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Understanding the Consolidated Audit Trail (CAT) System

Fair Markets Now is dedicated to promoting transparency and fairness in the financial markets. One of the key initiatives to achieve this is the implementation of the Consolidated Audit Trail (CAT) system. This page aims to educate retail investors on what the CAT system is, its importance, and how it impacts them. We also provide tools for you to take action and support the full implementation of this crucial system.

What is the CAT System?



The Consolidated Audit Trail (CAT) is a comprehensive system designed to track all order and trading activity in U.S. equities and options markets. Approved by the SEC in November 2016, the CAT is managed by FINRA and national securities exchanges.

Key Objectives:

  • Market Transparency: Provide regulators with a detailed view of market activities.
  • Fraud Detection: Enhance the ability to detect and prevent market manipulation, insider trading, and other fraudulent activities.
  • Efficiency: Streamline and improve the accuracy of market surveillance and investigations.

How It Works:

The CAT collects data on orders, executions, quotes, and customer information from all broker-dealers and exchanges. This data is used to create a comprehensive audit trail of all trading activities.

Current Status and Upcoming Milestones Implementation Timeline:


The CAT system has been implemented in phases since its approval in 2016. Here are the key upcoming milestones:


  • May 24, 2024: Deadline to repair all outstanding rejections for active accounts and resolve all material inconsistencies for customer records associated with active accounts.
  • May 31, 2024: Full CAIS Compliance Go-Live. Industry members must repair all rejections and resolve material inconsistencies within three trading days.
  • July 1, 2025: Compliance date for reporting reliance on the bona fide market making exception for short sales.


These milestones are crucial for ensuring the system operates effectively and provides the intended benefits of transparency and fraud detection.

Importance of the CAT System


For Retail Investors

  • Protection: Helps protect retail investors from market manipulation and insider trading.
  • Fairness: Ensures a level playing field where all market participants are held to the same standards.
  • Transparency: Provides greater visibility into market activities, fostering trust and confidence in the financial markets.

Challenges and Opposition:

Institutions and market makers are lobbying Congress to halt the full implementation of the CAT system, citing privacy concerns. 

However, these concerns are often exaggerated and are part of a broader effort to maintain less transparency in the markets.

Take Action


Why Your Support Matters:

Your participation is crucial in ensuring the CAT system is fully implemented. Institutions are lobbying against it, but your voice can counteract their efforts and promote transparency and fairness.

Contact Your Representatives:

Use our activism form to easily contact your Congressional representatives. By entering your address, the form will automatically identify your representatives and provide a pre-populated email supporting the CAT system.

Steps to Take:

  • Enter Your Address: Identify your Congressional representatives.
  • Send Pre-Populated Email: Use our form to send an email supporting the CAT system.
  • Repeat Regularly: Increase your impact by participating frequently.

The Importance of Your Actions:

While individual letters might seem insignificant, collectively, they have a powerful impact. Your repeated efforts amplify our voice and ensure that the importance of the CAT system is heard by those in power.



The CAT system is a pivotal tool in our fight for fair and transparent markets. By understanding its importance and actively supporting its implementation, you contribute to a more equitable financial system. Let’s ensure our voices are heard and push for the full implementation of the CAT system.

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