DEFINITION of 'National Futures Association - NFA'

The independent self-regulatory organization for the U.S. futures market. NFA membership is mandatory for all participants in the futures market, providing assurance to the investing public that all firms, intermediaries and associates who conduct business with them on the U.S. futures exchanges must adhere to the same high standards of professional conduct. The NFA operates at no cost to the taxpayer, as it is financed exclusively by membership dues paid by members and assessment fees paid by users of futures markets. The national headquarters is in Chicago and there is an office in New York.

BREAKING DOWN 'National Futures Association - NFA'

The NFA began operating in 1982, subsequent to the establishment of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in 1974; this legislation also authorized the creation of registered futures exchanges, thereby facilitating the creation of a national self-regulatory organization.

In addition to regulation of the U.S. futures market, the NFA's duties and functions include registration, compliance and arbitration. It combats fraud and abuse in the futures markets through a combination of rigorous registration requirements, stringent compliance rules, strong enforcement authority and real-time market surveillance.

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