Rostin Behnam was nominated by President Trump as a Commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission on July 13, 2017, was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate on August 3, 2017, and was sworn in to serve as a Commissioner on September 6, 2017 for a term expiring in June 2021. The members of the Commission elected Commissioner Behnam as Acting Chairman effective Thursday, January 21, 2021.
Acting Chairman Behnam’s arrival at the CFTC followed extensive experiences in financial and agricultural markets. After graduating from Georgetown University, Acting Chairman Behnam worked as a proprietary equities trader in New York City before pursuing a Juris Doctorate at Syracuse University. During his legal studies, Acting Chairman Behnam interned with the CFTC’s Division of Enforcement in the New York Regional Office.
Upon graduation, he returned to his home state of New Jersey and joined the Bureau of Securities within the state’s Office of the Attorney General, focusing his work on fulfilling the Bureau’s mission of protecting investors from investment fraud, and regulating the securities industry in New Jersey. Following his time with the Bureau of Securities, Acting Chairman Behnam practiced law in New York City, representing public and private companies on a range of corporate law and state and federal regulatory matters.
In 2011, Acting Chairman Behnam joined the U.S. Senate Committee of Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, as senior counsel to Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, the Committee’s Chairwoman. He primarily focused on policy and legislative matters related to the CFTC and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, agencies within the direct jurisdictional purview of the Committee. Acting Chairman Behnam’s major responsibilities included advising Senator Stabenow on the implementation of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act and related matters affecting the Treasury Department, the U.S. prudential regulators, and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Since joining the CFTC, Acting Chairman Behnam has individually and as sponsor of the CFTC’s Market Risk Advisory Committee (MRAC) advocated for the CFTC to use its authority and expertise to ensure the derivatives markets operate transparently and fairly for participants and customers and innovate responsibly in addressing evolving market structures and products and the emergence and movement of risk across clearinghouses, exchanges, intermediaries, market makers and end-users within an appropriate oversight framework. Through his MRAC sponsorship, Acting Chairman Behnam convenes leading market experts and public consumer groups to engage in public dialog on such timely issues as interest rate benchmark reform, central counterparty (CCP) risk and governance, market structure, and since 2019, climate-related market risk.
Recognizing that weather and climate present risks to economic productivity, financial stability, and household wealth, Acting Chairman Behnam led the creation of the Climate-Related Market Risk Subcommittee to examine climate-related impacts on the financial system. The Subcommittee’s efforts resulted in the September 2020 release of the report Managing Climate Risk in the U.S. Financial System, the first of-its-kind effort from a U.S. government entity. Acting Chairman Behnam followed its release with testimony before the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis and presentations in other venues focused on climate-related market risk and incorporating sustainability resilience into our financial systems. More recently, Acting Chairman Behnam established the Climate Risk Unit or “CRU” within the CFTC to focus on the role of the derivatives markets, and the CFTC as a market regulator, in understanding, pricing, and addressing climate-related risk.
During his time as Commissioner, Acting Chairman Behnam spearheaded efforts to invigorate internal discussions on agency-wide diversity and inclusion initiatives. He remains committed to ensuring that the CFTC remains vigilant in building and maintaining an inclusive workforce, supportive of employees and reflective of the diversity in the markets it oversees and the public it serves.
Acting Chairman Behnam lives in Baltimore with his wife and three daughters.