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Notice 2021-02 - Informational Notice
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Notice 2019-13 - Request for Comment
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Bank Dealers, Dealers, Municipal Advisors

Rule Number:

Rule G-23

1. Acacia Financial Group, Inc.: Letter from Kim M. Whelan, Co-President, and Noreen P. White, Co-President, dated August 19, 2019

2. Bond Dealers of America: Letter from Michael Nicholas, Chief Executive Officer, dated August 23, 2019

3. Columbia Capital Management, LLC: Letter from Jeff White, Managing Member, dated August 19, 2019

4. Crews & Associates, Inc.: Letter from Don Winton, Chief Operating Officer, dated August 23, 2019

5. Ehlers: Letter from Phil Cosson, Ehlers Board Chairman

6. First Kentucky Securities Corp.: Email from Stan Kramer dated August 13, 2019

7. Government Finance Officers Association: Letter from Emily Swenson Brock, Director, Federal Liaison Center, dated August 19, 2019

8. KPM Financial, LLC: Letter from Jay Saunders, Director

9. Kutak Rock LLP: Letter from Joshua P. Meyer dated August 16, 2019

10. Lewis Young Robertson & Burningham, Inc.: Letter from Laura D. Lewis, Principal, dated August 7, 2019

11. National Association of Municipal Advisors: Letter from Susan Gaffney, Executive Director, dated August 19, 2019

12. Phoenix Advisors, LLC: Letter from David B. Thompson, CEO, dated August 14, 2019

13. Richard Li: Email dated January 29, 2020

14. Robert W. Doty: Letter dated August 19, 2019 

15.Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association: Letter from Leslie M. Norwood, Managing Director and Associate General Counsel, and Bernard V. Canepa, Vice-President and Assistant General Counsel, dated August 19, 2019

16. Speer Financial, Inc.: Letter from Daniel Forbes, President, dated August 19, 2019

17. State of Florida, Division of Bond Finance: Letter from J. Ben Watkins III, Director, dated September 3, 2019

18. Zions Public Finance, Inc. and Zions Bank Public Finance: Letter from James Livingston, Executive Vice President, dated August 14, 2019

Notice 2018-17 - Regulatory Reminder
Publication date:
Notice 2011-66 - Informational Notice
Publication date:
Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Notices
Publication date:
Guidance on the Prohibition on Underwriting Issues of Municipal Securities for Which a Financial Advisory Relationship Exists Under Rule G-23
Rule Number:

Rule G-23

MSRB Rule G-23 establishes certain basic requirements applicable to a broker, dealer, or municipal securities dealer (“dealer”) acting as a financial advisor with respect to the issuance of municipal securities.  MSRB Rule G-23(d) provides that a dealer that has a financial advisory relationship with respect to the issuance of municipal securities is precluded from acquiring all or any portion of such issue, directly or indirectly, from the issuer as principal, either alone or as a participant in a syndicate or other similar account formed for that purpose.  A dealer is also precluded from arranging the placement of an issue with respect to which it has a financial advisory relationship.  This notice refers to both of these activities as “underwritings” and provides interpretive guidance on when a dealer may be precluded by Rule G-23(d) from underwriting an issue of municipal securities due to having served as financial advisor with respect to that issue.  Rule G-23 is solely a conflicts rule.  Accordingly, this notice does not address whether provision of the advice permitted by Rule G-23 would cause the dealer to be considered a “municipal advisor” under the Exchange Act and the rules promulgated thereunder.

Rule G-23(b) provides, among other things, that a financial advisory relationship shall be deemed to exist for purposes of Rule G-23 when a dealer renders or enters into an agreement to provide financial advisory or consultant services to or on behalf of an issuer with respect to the issuance of municipal securities, including advice with respect to the structure, timing, terms, and other similar matters concerning such issue or issues.  Rule G-23(b) also provides, however, that a financial advisory relationship shall not be deemed to exist when, in the course of acting as an underwriter and not as a financial advisor, a dealer provides advice to an issuer, including advice with respect to the structure, timing, terms, and other similar matters concerning the issuance of municipal securities.

Although Rule G-23(c) requires a financial advisory relationship to be evidenced by a writing, a financial advisory relationship will be deemed to exist whenever a dealer renders the types of advice provided for in Rule G-23(b), regardless of the existence of a written agreement.  However, a dealer that clearly identifies itself in writing as an underwriter and not as a financial advisor from the earliest stages of its relationship with the issuer with respect to that issue (e.g., in a response to a request for proposals or in promotional materials provided to an issuer) will be considered to be “acting as an underwriter” under Rule G-23(b) with respect to that issue.  The writing must make clear that the primary role of an underwriter is to purchase, or arrange for the placement of, securities in an arm’s-length commercial transaction between the issuer and the underwriter and that the underwriter has financial and other interests that differ from those of the issuer.  The dealer must not engage in a course of conduct that is inconsistent with an arm’s-length relationship with the issuer in connection with such issue of municipal securities or the dealer will be deemed to be a financial advisor with respect to that issue and precluded from underwriting that issue by Rule G-23(d).  Thus, a dealer providing advice to an issuer with respect to the issuance of municipal securities (including the structure, timing, and terms of the issue and other similar matters, when integrally related to the issue being underwritten) will not be viewed as a financial advisor for purposes of Rule G-23, if such advice is rendered in its capacity as underwriter for such issue.  In addition to engaging in underwriting activities, it shall not be a violation of Rule G-23(d) for a dealer that states that it is acting as an underwriter with respect to the issuance of municipal securities to provide advice with respect to the investment of the proceeds of the issue, municipal derivatives integrally related to the issue, or other similar matters concerning the issue.

Notice 2011-65 - Informational Notice
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Notice 2011-29 - Informational Notice
Publication date:
Notice 2011-10 - Informational Notice
Publication date:
Notice 2005-57 - Request for Comment
Publication date: | Comment due:
Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Notices
Publication date:
Sales of Municipal Fund Securities in the Primary Market

The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (the “Board”) has learned that sales of certain interests in trust funds held by state or local governmental entities may be effected by or through brokers, dealers or municipal securities dealers (“dealers”). In particular, the Board has reviewed two types of state or local gov-ernmental programs in which dealers may effect transactions in such interests: pooled investment funds under trusts established by state or local governmental entities (“local government pools”) [1] and higher education savings plan trusts established by states (“higher education trusts”).[2] In response to a request of the Board, staff of the Division of Market Regulation of the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) has stated that “at least some interests in local government pools and higher education trusts may be, depending on the facts and circumstances, ‘municipal securities’ for purposes of the [Securities] Exchange Act [of 1934].” [3] Any such interests that may, in fact, constitute municipal securities are referred to herein as “municipal fund securities.” To the extent that dealers effect transactions in municipal fund securi-ties, such transactions are subject to the jurisdiction of the Board pursuant to Section 15B of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”).

With respect to the applicability to municipal fund securities of Exchange Act Rule 15c2-12, relating to municipal securities disclosure, staff of the SEC’s Division of Market Regulation has stated:

[W]e note that Rule 15c2-12(f)(7) under the Exchange Act defines a “primary  offering” as including an offering of municipal securities directly or indirectly by or on behalf of an issuer of such securities. Based upon an analysis of programs that have been brought to our attention, it appears that interests in local government pools or higher education trusts generally are offered only by direct purchase from the issuer. Accordingly, we would view those interests as having been sold in a “primary offering” as that term is defined in Rule 15c2-12. If a dealer is acting as an “underwriter” (as defined in Rule 15c2-12(f)(8)) in connection with that primary offering, the dealer may be subject to the requirements of Rule 15c2-12. [4]

Rule 15c2-12(f)(8) defines an underwriter as “any person who has purchased from an issuer of municipal securities with a view to, or offers or sells for an issuer of municipal securities in connection with, the offering of any municipal security, or participates or has a direct or indirect participation in any such undertaking, or participates or has a participation in the direct or indirect underwriting of any such undertaking.” [5]

Consistent with SEC staff’s view regarding the sale in primary offerings of municipal fund securities, dealers acting as underwriters in primary offerings of municipal fund securities generally would be subject to the requirements of rule G-36, on delivery of official statements, advance refunding documents and Forms G-36(OS) and G-36(ARD) to Board or its designee. Thus, unless such primary offering falls within one of the stated exemptions in Rule 15c2-12, the Board expects that the dealer would receive a final official statement from the issuer or its agent under its contractual agreement entered into pursuant to Rule 15c2-12(b)(3). [6] Such final official statement should be received from the issuer in sufficient time for the dealer to send it, together with Form G-36(OS), to the Board within one business day of receipt but no later than 10 business days after any final agreement to purchase, offer, or sell the municipal fund securities, as required under rule G-36(b)(i). [7]  “Final official statement,” as used in rule G-36(b)(i), has the same meaning as in Rule 15c2-12(f)(3), which states, in relevant part:

The term final official statement means a document or set of documents prepared by an issuer of municipal securities or its representatives that is complete as of the date delivered to the Participating Underwriter(s) and that sets forth information concerning the terms of the proposed issue of securi- ties; information, including financial information or operating data, concerning such issuers of municipal securities and those other entities, enterprises, funds, accounts, and other persons material to an evaluation of the Offering; and a description of the undertakings to be provided pursuant to paragraph (b)(5)(i), paragraph (d)(2)(ii), and paragraph (d)(2)(iii) of this section, if applicable, and of any instances in the previous five years in which each person specified pursuant to paragraph (b)(5)(ii) of this section failed to comply, in all material respects, with any previous undertakings in a written contract or agreement specified in paragraph (b)(5)(i) of this section. [8]

The Board understands that issuers of municipal fund securities typically issue and deliver the securities continuously as customers make purchases, rather than issuing and delivering a single issue on a specified date. As used in Board rules, the term “underwriting period” with respect to an offering involving a single dealer (i.e., not involving an underwriting syndicate) is defined as the period (A) commencing with the first submission to the dealer of an order for the purchase of the securities or the purchase of the securities from the issuer, whichever first occurs, and (B) ending at such time as the following two conditions both are met: (1) the issuer delivers the securities to the dealer, and (2) the dealer no longer retains an unsold balance of the securities purchased from the issuer or 21 calendar days elapse after the date of the first submission of an order for the securities, whichever first occurs. [9] Since an offering consisting of securities issued and de-livered on a continuous basis would not, by its very nature, ever meet the first condition for the termination of the underwriting period, such offering would continuously remain in its underwriting period. [10] Further, since rule G-36(d) requires a dealer that has previously provided an official statement to the Board to send any amendments to the official statement made by the issuer during the underwriting period, such dealer would remain obligated to send to the Board any amendments made to the official statement during such continuous underwriting period. However, in view of the increased possibility that an issuer may change the dealer that participates in the sale of its securities during such a continuous underwriting period, the Board has determined that rule G-36(d) would require that the dealer that is at the time of an amendment then serving as underwriter for securities that are still in the underwriting period send the amendment to the Board, regardless of whether that dealer or another dealer sent the original official statement to the Board.

In addition, municipal fund securities sold in a primary offering would constitute new issue municipal securities for purposes of rule G-32, on disclosures in connection with new issues, so long as the securities remain in their underwriting period. Rule G-32 generally requires that a dealer selling a new issue municipal security to a customer must deliver the official statement in final form to the customer by settlement of such transaction. Thus, a dealer effecting transactions in municipal fund securities that are sold during a continuous underwriting period would be required to deliver to the customer the official statement by settlement of each such transaction. However, in the case of a customer purchasing such securities who is a repeat purchaser, no new delivery of the official statement would be required so long as the customer has previously received it in connection with a prior purchase and the official statement has not been changed from the one previously delivered to that customer. [11]

Certain other implications arise under Board rules as a result of the status, in the view of SEC staff, of sales of municipal fund securities as primary offerings. For example, dealers are reminded that the definition of “municipal securities business” under rule G-37, on political contributions and prohibitions on municipal securities business, and rule G-38, on consultants, includes the purchase of a primary offering from the issuer on other than a competitive bid basis or the offer or sale of a primary offering on behalf of any issuer. Thus, a dealer’s transactions in municipal fund securities may affect such dealer’s obligations under rules G-37 and G-38. In addition, rule G-23, on activities of financial advisors, applies to a dealer’s financial advisory or consultant services to an issuer with respect to a new issue of municipal securities.

[1]The Board understands that local government pools are established by state or local governmental entities as trusts that serve as vehicles for the pooled investment of public moneys of participating governmental entities. Participants purchase interests in the trust and trust assets are invested in a manner consistent with the trust’s stated investment objectives. Investors generally do not have a right to control investment of trust assets. See generally National Association of State Treasurers, Special Report: Local Government Investment Pools (July 1995); Standard & Poor’s Fund Services, Local Government Investment Pools (May 1999).

[2] The Board understands that higher education trusts generally are established by states under section 529(b) of the Internal Revenue Code as “qualified state tuition programs” through which individuals make investments for the purpose of accumulating savings for qualifying higher education costs of beneficiaries. Individuals purchase interests in the trust and trust assets are invested in a manner consistent with the trust’s stated investment objectives. Investors do not have a right to control investment of trust assets. See generally College Savings Plans Network, Special Report on State and College Savings Plans (1998).

[3] Letter dated February 26, 1999 from Catherine McGuire, Chief Counsel, Division of Market Regulation, SEC, to Diane G. Klinke, General Counsel of the Board, in response to letter dated June 2, 1998 from Diane G. Klinke to Catherine McGuire, published as Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board, SEC No-Action Letter, Wash. Serv. Bur. (CCH) File  No.032299033 (Feb. 26, 1999) (the “SEC Letter”).

[4] SEC Letter.

[5] The definition of underwriter excludes any person whose interest is limited to a commission, concession, or allowance from an underwriter or dealer not in excess of the usual and customary distributors’ or sellers’ commission, concession, or allowance.

[6] Section (b)(3) of Rule 15c2-12 requires that a dealer serving as a Participating Underwriter in connection with a primary offering subject to the Rule contract with an issuer of municipal securities or its designated agent to receive copies of a final official statement at the time and in the quantities set forth in the Rule.

[7] If a primary offering of municipal fund securities is exempt from Rule 15c2-12 (other than as a result of being a limited offering as described in section (d)(1)(i) of the Rule) and an official statement in final form has been prepared by the issuer, then the dealer would be expected to send the official statement in final form, together with Form G-36(OS), to the Board under rule G-36(c)(i).

[8] Dealers seeking guidance as to whether a particular document or set of documents constitutes a final official statement for purposes of rule G-36(b)(i) should consult with SEC staff to determine whether such document or set of documents constitutes a final official statement for purposes of Rule 15c2-12.

[9] See rule G-32(c)(ii)(B). If approved by the SEC, the proposed rule change will redesignate this section as rule G-32(d)(ii)(B).

[10] Similarly, an offering involving an underwriting syndicate and consisting of securities issued and delivered on a continuous basis also would remain in its underwriting period under the definition thereof set forth in rule G-11(a)(ix).

[11] This is equally true for other forms of municipal securities for which a customer has already received an official statement in connection with an earlier purchase and who proceeds to make a second purchase of the same securities during the underwriting period. Furthermore, in the case of a repeat purchaser of municipal securities for which no official statement in final form is being prepared, no new delivery of the written notice to that effect or of any official statement in preliminary form would be required so long as the customer has previously received it in connection with a prior purchase. However, if an official statement in final form is subsequently prepared, the customer’s next purchase would trigger the delivery requirement with respect to such official statement. Also, if an official statement which has previously been delivered is subsequently amended during the underwriting period, the customer’s next purchase would trigger the delivery requirement with respect to such amendment.

 

 

 

Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Letters
Publication date:
Financial Advisory Relationship: Private Placements

Financial advisory relationship: private placements. This is in response to your letter in which you seek clarification on certain matters related to rules G-23, on activities of financial advisors, and G-37, on political contributions and prohibitions on municipal securities business.

You ask when it is "necessary in the process of commencing preliminary work with a potential financial advisory client to enter into a formal written financial advisory contract." Rule G-23(c) states that "[e]ach financial advisory relationship shall be evidenced by a writing entered into prior to, upon or promptly after the inception of the financial advisory relationship (or promptly after the creation or selection of the issuer if the issuer does not exist or has not been determined at the time the relationship commences)." Rule G-23(b) states that "...a financial advisory relationship shall be deemed to exist when a broker, dealer or municipal securities dealer renders or enters into an agreement to render financial advisory or consultant services to or on behalf of an issuer with respect to a new issue or issues of municipal securities, including advice with respect to the structure, timing, terms and other similar matters concerning such issue or issues, for a fee or other compensation or in expectation of such compensation for the rendering of such services."

You ask whether you are to advise the Board by means of reporting on Form G-37/G-38 or by any other means when you commence work on subsequent financing transactions with an issuer with which your firm has an ongoing financial advisory contract. The Instructions for Completing and Filing Form G-37/G-38 provide a guideline to use in determining when to report financial advisory services on Form G-37/G-38.[1] Pursuant to these Instructions, dealers should indicate financial advisory services when an agreement is reached to provide the services. In addition, the Instructions note that dealers also should indicate financial advisory services during a reporting period when the settlement date for a new issue on which the dealer acted as financial advisor occurred during such period. There are no other requirements for reporting financial advisory services to the Board.

Finally, you ask whether rules G-23 or G-37 contain requirements concerning private placement activities. The term "municipal securities business" is defined in rule G-37 to include "the offer or sale of a primary offering of municipal securities on behalf of any issuer ( e.g. , private placement)..." The Instructions for Completing and Filing Form G-37/G-38 provide that private placements should be indicated at least by the settlement date if within the reporting period.

With respect to rule G-23, section (d) of the rule states that no dealer that has a financial advisory relationship with respect to a new issue of municipal securities shall acquire as principal either alone or as a participant in a syndicate or other similar account formed for the purpose of purchasing, directly or indirectly, from the issuer all or any portion of such issue, or act as agent for the issuer in arranging the placement of such issue, unless various actions are taken.[2] In addition, rule G-23(g) states that each dealer subject to the provisions of sections (d), (e) or (f) of rule G-23 shall maintain a copy of the written disclosures, acknowledgments and consents required by these sections in a separate file and in accordance with the provisions of rule G-9, on preservation of records. Finally, rule G-23(h) states that, if a dealer acquires new issue municipal securities or participates in a syndicate or other account that acquires new issue municipal securities in accordance with section (d) of rule G-23, such dealer shall disclose the existence of the financial advisory relationship in writing to each customer who purchases such securities from such dealer, at or before the completion of the transaction with the customer. MSRB interpretation of October 5, 1999.

[1] I have enclosed a copy of the Instructions for Completing and Filing Form G-37/G-38 as contained in the MSRB Rule Book. The instructions are also contained on the Board's web site (www.msrb.org) under the link for rule G-37.

[2] These actions are: (i) if such issue is to be sold by the issuer on a negotiated basis, (A) the financial advisory relationship with respect to such issue has been terminated in writing and at or after such termination the issuer has expressly consented in writing to such acquisition or participation, as principal or agent, in the purchase of the securities on a negotiated basis; (B) the dealer has expressly disclosed in writing to the issuer at or before such termination that there may be a conflict of interest in changing from the capacity of financial advisor to purchaser of or placement agent for the securities with respect to which the financial advisory relationship exists and the issuer has expressly acknowledged in writing to the dealer receipt of such disclosure; and (C) the dealer has expressly disclosed in writing to the issuer at or before such termination the source and anticipated amount of all remuneration to the dealer with respect to such issue in addition to the compensation referred to in section (c) of rule G-23, and the issuer has expressly acknowledged in writing to the dealer receipt of such disclosure; or (ii) if such issue is to be sold by the issuer at competitive bid, the issuer has expressly consented in writing prior to the bid to such acquisition or participation.

Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Notices
Publication date:
Electronic Delivery and Receipt of Information by Brokers, Dealers and Municipal Securities Dealers

On May 9, 1996, the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) issued an interpretative release expressing its views on the use of electronic media for delivery of information by, among others, brokers and dealers.[1] The SEC stated that brokers, dealers and others may satisfy their delivery obligations under federal securities laws by using electronic media as an alternative to paper-based media within the framework established in the SEC’s October 1995 interpretive release on the use of electronic media for delivery purposes.[2] The SEC also indicated that an electronic communication from a customer to a broker or dealer generally would satisfy the requirements for written consent or acknowledgment under the federal securities laws.

 

The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (the “Board”) is publishing this notice to address the use by brokers, dealers and municipal securities dealers (“dealers”) of electronic media to deliver and receive information under Board rules.[3] The Board will permit dealers to transmit documents electronically that they are required or permitted to furnish to customers under Board rules provided that they adhere to the standards set forth in the SEC Releases and summarized below.[4] Dealers also may receive consents and acknowledgments from customers electronically in satisfaction of required written consents and acknowledgments. Furthermore, the Board believes that the standards applied by the SEC to communications with customers should also apply to communications among dealers and between dealers and issuers. However, although it is the Board’s goal ultimately to permit dealers to make required submissions of materials to the Board electronically if possible, this notice does not affect existing requirements for the submission of materials to the Board, its designees and certain other entities to which information is required to be delivered under Board rules.[5]

Dealers are urged to review the SEC Releases in their entirety to ensure that they comply with all aspects of the SEC’s electronic delivery requirements. Although the examples provided in the SEC Releases are based on SEC rules, the examples nonetheless provide important guidance as to the intended application of the standards set out by the SEC with respect to electronic communications.

Electronic Communications from Dealers to Customers

General. According to the standards established by the SEC, dealers may use electronic media to satisfy their delivery obligations to customers under Board rules, provided that the electronic communication satisfies the following principles:[6]

1. Notice – The electronic communication should provide timely and adequate notice to customers that the information is available electronically.[7] Since certain forms of electronic delivery may not always provide a likelihood of notice that recipients have received information that they may wish to review, dealers should consider supplementing such forms of electronic communication with a separate communication, providing notice similar to that provided by delivery in paper through the postal mail, that information has been sent electronically that the recipients may wish to review.[8]

2. Access – Customers who are provided information through electronic delivery should have access to that information comparable to the access that would be provided if the information were delivered in paper form.[9] The use of a particular electronic medium should not be so burdensome that intended recipients cannot effectively access the information provided.[10] A recipient should have the opportunity to retain the information through the selected medium (e.g., by downloading or printing the information) or have ongoing access equivalent to personal retention.[11] Also, as a matter of policy, the SEC believes that a person who has a right to receive a document under the federal securities laws and chooses to receive it electronically should be provided with a paper version of the document upon specific request or if consent to receive documents electronically is revoked.[12]

3. Evidence to Show Delivery – Dealers must have reason to believe that electronically delivered information will result in the satisfaction of the delivery requirements under the federal securities laws. Dealers should consider the need to establish procedures to ensure that applicable delivery obligations are met, including recordkeeping procedures to evidence such satisfaction.[13] Such procedures should also be designed to ensure the integrity and security of information being delivered so as to ensure that it is the information that was intended to be delivered.[14] Dealers may be able to evidence satisfaction of delivery obligations, for example, by:

(1) obtaining the intended recipient’s informed consent [15] to delivery through a specified electronic medium and ensuring that the recipient has appropriate notice and access;

(2) obtaining evidence that the intended recipient actually received the information, such as by an electronic mail return-receipt [16] or by confirmation that the information was accessed, downloaded, or printed; or

(3) disseminating information through certain facsimile methods (e.g., faxing information to a customer who has requested the information and has provided the telephone number for the fax machine).

Personal Financial Information. The SEC has noted, and the Board agrees, that special precautions are appropriate when dealers are delivering information to customers that is specific to that particular customer’s personal financial information, including but not limited to information contained on confirmations and account statements.[17] In transmitting such personal financial information, dealers should consider the following factors:

1. Confidentiality and Security – Dealers sending personal financial information through electronic means or in paper form should take reasonable precautions to ensure the integrity, confidentiality, and security of that information. Dealers transmitting personal financial information electronically must tailor those precautions to the medium used in order to ensure that the information is reasonably secure from tampering or alteration.

2. Consent – Unless a dealer is responding to a request for information that is made through electronic media or the person making the request specifies delivery through a particular electronic medium, the dealer should obtain the intended recipient’s informed consent prior to delivering personal financial information electronically. The customer’s consent may be made either by a manual signature or by electronic means.

Electronic Communications from Customers to Dealers

Consistent with the position taken by the SEC, dealers may rely on consents and acknowledgments received from customers by electronic means for purposes of Board rules. In relying on such communications from customers, dealers must be cognizant of their responsibilities to prevent, and the potential liability associated with, unauthorized transactions. In this regard, the SEC states, and the Board agrees, that dealers should have reasonable assurance that the communication from a customer is authentic.

Electronic Transmission of Non-Required Communications

The 1996 SEC Release states that the above standards are intended to permit dealers to comply with their delivery obligations under federal securities laws when using electronic media. While compliance with the guidelines is not mandatory for the electronic delivery of non-required information that, in some cases, is being provided voluntarily to customers, the Board believes adherence to the guidelines should be considered, especially with respect to delivery of personal financial information.

Electronic Communications Among Dealers and Between Dealers and Issuers

The Board believes that the standards applied by the SEC to communications with customers should also apply to mandated communications among dealers and between dealers and issuers. Thus, a dealer that undertakes communications required under Board rules with other dealers and with issuers in a manner that conforms with the principles stated above relating to customer communications will have met its obligations with respect to such communications. In addition, a dealer may rely on consents and acknowledgments received from other dealers or issuers by electronic means for purposes of Board rules, provided that the dealer should have reasonable assurance that the communication from such other party is authentic. However, any Board rule that explicitly requires that a dealer enter into a written agreement with another party will continue to require that such agreement be in written form.[18] Financial information, as well as other privileged or confidential information, relating to another dealer or an issuer (or relating to another person or entity contained in a transmission between a dealer and another dealer or an issuer) should be transmitted using precautions similar to those used by a dealer in transmitting personal financial information to a customer.

Rules to Which this Notice Applies

Set forth below is a list of current Board rules to which dealers may apply the guidance provided in this notice. The Board believes that the list sets forth all of the rules that require or permit communications among dealers and between dealers and customers and issuers.[19] The summaries provided of the delivery obligations under the listed rules is intended for ease of reference only and are not intended to be complete statements of all the requirements under such rules.

  • Rule G-8, on books and records to be made by dealers, prohibits dealers from obtaining or submitting for payment a check, draft or other form of negotiable paper drawn on a customer’s checking, savings, share or similar account without the customer’s express written authorization.

  • Rule G-10, on delivery of investor brochure, requires dealers to deliver a copy of the investor brochure to a customer upon receipt of a complaint by the customer.

  • Rule G-11, on sales of new issue municipal securities during the underwriting period, requires certain communications between senior syndicate managers and other members of the syndicate.[20]

  • Rule G-12, on uniform practice, provides for confirmation of inter-dealer transactions and certain other inter-dealer communications.[21]

  • Rule G-15, on confirmation, clearance and settlement of transactions with customers, provides for confirmation of transactions with customers and the provision of additional information to customers upon request.[22]

  • Rule G-19, on suitability of recommendations and transactions and discretionary accounts, requires that dealers obtain certain information from their customers in connection with transactions and recommendations and also receive customer authorizations with respect to discretionary account transactions.

  • Rule G-22, on control relationships, requires certain disclosures from a dealer effecting a transaction for a customer in municipal securities with respect to which such dealer has a control relationship and customer authorization of such transaction with respect to discretionary accounts.

  • Rule G-23, on activities of financial advisors, requires that, under certain circumstances, dealers acting as financial advisors to issuers provide various disclosures to issuers and customers and receive certain consents and acknowledgments from issuers.[23]

  • Rule G-24, on use of ownership information obtained in fiduciary or agency capacity, requires a dealer seeking to use for its own purposes information obtained while acting in a fiduciary or agency capacity for an issuer or other dealer to receive consents to the use of such information.

  • Rule G-25, on improper use of assets, provides that put options and repurchase agreements will not be deemed to be guaranties against loss if their terms are provided in writing to customers with or on the transaction confirmation.

  • Rule G-26, on customer account transfers, provides for written notice from customers requesting account transfers between dealers and the use of Form G-26 to effect such transfer.[24]

  • Rule G-28, on transactions with employees and partners of other municipal securities professionals, requires that a dealer opening an account for a customer who is an employee or partner of another dealer must provide notice and copies of confirmations to such other dealer and permits such other dealers to provide instructions for handling of transactions with such customer.

  • Rule G-29, on availability of Board rules, provides that dealers must make available to customers for examination promptly upon request a copy of the Board’s rules required to be kept in their offices.[25]

  • Rule G-32, on disclosures in connection with new issues, requires dealers selling new issue municipal securities to customers to deliver official statements[26] and certain other information by settlement and requires selling dealers, managing underwriters and certain dealers acting as financial advisors to deliver such materials to dealers purchasing new issue municipal securities, upon request.[27]

  • Rule G-34, on CUSIP numbers and new issue requirements, requires underwriters to communicate information regarding CUSIP numbers and initial trade date to syndicate and selling group members.[28]

  • Rule G-38, on consultants, requires dealers to provide certain information to issuers regarding consulting arrangements.[29]

  • Rule G-39, on telemarketing, prohibits certain telemarketing calls without the prior consent of the person being called.[30]


ENDNOTES

[1] See Securities Act Release No. 7288, Exchange Act Release No. 37182 (May 9, 1996), 61 FR 24644 (May 15, 1996) (the “1996 SEC Release”).

[2] See Securities Act Release No. 7233, Exchange Act Release No. 36345 (October 6, 1995), 60 FR 53458 (October 13, 1995) (the “1995 SEC Release” and, together with the 1996 SEC Release, the “SEC Releases”).

[3] This notice has been filed with the SEC as File No. SR-MSRB-98-12.

[4] The Board also reminds dealers that the SEC indicated in the 1996 SEC Release that dealers may fulfill their obligation to deliver to customers, upon request, preliminary official statements and final official statements in connection with primary offerings of municipal securities subject to SEC Rule 15c2-12 by electronic means, subject to the guidelines set forth in the 1996 SEC Release. See 1996 SEC Release at note 47.

[5] For example, this notice does not apply to any requirements that dealers supply the Board with written information pursuant to Board rules A-12, A-14, A-15, G-36, G-37 and G-38. The Board has begun the planning process for electronic submission of information required under rule A-15 and of Form G-37/G-38 under rules G-37 and G-38. At such time as electronic submission becomes available, the Board will publish notice thereof and of the procedures to be used for such submission. Although submission of Forms G-36(OS) and G-36(ARD) under rule G-36 could also be made electronically by means similar to those which the Board may develop for Form G-37/G-38, such electronic submission is complicated by the requirement that Forms G-36(OS) and G-36(ARD) be accompanied by an official statement or advance refunding document, as appropriate. Given the current debate and lack of consensus among the various sectors of the municipal securities industry regarding electronic formatting of disclosure materials, and since the Board does not have the authority to dictate the format of issuer documents, the Board believes that any further action regarding electronic submissions under rule G-36 should await resolution of these issues. Finally, the Board does not at this time anticipate permitting electronic submission of information required under rules A-12 and A-14 since such information must be accompanied by payment of certain required fees.

Electronic submission of information under rule G-14 will continue to be governed by rule G-14 and associated Transaction Reporting Procedures. In addition, this notice does not alter the current submission standards applicable to the Board’s Continuing Disclosure Information (CDI) System of the Municipal Securities Information Library[®] (MSIL[®]) system. The Municipal Securities Information Library and MSIL are registered trademarks of the Board.

Furthermore, submission of information to the Board’s designees or certain other designated entities under Board rules must continue to be done in accordance with the procedures established by such designees or other entities. Board rules in which such requirements currently appear include rules G-7 (with respect to information required to be filed with the appropriate enforcement agencies), G-12 and G-15 (with respect to information to be submitted to registered clearing agencies and registered securities depositories), G-26 (with respect to customer account transfer instructions (other than Form G-26) required by registered clearing agencies), G-34 (with respect to information to be submitted to the Board’s designee for assignment of CUSIP numbers and to registered securities depositories) and G-37 (with respect to application to the appropriate enforcement agencies for exemptions from the ban on municipal securities business).

[6] Dealers that structure their deliveries in accordance with the principles set forth in this notice can be assured, except where otherwise noted, that they have satisfied their delivery obligations under Board rules. However, as the SEC stated in the 1995 SEC Release, the three enumerated principles are not the only factors relevant to determining whether the legal requirements pertaining to delivery of documents have been satisfied. Consistent with the SEC’s view, the Board believes that, if a dealer develops a method of electronic delivery that differs from the principles discussed herein, but provides assurance comparable to paper delivery that the required information will be delivered, that method may satisfy delivery obligations. See 1995 SEC Release, text following note 22. For example, a dealer can satisfy its obligation to send a confirmation to a customer under rule G-15 by electronic means in a manner that meets the principles set forth in this notice. In addition, dealers may continue to deliver confirmations electronically through the OASYS Global system established by Thomson Financial Services, Inc. on the conditions described in the Board’s Notice Concerning Use of the OASYS Global Trade Confirmation System to Satisfy Rule G-15(a), dated June 6, 1994, without specifically complying with the principles described in this notice. See MSRB Reports, Vol. 14, No. 3 (June 1994) at 37. See also 1996 SEC Release, note 38, and 1995 SEC Release, note 12. Also, rule G-29 provides that dealers must make available to customers for examination promptly upon request a copy of the Board’s rules required to be kept in their offices. Dealers may continue to comply with such requirement by giving customers access to the rules either in printed form or by viewing the rules on screen from the Board’s Internet web site (www.msrb.org) or from software products produced by other companies. See Interpretive Notice on Availability of Board Rules, dated May 20, 1998, in MSRB Reports, Vol. 18, No. 2 (August 1998) at 37.

[7] See 1996 SEC Release, text at note 20.

[8] See 1996 SEC Release, text at note 21, and 1995 SEC Release, text at note 23. The SEC notes, for example, that if information is provided by physically delivering material (such as a diskette or CD-ROM) or by electronic mail, such communication itself generally should be sufficient notice. However, if information is made available electronically through a passive delivery system, such as an Internet web site, separate notice would be necessary to satisfy the delivery requirements unless the dealer can otherwise evidence that delivery to the customer has been satisfied. 1996 SEC Release, note 21.

[9] The SEC states that, regardless of whether information is delivered in paper form or by electronic means, it should convey all material and required information. For example, if a paper document is required to present information in a certain order, then the information delivered electronically should be in substantially the same order. 1996 SEC Release, text at note 14.

[10] The SEC notes, for example, that if a customer must proceed through a confusing series of ever-changing menus to access a required document so that it is not reasonable to expect that access would generally occur, this procedure would likely be viewed as unduly burdensome. In that case, the SEC would deem delivery not to have occurred unless delivery otherwise could be shown. 1995 SEC Release, note 24.

[11] See 1996 SEC Release, note 22 and accompanying text, and 1995 SEC Release, notes 25-26 and accompanying text.

[12] See 1996 SEC Release, note 17 and accompanying text, and 1995 SEC Release, note 27 and accompanying text.

[13] See 1996 SEC Release, text following note 22, and 1995 SEC Release, note 22 and text at note 28. The Board is of the view that dealers that choose to deliver information to customers electronically should consider establishing systems and procedures for providing paper copies or using alternate electronic means in a timely manner should the primary electronic media fail for any reason.

[14] See 1996 SEC Release, text at note 25, and 1995 SEC Release, note 22. Dealers also should consider the need for systems and procedures to deter or detect misconduct by firm personnel in connection with the delivery of information, whether by electronic or paper means. 1996 SEC Release, text at note 16.

[15] In order for a consent to be an informed consent, the SEC has stated that the consent should specify the electronic medium or source through which the information will be delivered and the period during which the consent will be effective, describe the information that will be delivered using such means, and disclose the potential for the customer to incur costs in accessing the information. See 1996 SEC Release, note 23, and 1995 SEC Release, note 29.

[16] To the extent that material is distributed as an attachment to an electronic mail transmission, dealers must have a reasonable basis for believing that the attachment will in fact be transmitted along with the electronic mail transmission and that the attachment will be received by the recipient in an accessible format.

[17] In addition, the Board believes that other information that is privileged or confidential, regardless of whether such information is financial in nature, should be accorded the same precautions as is personal financial information.

[18] For example, the written agreements required under rules G-20(c), G-23(c) and G-38(b) must continue to be entered into in paper form.

[19] Unless otherwise provided in connection with the adoption by the Board of any new rules or amendments to existing rules that require or permit communications among dealers and between dealers and customers, issuers and others, the guidance provided in this notice would also apply to any such communications.

[20] Rule G-11 also requires that syndicate members furnish certain information to others, upon request. The Board believes that, solely for purposes of this requirement under rule G-11, such information may be provided to others by electronic means so long as the standards established in this notice with respect to electronic deliveries to customers are met.

[21] See, however, note 5 above with respect to information to be submitted to registered clearing agencies and registered securities depositories.

[22] See, however, note 5 above with respect to information to be submitted to registered clearing agencies and registered securities depositories. See also note 6 above regarding alternate electronic means previously reviewed by the Board.

[23] See, however, note 18 above and accompanying text regarding the written agreement to be entered into between a dealer acting as financial advisor and the issuer.

[24] See, however, note 5 above with respect to use of customer account transfer instructions (other than Form G-26).

[25] See note 6 above regarding alternate electronic means previously reviewed by the Board.

[26] The Board believes that dealers must be particularly cautious in delivering official statements by electronic means since they may present special challenges in ensuring that they are received by customers and other dealers without material omissions or distortions in formatting (for example, tables in which data is more than negligibly misaligned) that may cause such materials not to meet the standard for electronically transmitted information comparable to information delivered in paper form. See note 9 above and accompanying text.

[27] The Board believes that, to the extent that rule G-32(b)(i) [currently codified at rule G-32(c)(i)] obligates a managing or sole underwriter to provide, upon request, multiple copies of the official statement to a dealer with respect to new issue municipal securities sold by such dealer to customers, such obligation must continue to be met with paper copies of the official statement unless the purchasing dealer has consented to electronic delivery of the official statement in lieu of delivery of multiple paper copies. Compare 1995 SEC Release, example 11.

[28] See, however, note 5 above with respect to information to be submitted to the Board’s designee with respect to CUSIP number assignment and to registered securities depositories.

[29] See, however, note 18 above and accompanying text regarding the written agreement to be entered into between a dealer and its consultant and note 5 above with respect to submission of Form G-37/G-38 to the Board.

[30] Although the person receiving such telemarketing call may in many cases not be a customer, the Board believes that, solely for purposes of this provision of rule G-39, such consent may be accepted by the dealer by electronic means so long as the standards established in this notice with respect to electronic communications from customers to dealers are met.


Interpretation on the Application of Rules G-32 and G-36 to New Issue Offerings Through Auction Procedures

March 26, 2001

Traditionally, brokers, dealers and municipal securities dealers (“dealers”) have underwritten new issue municipal securities through syndicates in which one dealer serves as the managing underwriter. In some cases, a single dealer may serve as the sole underwriter for a new issue. Typically, these underwritings are effected on an “all-or-none” basis, meaning that the underwriters bid on the entire new issue. In addition, new issues are occasionally sold to two or more underwriters that have not formed a syndicate but instead each underwriter has purchased a separate portion of the new issue (in effect, each underwriter serving as the sole underwriter for its respective portion of the new issue).

In the primary market in recent years, some issuers have issued their new offerings through an electronic “auction” process that permits the taking of bids from both dealers and investors directly. In some cases, these bids may be taken on other than an all-or-none basis, with bidders making separate bids on each maturity of a new issue.  The issuer may engage a dealer as an auction agent to conduct the auction process on its behalf. In addition, to effectuate the transfer of the securities from the issuer to the winning bidders and for certain other purposes connected with the auction process, the issuer may engage a dealer to serve in the role of settlement agent or in some other intermediary role.

Although the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (the “MSRB”) has not examined all forms that these auction agent, settlement agent or other intermediary roles (collectively referred to as “dealer-intermediaries”) may take, it believes that in most cases such dealer-intermediary is effecting a transaction between the issuer and each of the winning bidders. The MSRB also believes that in many cases such dealer-intermediary may be acting as an underwriter, as such term is defined in Rule 15c2-12(f)(8) under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the “Exchange Act”).[1] A dealer-intermediary that is effecting transactions in connection with such an auction process has certain obligations under rule G-32. If it is also an underwriter with respect to an offering, it has certain additional obligations under rules G-32 and G-36.

Application of Rule G-32, on Disclosures in Connection with New Issues

Rule G-32(a) generally requires that any dealer (i.e., not just the underwriter) selling municipal securities to a customer during the issue’s underwriting period must deliver the official statement in final form, if any, to the customer by settlement of the transaction. Any dealer selling a new issue municipal security to another dealer is obligated under rule G-32(b) to send such official statement to the purchasing dealer within one business day of request. In addition, under rule G-32(c), the managing or sole underwriter for new issue municipal securities is obligated to send to any dealer purchasing such securities (regardless of whether the securities were purchased from such managing or sole underwriter or from another dealer), within one business day of request, one official statement plus one additional copy per $100,000 par value of the new issue municipal securities sold by such dealer to customers. Where multiple underwriters underwrite a new issue without forming an underwriting syndicate, each underwriter is considered a sole underwriter for purposes of rule G-32 and therefore each must undertake the official statement delivery obligation described in the preceding sentence.

If a dealer-intermediary is involved in an auction or similar process of primary offering of municipal securities in which all or a portion of the securities are sold directly to investors that have placed winning bids with the issuer, the dealer-intermediary is obligated under rule G-32(a) to deliver an official statement to such investors by settlement of their purchases. If all or a portion of the securities are sold to other dealers that have placed winning bids with the issuer, the dealer-intermediary is obligated under rule G-32(b) to send an official statement to such purchasing dealers within one business day of a request. Further, to the extent that the dealer-intermediary is an underwriter, such dealer-intermediary typically would have the obligations of a sole underwriter under rule G-32(c) to distribute the official statement to any other dealer that subsequently purchases the securities during the underwriting period and requests a copy. Any dealer that has placed a winning bid in a new issue auction would have the same distribution responsibility under rule G-32(c), to the extent that it is acting as an underwriter.

The MSRB views rule G-32 as permitting one or more dealer-intermediaries involved in an auction process to enter into an agreement with one or more other dealers that have purchased securities through a winning bid in which the parties agree that one such dealer (i.e., a dealer-intermediary or one of the winning bidders) will serve in the role of managing underwriter for purposes of rule G-32. In such a case, such single dealer (rather than all dealers individually) would have the responsibility for distribution of official statements to the marketplace typically undertaken by a managing or sole underwriter under rule G-32(c).[2] Such an agreement may be entered into by less than all dealers that have purchased securities through the auction process. All dealers that agree to delegate this duty to a single dealer may rely on such delegation to the same extent as if they had in fact formed an underwriting syndicate.

Application of Rule G-36, on Delivery of Official Statements, Advance Refunding Documents and Forms G-36(OS) and G-36(ARD) to the MSRB

Rule G-36 requires that the managing or sole underwriter for most primary offerings send the official statement and Form G-36(OS) to the MSRB within certain time frames set forth in the rule. In addition, if the new issue is an advance refunding and an advance refunding document has been prepared, the advance refunding document and Form G-36(ARD) also must be sent to the MSRB by the managing or sole underwriter. Where multiple underwriters underwrite an offering without forming an underwriting syndicate, the MSRB has stated that each underwriter would have the role of sole underwriter for purposes of rule G-36 and therefore each would have a separate obligation to send official statements, advance refunding documents and Forms G-36(OS) and G-36(ARD) to the MSRB.[3]

To the extent that the dealer-intermediary in an auction or similar process of primary offering of municipal securities is an underwriter for purposes of the Exchange Act, such dealer-intermediary would have obligations under rule G-36. If all or a portion of the securities are sold directly to investors that have placed winning bids with the issuer, the dealer-intermediary would be obligated to send the official statement and Form G-36(OS) (as well as any applicable advance refunding document and Form G-36(ARD)) to the MSRB with respect to the issue or portion thereof purchased by investors. If all or a portion of the securities are sold to other dealers that have placed winning bids with the issuer, the dealer-intermediary and each of the purchasing dealers (to the extent that they are underwriters for purposes of the Exchange Act) also typically would be separately obligated to send such documents to the MSRB with respect to the issue or portion thereof purchased by dealers.

To avoid duplicative filings under rule G-36, the MSRB believes that one or more dealer-intermediaries involved in an auction process may enter into an agreement with one or more other dealers that have purchased securities through a winning bid in which the parties agree that one such dealer (i.e., a dealer-intermediary or one of the winning bidders) will serve in the role of managing underwriter for purposes of rule G-36. In such a case, such single dealer (rather than all dealers individually) would have the responsibility for sending the official statement, advance refunding document and Forms G-36(OS) and G-36(ARD) to the MSRB.[4] Such an agreement may be entered into by less than all dealers that have purchased securities. All dealers that agree to delegate this duty to a single dealer may rely on such delegation to the same extent as if they had in fact formed an underwriting syndicate.


ENDNOTES

1 Questions regarding whether  an entity acting in an intermediary role is effecting a transaction or whether a dealer acting in such an intermediary role for a particular primary offering of municipal securities would constitute an underwriter should be addressed to staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

2 Each dealer that is party to this agreement would be required to inform any dealer seeking copies of the official statement from such dealer under rule G-32(c) of the identity of the dealer that has by agreement undertaken this obligation or, in the alternative, may fulfill the request for official statements. In either case, the dealer would be required to act promptly so as either to permit the dealer undertaking the distribution obligation to fulfill its duty in a timely manner or to provide the official statement itself in the time required by the rule. Such agreement would not affect the obligation of a dealer that sells new issue securities to another dealer to provide a copy of the official statement to such dealer upon request as required under rule G-32(b), nor would it affect the obligation to deliver official statements to customers as required under rule G-32(a).

3 See Rule G-36 Interpretive Letter – Multiple underwriters, MSRB interpretation of January 30, 1998, MSRB Rule Book (January 1, 2001) at 189.

4 The dealer designated to act as managing underwriter for purposes of rule G-36 would be billed the full amount of any applicable underwriting assessment due under rule A-13, on underwriting and transaction assessments. Such dealer would be permitted, in turn, to bill each other dealer that is party to the agreement for its share of the assessment.

Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Letters
Publication date:
Fairness Opinions
Rule Number:

Rule G-23, Rule G-37

Fairness opinions. This is in response to your letter concerning the retention of your firm by issuers to render a fairness opinion on the pricing associated with certain negotiated issues of general obligation municipal securities issued by [state deleted] governmental units. You ask whether the rendering of these fairness opinions on the pricing of municipal securities issues is a financial advisory activity which must be disclosed on Form G-37/G-38 as municipal securities business.

Rule G-23, on activities of financial advisors, states in paragraph (b) that a financial advisory relationship shall be deemed to exist when

a broker, dealer, or municipal securities dealer renders or enters into an agreement to render financial advisory or consultant services to or on behalf of an issuer with respect to a new issue or issues of municipal securities, including advice with respect to the structure, timing, terms and other similar matters concerning such issue or issues, for a fee or other compensation or in expectation of such compensation for the rendering of such services. [Emphasis added]

Thus, the activity your firm performs on behalf of issuers of municipal securities pursuant to an agreement (i.e. , rendering advice with respect to the terms of a new issue) establishes that a financial advisory relationship exists between your firm and these issuers.

Rule G-37, on political contributions and prohibitions on municipal securities business, requires dealers to report municipal securities business to the Board on Form G-37/G-38. The definition of "municipal securities business" contained in rule G-37(g)(viii) includes

the provision of financial advisory or consultant services to or on behalf of an issuer with respect to a primary offering of municipal securities in which the dealer was chosen to provide such services on other than a competitive bid basis.

Pursuant to the information contained in your letter, your firm should submit a Form G-37/G-38 during each quarter in which the firm reaches an agreement to provide the financial advisory services you described. If your firm has an on-going financial advisory arrangement with an issuer, your firm would need to list each new issue in which your firm acted as financial advisor during the quarter in which the new issue settled. I have enclosed for your information a copy of the Rule G-37 and Rule G-38 Handbook which includes instructions for completing and filing Form G-37/G-38. MSRB interpretation of January 10, 1997.

Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Notices
Publication date:
Use of Nonqualified Individuals to Solicit New Account Business
Rule Number:

Rule G-3, Rule G-23

The Board has received inquiries whether individuals who solicit new account business on behalf of municipal securities dealers must be qualified under the Board’s rules. In particular, it has come to the Board’s attention that nonqualified individuals are making "cold calls" to individuals and, by reading from prepared scripts, introduce the services offered by a municipal securities dealer, prequalify potential customers, or suggest the purchase of specific securities currently being offered by a municipal securities dealer.

Board rule G-3(a) defines municipal securities representative activities to include any activity which involves communication with public investors regarding the sale of municipal securities but exempts activities that are solely clerical or ministerial. In the past, the Board has permitted nonqualified individuals, under the clerical or ministerial exemption, to contact existing customers in very limited circumstances. In an interpretive notice on rule G-3, the Board permitted certain ministerial and clerical functions to be performed by nonqualified individuals when municipal securities representatives and principals who normally handle the customers' accounts are unavailable, subject to strict supervisory requirements. These functions are: the recording and transmission in customary channels of orders, the reading of approved quotations, and the giving of reports of transactions. In this notice, the Board added that solicitation of orders by clerical personnel is not permitted. The Board is of the view that individuals who solicit new account business are not engaging in clerical or ministerial activities but rather are communicating with public investors regarding the sale of municipal securities and thus are engaging in municipal securities representative activities which require such individuals to be qualified as representatives under the Board’s rules.

Finally, under rule G-3(i)[*], a person serving an apprenticeship period prior to qualification as a municipal securities representative may not communicate with public investors regarding the sale of municipal securities. The Board sees no reason to allow nonqualified individuals to contact public investors, except for the limited functions noted above, when persons training to become qualified municipal securities representatives may not do so.


[*] [Currently codified at rule G-3(a)(iii)]

Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Letters
Publication date:
Financial Advisory Relationship: Potential Underwriter
Rule Number:

Rule G-23

Financial advisory relationship: potential underwriter. This responds to your letter of July 20, 1983, requesting our view on the applicability of Board rule G-23 to the following situation:

Your firm, a registered municipal securities dealer, along with an architectural firm and a construction firm, plans to present to a municipality a proposal to design, build and finance a criminal justice facility. If the municipality shows interest, the team members will suggest that the municipality engage them to put together a specific, customized proposal for review. If the municipality accepts this proposal, the team will ask the municipality to execute a contract covering the additional services. This contract will provide for compensation to be paid to the firm in connection with the creation of a financing proposal. This proposal could encompass such issues as those set forth in Rule G-23(b). Further, it is the intent of the team members that a project may ultimately be brought to fruition by all or any one of the team members. Therefore, the firm may make the final financing proposal but fail to be retained by the municipality to actually finance the construction. In this event, the other two team members will proceed and the municipality will obtain another underwriter. However, it will be the firm's intent throughout the negotiation phase to ultimately be retained as the municipality's underwriter.

You express concern whether the above facts create a financial advisory relationship under rule G-23(b). Board rule G-23(b), concerning activities of financial advisors, provides that a financial advisory relationship shall be deemed to exist:

"when a broker, dealer, or municipal securities dealer renders or enters into an agreement to render financial advisory or consultant services to or on behalf of an issuer with respect to a new issue or issues of municipal securities,..."

The rule provides, however, that a financial advisory relationship shall not be deemed to exist

"when, in the course of acting as an underwriter , a municipal securities dealer renders advice to an issuer, including advice with respect to the structure, timing, terms and other similar matters concerning a new issue of municipal securities." [Emphasis added]

It does not appear that your firm would be rendering advice to the municipality "in the course of acting as an underwriter." In the beginning of the firm's relationship with the municipality, it is acting as a financial advisor, and being compensated as such. No underwriting agreement has been executed with the municipality. Therefore, based upon the representations in your letter, it appears that the firm's activities would be subject to the requirements of rule G-23. MSRB interpretation of September 7, 1983.

Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Notices
Publication date:
Application of Board Rules to Financial Advisory Services Rendered to Corporate Obligors on Industrial Development Bonds

In a recent letter to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission has taken the position that private placements of industrial development bonds ("IDBs") constitute transactions in municipal securities as defined in the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board has received a number of inquiries concerning this letter. The Board is publishing this notice for the purposes of: (1) reviewing the application of its rules to private placements of municipal securities and (2) expressing its views concerning whether certain Board rules apply to financial advisory services rendered by municipal securities dealers and brokers to corporate obligors on IDBs.

A. Private Placements of IDBs

The Board’s rules apply, of course, to all transactions in municipal securities, including securities which are IDBs. The SEC letter dealt in particular with the activities of commercial banks. That letter pointed out that if a commercial bank has a registered municipal securities dealer department, under Board rule G-1, which defines the term "separately identifiable department or division of a bank," any private placement activities of the bank in securities which are IDBs must be conducted as a part of the registered dealer department. The Board urges all bank dealers which have registered as a separately identifiable department or division to review their organizations and assure that all departments or units which engage in the private placement of IDBs are designated on the bank’s Form MSD registration and other applicable bank records as part of its separately identifiable department or division. The Board also notes that such activities must be under the supervision of a person designated by the bank’s board of directors as responsible for these activities. In addition, under Board rule G-3, concerning professional qualifications, persons who are engaged in privately placing municipal securities must be qualified as municipal securities representatives and be supervised with respect to that activity by a qualified municipal securities principal.

B. Financial Advisory Services Rendered to Corporate Obligors on IDBs

Board rules G-1 and G-3 provide that rendering "financial advisory or consultant services for issuers" is an activity to which those rules are applicable (emphasis added). Similarly, Board rule G-23, on the activities of financial advisors, applies to brokers, dealers, and municipal securities dealers who agree to render "financial advisory or consultant services to or on behalf of an issuer" (emphasis added). Clearly these rules are applicable to financial advisory services rendered to state or local governments and their agencies, as well as to municipal corporations. In the Board’s view, however, rules G-1, G-3, and G-23 do not apply to financial advisory services which are provided to corporate obligors in connection with proposed IDB financings.

The Board wishes to emphasize that the scope of its definition of financial advisory services is limited to "advice with respect to the structure, timing, terms, and other similar matters" concerning a proposed issue.[1] If persons providing such advice to the corporate obligor on an IDB issue also participate in negotiations with prospective purchasers or are otherwise engaged in effecting placement of the issue, then, as indicated above, rules G-1 and G-3 would apply to their activities.

[Excerpts of the Commission letter follow:]

This is in response to your letter of December 1, 1981, requesting our views concerning certain activities by commercial banks in connection with industrial development bonds ("IDBs").[2] Specifically, you asked (1) whether the private placement activities of banks in IDBs involve transactions in municipal securities, (2) whether involvement in such activities alone would require such banks to register with the Commission under Section 15B of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the "Exchange Act") as municipal securities dealers, (3) whether a bank that had registered a separately identifiable department or division with the Commission as a municipal securities dealer would be required to conduct such activities through such separately identifiable department or division, and (4) if such bank activities are required to be conducted in the separately identifiable department or division, whether the advisory services provided by those banks to the corporate obligor on an IDB should be regarded as advisory services provided to an issuer of municipal securities in connection with the issuance of municipal securities. Pursuant to your letter and subsequent telephone conversations, we understand the following facts to be typical of the activities in question.

A commercial bank offers private placement and financial advisory services to corporate entities on a regular and continuous basis. From time to time the bank recommends to the corporate entity that IDBs be used to raise capital. The bank advises the corporate entity regarding the terms and timing of the proposed IDB issuance, prepares the Direct Placement Memorandum describing the terms of the IDB, and contacts potential purchasers of the IDB. Such purchasers then make independent reviews of the corporate entity’s financial status. The bank then obtains comments from the potential buyers and relays such comments to the corporate entity. The bank might also assist the corporate entity in subsequent negotiations with the purchasers. An industrial development authority nominally issues the IDB on behalf of the corporate entity which becomes the economic obligor on the issue.

The bank engages in these activities in order to assist the corporate obligor in the sale of the IDBs. In return for its services, the bank receives from the corporate entity either a fixed fee or a percentage of the proceeds of the sale. The bank does not purchase any of the IDBs. The bank could, however, supply "bridge loans" to the corporate entity pending receipt of the proceeds of the IDB sale. In addition, the bank might provide investors with a letter of credit committing the bank to pay any interest or principal not paid by the corporate issuer. The bank might also act as trustee or paying agent for the nominal issuer of the IDB, for which the bank would receive a set fee.

IDBs AS MUNICIPAL SECURITIES

Section 3(a)(10) of the Exchange Act defines a "security" as, among other things, "any note… bond, debenture… investment contract, …or in general, any instrument commonly known as a ‘security’… " Section 3(a)(29) of the Exchange Act defines "municipal securities" to include any security which is an industrial development bond as defined in Section 103(b)(2) of the Code the interest on which is tax-exempt under Sections 103(b)(4) or 103(b)(6) of the Code. In our opinion, the private placement activities you have described involve transactions in municipal securities as defined in the Exchange Act.[3]

REGISTRATION AS MUNICIPAL SECURITIES DEALER

Section 15B(a) of the Exchange Act makes it unlawful for any municipal securities dealer to use the mails or any instrumentality of interstate commerce to "effect any transaction in, or to induce or attempt to induce the purchase or sale of, any municipal security unless such municipal securities dealer is registered" with the Commission. Section 3(a)(30) of the Exchange Act defines "municipal securities dealer" to include a bank or a separately identifiable department or division of a bank if that bank is engaged in the business of buying and selling municipal securities for its own account other than in a fiduciary capacity, through a broker or otherwise. Banks that engage solely in private placement activities in IDBs as described by you would not be required to register as municipal securities dealers since they do not appear to be engaged in the business of buying and selling municipal securities for their own accounts, but rather appear to be acting as brokers. Section 3(a)(4) of the Exchange Act defines the term broker as "any person engaged in the business of effecting transactions in securities for the account of others, but does not include a bank." Since they are excluded from the definition of broker, banks that act solely as brokers need not register under the Exchange Act.[4]

INCLUSION IN SEPARATELY IDENTIFIABLE DEPARTMENT OR DIVISION

Section 15B(b)(2)(H) of the Exchange Act authorizes the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (the "MSRB") to make rules defining the term "separately identifiable department or division" ("SID") of a bank as used in Section 3(a)(30) of the Exchange Act. MSRB rule G-1 defines the SID as "that unit of the bank which conducts all the activities of the bank relating to the conduct of business as a municipal securities dealer…" The rule defines municipal securities dealer activities to include "sales of municipal securities" and "financial advisory and consultant services for issuers in connection with the issuance of municipal securities." Therefore, those banks that have registered an SID with the Commission also must conduct the private placement activities within the SID in accordance with MSRB rules…

Based upon the facts and representations set forth in your letter, it would appear that the private placement activities of banks involving IDBs, as described in your example, constitute transactions in municipal securities that, if done alone, would not require a bank to register with the Commission as a municipal securities dealer. However, such activities, when conducted by a bank municipal securities dealer that had registered a separately identifiable department or division, would be treated as municipal securities dealer activities and, therefore, would be required to be conducted in the bank’s dealer department…


[1] Rule G-23(b).

[2] You have represented that the IDBs involved would be primarily those defined in Section 103(b)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 (the "Code"), the interest on which is tax-exempt under Sections 103(b)(4) and 103(b)(6) of the Code.

[3]This determination is based on an analysis of the specific facts as described by you. Different facts and circumstances could result in a transaction involving municipal debt instruments being treated as loan participations not subject to the federal securities laws. Such determinations can only be made on a case by case basis after a thorough examination of the context of the transaction.

[4] See letter dated February 17, 1977, from Anne E. Chafer, Attorney, Securities and Exchange Commission, to Bruce F. Golden and letter dated January 11, 1982, from Thomas G. Lovett, Attorney, Securities and Exchange Commission, to Harriet E. Munrett regarding Citytrust of Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Letters
Publication date:
Financial Advisory Relationship: Mortgage-Related Services
Rule Number:

Rule G-23

Financial advisory relationship: mortgage-related services. This is in response to your letter of March 26, 1982 requesting an opinion regarding whether Board rule G-23 concerning the activities of financial advisors applies to certain activities of [name deleted] (the "Company").

Your letter states that the Company, a mortgage banker and wholly-owned subsidiary of [name deleted] (the "Bank"), identifies "proposed real estate development projects which it believes are economically feasible" and attempts to "arrange for the financing of such projects ..." You note that a common means of financing such projects involves the issuance and sale of tax-exempt obligations, with the proceeds of the sale being made available by the issuing entity to a mortgage approved by the Federal Housing Administration ("FHA"), which in turn provides financing secured by the FHA mortgage. You indicate that the services the Company performs in such instances include "... making the initial determination as to whether the contemplated project meets FHA criteria, negotiating with the developer regarding financing terms and conditions relating to the mortgage, contacting the issuer regarding its interest in issuing the bonds for the project, and, in certain cases where the issuer is not familiar or experienced in the area, assisting the issuer in understanding the rules and regulations of the FHA or the Development of Housing and Urban Development ..." You add that "the Company may also act as servicer of the construction loans which entails processing FHA insurance request forms, disbursing funds for completed work, etc." You state that "the Company does not provide financial advice to issuers regarding the structuring of the bond issues, or receive any fees, directly or indirectly, from issuers." You emphasize that any advice regarding the structuring of the actual bond issues is provided by the issuers’ "staffs, financial advisors, bond counsel, or the underwriters of the issues." Your specific question concerns whether rule G-23 applies where the Company acts as mortgage banker and the Bank underwrites the bonds.

As you know, rule G-23(b) states that "... a financial advisory relationship shall be deemed to exist when a broker, dealer, or municipal securities dealer renders or enters into an agreement to render financial advisory or consultant services to or on behalf of an issuer with respect to a new issue or issues of municipal securities, including advice with respect to the structure, timing, terms and other similar matters concerning such issue or issues for a fee or other compensation ..." Based upon the representations contained in your letter, it would appear that the Company does not render financial advisory services to issuers with respect to new issues of municipal securities. Since the activities which you state the Company performs in the ordinary course of its mortgage banking business do not constitute financial advisory activities for the purposes of rule G-23, the rule would not apply to those financings where the Bank serves as underwriter and the Company performs its mortgage banking functions, as described. MSRB interpretation of April 12, 1982.

Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Letters
Publication date:
Letters of Credit
Rule Number:

Rule G-22, Rule G-23

Letters of credit. This is in response to your April 9, 1981, letter asking whether Board rule G-22, regarding control relationships, and G-23, regarding financial advisory agreements, would apply if a bank’s issuance of a letter of credit were contingent upon its being named underwriter or manager for the issue, or if a bank issuing a letter of credit retained authority to require an issuer, in effect, to call the securities.

Rule G-22 provides that

a control relationship with respect to a municipal security shall be deemed to exist if a broker, dealer, or municipal securities dealer (or a bank or other person of which the broker, dealer, or municipal securities dealer is a department or division) controls, is controlled by, or is under common control with the issuer of the security or a person other than the issuer who is obligated, directly or indirectly, with respect to debt service on the security.

The existence of a control relationship is a question of fact to be determined from the entire situation. Most recently, the Securities and Exchange Commission suggested that, for purposes of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, a registered broker-dealer would be deemed to be controlled by a person or entity who, among other things, has the ability to direct or cause the direction of management or the policies of the broker-dealer. Based upon the above, it is questionable whether a bank that conditions the issuance of a letter of credit upon being named an underwriter or upon a tie-in deposit arrangement should be deemed to control the issuer. Similarly, it does not appear that a bank that retains discretion under a letter of credit to cause the trustee to call the whole issue has a control relationship with the issuer.

You also ask whether under Board rule G-23 a financial advisory relationship is created if a bank conditions the issuance of a letter of credit upon being named an underwriter or upon obtaining a tie-in deposit arrangement. Under rule G-23, a financial advisory relationship is deemed to exist when a municipal securities professional provides, or enters into an agreement to provide, financial advisory services to, or on behalf of, an issuer with respect to a new issue of securities regarding such matters as the structure, timing or terms of the issue, in return for compensation or for the expectation of compensation. It does not appear that rule G-23 would apply in your example since the bank is not providing financial advisory or consulting services with respect to the structure, timing or other substantive terms of the issue. MSRB interpretation of July 27, 1981.

Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Letters
Publication date:
Financial Advisory Relationship: Identity of Issuer
Rule Number:

Rule G-23

Financial advisory relationship: identity of issuer. This is in response to your letter of February 27, 1981, asking whether a dealer bank which is retained by the Board of Water Governors of a water utility owned by City X to provide advice regarding the structure, timing, and terms of a new issue of mortgage revenue bonds to be issued by City X has entered into a financial advisory agreement for purposes of rule G-23. You note that the bonds would be sold at a competitive underwriting and payable from the revenues of the water utility.

Under rule G-23, a financial advisory relationship is deemed to exist when a broker, dealer, or municipal securities dealer renders or enters into an agreement to render financial advisory services to or on behalf of an issuer with respect to a new issue or issues of municipal securities. Based solely upon the facts contained in your letter, it appears that the Board of Water Commissioners is a political subdivision of City X. It further appears that the Board of Water Governors entered into the financial advisory agreement for the specific purpose of obtaining advice regarding the new issue of bonds on behalf of the City. Thus, the fact that City X, rather than the Board of Water Governors, actually will issue the bonds would not itself support a conclusion that the financial advisory agreement is not subject to the provisions of rule G-23. MSRB interpretation of March 13, 1981.

Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Letters
Publication date:
Financial Advisory Relationship: Blanket Agreement
Rule Number:

Rule G-23

Financial advisory relationship: blanket agreement. I refer to your letter of December 4, 1980 and a subsequent conversation regarding the application of rule G-23(d) to the participation by your client, a municipal securities dealer, in the underwriting of securities to be issued by the County referred to in your letter (the "County").

Rule G-23(d) provides in pertinent part that no municipal securities dealer "that has a financial advisory relationship with respect to a new issue of municipal securities shall acquire as principal ... from the issuer all or any portion of such issue ..." unless the dealer complies with certain specified provisions of the rule. You indicate that your client has a financial advisory agreement with the County which provides that your client will furnish financial advisory services from time to time at the County’s request. You state, however, that your client was not requested to furnish financial advisory services with respect to the particular issue of securities which the County now proposes to sell and was selected by the County after responding to an advertisement for underwriters. You request our concurrence in your opinion that a financial advisory relationship with respect to the proposed new issue does not exist.

For purposes of the rule, a financial advisory relationship is deemed to exist when a "municipal securities dealer renders or enters into an agreement to render financial advisory or consultant services to or on behalf of an issuer with respect to a new issue or issues of municipal securities ..." (emphasis added). Therefore, where a dealer has entered into a blanket agreement to render financial advisory services, a financial advisory relationship with respect to a particular issue of securities may be presumed to exist despite the fact that the municipal securities dealer does not furnish any financial advice concerning such issue. Whether or not your client has a financial advisory relationship with respect to the proposed new issue referred to in your letter is a factual question which we are not in a position to resolve. Therefore, we are unable to concur in your opinion. MSRB interpretation of January 5, 1981.

Compliance Resource
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