MSRB NOTICE 2001-23 (JUNE 13, 2001)

NOTICE CONCERNING FLAT TRANSACTION FEES

The MSRB has received inquiries regarding an interpretation of rule G-15(a) from dealers who offer automated execution of transactions and charge a small, flat “transaction fee” per transaction.  These dealers asked whether a $15.00 flat fee qualifies as a miscellaneous transaction charge. 

Rule G-15(a) sets out confirmation requirements for transactions with customers and specifies that dealers include a yield on the confirmation.  In computing yield, G-15(a)(i)(A)(5)(c)(iii) states that such “computations shall take into account … commissions charged to the customer … but shall not take into account incidental transaction fees or miscellaneous charges, provided, however, that … such fees or charges [are] indicated on the confirmation.”  

In a May 14, 1990 Notice Concerning Confirmation Disclosure of Miscellaneous Transaction Charges[1], the MSRB reminded dealers that clear disclosure of the nature and amount of miscellaneous fees is required.  The notice stated that these fees should not be incorporated into the stated yield because they are small and do not significantly affect a customer’s return on investment, as shown in the yield.  The notice also stated that miscellaneous fees differ from commissions because they are flat amounts, and, unlike the common practice used in computing commissions for agency transactions, are not related to the par value of the transaction. 

The dealers who contacted the MSRB will charge a flat transaction fee of $15.00 for trades executed through an automated trading system.  Since this fee is relatively small and unrelated to the par value of the transaction, the MSRB believes that the transaction fee should be considered a miscellaneous transaction fee.  Therefore the fee would not have to be incorporated into the stated yield, but would need to be separately disclosed on the confirmation.

June 13, 2001


[1] See Rule G-15 Interpretation - Notice Concerning Confirmation Disclosure of Miscellaneous Transaction Charges, May 14, 1990, MSRB Rule Book (January 1, 2001) at 108.