Derivatives & Repo Report

A Buy-Side Guide to Regulatory and Transactional Issues Related To Derivatives and Repurchase Agreements

The International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) has published the first in a series of guidelines for what it colloquially refers to as “smart derivatives contracts” (the Guidelines).* A smart derivatives contract is a derivative that incorporates software code to automate aspects of the derivative transaction and operates on a distributed ledger, such as a blockchain. This series of papers is intended to “provide high-level guidance on the legal documentation and framework that currently governs…
FINRA has made it official.  Earlier today, FINRA published Regulatory Notice 19-05, delaying TBA margin requirements until March 25, 2020.  FINRA explained: FINRA is issuing this Notice to announce that FINRA is extending by an additional year, until March 25, 2020, the effective date of the margin requirements that otherwise would have become effective on March 25, 2019. As we explained in a January 29th post, the purpose of this delay is to…
Both the SEC and FINRA recently released their 2019 Examination priorities, (available here and here) highlighting primary areas of focus for 2019.  While there are no surprises, there are some items that have a unique twist that warrant attention.  In this post we provide an overview of the regulators focus on Reg SHO and short selling. Both regulators will continue to focus on aspects of Reg SHO compliance.  FINRA will be focused on the…
On January 29th, FINRA released the following statement: Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (“FINRA”) is filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC” or “Commission”) a proposed rule change to extend, to March 25, 2020, the implementation date of the amendments to FINRA Rule 4210 (Margin Requirements) pursuant to SR-FINRA-2015-036, other than the amendments pursuant to SR-FINRA-2015-036 that were implemented on December 15, 2016.  FINRA has indicated that it will file the proposed rule…
On December 21, 2018, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced enforcement actions against two robo-advisers, Wealthfront Advisors LLC (“Wealthfront”) and Hedgeable Inc. (“Hedgeable”), for making false statements about investment products and publishing misleading advertising. “Robo-advisers” are investment advisers that provide automated, software-based portfolio management services. In a press release related to these actions, the Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Asset Management Unit stated that “[t]echnology is rapidly changing the way investment advisers…
On September 19, 2018, ISDA published the ISDA Benchmarks Supplement (the “Supplement”) to enable parties to include fall back provisions in their trades if a benchmark ceases to be provided by the administrator to the benchmark or if a regulator of the administrator, the applicable central bank or applicable resolution authority announces that the administrator shall cease to provide a benchmark  (an “index cessation event”). The Supplement covers the following ISDA definitions booklets: 2006 ISDA…
On the heels of remarks by his U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) counterpart, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) Chairman Jay Clayton recently commented on ongoing benchmark reform and the transition to the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”).  As we noted earlier this week, Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo of the CFTC recently advocated for the adoption of SOFR as the appropriate replacement for LIBOR and added that the CFTC is already working on…
On November 29, 2018, in remarks before the 2018 Financial Stability Conference in Washington, D.C., Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) supported the adoption of the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”) as the new benchmark for short-term unsecured interest rates.  SOFR is currently produced by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (“New York Fed”) and is based on transactions in the repurchase agreement transaction (“repo”) markets.  Chairman Giancarlo’s…
On November 6, 2018, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) brought an enforcement action against a (formerly) registered investment adviser (“Adviser”), for failing to meet its diligence and compliance responsibilities under the Investment Advisers Act (“IAA”) relating to certain repurchase agreement (“repos”) facilities it offered to its clients. The Adviser offered nine repo facilities involving loans guaranteed by various government entities.  Under an agreement with First Farmers Financial (“FFF”), FFF purportedly pledged loans guaranteed…
On October 31st, the CFTC’s Office of the Chief Economist (the “OCE”) issued a report about “Phase 5” of the uncleared margin rules (“UMR”) that are slated to go into effect on September 1, 2020.  The purpose of the report was “to guide regulators in their responses to industry requests for relief” from the scheduled application of Phase 5. This post will provide an overview of the main conclusions of the report.  Any potential implementation…