In this post, we tackle the question of how to calculate the “gross notional amount” of a derivatives transaction for purposes of the limited derivatives user provision of Rule 18f-4. This is a surprisingly difficult question because, although the adopting release for Rule 18f-4 (the “Adopting Release”) refers to “notional amount” 63 times, the release never directly addresses what the term means. We think we found an answer, but it required us to wind our way through a series of earlier SEC statements.

Having provided two “big pictures” of the calculation of a fund’s “derivatives exposure,” we resume with an in-depth examination. We begin by considering how to determine the “gross notional amount” of a derivatives transaction. This post may contain our only categorical conclusion regarding derivatives exposure: gross notional amounts must be absolute values expressed in U.S. dollars.

Our last post provided a big picture summary of the steps required to calculate a Fund’s “derivatives exposure” for purposes of new Rule 18f-4. The post may have left an impression that this process should not be that difficult. To provide additional perspective, we offer the following equation for calculating derivatives exposure.

If interest rate and currency hedges satisfy the following condition:

Then a Fund will be a limited derivatives user when:


Our last post outlined the essential differences between VaR Funds and Limited Derivatives Users: primarily that the former must adopt a derivatives risk management program (a “DRM Program”) while the latter need only have policies and procedures. Our post observed that the less prescriptive regulatory requirements may make operating as a Limited Derivative User an attractive alternative for many management investment companies (including business development companies but excluding money market funds, a “Fund”). As promised at the end of that post, this post initiates our exploration of the challenges of qualifying as a Limited Derivatives User. We begin by providing a high-level step-by-step guide to calculating a Fund’s “derivatives exposure.”