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9042 - COMPLIANCE RULE 2-9: SPECIAL SUPERVISORY REQUIREMENTS FOR MEMBERS REGISTERED AS BROKER-DEALERS UNDER SECTION 15(b)(11) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934(Board of Directors, August 21, 2001; revised December 17, 2007 and September 15, 2017.)
The Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 (CFMA), which was signed into law on December 21, 2000, lifts the 18-year ban on single-stock futures and narrow-based security indices ("security futures products"). Unlike other futures contracts, however, the CFMA provides that security futures products are securities as well as futures. Therefore, under Section 15A(k) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (Exchange Act), NFA is a national securities association (NSA) for the limited purpose of regulating the activities of Members who are registered as brokers or dealers in security futures products under Section 15(b)(11) of the Exchange Act (i.e., FCMs and IBs who "passport" in to broker-dealer registration because they limit their securities activities to security futures products).
NFA Compliance Rule 2-9 places a continuing responsibility on every Member to diligently supervise its employees and agents in all aspects of their futures business. Compliance Rule 2-9 and the interpretive notices issued under Compliance Rule 2-9 apply to activities involving security futures products just as they do to all other futures-related activities. When regulating the securities futures activities of Members registered as broker-dealers under Section 15(b)(11) of the Exchange Act, however, Section 15A(k)(2)(B) of the Exchange Act requires NFA to impose requirements reasonably comparable to those of national securities associations registered under Section 15A(a) of the Exchange Act. This notice describes special supervisory requirements for those Members.1
A Member's security futures activities must be supervised by a designated security futures principal who meets the requirements of NFA Compliance Rule 2-7. A Member must also have one or more designated security futures principals at each main or branch office that solicits or accepts accounts or orders for or recommends or engages in transactions in security futures products on behalf of customers. The Member must have clear lines of supervision that assign each registered individual engaged in security futures activities to a particular designated security futures principal.
Members must develop and implement specific written procedures concerning the manner of supervision of customer accounts that trade security futures products and specifically providing for frequent supervisory review of those accounts. Within a reasonable time, Members must amend their procedures to incorporate applicable changes in the futures and securities laws and regulations and NFA requirements as well as changes in their supervisory systems. Each designated security futures principal shall be responsible for reviewing and enforcing the procedures and taking or recommending to senior management appropriate action reasonably designed to achieve the Member's compliance with the applicable futures and securities laws and regulations and with NFA requirements.
Each main or branch office that solicits or accepts accounts or orders or recommends or engages in transactions in security futures products - and each office that supervises these activities - must keep and maintain a current copy of the Member's written supervisory procedures governing these activities. Members must communicate all changes in the procedures to the appropriate offices.
Under Compliance Rule 2-8(b), a security futures principal must regularly review discretionary security futures trading activity and must make a written record of that review. A security futures principal must also consider the discretionary nature of the account when approving the account to trade security futures and must comply with the requirements of the interpretive notice entitled "Compliance Rule 2-9: Supervision of Branch Offices and Guaranteed IBs" (9019) regarding account activity and discretionary accounts.
Promotional Material and Correspondence
Members must comply with the interpretive notice entitled "NFA Compliance Rule 2-9: Supervisory Procedures for E-Mail and the Use of Web Sites" (9037) for security futures products. E-mails are not the only type of security futures correspondence that must be reviewed, however. Both incoming and outgoing correspondence must be reviewed, and the designated security futures principal must make a record of the review, including noting who conducted the review. The review must include steps to ensure that all correspondence is retained and that the names of the persons who prepared outgoing correspondence are ascertainable from the retained record.
Members must adopt review procedures that are appropriate in light of their business activities, including the structure, size, and nature of their business operations. In establishing criteria for review of correspondence, the procedures must take into consideration the nature of the communication, the relative sophistication of the customer and the training and background of the Member's employees or the employees of its guaranteed IBs. In some instances, spot-checking or sampling correspondence may be appropriate and in others it may not. For example, a firm dealing with sophisticated or institutional customers might choose to sample a relatively small but representative amount of correspondence, while firms dealing with individual, relatively unsophisticated retail customers must use a larger sample or even review all outgoing correspondence. Similarly, if any employee or employee of a guaranteed IB has a disciplinary history involving problems with customers or was previously employed at a firm that has been disciplined for fraud, then the firm must have a heightened level of scrutiny regarding that employee's correspondence.
In many instances outgoing correspondence may constitute promotional material. Correspondence directed to the public soliciting business constitutes promotional material and is subject to the same rules as any other form of promotional material. For example, a letter or e-mail message sent to targeted individuals or groups is promotional material if its ultimate purpose is to solicit funds or orders. Therefore, a Member's correspondence review procedures must also be designed to ensure compliance with NFA's promotional material content and review requirements.
Where the firm's procedures for the review of correspondence do not require review of all outgoing correspondence prior to its use or distribution, Members must educate and train their employees on the firm's policies regarding correspondence with the public. Special attention should be given to those employees with previous compliance or disciplinary problems.
Under NFA Compliance Rule 2-30(j)(1), accounts that trade security futures products must be approved in writing for that activity by the designated security futures principal. The Member must adopt and enforce specific written procedures regarding the approval process that include at least the following:
- Specific criteria and standards to be used in evaluating the suitability of a customer to engage in security futures transactions;
- Specific procedures for approving accounts to engage in security futures transactions, including requiring written approval by a designated security futures principal;
- A requirement that the designated security futures principal explain, in writing, why he or she has approved an account that does not meet the specific criteria and standards set forth in the procedures; and
- Specific financial requirements for initial approval and maintenance of customer accounts that engage in security futures transactions.
Compliance with Securities Laws
Compliance Rule 2-37(b) provides that Members must establish, maintain, and enforce written procedures reasonably designed to achieve compliance with applicable securities laws, including Sections 9(a), 9(b), and 10(b) of the Exchange Act and any applicable regulation thereunder. Again, these procedures must be approved, in writing, by a designated security futures principal.
Use and Disclosure of the Member's Name
Members must have supervisory procedures reasonably designed to ensure that the public understands who they are doing business with. It is conduct inconsistent with just and equitable principles of trade, and therefore a violation of NFA Compliance Rule 2-4, for Members and Associates to use misleading names or to fail to disclose their affiliation when dealing with the public. Similarly, Members and their Associates may not refer to another entity or individual in any manner that implies an affiliation that does not exist. Furthermore, CFTC Regulation 166.4 requires branch offices to use the name of the firm for all purposes and to hold itself out to the public under that name, and Appendix A to Part 3 of the CFTC's rules states that a person's registration can be denied, revoked, or conditioned under Section 8a(3)(M) of the Commodity Exchange Act if the person uses a misleading name. Members are, however, allowed to use non-misleading "doing business as" names if those names are reported to NFA on Form 7-R or an update to Form 7-R.
The use of misleading names, affiliations, and qualifications is a violation of Compliance Rule 2-29(a)(1) and (b)(1). For example, if reference is made to membership in any organization (e.g., NFA, SIPC, an exchange), it should be clear which entity belongs to that organization. Similarly, Members and Associates may not state or imply that any individual has any degree or designation that does not exist or is self-conferred, nor may they use bona fide degrees or designations in a misleading manner. Therefore, the Member's supervisory procedures should be reasonably designed to ensure that neither the Member nor its employees use misleading names, affiliations, or qualifications in connection with their security futures activities.
Supervision of Branch Offices and Guaranteed IBs
As with other futures activities, Members must supervise each branch office and guaranteed IB that solicits or accepts accounts or orders for or recommends or engages in transactions in security futures products. A designated security futures principal must approve, in writing, and enforce written procedures that include all of the review steps discussed in the interpretive notice entitled "Compliance Rule 2-9: Supervision of Branch Offices and Guaranteed IBs" (9019). The review must be conducted under the supervision of a designated security futures principal and must include annual (or more frequent) on-site reviews of each branch office and guaranteed IB that solicits or accepts accounts or orders for or recommends or engages in transactions in security futures products.
Hiring Employees and Entering Into Guarantee Agreements
An adequate program for supervision must include thorough screening procedures for prospective employees who will be involved in commodity futures activities. In regard to prospective employees who may be involved in activities regarding security futures products and who have been registered in the securities industry, this screening process must include a check of the Central Registration Depository (CRD) for any derogatory information on the employee and his or her employer.2 The screening does not have to be done by a designated security futures principal. The designated security futures principal must, however, regularly review hiring practices to ensure that the screening process is taking place and to otherwise ensure that qualified personnel are investigating the good character, business repute, qualifications, and experience of employees who may be involved in security futures activities. Furthermore, all relevant information must be considered in making the hiring decision and determining how much supervision the employee will require.
A Member must obtain and review a copy of the most recent Form 8-T or U-5 (including any amendments) filed by a new employee's most recent security or futures employer if the employee will be involved in registered activities regarding security futures products. The Member shall obtain the Form 8-T or U-5 (including any amendments) no later than sixty days after the individual files an application for registration as an associated person (AP) of the Member under the Commodity Exchange Act. A Member that does not obtain the information within 60 days has the burden of demonstrating that it has made a reasonable effort by attempting to obtain the information both from NFA and FINRA (through the CRD), as applicable, and from the employee. If the Form 8-T or U-5 includes any derogatory information, the employer shall take such action as it deems appropriate.
The procedures must also require the employee to provide a copy of the Form 8-T or U-5 (and any amendments) to the Member within two business days after the Member requests it or, if the former employer did not provide a copy of the Form 8-T or U-5 to the employee, the employee shall promptly request a copy from the former employer (or from NFA or FINRA if the former employer cannot or will not provide it), and must provide the Form 8-T or U-5 to the Member within two business days after receiving it. The procedures must also require the employee to promptly provide the Member with any subsequent amendments to the Form 8-T or U-5.3
Guarantor FCMs must also do a due diligence inquiry before entering into a guarantee agreement. If the IB may be involved in activities regarding security futures products, the prospective guarantor must check the CRD for any derogatory information on the IB, its principals, and its employees. Again, all relevant information must be considered when deciding whether to guarantee an IB and determining how much supervision a guaranteed IB will require.
Meetings with Associated Persons
Each employee registered as an associated person under the Commodity Exchange Act and engaging in security futures activities must participate, no less than once a year, in an individual interview or group meeting, conducted by persons designated by the Member, at which compliance matters relevant to the associated person's security futures activities are discussed. The interview or meeting may include other matters and may occur at a central or regional location or at the associated person's place of business.
1 This notice does not change the general supervisory responsibilities that Compliance Rule 2-9 imposes on other NFA Members.
2If the prospective employer does not have direct access to the CRD, it can obtain the information from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) using FINRA's public disclosure program. FINRA's public disclosure program can be accessed through its web site at www.finra.org.
3It is conduct inconsistent with just and equitable principles of trade, and therefore a violation of Compliance Rule 2-4, for an Associate to violate written procedures that are required by NFA, the CFTC, or the SEC.