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Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Notices
Publication date:
Transaction Reporting of Multiple Transactions Between Dealers in the Same Issue: Rules G-12(f) and G-14
Rule Number:

Rule G-12, Rule G-14

The MSRB has become aware of problems in transaction reporting as a result of dealers "bunching" certain inter-dealer transactions in the comparison system.  Recently, some dealers have reported the sum of two trades as one transaction in instances when two dealers effected two trades with each other in the same issue and at the same price.  When two transactions are effected, two transactions should be reflected in each dealer's books and records and two transactions are required to be reported to the MSRB.  The time of trade for each transaction also must accurately reflect the time at which a contractual commitment was formed for each quantity of securities.  For example, if Dealer A purchases $50,000 of a municipal issue at a price of par from Dealer B at 11:00 am and then purchases an additional $50,000 at par from Dealer B at 2:00 pm, two transactions are required to be reflected on each dealers' books and records and two transactions are required to be reported to the MSRB. 

Since the same inter-dealer trade record submitted for automated comparison under Rule G-12(f) also is used to satisfy the requirements of Rule G-14, on transaction reporting, each inter-dealer transaction should be submitted for automated comparison separately in order to comply with Rule G-14's requirement to report all transactions.  Failure to do so causes erroneous information concerning transaction size and time of trade to appear in the transparency reports published by the MSRB as well as in the audit trail used by regulators and enforcement agencies.  To the extent that dealers use the records generated by the comparison system for purposes of complying with MSRB Rule G-8, on recordkeeping, it may also create erroneous information as to the size of transactions effected or time of trade execution.

Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Notices
Publication date:
Indirect Rule Violations: Rules G-37 and G-38
Rule Number:

Rule G-37

The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board’s (“MSRB” or “Board”) statutory mandate is to protect investors and the public interest in connection with dealers’ activities in the municipal securities market.  The municipal securities market is one of the world’s leading securities markets.  Investors hold approximately $1.6 trillion worth of municipal securities—either through direct ownership or through investment in institutional portfolios.  These investors provide much needed capital to more than 50,000 state and local governments.  Maintaining municipal market integrity is an exceptionally high priority for the Board as it seeks to foster a fair and efficient municipal securities market through dealer regulation. 

In 1994, the MSRB adopted Rule G-37 in an effort to remove the real or perceived conflict of interest of issuers who receive political contributions from dealers and award municipal securities business to such dealers.  As noted by the Court reviewing Rule G-37, “underwriters’ campaign contributions self-evidently create a conflict of interest in state and local officials who have power over municipal securities contracts and a risk that they will award the contracts on the basis of benefit to their campaign chests rather than to the governmental entity.”[1] Pay-to play harms the integrity of the underwriter selection process.

In general, Rule G-37 prohibits brokers, dealers and municipal securities dealers (“dealers”) from engaging in municipal securities business with issuers if certain political contributions have been made to officials of such issuers; prohibits dealers and municipal finance professionals (“MFP”) from soliciting or bundling contributions to an official of an issuer with which the dealer is engaging or seeking to engage in municipal securities business; and requires dealers to record and disclose certain political contributions, as well as other information, to allow public scrutiny of political contributions and the municipal securities business of a dealer.  The rule also seeks to ensure that payments made to political parties by dealers, MFPs, and political action committees (“PAC”) not controlled by the dealer or MFP do not represent attempts to make indirect contributions to issuer officials in contravention of Rule G-37 by requiring dealers to record and disclose all payments made to state and local political parties.[2]  The party payment disclosure requirements were intended to assist in severing any connection between payments to political parties (even if earmarked for expenses other than political contributions) and the awarding of municipal securities business.[3] 

Although Rule G-37 initially included certain limited disclosure requirements for consultants used by dealers to obtain municipal securities business, in 1996, the MSRB adopted a separate Rule G-38, on consultants, to prevent persons from circumventing Rule G-37 through the use of consultants.  Rule G-38 currently requires dealers who use consultants[4] to evidence the consulting arrangement in writing, to disclose, in writing, to an issuer with which it is engaging or seeking to engage in municipal securities business information on consulting arrangements relating to such issuer, and to submit to the Board, on a quarterly basis, reports of all consultants used by the dealer, amounts paid to such consultants, and certain political contribution and payment information from the consultant.

The impact of Rules G-37 and G-38 has been very positive.  The rules have altered the political contribution practices of municipal securities dealers and opened discussion about the political contribution practices of the entire municipal industry. 

While the Board is pleased with the success of these rules, it also is concerned with increasing signs that individuals and firms subject to the rules may be seeking ways around Rule G-37 through payments to political parties or non-dealer controlled PACs that find their way to issuer officials, significant political contributions by dealer affiliates (e.g., bank holding companies and affiliated derivative counterparty subsidiaries) to both issuer officials and political parties, contributions by associated persons of the dealer who are not MFPs and by the spouses and family members of MFPs to issuer officials, and the use of consultants who make or bundle political contributions.  In addition to dealer and dealer-related giving, the Board is also concerned about media and other reports regarding significant giving by other market participants, including independent financial advisors, swap advisors, swap counterparties, investment contract providers and public finance lawyers.

The MSRB is mindful that Rule G-37’s prohibitions involve sensitive constitutional issues and is reluctant to significantly broaden the scope of the rule.  The rule was constructed and will continue to be reviewed with full regard for and consideration of an individual’s right to participate fully in our political processes.  The Board, however, wishes to remind dealers that Rule G-37, as currently in effect, covers indirect as well as direct contributions to issuer officials, and to alert dealers that it has expressed its concern to the entities that enforce the Board’s rules that some of the increased political giving may indicate a rise in indirect Rule G-37 violations.  While Rule G-37 was adopted to deal specifically with contributions made to officials of issuers by dealers and MFPs, and PACs controlled by dealers or MFPs, the rule also prohibits MFPs and dealers from using conduits—be they parties, PACs, consultants, lawyers, spouses or affiliates—to contribute indirectly to an issuer official if such MFP or dealer can not give directly to the issuer without triggering the ban on business.  The MSRB will continue to work with the enforcement agencies to identify and halt abusive practices.  If, at a later date, the Board learns of specific problematic dealer practices that it believes must be addressed more directly, the Board may proceed with additional rulemaking relating to Rules G-37 and G-38. 

The Board strongly believes that pay-to-play undermines the integrity of the municipal securities industry.  Such practices are regulated not only by the specific parameters of Rule G-37, but also by the fair practice principles embodied in the MSRB’s Rule G-17, on fair dealing.  Similarly, the MSRB reminds issuers and dealers that the SEC has previously advised that, with respect to primary offering disclosure, increased attention needs to be directed at disclosure of potential conflicts of interest and material financial relationships among issuers, advisors and underwriters, including those arising from political contributions.[5]  These issuer conflicts of interest can and do arise not only from contributions made by municipal securities dealers, but also from payments by unregulated municipal securities market participants.

The costs of political campaigns are skyrocketing across the country.  The MSRB is aware of reports that elected officials, or persons acting on behalf of elected officials, are putting pressure on dealers and MFPs to find ways to contribute to the costs associated with political campaigns.  The Board also recognizes that there is significant political giving that is not by, or directed by, municipal securities dealers.  Thus, the MSRB wishes to encourage state and local governments to take a fresh look at these issues and see whether their policies and procedures should be revised to help maintain the integrity of the underwriting process.  The Board believes that it is critical that the municipal market engender the highest degree of public confidence so that investors will continue to provide much needed capital to state and local governments. 


 

[1] Blount v. SEC, 61 F. 3d 938 (D.C. Cir. 1995), cert. denied, 116 S. Ct. 1351 (1996).

[2] If a dealer or MFP is considering contributing funds to a non-dealer associated PAC or political party, Rule G-37 requires that the dealer or MFP “should inquire of the non-dealer associated PAC or political party how any funds received from the dealer or MFP would be used.”  See Questions and Answers Notice: Rule G-37, No. 2 (August 6, 1996), reprinted in MSRB Rule Book.

[3] See Securities and Exchange Act Release No. 35446 (SEC Order Approving Proposed Rule Change by the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board Relating to Rule G-37 on Political Contributions and Prohibitions on Municipal Securities Business, and Rule G-8, on Recordkeeping) (March 6, 1995).

[4] Rule G-38 (a)(i) defines the term “consultant” as any person used by a dealer to obtain or retain municipal securities business through direct or indirect communication by such person with an issuer on the dealer’s behalf where the communication is undertaken by such person in exchange for, or with the understanding of receiving, payment from the dealer or any other person.

[5] See SEC Release No. 33-7049; 34-33741 (Statement of the Commission Regarding Disclosure Obligations of Municipal Issuers and Others) (March 17, 1994).

Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Notices
Publication date:
Reporting and Comparison of Certain Transactions Effected by Investment Advisors: Rules G-12(f) and G-14
Rule Number:

Rule G-12, Rule G-14

In recent months, the MSRB has received a number of questions relating to certain kinds of transactions in which independent investment advisors instruct selling dealers to make deliveries to other dealers.  This notice addresses questions that have been raised relating to Rule G-12(f)(i), on automated comparison, and Rule G-14, on transaction reporting.  It describes existing requirements that follow from the language of the rules and does not set forth any new policies or procedures.

An independent investment advisor purchasing securities from one dealer sometimes instructs that dealer to make delivery of the securities to other dealers where the investment advisor's clients have accounts.  The identities of individual account holders typically are not given.[1] The dealers receiving the deliveries in these cases generally are providing "wrap fee" or similar types of accounts that allow investors to use independent investment advisors to manage their municipal securities portfolios. In these kinds of arrangements, the investment advisor chosen by the account holder may be picked from a list of advisors approved by the dealer; however, dealers offering these accounts have indicated that the investment advisor acts independently in effecting transactions for the client's municipal securities portfolio.

The following example illustrates the situation. An Investment Advisor purchases a $1 million block of municipal bonds from the Selling Dealer and instructs the Selling Dealer to deliver $300,000 of the bonds to Dealer X and $700,000 to Dealer Y. The Investment Advisor does not give the Selling Dealer the individual client accounts at Dealer X and Dealer Y to which the bonds will be allocated and there is no contact between the Selling Dealer and Dealers X and Y at the time of trade. The Investment Advisor, however, later informs Dealer X and Dealer Y to expect the delivery from the Selling Dealer, and gives the identity and quantity of securities that will be delivered, the final monies, and the individual account allocations. For example, the Investment Advisor may instruct Dealer X to allocate its $300,000 delivery by placing $100,000 in John Doe's account and $200,000 in Mary Smith's account. 

With respect to transaction reporting requirements in this situation, the Selling Dealer should report a $1 million sale to a customer.  No other dealer should report a transaction.  The comparison system should not be used for the inter-dealer transfers between the Selling Dealer and Dealers X and Y because this would cause them to be reported as inter-dealer trades. 

Frequently Asked Questions

One frequently asked question in the context of the above example is whether the transfers of the $300,000 and $700,000 blocks by the Selling Dealer to Dealer X and Dealer Y should be reported as inter-dealer transactions.  Another question is whether these transfers may be accomplished by submitting them to the automated comparison system for inter-dealer transactions.  Based on the information that has been provided to the MSRB, these transfers do not appear to represent inter-dealer trades and thus should not be reported under Rule G-14 or compared under Rule G-12(f)(i) using the current central comparison system. 

One reason for the conclusion that no inter-dealer trade exists is that municipal securities professionals for firms in the roles of Dealer X and Y have stated that the Investment Advisor is acting independently and is not acting as their agent when effecting the trade with the Selling Dealer.  In support of this assertion, they note that they often are not informed of the transaction or the deliveries that they should expect until well after the trade has been effected by the Investment Advisor.  They also note that the actions of the Investment Advisor are not subject to their control or supervision.  Thus, the $300,000 and $700,000 inter-dealer transfers in the above example appear to be simply deliveries made in accordance with a contract made by, and the instructions given by, the Investment Advisor.  The inter-dealer transfers thus do not constitute inter-dealer transactions.

Because Rule G-14 transaction reporting of inter-dealer trades is accomplished through the central comparison system, any dealer submitting the $300,000 and $700,000 inter-dealer transfers to the comparison system is in effect reporting inter-dealer transactions that did not occur.  In addition, this practice tends to drive down comparison rates and the overall performance of dealers in the automated comparison system.  As noted above, the trading desks of Dealer X and Dealer Y generally do not know about the Investment Advisor's transaction at the time of trade.  They consequently cannot submit comparison information to the system unless the Investment Advisor provides them with the trade details in a timely, accurate and complete manner.  Since the Investment Advisor is acting independently and is not supervised by municipal securities professionals at Dealer X and Dealer Y, there is no means for the municipal securities professionals at Dealer X and Dealer Y to ensure that this happens.

Questions also have been received on whether the individual allocations to investor accounts (e.g., the $100,000 and $200,000 allocations to the accounts of John Doe and Mary Smith in the example above) should be reported under Rule G-14 as customer transactions.  Even though the dealer housing these accounts obviously has important obligations to the investor with respect to receiving deliveries, paying the Selling Dealer for the securities, and processing the allocations under the instructions of the Investment Advisor, it does not appear that the dealer entered into a purchase or sale contract with the investor and thus nothing is reportable under Rule G-14.  This conclusion again is based upon statements by dealers providing the "wrap fee" and similar accounts, who indicate that the investment advisor acts independently and not as the dealer's agent when it effects the original block transaction and when it makes allocation decisions. 

For purposes of price transparency, the only transaction to be reported in the above example is a single $1 million sale to a customer.  This is appropriate because the only market price to be reported is the one set between the Selling Dealer and the Investment Advisor for the $1 million block of securities.  It is appropriate that the $300,000 and $700,000 inter-dealer transfers, and the $100,000 or $200,000 investor allocations are not disseminated as transactions since they would have to be reported using the price for the $1 million block.  This could be misleading in that market for $1 million round lots are often different than market prices for smaller transaction sizes.


[1] It should be noted that in this situation, the investment advisor itself is the customer and must be treated as such for recordkeeping and other regulatory purposes.  For discussion of a similar situation, see "Interpretive Notice on Recordkeeping" dated July 29, 1977. 

Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Notices
Publication date:
Filing with SEC of Interpretive Notice on Marketing of 529 College Savings Plans in the Workplace
Rule Number:

On April 29, 2003, the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (the “MSRB”) filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) a proposed rule change consisting of an interpretive notice on marketing by brokers, dealers and municipal securities dealers (“dealers”) of 529 college savings plans in the workplace.[1] The proposed interpretive notice provides guidance on the application of Rule G-8, on recordkeeping, Rule G-17, on fair dealing, Rule G-19, on suitability, Rule G-27, on supervision, and Rule G-32, on disclosure, in the context of workplace marketing programs relating to 529 college savings plans. The proposed interpretive notice will become effective upon approval by the SEC.

Draft Interpretive Guidance

On November 18, 2002, the MSRB published for comment draft interpretive guidance on marketing of 529 college savings plan employee payroll deduction programs.[2] The MSRB received six comment letters. After reviewing these comments, the MSRB approved the draft interpretive guidance, with certain modifications, for filing with the SEC. The MSRB modified the draft interpretive guidance to: (i) change the term “introducing broker” to “selling broker;” (ii) reflect the existence of other scenarios in which 529 college savings plans are marketed in the workplace; (iii) provide more guidance as to when dealers may rely on others to fulfill regulatory responsibilities; and (iv) clarify certain recordkeeping obligations. The text of the proposed interpretive notice filed with the SEC appears at the end of this notice.

Summary of Comments on Draft Interpretive Guidance

One commentator fully supported the draft interpretive notice, stating that it “clearly sets out the rationale for providing guidance in this area … [and] will make it possible for our Representatives to assist companies in offering 529 college savings plans to their employees.” Four other commentators generally supported the draft interpretive notice, although each requested that the MSRB further broaden and/or clarify the guidance in various respects.[3]

Three commentators requested that the MSRB substitute the term “selling broker” or “selling dealer” for the term “introducing broker” used in the draft interpretive notice. They stated that the term “introducing broker” is used with different meanings under the federal securities laws applicable to other types of securities and may cause some confusion. In addition, one of these commentators recommended that, for purposes of the interpretation, the term “selling broker” also encompass the primary distributor where it directly establishes the relationship with the employer. It stated, “In addition to recognizing that a selling broker rarely, if ever, has a suitability obligation in the context of a payroll deduction program, the Notice should clarify that a primary distributor who makes 529 Plan investments available through a third-party broker would not have a suitability obligation under Rule G-19, as it too makes no recommendation to an employee.” The MSRB has changed the term “introducing broker” to “selling broker” in the revised interpretive notice. Contrary to the statement that the interpretive notice recognizes “that a selling broker rarely, if ever, has a suitability obligation,” the notice does not assess the likelihood or frequency of recommendations being made by selling brokers. The notice does provide some guidance regarding the factors to consider when determining whether a recommendation has occurred. The MSRB believes that no further guidance in this area is necessary.

Four commentators noted that the scenario described in the draft interpretive notice is not the only form in which dealers may seek to market 529 college savings plans through employers. In addition to arrangements where selling brokers having a contractual relationship with the primary distributor to market through employers, with the employees making investments directly through the primary distributor (as described in the draft interpretive notice), these commentators noted that: (1) primary distributors may themselves market 529 college savings plans through employers; (2) selling brokers sometimes have contractual relationships with the issuer rather than the primary distributor; (3) selling brokers may handle employee investments and maintain long-term relationships with employees, rather than merely introducing employees to the primary distributor; (4) transfer agents may undertake significant responsibilities in connection with employees’ investments; and (5) employees may in some instances use a dealer other than the selling broker or primary distributor to make an investment that may still be considered part of the employer-sponsored program. These commentators requested that the MSRB address some or all of these additional scenarios. In addition, one of these commentators suggested that the MSRB make clear that the scenarios addressed in the draft interpretive notice are illustrative and that other models may be implemented.

The MSRB has made significant modifications to the initial paragraphs of the notice to reflect the existence of these other scenarios. No significant change in interpretation results from a primary distributor acting in the role of a selling broker. The identity of the selling broker’s counterparty on the selling agreement also does not significantly change its regulatory obligations. Selling brokers that make recommendations remain fully obligated under MSRB rules and remain ultimately responsible where the primary distributor has not affirmatively undertaken regulatory obligations on behalf of the selling broker (as discussed below). The guidance provided by the notice is primarily intended for dealers that are formally involved in a workplace marketing program; thus, the notice is of limited applicability to dealers that do not have a formal role in such a program.

A commentator observed that the draft interpretive notice referred to on-line enrollment with the primary distributor and noted that in many circumstances enrollment and investments continue to be handled by mail. Also, three commentators noted that other forms of payment, such as ACH (automated clearing house) bank transfers, may be used in addition to traditional employee payroll deductions. These commentators requested that the MSRB recognize these variants in its final notice. The revised interpretive notice now more clearly acknowledges these different processes.

Four commentators sought further clarification on the circumstances under which selling brokers may rely on other parties to meet their regulatory obligations. Two of these commentators stated that dealers should be able to rely on issuers to distribute official statements to customers. One noted its concern that customers may be confused by the receipt of redundant (and possibly out-dated) disclosure documents if dealers must deliver official statements regardless of whether the issuer has sent them to customers. Another suggested that the ability of the selling broker to rely on the primary distributor for delivery of the official statement as provided in the draft interpretive notice be extended to the ability to rely on other parties, such as other dealers, employers and issuers.

The revised interpretive notice permits a selling broker to conclusively rely on the primary distributor to meet its disclosure obligations and certain supervisory obligations (described below) only under the limited circumstances in which employee orders are not accepted without actual delivery of the official statement and the primary distributor has affirmatively agreed to undertake such regulatory obligations on behalf of the selling broker. In such circumstances, the primary distributor will be responsible for fulfilling such obligations. In all other circumstances, the notice clarifies that a selling broker may agree with another party to take certain actions on its behalf but that if such other party fails to take such actions, the selling broker remains responsible for fulfilling its regulatory obligation.

One commentator suggested that the MSRB should permit selling brokers to enter into arrangements with the primary distributor to meet their supervisory obligations to review and approve customer accounts and transactions based upon having procedures in place that provide assurances to the selling brokers that such review and approval is being undertaken by the primary distributor. Another commentator questioned the value of requiring a selling broker to review customer accounts and transactions well after the transaction is executed, especially if the transaction was not recommended. In addition, it questioned why a requirement for such review and related recordkeeping would be dependent upon whether the selling broker receives compensation for a transaction.

The revised interpretive notice clarifies that, where a selling broker does not make a recommendation and the primary distributor affirmatively agrees to take on both the disclosure responsibilities and the supervisory responsibilities with regard to opening of accounts and approval of transactions, the regulatory obligation may be shifted to the primary distributor. However, supervisory responsibility remains with the selling broker so long as the selling broker retains any affirmative duties to employees. The MSRB believes that the limited recordkeeping obligations imposed on all selling brokers in the notice are appropriate. The revised interpretive notice makes clear that the limited recordkeeping requirements that remain for subsequent transactions effected by the primary distributor where compensation is paid to the selling broker applies only when such compensation is transaction based since, depending on the facts and circumstances, this information may be necessary to determine compliance with MSRB’s fair pricing and fair commission requirements.

With respect to transfer agents, a commentator noted that many plans provide for applications and customer orders to be sent directly to a transfer agent, with the primary distributor’s activities “limited to managing the overall marketing of the program and the production of marketing and promotional materials.” It stated that “only the transfer agent maintains any investor records and these records are the plan’s investor records. Thus, in this model, the primary distributor’s regulatory responsibilities are limited primarily to compliance with applicable rules governing marketing materials but not those rules mandating customer account related procedures.” The commentator sought assurance that primary distributors did not retain residual customer protection obligations under MSRB rules in the scenario where applications and orders are submitted directly to the transfer agent.

The MSRB notes that transfer agents generally are viewed under the Exchange Act as working on behalf of the issuer but that, in the 529 college savings plan market, transfer agents also sometimes contractually agree to act on behalf of the primary distributor. In the revised interpretive notice, where transactions are effected through a transfer agent without the direct involvement of the primary distributor or the selling broker, the selling broker is permitted to conclusively rely on the primary distributor to fulfill certain of the selling broker’s regulatory obligations only if the transfer agent has contractually agreed to act on behalf of the primary distributor. Otherwise, the transfer agent is effectively treated as an agent of the issuer and the dealer that enlisted the corresponding employer to participate in the workplace marketing plan remains ultimately responsible for compliance with MSRB rules.

A commentator asked why a selling broker would have a fair dealing obligation under Rule G-17 to an employer since the employer is not the dealer’s client. It also sought guidance regarding the nature of information that a dealer would be obligated to provide to the employer under the Rule G-17 disclosure obligation. Two commentators also questioned the need for the selling broker to maintain a record of the name and address of an employer that the dealer solicited, as well as for principal review of such solicitation. Another commentator sought assurances that the fair dealing obligation toward the employer would not give rise to any inference that the issuer has any federal securities law obligation to employers under the scenario described in the draft interpretive notice.

The fair dealing requirement of Rule G-17 applies, on its face, to all persons, not just customers. The MSRB believes that it appropriately applies to the selling broker’s relationship with employers, particularly since the selling broker is inducing the employer to create a captive audience of investors and the employer’s agreement to participate in the program may lead employees to believe that the employer endorses investment under the program. Under these circumstances, it is important that selling brokers provide adequate information regarding the program to the employer so that it can make an informed decision with regard to enrollment in the program. The limited recordkeeping regarding the employer required by the notice is important in the context of documenting the ability of a selling broker to rely on the guidance provided in the notice with respect to particular transactions. The revised interpretive notice provides assurances that a dealer’s fair dealing obligation to the employer is not intended to imply that the issuer has a similar legal obligation to the employer.

* * * * *


TEXT OF PROPOSED INTERPRETIVE NOTICE

INTERPRETIVE NOTICE ON MARKETING OF 529 COLLEGE SAVINGS PLANS IN THE WORKPLACE

The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (“MSRB”) has received a number of requests for interpretive guidance on the responsibilities of brokers, dealers and municipal securities dealers (“dealers”) under MSRB rules with respect to the marketing of 529 college savings plans through the workplace to employees (“workplace marketing programs”). Workplace marketing programs have been described to the MSRB as being offered through a variety of means.[4] In many cases, a dealer (“selling broker”) that has signed a selling agreement with the primary distributor of a 529 college savings plan makes available to employers the opportunity to initiate a workplace marketing program for those employees who choose to enroll and make contributions under the 529 college savings plan.[5] The selling broker typically meets with the employer’s human resources/benefits representatives, who then may agree to have the employer participate in the workplace marketing program. One form of workplace marketing program provides for the employer to utilize its existing payroll direct deposit process for after-tax contributions by employees. In other cases, employee contributions may be effected by means of ACH (automated clearing house) bank transfers or other means, whether electronically or by check.

After the employer has agreed to participate in a workplace marketing program, its employees can establish an account in a variety of manners, depending upon the specific 529 college savings plan. For example, many workplace marketing programs provide for the employee to establish an account with the primary distributor by completing an online or paper account application and participation agreement, which is submitted directly to the primary distributor. In other cases, applications may be submitted to a transfer agent[6] or the issuer, or may be handled by the selling broker itself. Typically, the selling broker provides the employer with materials for distribution to interested employees describing the particular 529 college savings plan, including but not limited to the program disclosure document that meets the definition of “official statement” under Exchange Act Rule 15c2-12. Further, the selling broker may, but does not always, hold informational meetings with employees, either in groups or individually. However, in many workplace marketing programs, once the employer has agreed to participate, employees can enroll in the program and make contributions directly through the primary distributor, transfer agent or issuer without any further involvement of the selling broker.

When an employee enrolls in the workplace marketing program, certain information regarding the employee’s enrollment is made available to the parties who are involved in the processing of the enrollment and contributions. Typically, however, the selling broker will receive notification of an account opening and any transactions effected for an individual employee only after the fact, either on a transaction-by-transaction basis or in periodic summaries of trade activities.[7] Thus, unless the selling broker itself handles the enrollment and contribution functions for employees, the selling broker may not learn the identity of individual employees actually making investments in the 529 college savings plan until well after the time of trade and settlement on such transactions. The selling broker generally receives commissions on an individual participant basis for those employees who enroll and invest in the 529 college savings plan.

The MSRB has established a number of rules designed to protect customers purchasing municipal securities (including investments in 529 college savings plans) from or through dealers. In particular, under Rule G-19, a dealer that recommends a 529 college savings plan transaction to a customer must have reasonable grounds for believing that the recommendation is suitable, based upon information available from the issuer or otherwise and the facts disclosed by or otherwise known about the customer. To assure that a dealer effecting a recommended transaction with a non-institutional customer has the information needed about the customer to make its suitability determination, the rule requires the dealer to make reasonable efforts to obtain information concerning the customer’s financial status, tax status and investment objectives, as well as any other information reasonable and necessary in making the recommendation. In addition, the dealer has certain disclosure-related obligations to the customer, regardless of whether the dealer has recommended a particular transaction to the customer. For example, under Rule G-32, the dealer is obligated to deliver an official statement to the customer by settlement of the transaction.[8]

Further, under Rule G-17, each dealer, in the conduct of its municipal securities activities, must deal fairly with all persons and must not engage in any deceptive, dishonest or unfair practice. This rule has been interpreted to require a dealer to disclose to its customer, at or before the time of trade, all material facts concerning the transaction known by the dealer, as well as material facts about the security when such facts are reasonably accessible to the market.[9] This Rule G-17 disclosure obligation applies regardless of whether the dealer has made a recommendation to the customer. If the customer is investing in an out-of-state 529 college savings plan, the dealer also is obligated to inform the customer that, depending upon the laws of the customer’s home state, favorable state tax treatment for investing in a 529 college savings plan may be limited to investments made in a plan offered by the customer’s home state.[10] Further, Rule G-17 prohibits the dealer from misleading customers regarding facts material to the transaction, including but not limited to the availability of state tax benefits in connection with an investment in a 529 college savings plan.[11]

A dealer is obligated under Rule G-17 to deal fairly not only with customers but with all persons in connection with the conduct of its municipal securities activities. Thus, in addition to dealing fairly with employees that have agreed to participate in a workplace marketing program, a selling broker that enters into a formal or informal agreement with an employer to undertake a workplace marketing program also is obligated under Rule G-17 to deal fairly with the employer itself.[12] Whether a dealer has dealt fairly with an employer is dependent upon the facts and circumstances. However, the MSRB believes that, under these circumstances, Rule G-17 obligates the selling broker to disclose to the employer all material facts known by the selling broker concerning the transactions it is attempting to induce, as well as material facts about the security when such facts are reasonably accessible to the market. If the selling broker knows or has reason to know that one or more employees may not be resident in the state of the 529 college savings plan being offered under the workplace marketing program, Rule G-17 requires the selling broker to disclose to the employer that, depending upon the laws of the state of residence of an employee, favorable state tax treatment for investing in a 529 college savings plan may be limited to investments made in a 529 college savings plan offered by the employee’s home state. These are the same disclosures that a dealer effecting a transaction with individual customers is required to make under Rule G-17.

Where a selling broker has recommended a transaction in a 529 college savings plan to an employee through a workplace marketing program, the selling broker is fully obligated to make a suitability determination under Rule G-19.[13] The selling broker would be responsible for obtaining and maintaining the information required under Rule G-19(b) in connection with such suitability determination and the additional information required under Rule G-8(a)(xi), as well as for maintaining proper supervision.[14] The MSRB has previously stated that whether a particular transaction is in fact recommended depends on an analysis of all the relevant facts and circumstances.[15] Among the facts and circumstances that generally would be relevant in this context is the nature of the statements made by the selling broker if it conducts any informational meetings with employees. If, for example, the selling broker conducts an employee informational meeting at which it states that the particular 529 college savings plan is appropriate for most or all employees, or at which it advises individual employees that the plan or specific investment options within the plan are appropriate for such individuals, the introducing broker most likely has made a recommendation. If, however, the selling broker provides, at most, only generalized recommendations about the 529 college savings plan accompanied by clear statements that enrollment in this particular 529 college savings plan or investment in any particular investment option within the plan may not be appropriate for all employees, the selling broker must have reasonable grounds for the generalized recommendation in light of the information about the security but need not make a determination that the investment is suitable for each employee in attendance.[16] A selling broker making a recommendation to a particular employee also is fully responsible for providing the required disclosure information under Rules G-17 and G-32.

If a selling broker does not make a recommendation in connection with a transaction in a 529 college savings plan by an employee through a workplace marketing program, it has no suitability obligation under Rule G-19. Although the selling broker still would be obligated to provide the required disclosures under Rules G-17 and G-32, if all employee transactions under the workplace marketing program are handled by the primary distributor or a transfer agent that has contractually agreed to act on behalf of the primary distributor, the selling broker’s responsibilities will be conclusively fulfilled if the placing of an order in that manner is conditioned upon actual receipt of the official statement and the primary distributor has formally agreed to be responsible for such delivery.[17] For example, if employees make investments directly through the primary distributor’s web site and the web site requires that investors first view or download the official statement before being allowed to complete transactions, then the selling broker would be able to conclusively rely on this method of delivery for purposes of fulfilling its disclosure requirements.[18] However, if the primary distributor does not provide assurances that necessary disclosures will be made to employees, the selling broker will be required to provide such disclosures.[19] The selling broker must put in place appropriate supervisory procedures to ensure that required disclosures are provided in a satisfactory manner where it is not entitled to conclusively rely on the primary distributor as described above.

In addition, where a selling broker is entitled to conclusively rely on disclosures provided by the primary distributor or transfer agent (as described in the preceding paragraph) and the transaction is not recommended, the selling broker may conclusively rely on the primary distributor to fulfill the selling broker’s supervisory obligation to review and approve customer accounts and transactions under Rule G-27(c)(iii) and (vii) for such accounts and transactions if the primary distributor has formally agreed to be responsible for such supervision.[20] Under circumstances where such conclusive reliance is not available to the selling broker, the selling broker may fulfill these supervisory obligations by reviewing and approving individual account openings and transactions as information becomes available from the primary distributor, transfer agent or other relevant party. In all cases of non-recommended transactions, the selling broker must undertake prompt reviews and approvals of agreements obtained from employers to participate in a workplace marketing program and for recording account information under Rule G-8(a)(ii) and customer specific information for each enrolled employee required under Rule G-8(a)(xi) (of which only information under items (A), (C), (E) and (H) thereunder shall be required) as it becomes available. A selling broker wishing to rely on the guidance provided in this notice also is required to record the name and principal business address of any employer agreeing to participate in a workplace marketing program, together with the signature of an appropriate principal approving such agreement. Selling brokers are reminded that the conclusive reliance permitted by this paragraph and the preceding paragraph is not available in the case of recommended transactions, in which case the selling broker retains the primary obligation to fulfill all customer protection, disclosure, supervisory and recordkeeping duties.

Dealers should note that none of the foregoing obviates the need for primary distributors to fulfill all of their customer protection obligations under MSRB rules where a selling broker is not otherwise required to fulfill such obligations. Furthermore, if transactions subsequent to the initial enrollment of an employee in a workplace marketing program are effected directly between the employee and the primary distributor, the primary distributor generally will have sole responsibility with respect to compliance with MSRB rules in connection with such subsequent transactions, provided that the selling broker will be required to record information regarding subsequent transactions as required under Rule G-8(a)(ii) to the extent that it receives transaction-based compensation for such transactions. Dealers also should note that, if employees make their purchases directly from the governmental issuer (whether through the issuer’s own employees or any non-dealer agent of the issuer), the selling broker or primary distributor that enlists an employer to participate in a workplace marketing program is ultimately responsible for fulfilling all of its obligations under MSRB rules. Thus, for example, although an issuer may undertake to provide disclosure materials to investors, the dealer remains responsible under MSRB rules should the issuer fail to deliver the required disclosures to an employee who enrolls in a 529 college savings plan through a workplace marketing program promoted by the dealer acting as a selling broker, or if such disclosure information is not delivered in a timely manner.


[1] File No. SR-MSRB-2003-03. Comments on the proposed interpretive notice should be submitted to the SEC and should reference this file number.

[2] See “Draft Interpretive Notice on Marketing of 529 College Savings Plan Employee Payroll Deduction Programs,” November 18, 2002, available at ww1.msrb.org/msrb1/archive/Workplace529Interp_11-02.htm.

[3] One commentator did not state its position regarding the draft interpretive notice but merely noted a possible grammatical correction.

[4] The description of certain characteristics of workplace marketing programs in this notice is intended to illustrate the application of MSRB rules and is not intended to imply that workplace marketing programs having different characteristics are not permitted under MSRB rules.

[5] In some cases, the primary distributor itself, rather than a separate dealer, may initiate a workplace marketing program and undertake the various functions of a selling broker described in this notice. In other cases, the selling broker may have a contractual relationship with the issuer rather than with, or in addition to, the primary distributor.

[6] Third-party transfer agents are generally considered, under Section 3(a)(25) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (the “Exchange Act”), to be providing services on behalf of the issuer of securities. The MSRB understands that, in the 529 college savings plan market, transfer agents may sometimes be engaged by the primary distributor to handle certain recordkeeping and processing functions on behalf of the primary distributor.

[7] Where the primary distributor itself serves in the role of selling broker, it will obtain information concerning the transaction on a timely basis where enrollment and contributions are effected directly with the primary distributor and, where enrollment and contributions are effected with a transfer agent that has a direct contractual relationship with the primary distributor, the transfer agent will obtain such information on a timely basis on behalf of the primary distributor.

[8] In the case of a repeat purchaser who has already received the official statement, dealers generally are required to deliver any amendments or supplements to the official statement in connection with subsequent investments in the 529 college savings plan.

[9] See Rule G-17 Interpretation – Interpretive Notice Regarding Rule G-17, on Disclosure of Material Facts, March 20, 2002, MSRB Rule Book.

[10] See Rule G-21 Interpretation – Application of Fair Practice and Advertising Rules to Municipal Fund Securities, May 14, 2002, MSRB Rule Book.

[11] Id.

[12] Under Section 15B(c)(1) of the Exchange Act, any dealer that attempts to induce the purchase of municipal securities must do so in compliance with MSRB rules. This would include an attempt by a selling broker (or a primary distributor acting in the role of a selling broker) to induce employees to invest in a 529 college savings plan through an employer participating in a workplace marketing program. Thus, the selling broker generally will become obligated to comply with the duties established under Rule G-17 with respect to the employer in connection with the procurement of the employer’s agreement to participate in the workplace marketing program, even if there is no assurance that any employee ultimately will enroll. This obligation would not apply to an issuer if its own personnel or agents of the issuer were to initiate a workplace marketing program with an employer, as MSRB rules do not apply to issuers.

[13] A selling broker that recommends a transaction to an employee cannot avoid its suitability obligations and related duties simply because the employee places its order directly with the primary distributor, transfer agent or issuer. In addition, a primary distributor acting in the role of a selling broker that recommends a transaction to an employee cannot avoid its suitability obligations and related duties simply because the employee places its order directly with the issuer or transfer agent.

[14] Rule G-27 requires an appropriate principal to review the opening of each customer account and of each transaction for such customer. In addition, Rules G-8 and G-9 require dealers to create and preserve certain records in connection with such accounts and transactions.

[15] See Rule G-19 Interpretive Letter – Recommendations, February 17, 1998, MSRB Rule Book. The MSRB also has provided guidance on recommendations in the context of on-line communications in Rule G-19 Interpretation – Notice Regarding Application of Rule G-19, on Suitability of Recommendations and Transactions, to Online Communications, September 25, 2002, MSRB Rule Book.

[16] See Rule G-19 Interpretation – Notice Concerning the Application of Suitability Requirements to Investment Seminars and Customer Inquiries Made in Response to a Dealer’s Advertisements, May 7, 1985, MSRB Rule Book.

[17] Under these circumstances, the primary distributor could be held responsible for any failures to meet the disclosure requirements of Rules G-17 and G-32. In addition, the primary distributor should note that, if the official statement omits material information that it would be obligated to provide under Rule G-17, the primary distributor would be responsible for providing such omitted information.

[18] The MSRB has provided guidance on electronic delivery of required disclosure information in Rule G-32 Interpretation – Notice Regarding Electronic Delivery and Receipt of Information by Brokers, Dealers and Municipal Securities Dealers, November 20, 1998, MSRB Rule Book. Arrangements assuring actual delivery of the official statement to employees may also be possible in circumstances where paper applications and participation agreements are mailed directly to the primary distributor or its transfer agent.

[19] Selling brokers would be advised, for example, to provide official statements to the employer’s human resource/employee benefits department and at any employee informational meetings that it attends. The selling broker may enter into contractual arrangements whereby the primary distributor, transfer agent, issuer or other party agrees to provide the required disclosures to employees. However, except as described above, the selling broker will be responsible for any failure by such third party to meet its contractual delivery obligation.

[20] Under these circumstances, the primary distributor could be held responsible for any failures to meet such supervisory obligations.

Interpretive Guidance - Interpretive Notices
Publication date:
Reminder Regarding MSRB Rule G-14 Transaction Reporting Requirements
Rule Number:

Rule G-14

The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board ("MSRB") and NASD would like to remind brokers, dealers and municipal securities dealers (collectively "dealers") about the requirements of MSRB Rule G-14, on transaction reporting. This document also describes services provided by the MSRB designed to assist dealers in complying with Rule G-14.

Transactions reported to the MSRB under Rule G-14 are made available to the NASD and other regulators for their market surveillance and enforcement activities. The MSRB also makes public price information on municipal securities transactions using data reported by dealers. One product is the Daily Report of Frequently Traded Securities ("Daily Report") that is made available to subscribers each morning by 7:00 am. Currently, it includes details of transactions in municipal securities issues that were "frequently traded" the previous business day.[1] The Daily Report is one of the primary public sources of municipal securities price information and is used by a variety of industry participants to evaluate municipal securities. [2]

Dealers can monitor their municipal transaction reporting compliance in several ways. For customer and inter-dealer transaction reporting, the MSRB Dealer Feedback System ("DFS") provides monthly statistical information on transactions reported by a dealer to the MSRB and information about individual transactions reported by a dealer to the MSRB. For daily feedback on customer trades reported, the MSRB provides dealers a "customer report edit register" on the day after trades were submitted. This product indicates trades successfully submitted and those that contained errors or possible errors.[3] For inter-dealer transactions, National Securities Clearing Corporation ("NSCC") provides to its members daily files, sometimes called "contract sheets," that can be used to check the content and status of the transactions the member has submitted.

Inter-Dealer Transactions

Even before Rule G-14 imposed requirements for transaction reporting, MSRB Rule G-12(f), on use of automated comparison, clearance and settlement systems, required dealers to submit data on their inter-dealer transactions in municipal securities to a registered clearing agency for automated comparison on trade date ("T"). NSCC provides the automated comparison services for transactions in municipal securities. The same inter-dealer trade record dealers submit to NSCC for comparison also is used to satisfy the requirements of MSRB Rule G-14 to report inter-dealer transactions to the MSRB. NSCC forwards the transaction data it receives from dealers to the MSRB so that dealers do not have to send a separate record to the MSRB. However, satisfying the requirements for successful trade comparison under Rule G-12(f) does not, by itself, necessarily satisfy a dealer's Rule G-14 transaction reporting requirements. In addition to the trade information necessary for a successful trade comparison, Rule G-14 requires dealers to submit accrued interest, time of trade (in military format) and the effecting brokers' (both buy and sell side) four-letter identifiers, also known as executing broker symbols ("EBS"). Failure to include accrued interest, time of trade and EBS when submitting transaction information to NSCC's automated comparison system is a violation of MSRB Rule G-14 on transaction reporting even though the trade may compare on T.

As noted above, the MSRB provides dealers with statistical measures of compliance with some important aspects of MSRB Rules G-12 and G-14 through its Dealer Feedback System.[4] The statistics available for inter-dealer trades include:

  • Late or Stamped - The frequency with which a dealer causes an inter-dealer trade not to compare on trade date is reflected in the "late or stamped" statistic. Trades that do not compare on trade date are ineligible for the Daily Report. The statistic is an indication of how often a dealer submits a trade late or stamps its contra-party's advisory, and is expressed as a percentage of the dealer's total compared trades. Because this statistic includes both "when, as and if issued" and regular-way trades, it provides a comprehensive analysis of the timeliness with which a dealer reports its trades.

  • Invalid Time of Trade - This statistic reflects the total number of trade records submitted by a dealer in which the time of trade is null or not within the hours of 0600 to 2100. Accurate times of trade are essential to regulatory surveillance because they provide an audit trail of trading activity.

  • Uncompared Input - A high percentage of uncompared trades may indicate that a dealer is submitting duplicative trade information, inaccurate information, or is erroneously submitting buy-side reports against syndicate takedowns.[5] The uncompared input statistic reflects trade records that a dealer inputs for comparison that never compare and are expressed as a percentage of a dealer's total number of compared trades. It is a violation of Rule G-14 to submit trade reports that do not accurately represent trades. Moreover, Rule G-12(f) requires that dealers follow-up on inter-dealer trade submissions that do not compare in the initial trade cycle by using the post-original comparison procedures at NSCC. Trade reports made to MSRB and NSCC that never compare are a concern because they either represent inaccurate trade input or indicate that the dealer is not following-up on uncompared trades using the post-original comparison procedures provided by NSCC.

 

  • Compared but Deleted or Withheld - This statistic represents deleted or withheld trade records and is a percentage of all compared trade records. Compared trade records that are subsequently deleted or withheld are a concern because these trades may have previously appeared on the Daily Report. While it is sometimes necessary to correct erroneous trade submissions using delete or withhold procedures, this will be an infrequent occurrence if proper attention is paid to transaction reporting procedures. Dealers that have a high percentage of such trades should review their procedures to determine why transaction data is being entered inaccurately.

  • Executing Broker Symbol (EBS) Statistics - These statistics indicate the percentage of trade submissions for which the field identifying the dealer that effected the trade is either empty or contains an invalid entry. These statistics are compiled for every member of NSCC.[6] It provides information on three types of EBS errors: 1) null EBS, where a dealer left the EBS field blank; 2) numeric EBS, where a dealer entered a number in the EBS field; and 3) unknown EBS, where a dealer populated the EBS field with a symbol that is not a valid NASD-assigned EBS. A large number of EBS errors may indicate that both clearing firm and correspondent dealer reporting procedures and/or software need to be reviewed to ensure that the EBS is entered correctly and does not "drop out" of the data during the submission process. The compatibility of correspondent dealer and clearing broker reporting systems also may need to be examined.

Note on Stamped Advisories

Firms often stamp advisories on T+1 after failing to submit accurate inter-dealer transaction information on trade date. A stamped advisory essentially is a message sent through the NSCC comparison system by the clearing firm on one side of a trade indicating that it agrees with the trade details submitted by the contra party.

A significant percentage of stamped advisories is a concern for two reasons. First, trades compared via a stamped advisory cannot be published in the Daily Report because they do not compare on trade date. Second, unless the dealer stamping the advisory verifies every data element submitted by the contra party (including accrued interest, time of trade and EBS) stamping the advisory may effectively confirm erroneous data about the trade, which will be included in the surveillance data provided to market regulators. With particular respect to EBS, both the MSRB and the NASD have observed that dealers do not always include accurate contra parties' EBSs in transaction reports. As a result, when a firm "stamps" a contra party's submission, its own EBS may not be correctly included in the transaction report sent to the MSRB.

In lieu of stamping an advisory, it is possible for a dealer to submit an "as of" trade record to match an advisory pending against it. This serves the same purpose as stamping an advisory but in addition allows the dealer to input its own EBS (and other data elements) and thus ensure the accuracy of the information about its side of the trade. While the trade will still be reported late, the data about the trade will be more likely to be correct.

Note on Clearing Broker-Correspondent Issues

While Rule G-14 notes that accurate and timely transaction reporting is primarily a responsibility of the firm that effected a trade, it also notes that a firm may use an agent or intermediary to submit trade information on its behalf. For inter-dealer trades, a direct member of NSCC must be used to input transaction data if the dealer effecting the transaction is not itself a direct member. This Rule G-14 requirement that a clearing broker and correspondent work together to submit transaction reporting data in a timely and accurate manner is the same as exists in Rule G-12(f) on inter-dealer comparison.

Where there is a clearing-correspondent relationship between dealers, timely and accurate submission of trade data to NSCC generally requires specific action by both the direct member of NSCC (who clears the trade) as well as the correspondent firm. The MSRB has noted that the responsibility for proper trade submission is shared between the correspondent and its clearing broker.[7] Clearing brokers, their correspondents and their contra-parties all have a responsibility to work together to resolve inaccurate or untimely information on transactions in municipal securities. A clearing firm's use of a large number of stamped advisories may indicate systemic problems with the clearing broker's procedures, the correspondents' procedures, or both.[8]

Customer Transactions

Dealers that engage in municipal securities transactions with customers also are required to submit accurate and complete trade information to the MSRB by midnight of trade date under Rule G-14. MSRB customer transaction reporting requirements include the reporting of time of trade and the dealer's EBS for each trade.

Dealers have flexibility in the way they report customer transactions to the MSRB Transaction Reporting System. The three options available allow dealers to: 1) transmit customer transaction data directly to NSCC, which, using its communications line with MSRB, forwards trade data to the MSRB the evening on which it is received; 2) send the data via an intermediary, such as a clearing broker or service bureau, to NSCC, which forwards the data to the MSRB; or 3) submit the data directly to the MSRB using a PC dial-up connection and software provided by the MSRB.

The MSRB Dealer Feedback System also provides dealers with performance statistics for customer trade reporting. These statistics include:

 

  • Ineligible - This statistic reflects the percentage of a dealer's initial customer trade records that were ineligible for the Daily Report, because either the trade reports were submitted after trade date or they contained some other dealer error that caused it to be rejected by the MSRB Transaction Reporting System.

  • Late - Initial customer trade records that were submitted after trade date are indicated in this statistic and are a subset of ineligible trades. This percentage is reported separately because late reporting is the most common reason for trade records to be ineligible for the Daily Report.

  • Cancelled - This is the percentage of a dealer's initial customer trade records that were cancelled by the dealer after initial submission. Cancelled trades are a cause for concern because the data in the trade record submitted prior to cancellation may have already been included in the Daily Report.

  • Amended - This is the percentage of a dealer's initial customer trade records that were amended by the dealer after initial submission. Amended trades are a cause for concern because the data in the trade record may have already been included in the Daily Report. While it is important that customer trades be immediately amended if any of the required information was incorrectly reported, dealers sometimes amend customer trade records unnecessarily. If trade details solely for internal dealer recordkeeping or delivery are changed, the dealer should ensure that its processing systems do not automatically send MSRB an "amend" record. For example, if a transaction is reported correctly to the MSRB on trade date, the dealer should not amend the transaction (or cancel and resubmit another transaction record to the MSRB) simply because customer account numbers or allocation and delivery information is added or changed in the dealer's own records.[9]

    Amendments to change settlement dates for when-issued transaction also are generally unnecessary. Since MSRB monitors settlement dates for new issues through other sources, dealers should not send amended trade records merely because the settlement date becomes known. Dealers may find that their automated systems are sending amended trade records to the MSRB in these cases, even though amendments are unneeded. Attention to these areas could greatly reduce the number of amendments sent to MSRB by some dealers.

 

  • Invalid Time of Trade - This statistic reflects the total number of trade records submitted by a dealer in which the time of trade is null or not within the hours of 0600 to 2100. Accurate times of trade are essential to regulatory surveillance as they provide an audit trail of trading activity.

Questions / Further Information

Questions about this notice may be directed to staff at either MSRB or NASD. For more information on transaction reporting, including questions and answers and the customer transaction reporting system user guide, or to sign up for the Dealer Feedback System, we encourage dealers to visit the MSRB Web site at www.msrb.org, particularly the Municipal Price Reporting / Transaction Reporting System section.

 

 


 

[1] The Daily Report is available by subscription at no cost. Currently, "frequently traded" securities are those that traded two or more times during a trading day. As noted below, inter-dealer transactions must be compared on trade date to be eligible for this report.

[2] The MSRB also publishes a "Daily Comprehensive Report," providing details of all municipal securities transactions that were effected during the trading day one week earlier. The Daily Comprehensive Report is available by subscription for $2,000 per year. Along with trades in issues that are not "frequently traded," this report includes transactions reported to the MSRB late, inter-dealer trades compared after trade date, and transaction data corrected by dealers after trade date.

[3] A dealer may call the MSRB at (703) 797-6600 and ask to speak with a Transaction Reporting Assistant who can check to see if its firm is signed up for this free service.

[4] A complete description of the service is available at www.msrb.org in the Municipal Price Reporting / Transaction Reporting System section. NASD also has informed dealers of this service in "Municipal Transaction Reporting Compliance Information," Regulatory and Compliance Alert (Summer 2002).

[5] Under NSCC procedures, no buy-side trade report should be submitted for comparison against a syndicate "takedown" trade submitted by the syndicate manager. Syndicate transactions are "one-sided submissions" and compare automatically after being submitted by the syndicate manager. Paragraph (a) (ii) of Rule G-14 procedures thus requires that only the syndicate manager submit the trade.

[6] The EBS statistics reflect the aggregate number of such errors found in transaction data submitted by a particular NSCC member firm for itself and/or for its correspondents. This statistic cannot be generated individually for each correspondent because the EBS needed to identify the correspondent is itself missing or invalid. EBS statistics only measure the validity of the input the submitter provides to identify its own side of the trade and do not measure the accuracy with which a dealer uses EBSs to identify its contra-parties.

[7] In 1994, the MSRB stated that, "introducing brokers share the responsibility for complying with [Rule G-12(f)] with their clearing brokers. Introducing brokers who fail to submit transaction information in a timely and accurate manner could subject either or both parties to enforcement action for violating [Rule G-12(f)]." See "Enforcement Initiative," MSRB Reports, Vol. 14, No. 3 (June 1994) at 35. NASD has since reiterated this policy; see the following articles in Regulatory and Compliance Alert: "Introducing Firm Responsibility When Reporting Municipal Trades Through Service Bureaus and Clearing Firms" (Winter 2000) and "Municipal Securities Transaction Reporting Compliance Information" (Spring 2001).

[8] As explained above, one of the problems often associated with stamped advisories is that the EBS on transaction records may be missing or inaccurate. Since a clearing broker may have many correspondents, stamping an advisory can make it impossible for market regulators to know which correspondent actually effected the trade.

[9] Of course, if the initial information reported to the MSRB, such as total par value, is changed, the trade record must be amended to make it correct.