CFTC to seek account data on all futures traders

Concurring Statement Regarding the Proposal for the Account Ownership and Control Report Commissioner O’Malia

July 12, 2010

I concur on the release of the Notice of proposed rulemaking related to Account Ownership and Control Report (“OCR”). The Commission must gain greater transparency over the data it receives. The OCR represents a place where technology must catch-up to how trades are executed in the futures markets so critical data ultimately flows to the Commission.

The events of May 6th clearly highlight that technology drives the structure and function of the markets. In order to better understand trading behavior in the derivatives markets, including the trading behaviors of high frequency traders, it is essential to discover who controls which accounts and how those trading styles impact markets, including the order book, which is vital to fulfilling our surveillance and enforcement obligations. CFTC staff recently noted in the preliminary report on the events of May 6th that “obtaining account ownership and control information in the exchange trade registers…would increase the timeliness and efficiency of account identification, an essential step in data analysis.”1 The Commission must get as close as possible to real-time surveillance and post-trade transparency; the OCR would move the Commission a step closer to that goal.

Currently, the data the Commission receives from exchanges and other reporting entities lacks information because the Commission has not demanded it. However, I believe the Commission must now demand ownership and control information on all trading accounts in order to enhance the transparency of information reported to the Commission. The proposed rule will allow the Commission to aggregate related trading accounts within and across exchanges in order to better detect abusive trading practices. For example, the OCR will allow the Commission’s Division of Market Oversight to identify small and medium sized traders whose open interest does not reach reportable levels, but who can still have deleterious effects on the markets during concentrated periods of intra-day trading. Such intra-day trading scenarios include intra-day position limit violations and “banging the close” manipulations.

The OCR will also bridge the gap between individual transactions reported to the Commission on exchange trade registers and aggregate positions reported to it in large trader data so the Commission can determine how traders established their positions. The OCR will allow the Commission’s Office of the Chief Economist to accurately identify and categorize market participants based on their actual trading behavior on a contract-by-contract basis, rather than on how they self-report to the Commission (e.g., registration type or marketing/merchandising activity on CFTC Form 40). In short, the OCR will allow the Commission to better oversee the markets.

Based on the comments received from the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking published in the Federal Register on July 2, 2009, I appreciate that there are concerns regarding the implementation of the OCR for numerous reasons, including the costs and the difficulty of acquiring specific data points. Therefore, it is critical that the Commission engage market participants including exchanges, clearing organizations, futures commission merchants, introducing brokers, and others to understand what data is available and the most effective means by which to acquire this data. I strongly support the modification to this proposed rule to accommodate a staff technical conference to provide market participants an opportunity to provide constructive recommendations as to the most effective means by which the Commission can collect this data.

The proposed financial reform legislation that is currently being negotiated by the Conference Committee will issue a new mandate to the Commission for the oversight of the swaps market. Under the proposed legislation the Commission will be hit with a tsunami of data that will need to be standardized to reflect ownership, control, and other information of the massive over-the-counter (OTC) market. If this legislation is signed into law, the OCR rulemaking, whether in the post-comment or possible implementation phase, will coincide with the Commission’s rulemaking efforts under its new mandate. Therefore, I hope to receive comment with respect to the entities (e.g., trade repositories, designated contract markets, or swap execution facilities) from which the Commission should collect OCR data and the product and transaction types for which the Commission should collect data. I hope to receive comment on any additional types of information or data elements related to OTC and swap transactions that should be collected and reported to the Commission. Finally, I am interested in receiving comment on how the derivatives industry could develop and maintain a system to assign unique account identification numbers (“UAIN”) to all account owners and account controllers.

On a related issue, I understand that Commission staff is seeking to automate the information collected via CFTC Forms 40 and 102. This process is long overdue and must be accomplished in an expedited fashion. Automation of these forms will minimize the manual entry and cross checking of data and will minimize opportunities for human error. It is my hope that the Commission will release for public comment a proposed rule related to these forms later this summer.

OCR press release

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