We invite you to understand our position on this situation. We are immensely grateful for our students, employees, instructors, and franchise owners, who continue to support us. Below are recent communications from OTA. We welcome you to learn and judge for yourself.
Thank you to our OTA Family
We have been through an incredible experience. We never could have imagined the amount of support we have received from our students. It is time for us to put this chapter behind us as we turn the corner into a very bright future.
Jeff Harris, Ph.D., former SEC and CFTC Chief Economist, Attests to the Efficacy of OTA’s Education
In a report prepared for the Federal Trade Commission, Dr. Harris extensively documents the value and effectiveness of Online Trading Academy’s exceptional financial education, including CliK – OTA’s proprietary trading and analysis platform. Dr. Harris indicates that OTA’s education “provides significant utility to students and would enable students who follow the principles and use the techniques taught by OTA to make money through trading and investing.”
For more information, download the report here.
OTA Students File Amici Brief
On May 8th, nearly 1,400 OTA students filed an amici brief with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in support of OTA’s motion to have the FTC’s preliminary injunction vacated. For more than 22 years, our students have formed the heart and foundation of Online Trading Academy. To witness such a forceful, passionate and united show of support is profoundly humbling.
The amici brief is a collective proclamation from OTA students voicing their rights to pursue education they purchased from OTA. And, consequently, how the FTC, through its reckless and indiscriminate actions, censored the content of its instruction and severely impaired OTA’s ability to operate its business and support its students. These actions threaten to eliminate students’ rights of access to the education they purchased and to which they are entitled. The student amici provided the district court with 448 declarations and more than 9,000 petition signatures, disputing the FTC’s allegations and subsequent preliminary injunction.
These submissions, we believe, were not sufficiently taken into account or acknowledged by the district court in its decision to withhold an evidentiary hearing. An evidentiary hearing would give OTA and the student amici an important opportunity to challenge the FTC’s allegations – particularly by educating the district court that OTA students were not deceived by OTA, and in fact, reinforce the utility and value of our education.
We are hopeful by sharing this information we will bring a light to what our students are saying and empower their voices to rise above the deliberate distortions disseminated by the FTC. For more information, please see the full amici brief here.
OTA Files Appeal in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals
On May 1, 2020, Online Trading Academy filed an appeal in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to have the preliminary injunction imposed against OTA vacated.
From the outset of this litigation, we have requested our right to a fair, just and transparent process. Sadly, this has not been the case. The preliminary injunction stands in direct contrast to these principles and arbitrarily rejects the collective voices of thousands of OTA students. The FTC’s injunction, based on only a preliminary hearing, has caused tremendous harm to our organization, without the slightest regard for fairness. Unfortunately, we may not have the opportunity to share our truth until the trial, which is months away. While the injunction is “preliminary”, its impact is felt now.
We have provided tens of thousands of documents, hundreds of sworn statements and thousands of signed petitions to the FTC and the court to demonstrate why our students love OTA and embrace our education. Yet, all of these things have been largely ignored. Our students are entitled to the financial education they chose and purchased. The FTC, nor any other entity, should dictate to students their rights to pursue education they deem most appropriate for them.
You can read the full appeal here, and to all those that continue to support us, we appreciate your dedication and commitment from the bottom of our hearts. Thank you.
An update from OTA on the FTC lawsuit and COVID-19
Online Trading Academy is pleased to report that the court, last week, issued a preliminary injunction that essentially reiterated the court’s intent to allow OTA its fair day in court and continue our business operations. The preliminary injunction, among other things, installed an impartial monitor whom we welcome. This monitor will act as an agent of the court to help ensure OTA stays compliant with our obligations in the preliminary injunction until our trial with the FTC.
We are grateful to the thousands of students, instructors and employees who continue to steadfastly support and remain dedicated to OTA. Your commitment and passion fuel us every day, and we will take that fighting spirit forward as we prepare for our day in court.
On an unrelated but serious note, we continue to closely monitor the spread of the COVID-19 global pandemic. To our students and the entire OTA community, we hope you and your families are staying safe and well. We understand these are deeply anxious and uncertain times, not only for our collective well-being, but for how best to make informed decisions while navigating the volatility of the financial markets. We continue to offer instruction through our online classrooms and digital learning tools.
We are here for you and hope the love, community and support we have cultivated together will give you solace as we band together and overcome this crisis.
OTA is fighting to make the financial markets more inclusive for all.
The FTC is intent on restricting students’ freedom to choose what type of education works best for them.
We stand with our students.
Online Trading Academy and the Federal Trade Commission have recently been engaged in a legal battle that at its core affects your right to choose financial education that is best suited for your unique learning styles and needs. The FTC has been on a campaign to restrict nontraditional forms of financial education and OTA is its latest target. The FTC alleges that OTA creates unreasonable expectations for its prospective students through exaggerated claims in our marketing. We disagree vehemently with this assertion and have provided large amounts of evidence to the FTC that OTA students believe their expectations were properly met, as evidenced in part by our extremely high customer satisfaction, including 197,000 post class surveys that average 94% satisfaction.
Since this began, more than 10,000 students have voiced their passionate support for OTA and the value it provides, in the form of student petitions and sworn student declarations. Our education model is rooted in practical application and live trading floor environments – not abstract theory. We continuously evolve education, products and services to meet the current and future needs of our students. We do this by helping people learn how to trade and invest with confidence, rule-based strategies and risk management skills.
We will never waiver on this commitment and invite you to learn more and judge for yourself. We stand firm in our belief that exceptional financial education should not be reserved for the Wall Street elite – now more than ever.
Court Allows Online Trading Academy to resume modified operations; favors fair and transparent hearing for company
Since the FTC filed its counter suit against Online Trading Academy (OTA), we have requested our right to a fair, open and transparent hearing. The FTC, conversely, has resorted to extreme measures to try to put OTA out of business before we get our day in court, including objecting to OTA paying employees and instructors for work already done. Despite these efforts, we are pleased to report that last week, the judge lifted portions of a temporary restraining order (TRO), clarified our ability to make certain payments to sustain the operations, encouraged the FTC to collaborate in good faith with OTA to get to a speedy trial to resolve this matter.
The court recently issued an order indicating it will enact a preliminary injunction. Importantly, the court will appoint an independent monitor to review OTA’s marketing pending trial, a decision we support as we continue to fight these allegations. This monitor will help ensure and seek clarity from the court on some of the assertions the FTC is making that we disagree with about what constitutes fair and representative marketing.
We welcome this news and the court’s measured and fair approach. Ultimately, this means that we can resume some operations and continue to provide our students with access to exceptional finance education.
While we have a long way to go, we are encouraged by the court’s ruling. We look forward to arguing our case forcefully and transparently and demonstrating the value that OTA has delivered to students for more than two decades.
More than 10,000 Students Publicly Declare Support for Online Trading Academy
From the outset of this lawsuit, more than 10,000 students have voiced their passionate support for OTA and the value it provides, dispute the FTC’s allegations of misleading advertising and sales tactics, and attest to the value of OTA’s lifelong education in the form of the petition on this site and through sworn student declarations.
Eyal Shahar, CEO and Founder of OTA, said: “OTA is profoundly humbled and grateful for our students’ outpouring of support. You remind us every day of why we work tirelessly on your behalf. Your energy, passion and love continue to invigorate the entire OTA community.”
From our students:
I have learned so much in the short time I have spent at Online Trading Academy (OTA), and I feel a lot more confident in placing my trades, knowing I'm managing my risk/reward ratio much better than I ever have previously.
As a former analyst on a large commercial bank's oil and natural gas options trading desk in Chicago, I can vouch that OTA teaches trading the way I learned it from professionals on Wall Street.
A lot has happened over the past month.
Online Trading Academy has been in business for more than two decades.
OTA operates 48 locations worldwide and serves more than 70,000 students
OTA’s student satisfaction with its classes is extensive and positive, averaging 94%, based on 197,000 post class exit surveys uploaded to OTA’s website every Friday, unfiltered
OTA’s student satisfaction with its online eXtended Learning Track (XLT) sessions is extensive and very positive, averaging more than 90%, based on 250,000 post XLT exit surveys
OTA has been recognized by third party industry groups for its exceptional financial education and contributions to local communities.
OTA is a Certified Benefit Corporation (B-Corp), meeting the highest standards of verified social and environmental impact, public transparency and legal accountability, one of only 3,235 companies so far to achieve this globally from more than 60,000 businesses that have applied
OTA was certified as a great workplace in 2018 and 2019 by the independent analysts at Great Places to Work
The Orange County Register named OTA, a six-time winner, as one of the top workplaces in Orange County, California.
OTA’s educational content and leading educators received FXstreet.com’s Forex Best Awards every year from 2011-2018.
OTA was named the winner of a Bronze Stevie® Award in the Technical Innovation of the Year category in The 16th Annual International Business Awards® (2019), recognized for technical innovations such as the CliK educational trading platform, the first front end trading platform designed to support the learning curve of each user along their educational path. The International Business Awards are the world’s premier business awards program. All individuals and organizations worldwide – public and private, for-profit and non-profit, large and small – are eligible to submit nominations. The 2019 IBAs received entries from organizations in 74 nations and territories.
OTA Remains Committed and Rallies Love, Loyalty & Dedication
Read OTA’s full statement below
Last week, a California court granted portions of the FTC’s request for a temporary restraining order against Online Trading Academy. To say we are disappointed and saddened is a profound understatement. What is lost amid the legalese, technical jargon and thousands of pages of court documents are the very real consequences that our 70,000 students and 1,000 team members across our network now face.
In effect, this ruling, while temporary, has frozen all of OTA’s corporate assets. What does that mean? Nearly 300 head office employees cannot get paid and are without medical insurance benefits. Women and men who rely on a paycheck to support their families and children; pay their mortgages; pay their rents; pay for their groceries and meet their medical needs.
One would think that would be enough to send people running to look for new jobs. And, you know what, who could blame them? But, not everybody knows the hearts and passion of our employees. And while some have no choice but to look for other positions, more than half are remaining available as we work to persuade the Court to clarify and alter the Order. These employees are doing so for one another, and for the entire OTA community. Why? Because of the love, loyalty and dedication that we have cultivated for more than two decades. It is because of them that we are able to continue offering classes. OTA continues to serve our students as we work through these issues, although some of our centers will be modifying their in-center class schedule.
Make no mistake. We are in this fight for the long haul. Each step in this process provides a strong opportunity to demonstrate the value that OTA has delivered to tens of thousands of students since our founding. We are so humbled and grateful for the outpouring of support and love we have received from students, franchise owners and OTA team members over the past few weeks.
While the FTC continues to overlook all of the good we have done, we remain committed, more than ever, to our students. The FTC should not dictate what forms of instruction is best suited for individuals based on their learning desires and preferences. They should have freedom of choice.
To hear our side of the story, read more about our defense here:
- OTA’s opposition filing to the FTC’s lawsuit [view PDF] which explains our line by line detailed responses to the FTCs unjust allegations and cherry-picked “evidence” intended to paint an unfair picture. This includes an Expert Report from Dr. Jeff Harris, Ph.D., former SEC and CFTC Chief Economist and current chair of American University’s Finance and Real Estate Department, in which he states that Online Trading Academy’s education “provides significant utility to students and would enable students who follow the principles and use the techniques taught by OTA to make money through trading and investing.”
- OTA’s 1st Amendment Objection filing in further opposition to the FTC’s lawsuit [view PDF], defending our and your constitutional rights. The judge has ruled granting that this filing is accepted.
- In addition, OTA filed an Application for Clarification of the Temporary Restraining Order seeking relief from the FTC’s overly aggressive request, unnecessarily causing the instant and massive harm to so many as outlined above, before we have had a single day in court or hearing before a judge. The FTC subsequently opposed this request and in the absence of a ruling from the judge we had no choice but to take the actions outlined above.
We will continue this fight to provide financial education for all. The court’s ruling doesn’t change that. And when we finally have our day in court, in the near future, we look forward to sharing our full, accurate and undistorted side of the story. We have received more than 4,000 signed petitions and sworn declarations from students supporting us. Their determination, paired with the collective love of the OTA community, gives us the confidence that we will prevail and, ultimately, come out stronger as a result.
From all of us at OTA, thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.
OTA responds to the FTC's misguided countersuit
More than a week ago, OTA filed a lawsuit to take a stand against the FTC’s campaign to restrict nontraditional forms of financial education. OTA is proud to be a unique leader and innovator in this industry for over 22 years. OTA has provided the FTC thousands of documents that provide substantial evidence of the effectiveness of our education and the uncommonly high levels of satisfaction from our students. This evidence has been ignored by the FTC.
Instead of responding to our lawsuit, the FTC filed a misguided lawsuit against Online Trading Academy. Moreover, the FTC has positioned its unproven allegations as statements of fact in a press release and editorialized blog posts. In doing so, they are attempting to act as judge, jury and executioner. This maneuver is further evidence of its reckless actions to deploy a full-scale assault on companies within industries they do not like or understand.
“The FTC’s posture appears to be that companies should be considered guilty until proven innocent,” said Gene Longobardi, OTA’s COO. “We began working with the FTC voluntarily almost a year ago to demonstrate our unwavering commitment to transparency. However, it became apparent their intent was not to take a fair and balanced view of our business but to destroy it. Through this process we’ve also learned that we are not the first. Many long-standing, credible businesses have been attacked by the FTC using tactics intended to cause permanent harm or force them to shut down before they have the chance to be heard by a fair and neutral judge.”
The FTC’s attack on Online Trading Academy has caused an outpouring of support from our community of students who value and love our exceptional education. Thousands of OTA students have already attended webinar sessions in the past few days to hear updates on this matter and are responding in droves to sign a petition to show their overwhelming support of OTA’s mission and the positive impact that OTA has made on students worldwide.
Mike Richardson, President, added, “The FTC is clearly intent on limiting access to investor education opportunities. We stand firm in our belief that exceptional financial education should be inclusive and not be reserved only for the Wall Street elite. We will fight vigorously for our right to provide investing education to main street investors around the globe. We are confident we will prevail.”
OTA files lawsuit against FTC to protect our rights
A message from our CEO and Founder, Eyal Shahar
Help us defend access to exceptional financial education by telling us your story. Head to tradingacademy.com/mystory.
On February 4, 2020, we filed a lawsuit to prevent the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) from violating OTA’s First Amendment rights by confining commercial speech and from seeking relief against OTA to which the FTC is not entitled. The lawsuit will help counter the FTC’s campaign to restrict nontraditional forms of financial education. We’ve always believed exceptional financial education should not be reserved only for the Wall Street elite. We don’t make this decision lightly. But ultimately, we, as well as our students, have so much to fight for. We can’t sit idly by and allow the FTC to willfully ignore the overwhelming support that thousands of students, employees, instructors, and franchise owners have demonstrated since our founding.
We’ve provided the FTC substantial evidence of the efficacy of our education, student surveys, and feedback from our students along with performance data of our tools that help our students identify trading opportunities. This information seems to have been largely ignored as the FTC has continued its campaign indiscriminately, using the full weight and power of the government without regard for the damage it might cause. We will vigorously defend our right to continue to serve the general public and all of our students with the exceptional learning community they have come to value and love.
OTA’s focus on investing in students’ skill development has always been its foremost priority. More than 20 years ago, OTA’s founder and CEO, Eyal Shahar, decided to make it his life’s mission to give people access to investing and risk management skills to help them make confident, self-directed trading and investing decisions. OTA’s roots can be traced back to a trading floor where strategies and techniques were developed in a live trading environment – for the benefit of the traders who were putting these skills to practice daily.
OTA has continuously innovated and evolved its education, products and services, including patent and patent pending technologies and industry-first services. It’s this relentless commitment to continually investing in the development of innovative, new, unique, and valuable ways of delivering top-tier financial education that enables OTA to meet and exceed current and future student needs. These core values have been reinforced and reflected through the results of over 197,000 unfiltered class exit surveys from students and available on the homepage of the OTA website, which showcase a stellar 94 percent student satisfaction rate.
For more information see the press release and OTA’s lawsuit against the FTC.