Review and approval of customer accounts - August 7, 1996

Review and approval of customer accounts.  This is in response to your letter dated July 24, 1996, requesting an interpretation of rule G-27(c)(iii) on written supervisory procedures.

Rule G-27(c)(iii) requires that each municipal securities dealer adopt, maintain and enforce written supervisory procedures ensuring the "regular and frequent" review and approval by a designated principal of customer accounts introduced or carried by the dealer in which transactions in municipal securities are effected. The rule further states that such review shall be designed to ensure that such transactions are in accordance with all applicable rules and to detect and prevent irregularities and abuses.

Because circumstances vary from dealer to dealer, the Board has not specified a time period to define "regular and frequent" for purposes of rule G-27(c)(iii).  As you can see, however, the purpose of this provision is to detect and prevent irregularities and abuses that may occur in customer accounts. The Board expects dealers to establish procedures that effectively obtain this objective and that are capable of compliance. While the Board has never specifically addressed "risk-focussed" methods for determining periodic account review, the Board has stated that, in determining when an account must be reviewed, a dealer might look to the volume and frequency of trading and the nature of the securities traded. The Board noted that account review guidelines based on these factors would be appropriate if they are articulated clearly in a dealer's written supervisory procedures.[1] MSRB interpretation of August 7, 1996.

[1] Supervision Requirements, MSRB Reports, Vol. 10, No. 2 (May 1990) at 6.

Review and approval of transactions - June 20, 1994

Review and approval of transactions.  This is in response to your letter in which you ask several questions concerning Board rules.

[One paragraph deleted.][*]

With respect to your second question, someone qualified as both a municipal securities representative and as a municipal securities principal may review and approve his or her own transactions effected in the capacity as a representative.

With respect to your final question, rule G-27(c)(vii)(B), on supervision, requires the prompt review and written approval by a designated principal of each transaction in municipal securities on a daily basis.  MSRB interpretation of June 20, 1994.

[*] [The deleted paragraph concerned an unrelated question regarding a different Board rule and appears elsewhere in the MSRB Rule Book.]

Review and approval of transactions - July 26, 1989

Review and approval of transactions.  This is in response to your letter requesting an interpretation of rule G-27(c)(ii)(B)[*] which requires that a [designated] principal promptly review and approve, in writing, each transaction in municipal securities. You state that your firm proposes to use a system of exception reports to review the firm's municipal securities transactions each day. Each trade will be reviewed by computer pursuant to parameters established by the Compliance Department. These parameters include the size of the order (in terms of dollars as well as a percentage of the customer's net worth), the customer's income, investment objectives and age. These parameters can be changed and fine-tuned as the situation dictates. Currently, the exception report will contain all purchases in excess of $25,000 or 10 percent of the customer's stated net worth and all sales in excess of $10,000. A review of the exception report would be conducted by a municipal securities principal. Oversight of the review process, and any required follow-up, would be conducted.

Rule G-27, on supervision, requires a dealer to supervise the municipal securities activities of its associated persons and the conduct of its business. In particular, rule G-27(c)(ii)(B)[*] requires that a [designated] principal promptly review and approve, in writing, each transaction in municipal securities. The Board believes that the requirement for written approval of each transaction by a [designated] principal is reasonable and necessary to promote proper supervision of the activities of municipal securities representatives. Among other purposes, these procedures enable [designated] principals to keep abreast of the firm's daily trading activity, to assess the appropriateness of mark-ups and mark-downs, and to assure that provisions for the prompt delivery of securities are being met. The exception reporting you propose would not comply with rule G-27(c)(ii)(B)[*] because it would not result in review and approval of each municipal securities transaction by a [designated] principal.[1]  MSRB interpretation of July 26, 1989.

[1] While exception report review is not appropriate in complying with rule G-27(c)(vii)(B),[*] we understand that certain dealers, with the approval of their enforcement agencies, use exception reports in their periodic review of customer accounts required by rule G-27(c)(iii).

[*] [Currently codified at rule G-27(c)(vii)(B).]

NOTE: Revised to reflect subsequent amendments.

Supervisory structure - March 11, 1987

Supervisory structure.  This is in response to your letter of December 31, 1986 and our subsequent telephone conversation. You note that there has been a recent reorganization within your bank. As a consequence, you, as the head of the dealer department, now will report to the bank officer who also is in charge of the trust department and the bank's investment portfolio, rather than directly to the bank's president as had been the case. You ask whether this arrangement might constitute a conflict of interest under trust regulations or otherwise under Board rules.

Board rule G-27 places an obligation upon a dealer to supervise its municipal securities activities. It requires a dealer to accomplish this objective by designating individuals with supervisory responsibility for municipal securities activities and requires the dealer to adopt written supervisory procedures to this end. The rule does not specify how a dealer should structure its supervisory procedures, provided that the dealer adopts an organizational structure which meets the intent of the rule. You should review your dealer's written supervisory procedures to ensure that they provide for the appropriate delegation of supervisory responsibilities, given the reorganization within the bank.

You noted that the individual to whom you will be reporting is presently qualified as a municipal securities representative but not as a municipal securities principal. Board rule G-3(a)(i)[*] defines a municipal securities principal as an associated person of a securities firm or bank dealer who is directly engaged in the management, direction or supervision of municipal securities activities. If, under the new reorganization, this individual will be designated with day-to-day responsibility for the management, direction or supervision of the municipal securities activities of the dealer, then he must be qualified as a municipal securities principal.

Finally, trust regulations are governed by the appropriate banking law and not by Board rules. Consequently, any concerns that you may have with respect to possible conflicts of interest with trust regulations should be directed to the appropriate bank regulatory agency. MSRB interpretation of March 11, 1987.

[*] [Currently codified at rule G-3(b)(i).]