International Swaps and Derivatives Association Inc.

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International Swaps and Derivatives Association, Inc.
Founded 1985
Headquarters NEW YORK OFFICE: 360 Madison Avenue - 16th Floor, New York, NY 10017
Products Industry association
Web site

The International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) represents participants in the privately negotiated derivatives industry and is the largest global financial trade association by member firms, numbering more than 820 from 60 countries on six continents.[1]

Members include most of the world's major institutions that deal in privately negotiated derivatives, as well as many of the businesses, governmental entities and other end users that rely on over-the-counter derivatives for managing financial market risks inherent in their core economic activities. It's membership breakdown is 25 percent dealers, 35 percent service providers and 40 percent end-users. It's membership also includes 14 of the largest banks in the world, which account for about 82 percent of the global interest rate derivatives activity.

On September 17, 2015, ISDA announced the launch of a new industry data project called the symbology project, aimed at developing an open-source standard derivatives product identification system to be applied across all derivatives facilities. The project involves a consortium of buy- and sell-side market participants, vendors, platforms and trade associations. The technology consultancy Etrading Software is acting as project manager and ISDA is overseeing the project, which comes in response to a number of regulatory changes, including MIFID/MIFIR and the SEC's reporting rules, which require a standardized means of identifying derivatives instruments.[2]

In May 2021, the group announced it was updating its ISDA Interest Rate Derivatives Definitions, replacing the 2006 ISDA definitions as the standard contractual reference for global interest rate derivatives trading. ISDA said the new definitions would reflect changes in market practices. It planned to publish the new definitions on May 17, 2021, with a target implementation date of the weekend of October 2/3, 2021. [3]


ISDA annually conducts a number of conferences, which include hands-on educational and training workshops (collateral, documentation, operations), seminars that examine and provide the up-to-date information on specific topics (risk management, new types and uses of derivatives), and more general sessions that review the latest developments across the industry. Some of these conferences, such as the annual general meeting and the member updates, are open only to ISDA members.

They also offer on-demand courses [4]:

  • Understanding the ISDA Master Agreements Conference
  • Documenting and Confirming Credit Derivative Transactions Conference
  • Documenting and Confirming Equity Derivative Transactions Conference
  • Fundamentals of Derivatives Seminar
  • Fundamentals of Credit Derivatives Seminar
  • Fundamentals of Equity Derivatives Seminar
  • Introduction to Operations Training Course
  • FpML Training Course (Financial products Markup Language)

ISDA Surveys[edit]

ISDA conducts annual surveys of its members on topics including margin and benchmarking, and publishes its findings on the state of collateral use and management among derivatives dealers and end-users.

Products and Services[edit]

Among ISDA's accomplishments are:

  • Development of the ISDA Master Agreement
  • Publication of documentation materials and instruments covering a variety of transaction types
  • Production of legal opinions on the enforceability of netting and collateral arrangements (these available only to ISDA members)
  • Securing recognition of the risk-reducing effects of netting in determining capital requirements
  • Promoting sound risk-management practices
  • Advancing the understanding and treatment of derivatives and risk management from public policy and regulatory capital perspectives.

In 2011, ISDA began co-branding S&P’s existing credit default swaps indices as S&P/ISDA CDS Indices. As of 2013, 12 indices are listed, including the S&P/ISDA 100 CDS index, several sector-specific indices, and European and developed nation sovereign CDS.

John Lothian News Interviews[edit]

Robert Pickel is the CEO of the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA). Since joining ISDA in 1997, Pickel has worked to promote and advocate for OTC market participants and work with international regulatory bodies to harmonize regulation across jurisdictions. Pickel spoke with former John Lothian News editor-at-large Doug Ashburn about the cross-border issues that are still “works in progress,” an international standard for initial margin currently under development at ISDA, and the status of trade repositories around the world.

In part 2 of the interview, Pickel discusses the future of LIBOR and other financial benchmarks, possible alternatives to LIBOR, and how ISDA will work with regulators to smooth out and harmonize benchmarking standards.


The association's member institutions are classified into three categories according to the guidelines contained in the association's by-laws. These categories are primary (dealer firms), associate (service providers) and subscriber (end-users).

Key People[edit]