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NFA successfully launches Online Registration System

On June 3, NFA launched its new Online Registration System (ORS), leading the futures industry into a new era of increased registration efficiency. With only a couple of minor exceptions, applicants and registrants must file all of their registration forms electronically. During its first month of operation, the system has suffered no major technical problems and has received many appreciative comments from users.

"Because ORS was designed and developed entirely by NFA staff, we were able to keep costs down," says Ken Haase, senior vice-president of Information Systems. "It is the largest, most complex system we have ever built and we have taken great care to ensure its success."

During the month of June, approximately 1,500 firms used the system. ORS processed close to 19,000 updates, ranging from a simple address change to a termination to a full 7-R application.

Training was a critical component of the system's successful launch. NFA conducted two training seminars in New York and New Jersey on April 17 and 18. More than 150 people attended the seminars, where NFA staff demonstrated many of the system's features. The seminars were repeated on May 8 in Chicago, attracting more than 80 people. Additional workshops were held for exchange, CFTC and SEC staff.

NFA also set up special phone services to assist Members in using the new system. However, the hours of service were decreased after the first week due to the low volume of calls.

"In spite of the heavy usage of the system, we received only 423 telephone calls regarding ORS in June," says Haase. "Many of the calls were simple security/password issues, while others dealt with more technical issues."

In fact, the number of service calls decreased as the month progressed. NFA received 205 calls during the first week of June and only 36 during the last week.

"We interpret that as strong proof that the system is truly user-friendly," says Haase.

NFA also set up kiosks in its Chicago and New York offices for individuals who preferred to go through the registration process where NFA staff would be available to help them if needed. Although only one individual used the kiosk in New York, 39 people visited the Chicago office.

"Although we always had an NFA staff member available to assist them, most of the applicants had only a few questions and completed the process in an average time of 45 minutes," says Haase.

NFA is also developing an online tutorial that takes users step by step through common registration scenarios such as completing a registration, changing registration information and terminating an Associated Person. The tutorial is scheduled to be completed in mid-August.

The successful launch of ORS marks the culmination of years of design and development work and the beginning of a new era of more efficient, cost-effective registration. However, NFA has already begun designing enhancements to the system.

"We are actively seeking feedback from NFA Members regarding their experiences using the system and their ideas for additional improvements," says Haase. "We are committed to continually improving ORS so that it meets the changing needs of our Members."

NFA is the premier independent provider of efficient and innovative regulatory programs that safeguard the integrity of the derivatives markets.
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