This section contains interpretive guidance issued by the MSRB that establishes a regulatory standard and clarifies the application of the principles of an MSRB rule and may provide more information about the obligations and prohibited conduct under the rule. Learn about the differences between interpretive guidance and other resources the MSRB provides.


The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (the “MSRB”) has received requests for interpretive guidance regarding the maintenance in electronic form of records under rule G-8, on books and records, and rule G-9, on preservation of records. As the MSRB has previously noted, rules G-8 and G-9 provide significant flexibility to brokers, dealers and municipal securities dealers (“dealers”) concerning the manner in which their records are to be maintained, recognizing that various recordkeeping systems could provide a complete and accurate record of a dealer’s municipal securities activities.[1]  Part of the reason for providing this flexibility was that a variety of enforcement agencies, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, NASD Regulation, Inc. and the banking regulatory agencies, all may inspect dealer records.

Rule G-8(b) does not specify that a dealer is required to maintain its books and records in a specific manner so long as the information required to be shown by the rule is clearly and accurately reflected and provides an adequate basis for the audit of such information. Further, rule G-9(e) allows records to be retained electronically provided that the dealer has adequate facilities for ready retrieval and inspection of any such record and for production of easily readable facsimile copies.

The MSRB previously has recognized that efficiencies would be obtained by the replacement of paper files with electronic data bases and filing systems and stated that it generally allows records to be retained in that form.[2]  In noting that increased automation would likely lead to elimination of most physical records, the MSRB has stated that electronic trading tickets and automated customer account information satisfy the recordkeeping requirements of rule G-8 so long as such information is maintained in compliance with rule G-9(e). The MSRB believes that this position also applies with respect to the other recordkeeping requirements of rule G-8 so long as such information is maintained in compliance with rule G-9(e) and the appropriate enforcement agency is satisfied that such manner of record creation and retention provides an adequate basis for the audit of the information to be maintained. In particular, the MSRB believes that a dealer that meets the requirements of rule 17a-4(f) under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 with respect to maintenance and preservation of required books and records in the formats described therein would presumptively meet the requirements of rule G-9(e).

[1] See Rule G-8 Interpretation – Interpretive Notice on Recordkeeping, July 29, 1977, reprinted in MSRB Rule Book (January 1, 2001) at 42.

[2] See Rule G-8 Interpretive Letters – Use of electronic signatures, MSRB interpretation of February 27, 1989, reprinted in MSRB Rule Book (January 1, 2001) at 47.

Microfilming of records. - June 6, 1983

Microfilming of records. I am writing in response to your letter of May 20, 1983 regarding our previous conversations about the requirements of Board rules G-1 and G-9 as they would apply to the bank's retention of dealer department records on microfilm. In your letter and our previous conversations you indicated that the bank wishes to retain all of the records required to be maintained by its municipal securities dealer department on microfilm, with the hard copy of each record destroyed immediately after it has been microfilmed. You inquired as to the circumstances under which this method of record retention could be used. You also inquired about the extent to which municipal securities dealer department records could be commingled with records of other departments on the same strips of microfilm.

As you are aware, Board rule G-9(e) provides that

a record...required to be preserved by this rule...may be retained...on microfilm, electronic or magnetic tape, or by the other similar medium of record retention, provided that [the] municipal securities broker or municipal securities dealer shall have available adequate facilities for ready retrieval and inspection of any such record and for production of easily readable facsimile copies thereof and, in the case of records retained on microfilm, electronic or magnetic tape, or other similar medium of record retention, duplicates of such records shall be stored separately from each other for the periods of time required by this rule.

Therefore, the following three conditions must be met, if records are to be retained on microfilm: 

(1) facilities for ready retrieval and inspection of the records (such as a microfilm reader or other similar piece of equipment) must be available;

(2) facilities for the reproduction of a hard copy facsimile of a particular record must also be available; and

(3) duplicate copies of the microfilm must be made and stored separately for the necessary time periods.

If these conditions are met, the retention of records by means of microfilm is satisfactory for purposes of the Board's rules, and hard copy records need not be retained after the microfilming is completed.

With respect to the establishment of a separately identifiable municipal securities dealer department of a bank, Board rule G-1 provides that all of the records relating to the municipal securities activities of such department must be

separately maintained in or separately extractable from such [department's] own facilities or the facilities of the bank...[and must be] so maintained or otherwise accessible as to permit independent examination thereof and enforcement of applicable provisions of the Act, the rules and regulations thereunder and the rules of the Board.

These requirements would not preclude you from maintaining the required records on microfilm which also contained other bank records, as long as the required records were "separately extractable." The course of action you propose, maintaining all municipal securities dealer department records together as the first items on a roll of microfilm, would seem to be an appropriate way of complying with these requirements. MSRB interpretation of June 6, 1983.

Syndicate records - October 21, 1981

Syndicate records. I am writing in response to your letters of October 2 and October 19, 1981 concerning a particular recordkeeping arrangement used by an NASD-member firm in connection with its underwriting activities. In your letters you indicate that the firm conducts its underwriting activities from its main office and four regional branch office "commitment centers," with the committing branch offices authorized to commit to underwriting new issues on the firm's behalf. You inquire whether the firm is in compliance with the Board's recordkeeping and record retention rules if it maintains only part of the records on its underwritings in the main office. Correspondence from a field examiner attached to your letters indicates that the committing branch office originating a particular underwriting maintains all of the records with respect to such underwriting. The majority of these records are the original copies; the copies of confirmations, good faith checks, and syndicate settlement checks maintained at the committing branch office are duplicates of original records maintained at the firm's main office.

Rule G-9(d) requires that books and records shall be maintained and preserved in an easily accessible place for two years and shall be available for ready inspection by the proper regulatory authorities. The fact that the member firm does not maintain all records with respect to all of its underwriting activities in a single location does not contravene these provisions of Board rule G-9. Rule G-9 would permit the arrangement described in your letters, whereby a firm maintains copies of all of the records pertaining to a particular underwriting in the office responsible for that underwriting.

Thank you for your prompt assistance in providing the additional information we needed in order to respond to your inquiry. MSRB interpretation of October 21, 1981.