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Automated Clearance: Use of Comparison Systems

Automated clearance: use of comparison systems. I am writing to confirm the substance of our conversations with you at our meeting on October 3 to discuss certain of the issues that have arisen since the August 1 effective date of the requirements of rule G-12(f) for the use of automated comparison services on certain inter-dealer transactions in municipal securities. In our meeting you explained certain problems that have become apparent since the implementation of these requirements, and you inquired as to our views concerning the application of Board rules to these difficulties or appropriate procedures to remedy them. The essential points of our responses are summarized below.

In particular, you indicated that the use of the "as of" (or "demand as of") feature of the automated comparison system has, in some cases, caused inappropriate rejections of deliveries of securities. This occurs, you explained, because the comparison system is currently programmed to display an alternative settlement date of two business days following the date of successful comparison of the transaction, if such comparison is accomplished through use of the "as of" or "demand as of" feature.[1] As a result, in certain cases involving transactions compared on an "as of" basis dealers have attempted to make delivery on the transaction on the contractual settlement date, and have had those deliveries rejected, since the receiving party recognizes only the later "alternative settlement date" assigned to the transaction by the comparison system. You inquire whether such rejections of deliveries are in accordance with Board rules.

I note that this "alternative settlement date" has significance for clearance purposes only, and does not result in a recomputation of the dollar price or accrued interest on the transaction.

As we advised in our conversation, the receiving dealer clearly cannot reject a good delivery of securities made on or after the contractual settlement date on the basis that the delivery is made prior to the "alternative settlement date" displayed by the comparison system. Both dealers have a contract involving the purchase of securities as of a specified settlement date, and a delivery tendered on or after that date in "good delivery" form must be accepted. A dealer rejecting such a delivery on the basis that it has been made prior to the "alternative settlement date" would be subject to the procedures for a "close-out by seller" due to the improper rejection of a delivery, as set forth in Board rule G-12(h)(ii).[2]

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You also advised that some dealers who are using the automated comparison system are using their own delivery tickets, rather than the delivery tickets generated by the system, at the time they make delivery on the transaction. As a result, you indicated, there have been rejections of these deliveries, since the receiving dealer is unable to correlate these deliveries with its records of transactions compared through the system. You suggested that the inclusion of the "control numbers" generated by the comparison system on these self-generated delivery tickets would help to eliminate these unnecessary rejections and facilitate the correlation of receipts and deliveries with records of transactions compared through the system. As I indicated in our conversation, the Board concurs with your suggestion. The Board strongly encourages dealers who choose to use their own delivery tickets for transactions compared through the automated system to display on those tickets the control number or other number identifying the transaction in the system.[3] This would ensure that the receiving dealer can verify that it knows the transaction being delivered and that it was successfully compared through the system.

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You also noted that many municipal securities dealers have continued the practice of sending physical confirmations of transactions, in addition to submitting such transactions for comparison through the automated system. You advised that this is causing significant problems for certain dealers, since they are required to maintain a duplicate system in order to provide for the review of these physical confirmations.

The Board is aware that certain municipal securities dealers chose to maintain parallel confirmation systems following implementation of the automated comparison requirements on August 1 in order to ensure that they maintained adequate control over their activities, and recognizes that for many such dealers this was an appropriate and prudent course of action.[4]  However, the Board wishes to emphasize that its rules do not require the sending of a physical confirmation on any transaction which has been submitted for comparison through the system. On the contrary, the continued use of unnecessary physical comparisons increases the risk of the duplication of trades and deliveries and substantially decreases the efficiencies and cost savings available from the use of the automated comparison system. The Board believes that all system participants must understand that the use of the automated comparison system is of primary importance. Accordingly, the Board strongly suggests that the mailing of unnecessary physical confirmations should be discontinued once a dealer is satisfied that it has adequate control over its comparison activities through the system.

You and others have suggested that it would be helpful if dealers which are unable to discontinue the mailing of physical confirmations would identify those transactions which have also been submitted for comparison through the system through some legend or stamp placed on the physical confirmation sent on the transaction. The Board concurs with your suggestion, and recommends that, during the short remaining interim when dealers are continuing to use duplicate physical confirmations, they include on physical confirmations of transactions submitted to the automated comparison system a stamp or legend in a prominent location which clearly indicates that the transaction has been submitted for automated comparison. MSRB interpretation of January 2, 1985.


[1] For example, a transaction of trade date October 19 for settlement October 25 fails to compare through the normal comparison cycle. Due to this failure to compare, the transaction is dropped from the comparison system on October 23; however, due to a resolution of the dispute, both parties resubmit the trade on an “as of” basis on October 24, and it is successfully compared on that date. Due to the delay in the comparison of the transaction, the system will display an “alternative settlement date” on this transaction of October 26 on the system-generated delivery tickets.

[2] I understand that [Registered Clearing Agency] is taking steps to have the contractual settlement date reflected on delivery tickets produced with respect to transactions compared on an “as of” or “demand as of” basis. We believe that this will be most helpful in clarifying and receiving dealer’s contractual obligation to accept a proper delivery made on or after the date.

[3] I understand that proper utilization of the comparison system control number is a reliable method for identifying and referring to transactions.

[4] The Board is also aware that on certain transactions dealers will need to send physical confirmations to document the terms of a specific agreement concluded as the time of trade (e.g., a specification of a rating). In such circumstances the Board anticipates that physical confirmations will continue to be sent.