National Futures Association
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NFA is an independent regulatory organization with no ties to any specific marketplace financed exclusively from membership dues and from assessment fees paid by the users of the futures markets. Membership in NFA is mandatory for industry participants, assuring that everyone conducting business with the public on the U.S. futures exchanges must adhere to the same high standards of professional conduct.
 Role in the U.S. futures industry
In 1974 Congress established the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), a federal regulatory agency with jurisdiction over futures trading. The same legislation authorized the creation of "registered futures associations," giving the futures industry the opportunity to create a nationwide self-regulatory organization.
The CFTC provides government oversight for the entire industry. Each U.S. futures exchange operates as a self-regulatory organization, governing its floor brokers, traders and member firms. NFA regulates every firm or individual who conducts futures trading business with public customers. Although the various regulatory organizations in the futures industry have their own specific areas of authority, together they form a regulatory partnership that oversees all industry participants.
 How NFA Fights Fraud and Abuse
Rigorous registration requirements. NFA thoroughly screens all firms and individuals wishing to do business with the public on any U.S. futures exchange. Applicants must meet stringent fitness requirements, including providing fingerprint cards for background checks. In addition, registrants must pass comprehensive proficiency testing requirements. We also have the authority to deny, revoke, suspend, restrict or condition any firm's or individual's registration.
 Comprehensive compliance rules
Over the years, NFA has adopted stringent rules covering a wide variety of areas such as advertising, telephone solicitations, risk disclosure, discretionary trading, disclosure of fees, minimum capital requirements, reporting and proficiency testing. Just as importantly, we perform audits and examinations of our Members to monitor compliance with those rules. We also conduct financial surveillance to enforce compliance with NFA's financial requirements.
 Strong enforcement authority
NFA has the authority to take disciplinary actions against any firm or individual who violates its rules, ranging from Warning Letters for minor rule infractions to formal Complaints in cases where rule violations warrant prosecution. Penalties resulting from Complaints include expulsion, suspension for a fixed period, prohibition from future association with any NFA Member, censure, reprimand and a fine of up to $250,000 per violation. NFA often collaborates with the CFTC, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies to ensure successful prosecutions.
 Trade practice and market surveillance
The futures industry has changed dramatically in the past few years. Long-established methods of trading, such as open-outcry, have given way to electronic trading at both traditional and new all-electronic exchanges. NFA provides a variety of regulatory services and programs to electronic exchanges to ensure the fair treatment of customers and to maintain orderly markets.
 Dispute Resolution
Disputes occasionally occur in any business, and the futures industry is no exception. In 1983, NFA began an arbitration program, providing a convenient, inexpensive and prompt method for investors to resolve futures-related disputes. Since that time, NFA arbitration has become the primary venue for dispute resolution in the futures industry.
 See Also