Frequently Asked Questions


What is NFA?

National Futures Association (NFA) is the industrywide self-regulatory organization for the U.S. futures industry. NFA's mission is to provide innovative regulatory programs and services that ensure futures industry integrity, protect market participants and help its Members meet their regulatory responsibilities. NFA's activities are overseen by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the government agency responsible for regulating the U.S. futures industry.

Who are NFA's members?

Virtually every firm or individual who conducts futures or options on futures business with the public, must be registered with the CFTC and a Member of NFA. NFA performs the registration process on behalf of the CFTC. NFA Member categories include: Commodity Trading Advisors (CTA), Commodity Pool Operators (CPO), Futures Commission Merchants (FCM) and Introducing Brokers (IB). Definitions of each of these terms can be found in the Glossary. There are approximately 4,000 NFA Member firms. There also are about 55,000 NFA Associate Members, individuals who are Associated Persons of these NFA Member firms.

Does NFA rate its Members?

No, nor does it give investment advice. However, NFA does have publications available that explain the fundamentals of participating in the futures and options on futures markets. The brochures are accessible through the Investor Services section of NFA's web site.

How can I get a list of NFA Members?

Our NFA Directories describes what's available and how to obtain the information.

Why does the person I looked up have two NFA IDs?

Some individuals have more than one NFA ID because they do business in more than one registration capacity. Certain firms may have more than one NFA ID if, for example, they are registered in one capacity, but also are a principal of another entity. Note: You may see NFA IDs that begin with letters. These IDs were assigned to firms or individuals who had information about them entered into the BASIC system before they applied for registration.

Where does the information in BASIC come from and how far back does it go?

In addition to NFA, the information contained in BASIC is contributed by the CFTC and the U.S. futures exchanges. NFA's and the CFTC's regulatory information dates back to when they each began operations, 1982 and 1975 respectively. Data contributed by the exchanges dates back to at least January 1990. Click on Contributors for a complete list of names, addresses, etc.

What information is available in BASIC?

Our Help section contains information on what is available in BASIC.

What information is not available in BASIC?

The system does not include information about civil actions between parties (other than summary information concerning CFTC reparations or NFA arbitrations), criminal proceedings or actions taken by other federal or state regulatory agencies or self-regulatory organizations in other industries. Information about pending arbitration cases or cases that were settled, withdrawn, rejected or closed prior to January 1, 1990 is not included. Regulatory actions taken by futures exchanges prior to 1990 may not be included, because while some exchange contributors have entered them, others have not. Finally, pending exchange complaints that have not been adjudicated are not included.

What can I do if I don't understand the information I find in the BASIC system?

The glossary can help with terminology, but additional help is also available by contacting NFA's Information Center at (800) 621-3570 between the hours of 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM Central Time or (800) 676-4NFA.

Can I get information about NFA's Arbitration Program?

Yes. If you go to Dispute Resolution, you'll find a discussion of the program and a list of the publications available.

Is there a way to file a complaint against a broker or firm?

Yes. Click on File a Complaint. The information you provide will be routed to NFA's Compliance Department for follow up. While filing a complaint will not help recover funds, it does help NFA perform its regulatory responsibility. Some of the disciplinary actions NFA has taken have been the direct result of customer complaints. If you want to try to recover money that may have been lost, NFA's arbitration program may be an option. If you check the box indicating your interest in NFA arbitration, your complaint will be routed to the Arbitration Department for follow up. In either case, the more information you provide, the better, so please include as much detail about the situation as possible.

Is there any general information available to help me understand how the futures markets work?

Yes. If you go to Investor Services, you'll find a list of the free educational materials NFA offers.