Advertisements of Securities Not Owned
Advertisements of securities not owned. This is in response to your letter of May 5, 1982 concerning a dealer bank’s advertising practices. Your letter states that the dealer bank has recently published newspaper advertisements which list specific municipal securities as "Current Offerings," and that your review of the dealer’s inventory positions has disclosed that "on the date the advertisement was published the dealer held no position in four of the issues advertised and a nominal position in the fifth advertised issue." Your letter reports that the dealer stated that it was his intention to obtain the advertised issues from other dealers when customer orders were received. Your first question is whether "it is misleading and thus in violation of rule G-21, to advertise securities which the dealer does not own..."
The Board has recently considered this advertising practice and concluded that it would not violate Board rules provided that: (1) the advertisement indicates that the securities are advertised "subject to availability;" (2) the dealer placing the advertisement is not aware that the bonds are no longer available in the market; and (3) the dealer would attempt to acquire the bonds advertised if contacted by a potential customer.
Your letter also expresses concern that this type of advertising might be seriously misleading to customers since the advertisement must be prepared and the printer’s proof copy approved five days in advance of the date of publication. You note that "significant changes in the market can occur over a five, or even three-day period" and that, if such market changes had occurred between submission and publication of the advertisement, the customer could be seriously misled. The Board is aware that delays occur between the time an advertisement is composed and approved for publication by a municipal securities dealer and the time it is actually published. The Board believes that inclusion in the advertisement of a statement indicating that the securities are advertised subject to change in price provides adequate notice to a potential customer that the prices and yields quoted in the advertisement may not represent market yields and prices at the time the customer contacts the dealer. MSRB interpretation of July 1, 1982.