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NFA approves rule to enhance customer segregated funds protection regime

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The board of directors of the National Futures Association (NFA) has approved amendments to NFA financial requirements that will require each futures commission merchant to provide its Designated Self-Regulatory Organization (DSRO) with view-only access via the internet to account information for each of the FCM’s customer segregated funds account(s) maintained and held at a bank or trust company.

The same requirement would apply to the FCM’s customer secured account(s) held for customers trading on foreign futures exchanges.

In addition, the rule states that if a bank or trust company is unable to allow the FCM to provide its DSRO with view-only full access via the internet, the bank or trust company will not be deemed an acceptable depository to hold customer segregated and secured accounts.

"Under this rule, DSROs will be able to check any customer segregated and secured bank account balance for any FCM any time, without asking the firm or the bank, and compare those balances to the firm’s daily segregation report," says NFA president Dan Roth. "This is one step in a series of initiatives the board is working on."

NFA intends to expand this approach, once it is implemented, to receive daily reports from all depositories for customer segregated and secured accounts, including clearing FCMs. NFA plans to develop a program to compare these balances with those reported by the firms in their daily segregation reports. The system will then generate an immediate alert for any material discrepancies.

The rule was developed by the SRO Committee formed shortly after the demise of MF Global. The committee, comprised of representatives from NFA, CME Group, the InterContinental Exchange, the Minneapolis Grain Exchange and the Kansas City Board of Trade, has made several recommendations for rule changes that have already been approved by NFA’s board in May and by the CFTC in July.

"Early on in its deliberations, the committee recognised that we need to make better use of technology to monitor firms for compliance with segregation requirements," says Roth.

The newly approved requirements will now be sent to the CFTC for approval.

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