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Municipal Securities Principal: Bank Operations

Municipal securities principal: bank operations. I am writing in response to your letter of April 26, 1983 concerning the results of a recent examination of your bank's municipal securities dealer department by examiners from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. In your letter you indicate that the examiners expressed the view that the bank's present organizational structure did not comport with the definition of a "separately identifiable department or division of a bank" set forth in Board rule G-1. You note that the examiners' basis for this conclusion was their belief that the municipal securities processing functions of the bank were not under the supervision of a qualified municipal securities principal. You state that you disagree with the examiners' conclusions, and you request that the Board indicate whether, in its view, the organizational structure through which the bank presently carries on its municipal securities activities is satisfactory for purposes of compliance with Board rules.

As a general matter we would hesitate to disagree with the opinion expressed by on-site examiners in a matter of this sort. The examiners are, of course, in direct contact with the matter in question, and have access to the full details of the situation, rather than an abstraction or summary of the particulars. Accordingly, we are unable to express a view that the examiners' conclusions are incorrect in the circumstances you describe.

With respect to the specific issues which you raise, it is not impossible for a bank to establish a "separately identifiable department or division" for purposes of rule G-1 which includes areas in the bank which, for other purposes (e.g., for general bank organizational and reporting purposes), would be considered separate. To the extent that such areas are engaged in municipal securities dealer activities (as enumerated in rule G-1), however, they must be under the supervision of the person or persons designated by the bank's board of directors, in accordance with rule G-1(a)(1), as responsible for the conduct of such activities.

As you are aware, the person or persons who are responsible for the management and supervision of the day-to-day activities of the municipal securities processing area need not be qualified as municipal securities principals if they do not have policy-making authority with respect to such activities. However, such activities must be subject to the supervision of a municipal securities principal. Therefore, if those directly involved in the day-to-day supervision of the municipal securities processing activities do not have policy-making authority over such activities and, as a consequence, are not qualified as municipal securities principals, a person who is qualified as a municipal securities principal (whether that person designated by the bank's board of directors pursuant to rule G-1(a)(1) or some other person who is subordinate to that person) must be designated as having responsibility for the supervision of the processing activities. The bank's supervisory procedures should appropriately reflect such designation and set forth the manner in which the designated person will carry out these responsibilities. MSRB interpretation of May 13, 1983.