qualified eligible person” or “QEF” and CTAs providing advice to clients that are QEFs.

The definition of “qualified eligible person” is extensive and complicated. However, an investor that is a “qualified purchaser” as defined in the 1940 Act is also considered a “qualified eligible person.” Thus, funds that rely on the Section 3(c)(7) “qualified purchaser” exemption from 1940 Act registration are likely to be eligible for the relief under Rule 4.7. Not all “accredited investors” as defined in Regulation D under the U.S. Securities Act of 1933 meet the “qualified eligible person” standard, so a fund that relies on the
Section 3(c)(1) “under 100 U.S. investors” exemption from 1940 Act registration may not be eligible for relief under Rule 4.7 if the fund does not require that its U.S. investors be “qualified purchasers” as well as “accredited investors.”

Investors that meet the CFTC definition of “Non-U.S. person” in Rule 4.7 are also “qualified eligible persons,” so it is generally possible for a fund to qualify for regulatory relief under Rule 4.7 even if its non-U.S. investors do not meet the “accredited investor” or “qualified purchaser” suitability standards. “Non-U.S. persons” generally include individuals who are not resident in the U.S., partnerships, companies, and other legal entities organized outside the U.S. and having their principal place of business outside the U.S.; pension plans for employees of non-U.S. entities, and estates or trusts, the income of which is not subject to United States income tax regardless of source, provided funds organized outside the U.S. may not be considered “Non-U.S. persons” if 10 percent or more of their shares are held by U.S. investors that are not “qualified eligible persons.”

Fund managers that are required to register with the CFTC as CPOs should review the investor suitability standards applied by funds that they manage that deal in futures and consider whether these funds will qualify for regulatory relief under Rule 4.7. Given the significant reduction in regulatory burdens offered by Rule 4.7, fund managers registering with the CFTC may wish to consider increasing the U.S. investor suitability standards for their funds as required so that all their funds will be eligible for relief under Rule 4.7.

Similarly, firms that are required to register as CTAs may wish to confirm that their clients are QEFs, so that they may claim the Rule 4.7 relief in relation to those clients.

In order to claim Rule 4.7 relief, registered CPOs and CTAs must file a notice with the NFA containing prescribed statements and undertakings.



2012年2月、米国商品先物取引委員会(CFTC)は、米国商品取引所法に基づく商品ファンド運営者(commodity pool operator、CPO)の登録義務の免除として広く利用されていた規則4.13(a)(4)を廃止しました(以下この免除を「廃止免除」といいます。)。多くの米国籍・非米国籍のファンド・マネージャーがCFTCの登録義務を回避するために廃止免除を利用してきたため、廃止免除の廃止は、多数のファンド・マネージャーに影響を与えることが予想されます。本アラートでは、非米国籍ファンド・マネージャーのために重要論点及び選択肢をいくつか提示します。本アラートではまず、非米国籍ファンド・マネージャーの理解を助けるため、難解なCFTCの専門用語の解説も含め、米国政府がどのように先物市場を規制しているかについて背景事情を若干解説します。

本アラートでは、CPO及び商品投資顧問業者(commodity trading adviser、CTA)のCFTCの登録義務に加え、これらの登録義務が非米国籍ファンド・マネージャーに与える影響を概説しますが、これらの登録義務の全体像を詳細に解説するものではありません。本アラートでは、簡潔かつ明確な説明とするため、詳細な論点は省略しています。

本アラートは、米国籍のミューチュアル・ファンドやETFなどといった米国1940年投資会社法(以下「1940年法」といいます。)に基づき登録された投資会社の投資顧問会社又は副投資顧問会社(サブ・アドバイザー)について生じる特定の論点を論じるものではありません。これらの論点については、2012年2月14日付アラート「Recent CFTC Amendments to CPO/CTA Registration and Reporting Requirements Will Significantly Affect Investment Advisers and Registered Investment Companies」をご覧ください。


CFTCとは、米国の先物市場及び先物オプション市場並びにこれらの市場への参加者を規制する米国政府の機関です。CFTCの権限は、拡大傾向にあり、ほとんどの種類のスワップにも及びます。一般に、米国の先物取引所、先物取引を行うブローカー(CFTC用語で「先物取引業者」といいます。)、先物投資に関する助言を行う会社(CFTC用語で「商品投資顧問業者」(CTA)といいます。)、及び商品権益(先物取引、新しい規制枠組みの下におけるスワップ等)への投資を行うファンドのスポンサー、発起人又は持分勧誘者は、CFTCの規制下に置かれます。商品権益への投資を行うファンドは「商品ファンド」(commodity pool)と呼ばれ、その発起人や運営者は「商品ファンド運営者」(CPO)と呼ばれます。












「商品投資顧問業者」(CTA)とは、対価を得て先物投資に関する助言を行う者をいいます。商品投資顧問業者には、顧客の先物口座について取引権限を有する者と、顧客の個別具体的な状況に応じて先物取引に関する助言を提供する者とが含まれます。顧客の個別具体的な状況に応じない標準化された助言を提供する者は、商品投資顧問業者として登録を受ける必要はありません。例えば、先物取引に関する推奨記事を掲載するニュースレターを発行する者は、登録義務を負う商品投資顧問業者とはみなされません。 先物に投資するファンドに運用会社が選任されており、その運用会社がファンドの投資に関する運用業務のみを副助言会社(サブ・アドバイザー)に委託している場合、一般に、その運用会社は商品ファンド運営者(CPO)とみなされ、副助言会社は商品投資顧問業者(CTA)とみなされます。ただし、これは個別具体的な事情によって異なります。








(1) ファンドの投資証券又はその他の証券の募集について、米国1933年証券法上の登録義務を負わないこと(レギュレーションDに基づく私募により投資証券の勧誘を行うファンドは、この要件に該当します。)

(2) ファンドの投資証券又はその他の証券について、米国において公衆に対する販売を伴うことなく募集又は売出しがなされること(ここでも、レギュレーションDに基づく私募により投資証券の勧誘を行うファンドは、一般にこの要件に該当します。)

(3) ファンドが常に次に掲げる先物ポジションに係る制限のいずれかを遵守していること

(a) 5%の当初証拠金基準: 当初証拠金、プレミアム及びリテール向け外国為替証拠金取引においてポジションを構築する際に要求される最低証拠金の総額が、直近の先物ポジションが構築された時点で、ファンドのポートフォリオの清算価値(構築したポジションに係る未実現損益を加味したもの)の5%を超えないこと(買付時点でイン・ザ・マネーとなっているオプションがある場合、CFTC規則により定義されるイン・ザ・マネー価額を控除することができます。)

(b) 清算価値を超えない想定元本基準: ファンドの先物ポジションの純想定元本の総額が、直近の先物ポジションが構築された時点で、ファンドのポートフォリオの清算価値(構築したポジションに係る未実現損益を加味したもの)を超えないこと。規則では、「想定元本」をどのように計算するかについてある程度詳細に規定されていますが、大まかに言えば、「想定元本」とは、先物ポジションの時価ではなく、ポジションを評価する際に参照される商品(資産)のグロス価値をいいます。

(4) 投資の時点(既存ファンドの場合、少額免除の利用開始時点)で、各ファンド投資家が、①米国証券法により定義される「適格投資家」(accredited investor)若しくは「適格購入者」(qualified purchaser)である、②CFTC規則により定義される「非米国人」(Non-United States Person)である、又は、③少額免除に規定される他の適格要件に該当するとCPOが合理的に信じること

(5) ファンドへの投資が、商品先物市場又は商品オプション市場での取引のためのビークルとして、又はかかる取引の中で販売されていないこと(この要件を満たすためには、ファンドの目論見書においてこの要件を明記することが有用と考えられます。)









(1) 各種申請書類をオンライン上でNFAに提出します。これらの申請書類には、登録申請を行う業者自身に関するものと、先物関連業務に従事する又はこれを監督する従業員に関するものとがあります。

(2) 各種従業員がNFAのシリーズ3試験に合格し、指紋を提出しなければなりません。一定の場合、試験の免除を受けることも可能です。

(3) 比較的安価な申請手数料その他の手数料を支払います。

(4) CFTC規則及びNFA規則を遵守するためのプログラムを設計し、実施することが求められます。これには、従業員向けの倫理研修、毎年実施するコンプライアンス・レビュー、支店の検査、CFTC及びNFAに対する従業員の登録、災害復旧計画等が含まれます。



CFTC規則は、登録を受けたCPO及びCTAがその運用するファンド又はその助言する顧客の口座について一般に遵守すべき開示義務、報告義務及び記録管理義務を詳細に定めています。CFTC規則4.7は、各投資家が「適格者」(qualified eligible person、QEF)であるファンドのCPO及びQEFである顧客に助言を提供するCTAについて、これらの義務の大半を免除し、コンプライアンスの負担を大幅に軽減する規定です。

QEFの定義は広範かつ複雑なものとなっていますが、1940年法により定義される「適格購入者」(qualified purchaser)は、QEFにも該当するものとされています。したがって、ファンドが1940年法に基づく登録義務の免除である「適格購入者」免除(Section 3(c)(7))を利用するものである場合、規則4.7に基づく軽減措置を受けることができる可能性が高いと思われます。他方、米国1933年証券法レギュレーションDにより定義される「適格投資家」(accredited investor)は、その全てがQEFに該当するとは限りません。したがって、ファンドが1940年法に基づく登録義務の免除である「100名未満の米国投資家」免除(Section 3(c)(1))を利用するものである場合、そのファンドの米国投資家が「適格購入者」(qualified purchaser)でありかつ「適格投資家」(accredited investor)であることを要求しない限り、規則4.7に基づく軽減措置を受けることができません。

CFTC規則4.7により定義される「非米国人」に該当する投資家は同時にQEFにも該当しますので、仮にファンドの非米国投資家が「適格投資家」(accredited investor)又は「適格購入者」(qualified purchaser)に該当しなかったとしても、そのファンドは、一般に規則4.7による規制の軽減措置を受けることができます。「非米国人」には、一般に、米国居住者でない個人、米国外で設立されたパートナーシップ、会社その他の事業体であって米国外に主たる事業所を有するもの、米国外の事業体の従業員向け年金プラン、及び、米国所得税の課税を受けない所得(所得源泉を問いません。)を生み出す財団又は信託が含まれます。ただし、10%以上の持分がQEFに該当しない米国投資家により保有されているファンドは、米国外で設定されたものであったとしても、「非米国人」とはみなされません。






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This article was originally published by Bingham McCutchen LLP.