Public Statements & Remarks

Opening Statement of Commissioner Caroline D. Pham Regarding CFTC Open Meeting on December 13, 2023

December 13, 2023

For our third open meeting of 2023, I would like to start by thanking the staff rulemaking teams here with us this morning. I appreciate your time and dedication and look forward to the presentations today. I’d also like to thank the rest of the CFTC staff, the Chairman, my fellow Commissioners, the work of Commissioner Goldsmith Romero’s Technology Advisory Committee, and the work of the other CFTC advisory committees in informing some of the important issues that we’re going to be addressing today.

I do appreciate the concerns raised by my fellow Commissioners Goldsmith Romero and Mersinger. I look forward to the substantive discussion over the course of today’s meeting, and so I will reserve my remarks on each individual proposal to that time.

I’d also like to thank the entire CFTC staff for all of their hard work in 2023 over the course of these three open meetings. We have heard, and will hear from, over a dozen rule teams comprising over almost 50 staff members. The CFTC is a small but mighty agency, and I truly want to recognize the time, contributions, and effort of our dedicated staff. In addition to the presenters, each rule involves the work of additional staff in our Office of the General Counsel, Office of the Chief Economist, and cross-divisional task forces, working groups, and simply staff going out of their way to help other staff. In addition, we have facilities and IT staff, and support from our Office of the Secretariat, which may be the most 24/7, hardest-working part of the Commission that engages with each Commissioner’s office on almost a daily basis. Each of our rulemakings can involve the work of dozens and dozens of CFTC staff members, contributing in their own unique way to get to the final product.

I would also be remiss in not thanking my own team—Meghan Tente, Brigitte Weyls, Harry Jung, and Nick Elliot—for all of their hard work. I couldn’t do what I do without them.

I do want to, however, discuss another issue. I would like to take this time to renew my call for a CFTC examination program for swap dealers that are, or are an affiliate of, a global systemically important bank or GSIB. Such a CFTC examination program would allow us to partner more effectively with the National Futures Association (NFA) to oversee our registrants and systemic risk, similar to how the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) work together to examine broker-dealers.

I’ll repeat some remarks that I’ve made in the past. Every other major regulatory authority has established an examination program that is conducted by supervisory staff (i.e., examiners). The lack of a CFTC examination program makes the CFTC an outlier among U.S. and non-U.S. regulators. It does not best serve the Commission’s mandate to provide oversight of market participants, and it does not meaningfully contribute to market integrity. I am concerned that the Commission’s current approach is inherently ad hoc, not applied consistently across market participants, and does not provide a horizontal view to inform the Commission of potential systemic risk.

I believe that 10 years after the enactment of the Dodd-Frank Act is far too long for the Commission to have failed to develop an examination program for its most systemically important registrants. There is no substitute for ongoing oversight by supervisory staff with the requisite expertise and experience to actually understand and ensure that our registrants have robust risk management and compliance programs. Bank examiners undergo years of specialized training and certification, and often have more than a decade of examination experience before being assigned to cover a GSIB. I want to encourage that the Commission and the Market Participants Division (MPD) get the budget needed to stand up an examination program, and obtain the talent and resources needed to develop a first-class examiner team.

I am also pleased to take this opportunity to highlight recent efforts by MPD staff. Consistent with my call for the development of a CFTC swap dealer examination program, MPD Examinations staff has initiated the first limited horizontal review of swap dealers regarding their compliance with the CFTC’s capital regime as a tool to enhance not just our understanding of how firms have implemented these regulations, but also our ongoing oversight of NFA as the self-regulatory organization (SRO) for swap dealers. It is my hope and expectation that this is the first step in our development of a comprehensive program designed to complement, not replicate, that of the NFA. By being more directly involved in the oversight of our systemically important registrants, we become better informed regulators, which will only serve to benefit the Commission, our registrants, and the American public.

With that, I’d like to once again thank all of the CFTC staff and the Commission for all of the hard work that we’ve done in 2023. I’m looking forward to today’s presentations, and I hope that you all get a nice break after today to enjoy the holidays and spend time with your family and friends. Thank you.