A Commodity Trading Advisor (CTA) is an individual or organization that, for compensation or profit, advises others as to the value or advisability of buying or selling futures contracts or commodity options.
Providing advice indirectly includes exercising trading authority over a customer's account, as well as giving advice through written publications or other media.
In general, NFA registration is required unless the CTA qualifies for one of the exemptions from registration outlined in CFTC Regulations 4.5 or 4.14, chiefly:
- That the offering of commodity trading advice is merely "incidental" to the advisor's business
- The person is not "otherwise holding itself out" as a commodity trading advisor. 
CTAs and the Dodd-Frank Act
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) proposed and finalized rules specifying the reporting requirements applicable to advisers to private funds that are registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as investment advisers and with the CFTC as commodity pool operators (CPOs) or commodity trading advisors (CTAs). This is a joint rulemaking with the SEC. The CFTC also approved changes to the compliance obligations of CPOs and CTAs that include a requirement for CPOs and CTAs that are registered solely with the CFTC to file similar reports, as well as several other changes. Specifically, all CTAs that are "dual registrants" -- those that file with both the CFTC and SEC --will be required to file a new form, Form PF. CTAs managing more than $150 million will be required to file Section 1 of Form PF; for CTAs managing more than $1 billion, an extended Section 2 will also be required. Reports would include material such as the amount of assets under management, use of leverage, counterparty credit risk exposure, and trading and investment positions for each fund receiving advice.
Additionally, the CFTC approved a final rulemaking that amends Part 4 of its regulations to reflect changes made to the CEA by the Dodd-Frank Act. Dodd-Frank redefined the terms “commodity pool” “commodity pool operator” and“commodity trading advisor” to include involvement with swaps activities and transactions. The rule passed by a vote of 5-0. The rule appeared in the Federal Register on September 5, 2012.