Better ways for the CFTC to protect investors

Monday, November 29, 2010; 9:12 PM

Regarding the Nov. 20 article "A tough slog toward justice for investors":

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is poised to become a leading example of how financial regulators should protect markets and the public. We are undertaking a massive effort to modernize our regulatory scheme, including incorporating advances in technology to help us ensure efficient and competitive markets. It only makes sense that we take stock of which processes and programs help us meet our mission and which do not, and whether there are better options.

If we are to wear the crown of consumer protection, we should do something more meaningful to help inform and educate consumers. A new office of consumer education would help consumers protect themselves against becoming victims of unscrupulous practices and assist them in finding the appropriate venue for their claims when things go wrong.

At the same time, if the CFTC's reparations program has lost its value, the commission should consider other options, including eliminating the program. As the article noted, investors who believe they have been mistreated by commission registrants may seek compensation in three different venues. Evidence highlighted in media accounts suggests that the most effective venue is not housed at the CFTC. Supporting an underutilized program is an unacceptable use of limited resources and certainly not the best the commission can do to protect the public and markets. We must leverage our resources and technologies to provide markets and the public with the best we can offer.

Scott D. O'Malia, Washington

The writer is a commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

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