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NFA lowers assessment fee
The Board of Directors of National Futures Association (NFA) has approved a reduction in NFA's assessment fees to an unprecedented $.06 per round-turn futures contract and $.03 per option contract, the lowest level in NFA's history. The decrease is the fifth assessment fee reduction in 18 months, resulting in a 66 percent decrease since July 2001. The new fee schedule became effective on January 1, 2003.

"NFA's cost-containment efforts and the increase in trading volume that has occurred over the past year and a half have given us the opportunity to lower the assessment fee rate again while continuing to deliver efficient regulatory programs and services," said Dan Roth, NFA's new president.

NFA's assessment fee is levied on futures contracts and options on futures contracts traded on behalf of public customers. Public trading accounts for approximately 23 percent of total volume on the nation's futures exchanges.

Security futures products begin trading
After a long gestation period, security futures products (SFPs) began trading on November 8, 2002. According to figures released by NQLX and OneChicago, the two exchanges currently offering SFPs, volume has been steadily increasing since the launch.

One of the requirements individuals must meet prior to trading these new products is the completion of a proficiency training program. In an effort to provide a convenient, efficient method for firms to provide their employees with the necessary training, NFA and the NASD, in partnership with the Institute for Financial Markets, developed a Web-based training program. Since the program's launch on September 3, 2002, more than 6,000 individuals have completed the training.

"The proficiency training program is just one example of the collaborative role NFA played throughout the rule-making process," said NFA President Dan Roth. "Our work with the SEC, CFTC, NASD and several other industry organizations has resulted in a comprehensive set of SFP rules designed to uphold market integrity and protect investors while minimizing unnecessary regulatory burdens."

NFA has prepared an SFP regulatory guide specifically for NFA Members who notice-register as broker-dealers. The 32-page publication can be downloaded from NFA's Web site (www.nfa.futures.org). Individuals may also request a hard-copy edition by calling NFA's Information Center at 800-621-3570.

NFA provides training for Korea Futures Exchange representatives
What began as an informal conversation in Istanbul, Turkey, culminated in a two-week training program in Chicago for representatives of the Korea Futures Exchange (KOFEX). From November 11 through 21, four members of KOFEX attended training sessions on a wide variety of topics taught by several NFA staff members.

Last May, NFA President Robert Wilmouth had just finished addressing representatives of the International Organization of Securities Commissions on the benefits of outsourcing regulatory functions. Representatives from KOFEX approached him and asked if NFA would be interested in sharing NFA's regulatory expertise with KOFEX staff members. Dan Roth and Senior Vice President Karen Wuertz subsequently traveled to Korea to hold more detailed discussions with the KOFEX representatives.

The training consisted of several modules covering the U.S. futures industry, particularly the regulatory landscape. Particular emphasis was placed on NFA's regulatory programs (e.g., risk based auditing, financial surveillance, financial requirements and margins, investigations, disclosure documents, sales practices and advertising, and trade practice/market surveillance), the Association's disciplinary process and hot topics like SFPs, forex trading, anti-money laundering, disaster recovery and business continuity.

NFA participates in Futures and Options Expo
NFA unveiled its new exhibit booth at the Futures Industry Association's 18th Annual Futures and Options Expo on November 6-8 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. Staff members from several departments were on hand to provide online demonstrations of NFA's new Online Registration System, the Background Affiliation Status Information Center and Security Futures Products proficiency training.

In addition to sponsoring an exhibit booth, NFA participated in one of the Expo's conference sessions. NFA General Counsel Thomas Sexton was a speaker on FIA's Law & Compliance Division's "Hot Topics" panel on Wednesday, November 6, where he spoke about anti-money laundering and forex.

One of the highlights of this year's Expo was Thursday's luncheon keynote speaker Senator Peter Fitzgerald. Senior Vice President Karen Wuertz worked closely with Senator Fitzgerald's staff to ensure his appearance. NFA President Robert Wilmouth introduced Senator Fitzgerald at the luncheon.

"FIA was fortunate to have Senator Fitzgerald speak at their luncheon," said Wilmouth. "He is extremely knowledgeable about the futures industry and was a major force in designing the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000."

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