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Futures Commission Merchant (FCM)


A Futures Commission Merchant (FCM) is a company or individual that solicits or accepts orders to buy or sell futures contracts, options on futures, or swaps. They also accept money or other assets from customers to support such orders. FCMs must be registered with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) in the United States.


The phonetics for “Futures Commission Merchant (FCM)” would be:”Fyoo-chers kuh-mish-uhn mur-chant (ef-see-em).”

Key Takeaways

<ol><li>Role and Responsibility: Futures Commission Merchants (FCMs) are entities that are primarily responsible for handling customer orders and executing futures trades. They act as intermediaries between the customers and futures exchanges, effectively managing the buying and selling of futures contracts.</li><li>Regulation: FCMs are heavily regulated by various financial regulatory bodies such as the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) in the United States. They must meet specific financial and operational requirements to ensure customer protection, market integrity and financial stability.</li><li>Risk Management: FCMs play a significant role in managing financial risk. They are obligated to maintain margin accounts for their clients to cover potential losses on futures contracts. They also must perform thorough due diligence and risk assessment on behalf of their clients before executing trades </li></ol>


The term Futures Commission Merchant (FCM) holds significant importance in the business/finance sector as it specifically refers to the entities that are engaged in soliciting or accepting orders for the purchase or sale of commodity futures or options. FCMs also accept payment or receive money from customers in relation to such transactions. They play a key role in maintaining the integrity and reliability of the commodity futures market. Being registered with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and a member of the National Futures Association (NFA), an FCM is held to a high standard of care, transparency, and responsibility. This ensures that the transactions are conducted in a fair and transparent way, enhancing market efficiency and investor confidence.


A Futures Commission Merchant (FCM) plays a significant role in the financial industry, facilitating and simplifying several aspects of futures trading for investors. An FCM’s key purpose is to act as a liaison between investors and futures exchanges. They accept orders from clients to buy or sell futures contracts and extend trading capabilities and other related services. By doing this, they essentially hold the responsibility of managing client expectations and safeguarding their investments while they navigate the complex world of futures markets.Besides initiating buy or sell orders on behalf of clients, FCMs also provide critical services such as research, advice, and market intelligence, which aids clients in making informed investment decisions. They maintain client records, handle and allocate funds, and issue monthly account statements. FCMs, governed by regulations from bodies like the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the National Futures Association (NFA), must ensure the protection of client funds by segregating them from their own, offering an added layer of security to investors. This way, FCMs contribute to maintaining trust and stability in futures trading operations.


1. Goldman Sachs Group Inc.: This global investment banking, securities, and investment management firm is an example of a Futures Commission Merchant (FCM). They facilitate the buying and selling of futures contracts on various commodities, currencies, and indices for their clients, and are responsible for ensuring the financial and operational integrity of these transactions. 2. Cargill: This multinational corporation is the largest privately held corporation in the United States based on revenue. Cargill’s risk management division operates as a Futures Commission Merchant (FCM), providing services like hedging, swaps, and futures for commodities to customers globally.3. JPMorgan Chase & Co.: This is one of the largest banking institutions in the United States and operates as an FCM. This means they broker futures and options contracts on behalf of their clients, assuming the financial responsibility for ensuring the successful execution and settlement of these trades.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a Futures Commission Merchant (FCM)?

A Futures Commission Merchant (FCM) refers to an individual or firm that takes orders from customers to buy or sell futures contracts. They act as an intermediary and charge a commission for their services.

What does an FCM do?

An FCM is responsible for holding customer assets, handling margin and settlement processes, maintaining records, and ensuring customers’ funds are kept separate from the firm’s. They are also the main point of contact for clearing houses and exchanges.

How does one become an FCM?

To become an FCM, one needs to register with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and become members of the National Futures Association (NFA). The firm or individual must meet specific criteria, undergo background checks, and adhere to a strict set of regulatory standards.

What risks do FCMs face?

FCMs face risks such as market risk, liquidity risk, credit risk, and operational risk. They must manage these risks carefully to maintain business stability and comply with regulations.

Why are FCMs important in the futures market?

FCMs play an important role in the futures market as they enable retail and institutional traders to access futures contracts. They also provide the necessary layer of security and trust in the market, ensuring the safety of customer assets and the execution of trades.

What’s the difference between an FCM and a broker?

While both act as intermediaries in futures trading, the key difference is that an FCM holds customer funds and has the right to manage customer accounts, while a broker generally does not have these rights and responsibilities.

What is the relationship between FCMs and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)?

FCMs are registered and regulated by the CFTC. This governs how they conduct business, how they handle customer funds, and requires them to submit regular reports on their business activities. The CFTC also has the power to bring enforcement actions against FCMs.

How do FCMs charge for their services?

FCMs charge a commission for their services, typically on a per-trade basis. The amount can vary depending on the services provided and is usually transparent to the customer.

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