Back to top

Determining Whether Transactions Are Inter-Dealer or Customer Transactions: Rules G-12 and G-15

In December 1984, the Board published a notice providing guidance to dealers in determining whether certain transactions are inter-dealer or customer transactions for purposes of Board rules. Since the publication of this notice, the Board has continued to receive reports that inter-dealer transactions sometimes are erroneously submitted to automated confirmation/affirmation systems for customer transactions. This practice reduces the efficiencies of automated clearance since these transactions fail to compare in the initial comparison cycle. The Board is re-publishing the notice to remind dealers of the need to submit inter-dealer and customer transactions to the correct automated clearance systems.

The Board recently has been advised that some members of the municipal securities industry are experiencing difficulties in determining the proper classification of a contra-party as a dealer or customer for purposes of automated comparison and confirmation. In particular, questions have arisen about the status of banks purchasing for their trust departments and dealers buying securities to be deposited in accumulation accounts for unit investment trusts. Because a misclassification of a contra-party can cause significant difficulty to persons seeking to comply with the automated clearance requirements of rules G-12, and G-15, the Board believes that guidance concerning the appropriate classification of contra-parties in certain transactions would be helpful to the municipal securities industry.


Rule G-12(f)(i) requires dealers to submit an inter-dealer transaction for automated comparison if the transaction is eligible for automated comparison .... Rule G-15(d)(ii) requires dealers to use an automated confirmation/affirmation service for delivery versus payment or receipt versus payment (DVP/RVP) customer transactions if the [transactions are eligible for automated confirmation and acknowledgement].

The systems available for the automated comparison of inter-dealer transactions and automated confirmation/affirmation of customer transactions are separate and distinct. As a result, misclassification of a contra-party may frustrate efficient use of the systems. For example, a selling dealer in an inter-dealer transaction may misclassify the contra-party as a customer, and submit the trade for confirmation/affirmation through the automated system for customer transactions while the purchaser (correctly considering itself to be a dealer) seeks to compare the transaction through the inter-dealer comparison system. Since, the automated systems for inter-dealer and customer transactions are entirely separate, the transaction will not be successfully compared or acknowledged through either automated system.

Transactions Effected by Banks

The Board has received certain questions about the proper classification of contra-parties in the context of transactions effected by banks. A bank may be the purchaser or seller of municipal securities either as a dealer or as a customer. For example, a dealer may sell municipal securities to a bank's trust department for various trust accounts. Such purchases by a bank in a fiduciary capacity would not constitute "municipal securities dealer activities" under the Board's rules[1] and are properly classified and confirmed as customer transactions. A second type of transaction by a bank is the purchase or sale of securities for the dealer trading account of a dealer bank. The bank in this instance clearly is acting in its capacity as a municipal securities dealer and the transaction should be compared as an inter-dealer transaction.

A dealer effecting a transaction with a dealer bank may not know whether the bank is acting in its capacity as a dealer or as a customer. The Board is of the view that, in such a case, the dealer should ascertain the appropriate classification of the bank at the time of trade to ensure that the transaction can be compared or confirmed appropriately. The Board anticipates that dealer banks will assist in this process by informing contra-parties whether the bank is acting as a dealer or customer in transactions in which the bank's role may be unclear to the contra-party.

Transactions by Dealer Purchasing Municipal Securities for UIT Accumulation Accounts

The Board has also received several inquiries concerning the appropriate classification of a dealer who purchases municipal securities to be deposited into an accumulation account for ultimate transfer to a unit investment trust (UIT). The dealer buying securities for a UIT accumulation account may purchase and hold the securities over a period of several days before depositing them with the trustee of the UIT in exchange for all of the units of the trust; during this time the dealer is exposed to potential market risk on these securities positions. The subsequent deposit of the securities with the trustee of the UIT in exchange for the units of the trust may be viewed as a separate, customer transaction between the dealer buying the accumulation account and the trust. The original purchase of the securities by the dealer for the account then must be considered an inter-dealer transaction since the dealer is purchasing for its own account ultimately to execute a customer transaction. The Board notes that the SEC has taken this approach in applying its net capital and customer protection rules to such transactions.

The Board is of the view that, for purposes of its automated comparison requirements, transactions involving dealers purchasing for UIT accumulation accounts should be considered inter-dealer transactions. The Board also notes the distinction between this situation, in which a dealer purchases for ultimate transfer to a trust or fund, and situations where purchases or sales of municipal securities are made directly by the fund, as is the case with purchases or sales by some open-end mutual funds. These latter transactions should be considered as customer transactions and confirmed accordingly.

Other Inter-Dealer Transactions

In addition to questions on the status of a dealer bank and dealers purchasing for accumulation accounts, the Board has received information that a few large firms are sometimes subtracting trades with regional securities dealers into the customer confirmation system. The Board is aware that these firms may classify transactions with regional dealers or bank dealers as "customer" transactions for purposes of internal accounting and compensation systems. The Board reminds industry members that transactions with other municipal securities dealers will always be inter-dealer transactions and should be compared in the inter-dealer automated comparison system without regard to how the transactions are classified internally within a dealer's accounting systems. The Board believes it is incumbent upon those firms who misclassify transactions in this fashion to promptly make the necessary alterations to their internal systems to ensure that this practice of misclassifying transactions is corrected.

[1] Section 3(a)(30) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 defines a bank to be a municipal securities dealers if it "is engaged in the business of buying and selling municipal securities for its own account other than in a fiduciary capacity." For purposes of the Board's rule G-1, defining a separately identifiable department or division of a bank dealer, the purchase and sale of municipal securities by a trust department would not be considered to be "municipal securities dealer activities."

NOTE: Revised to reflect subsequent amendments.