To be 4.7 Exempt or Not To Be, That is the Question

Despite the having the odds stacked against them, we hear from new CTAs and hedge fund managers every day. This isn’t to say that we discourage new CTAs, our 108 Tools to Help grow your CTA Business can speak to that, and we recently discussed how these emerging managers are typically better performers.

But we won’t sugar coat things, it isn’t easy going from $0 to $10 million, $10 to $100 million, or $100 million to $1 Billion under management. Which led many CTAs to RCM’s Alternative Investment Conference this week to hear best practices and so forth. And one question among new CTAs that got debated after the event with some fervor was whether CTAs should be “4.7 exempt” CTA or not.

This is a little inside baseball, but it’s an important question when a CTA is just starting out. For those of you that have no idea what a 4.7 exemption is; filing a 4.7 exemption means that a CTA is exempt from certain regulations such as filing a Disclosure Document with the National Futures Association (“NFA”) – but in exchange for that relief, can only accept QEP investors (Qualified Eligible Investors, which are essentially investment/insurance/bank type companies and private investors with over $2 million in investments) into their program or fund.  Conversely, a CTA can file a Disclosure Document with the NFA and accept any investor they deem suitable for the investment, with the regulatory thinking perhaps that the well-heeled investors don’t need everything spelled out for them.

So, the decision facing a CTA when starting out is whether to:

  1. Avoid the regulators and cost of drafting a Disclosure Document, but only go after the $2million in investable assets and up QEP investors.


  1. Deal with the regulators and draft a Disclosure Document (and re-submit it annually), and go after any investor who can afford the minimum investment.

Now, what we were hearing at the Expo was that the general rule of thumb CTAs get from lawyers is to file the exemption to avoid the hassle of filing D-Docs with the NFA. Most new CTAs, it seems, are being coached to avoid the 4.7 Exemption. To which we say… get a new coach. If you’ve got a golden Rolodex filled with names of multi-millionaires, heads of banks, and Chief Investment Officers at pensions and endowments – sure, the 4.7 exemption can save you some hassle.  But what if you’re trying to grow organically and need every set of eyeballs you can get on your program. Is avoiding a few days of hassle with the regulators each year worth eliminating a big portion of the investing public?

We say no… but haven’t ever really looked at the statistics to see just how many potential investors 4.7 exempt CTAs are ignoring by saving some hassle.  Now, this gets a little difficult, as there are a lot of definitions for both that include insurance companies, pool operators, and foreign individuals (all of whom are QEPs regardless of net worth or income… in a blatant example of the US regulators saying ‘you’re not our problem’). But if we assume all the non-human type of investors basically balance each other out, and represent just a small portion of the overall numbers – then we’re down to looking at how many investors fall in each net worth bucket.
For sake of argument, let’s assume that accredited investors have $1 million in net worth, and QEPs have $2 mm and up in net worth, remembering that all QEPs are also accredited. If you meet the higher standard, you automatically meet the lower standard; and do some quick back of the napkin math to see that there are:

Over $2 million net worth, QEPs = 1.8 million households

Accredited = 8.5 million households

Non Accredited, with investment accounts = 20 million house holds

US Wealth

(Disclaimer: Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results)
Chart Courtesy: CNN
(Note = We know the data is from 2007. It’s the most recent data we could find)

Now, this ignores a big part of the puzzle, which is how much money each of those buckets has. It’s well documented that the top 1% command more than 48% of the world’s wealth. But ignoring for a fact that there might be 4, or 40, times more money concentrated at the top, there’s still about 4 times more investors with more than $1 million than there are with over $2 million, meaning, for us – to ditch that 4.7 and go ahead and file that D-Doc.


QEPs = Wealth in America — (CNN)

Accredited = How Many Accredited Households Exist in the US — (InvestGeorgia)

Non-Accredited with Investment Accounts = (Census)

For more on the 4.7 exemption and others at NFA, see here:

CFTC 4.7 Exemption

NFA Exemption Descriptions

Podcast: The Many Avenues of RCM Alternatives

Where is the combined Attain/RCM headed? Founder and CEO Bobby Schwartz sat down with Options Insider recently for a quick podcast (radio) recording. Here’s your chance to see how we’re helping the funds and managers who utilize RCM’s services from the horse’s mouth:

Options Insider

Here’s the link to the Options Insider Radio.

Here’s the direct link to the MP3.

108 Tools to Grow your CTA Business

It’s that time of year again for Alternative Investment folks to storm Chicago for two different conferences, NIBA and the CTA Expo, with emerging and seasoned managers alike speaking, networking, and cocktailing in between sessions on Liquid Alts, compliance, and history lessons from CME founder Leo Melamed.

A little over a year ago, we came out with a piece entitled, “So You want to be a CTA?” explaining the ins and outs, and steps needed before making a real go at it. But where’s the list of software, lawyers, accountants, and what not – that CTAs use and rely on to make their business go?

Without further ado – our list of 108 or so commodity trading advisor resources:

(Note, firms are listed alphabetically in each category, and we’ve used their own descriptions, edited to remove the ‘we’re the best’ language… and – we can’t take full credit for aggregating all of these, The CTA Expo service provider directory gave us a great start).



Kick Ass consultant, broker, marketer, lead source, pool operator, AUM Grower

[Read more…]

Alternative Links: Podcast Edition

We’ve now made it a little easier for anyone who ever wanted a pocket sized Jeff Eizenberg (one of the partners at Attain), who sat down to do one of the CME’s Managed Futures Podcasts (which is a great resource by the way). The topic was “Strategy and Market Diversity in the Managed Futures Industry.” If you don’t want to listen to the 15 minute podcast right now, you can download it for free on iTunes and listen to it later. Without further ado…


“I think Managed Futures is truly one of the more unique asset classes out there.”
– Jeff Eizenberg

Strategy and Market Diversity in the Managed Futures Industry – (CME Managed Futures Podcast)

2 Great Ways to Invest in Commodities (Doesn’t like or dislike managed futures) – (Eric Mancini)

Alternative Investments: A 2-minute Introduction Video – (William Blair)


CTAs bounce back to positive performance in August – (Monovisione)


CFTC Said to Alert Justice Department of Criminal Rate Rigging – (Bloomberg)


Why CME, CBOE are on a weight-loss plan – (Crains Chicago)

Weekend Reads

Just for Fun:

  • Can This Clever Statistical Model Predict Olympic Medal Winners? —  (Fast Co. Design)
  • Photographic Proof That Sochi Is A Godforsaken Hellscape Right Now – (Buzzfeed)
  • Hijacker Tried to Divert Plane to Sochi – (NBC News)
  • Tennessee Governor Urges 2 Free Years of Community College and Technical School – (NYT)
  • Half of the nation’s uninsured live in just 116 counties – (The Big Picture)