22 Managed Futures Terms To Know

Sortino Ratio vs Sharpe Ratio vs Sterling Ratio vs MAR Ratio vs How Do I Calculate This Ratio……yikes. Managed futures certainly has perfected the art of having a language of it’s own. And it makes sense, there are lot of internal organizations, math equations and extra extras that help to make this industry what it is.  With that being said, keeping it all straight, from industry newbies to managed futures veterans, can be a challenge. We’ve compiled a quick hit list of 22 important terms, concepts, and of course acronyms, for you to keep yourself familiarized with.


The Math

  1. Sortino Ratio
    A risk adjusted return ratio that measures returns per unit of risk (with risk defined as standard deviation of negative returns).
    In action: (Compound ROR – risk free ROR) ÷ (Standard Deviation of Negative Returns)
  2. Sharpe Ratio
    This ratio measures return per unit of risk (with risk being the standard deviation of returns).
    In action: (Compound ROR – risk free ROR) ÷ (Standard Deviation of Returns)
  3. MAR Ratio
    Measures returns per unit of risk (with risk defined as the maximum drawdown).
    In action: (Compound ROR) ÷ (Max Drawdown)
  4. Max Drawdown
    One of the best measures of risk, the max drawdown is the most loss experienced by an investor in a specific investment.
    In action: (Trough Value – Peak Value) ÷ Peak Value
  5. Max Run-up
    Largest percentage of return between any two points in the history of a program
    In action: (Peak Value – Trough Value) ÷ Trough Value


The Acronyms

  1. Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME)
    The CME is a financial and commodity derivative exchange based in Chicago that manages risk, trades futures, option, cash and OTC markets, optimizes portfolios, and analyzes data.
  2. Intercontinental Exchange (ICE)
    This company owns exchanges for financial and commodity markets and operates 12 regulated exchanges and marketplace.
  3. Futures Commission Merchants (FCM)
    An organization that solicits and/or accepts orders to buy or sell futures contracts. They typically verify your identity, send over the required margin to place a trade, verify funds, and keep you informed of pertinent account information.
  4. Commodity Trading Advisors (CTA)
    Futures money managers that trade on behalf of clients in identified markets according to a specifically outlined strategy – the manager is placing the trade directly into the clients account.
  5. Commodity Pool Operator (CPO)
    Pools together investor money and places trades in a single account owned by the fund, which leads to lower levels of liquidity and transparency and they can also offer lower minimum investment thresholds than individually managed accounts.
  6. Introducing Broker (IB)
    The person or firm most futures market participants have a relationship with, they’ll go over markets, talk about which programs are doing well, and guide you to the best fit.
  7. Guaranteed Introducing Broker (GIB)
    Very similar to an introducing broker, but they’re affiliated with only one FCM.


The Regulators

  1. CFTC (Commodity Futures Trading Commission)
    The CFTC protects investors and their money from manipulation and abusive practices as defined by the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA).
  2. CEA (Commodity Exchange Act)
    The CEA provides federal regulation of all futures trading activities. It’s main purpose is to limit, or abolish, short selling and eliminate the possibility of market manipulation.
  3. NFA (National Futures Association)
    NFA is the industry-wide, self-regulatory organization that is designated by the CFTC. They safeguard investors and the markets, and unsure members meet their regulatory responsibilities.


The Industry

  1. Managed Futures
    Managed Futures are alternative investments which rely on professional investment managers known as Commodity Trading Advisors (CTAs), who specialize in trading exchange traded futures contracts both long and short in markets across the world.
  2. Alternative Investments
    An alternative investment is an asset that is not one of the conventional investment types, such as stocks, bonds and cash. Alternative investments typically include private equity, hedge funds, managed futures, real estate, and commodities.
  3. Hedge Funds
    Hedge funds are alternative investments using pooled funds that employ numerous different strategies to earn active return, or alpha, for their investors.
  4. Notional Funding
    Notional funding is unique to Managed Futures and allows an investor to leverage their cash investment by taking on additional risk for higher expected returns.



  1. S&P 500
    This is a weighted index of the 500 largest U.S. publicly traded companies by market value and is regarded as the best single gauge of large-cap U.S. equities.
    In action: Market cap all S&P 500 stocks ÷ Index Divisor
  2. SocGen (Societe Generale) Index (SGI)
    Compiling a range of indices, the SGI is designed to reflect various markets and investment strategies, combining trading and market expertise with the rules-based and transparent methodology of accessible indices.
  3. Barclay Hedge Index
    This index measures of the average return of all hedge funds (excepting Funds of Funds) in the Barclay database and is calculated by averaging the net returns of all the funds reported in that month.



If you’re looking for more in-depth information, history behind the terms, and additional resources, check out our Stats, Definitions, & Players whitepaper!

The performance data displayed herein is compiled from various sources, including BarclayHedge, and reports directly from the advisors. These performance figures should not be relied on independent of the individual advisor's disclosure document, which has important information regarding the method of calculation used, whether or not the performance includes proprietary results, and other important footnotes on the advisor's track record.

Benchmark index performance is for the constituents of that index only, and does not represent the entire universe of possible investments within that asset class. And further, that there can be limitations and biases to indices such as survivorship, self reporting, and instant history.

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