Commodity Futures Trading Commission (“CFTC”) registrants and National Futures Association (“NFA”) member firms that have not been audited since 2019 may be wondering what a modern regulatory exam looks like after the Pandemic.  Although it’s true that onsite examinations have resumed during 2023, industry regulators are still conducting a great deal of review work virtually. The following are some practical tips from the Turnkey team about what to expect this year if selected for a regulatory audit.


Digital records are here to stay. This is the current and future of how CFTC, NFA, CME Group, and ICE Exchange regulated business will operate.  Turnkey would advise, (as we have many times in the past if you haven’t already) to start preparing any required digital records for your next review. It’s time to rip the band-aid off and convert. A modern review will be much easier if you do so on your own terms.

Since all records are expected to be digital the examination team will request and expect them to be provided BEFORE the exam begins. It is likely most of these records will have been reviewed and considered by the audit team prior to them ever asking their first question of the review. Anything that is provided to a regulator should be considered a final submission and be in presentation format. Today’s audits start with follow up requests from initial document submissions. Auditors now have more time to focus on testing since they do not have to gather and organize paper records during field work.

Turnkey has conducted hundreds of virtual reviews and supported dozens of NFA, CME, and ICE routine examination inquiries. Based on our experience, below is a list of things to do, and not to do when it comes to a modern examination:

Things To Do:

  • Confirm as soon as possible the date/time of the review from the auditor
  • Be responsive to any and all requests; observe timelines
  • Ask for extensions and provide updates if more time is needed
  • Properly label and organize digital records when submitting to regulators
  • Seek professional help from counsel or a knowledgeable consultant
  • Review ALL files before providing to an auditor
  • Provide all word-processed files in .pdf format
  • Provide a cover sheet for the examiner explaining what has been provided
  • Ahead of any calls test virtual meeting platforms or video conference software
  • Ask the auditor for assistance if systems are not working
  • Keep a record of all the files provided to the examiners by date and folder structure

Things Not To Do:

  • Ignore communications or outreach attempts from the examiner
  • Send less than the full list of requested documents
  • Transmit incomplete files or provide records in an inappropriate format
  • NEVER use the camera on your phone or computer to take pictures of official records for submission.
  • Wait until the last minute to transmit documents
  • Provide more information than was requested
  • Request an onsite audit if a virtual audit has been announced

Audits in 2023 are not necessarily more difficult than they were prior to the pandemic. It is however Turnkey’s opinion that examiners are asking for more records than ever before. It is very easy for an examination to get away from a registered firm that is not prepared. One of the first calls you should consider making when an audit is announced should be to your counsel or a professional consulting firm like Turnkey Trading Partners who specializes in supporting these types of reviews. If you need assistance with a regulatory exam please feel free to contact us today to see how we might be able to assist.