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Use of Nonqualified Individuals to Solicit New Account Business

The Board has received inquiries whether individuals who solicit new account business on behalf of municipal securities dealers must be qualified under the Board’s rules. In particular, it has come to the Board’s attention that nonqualified individuals are making "cold calls" to individuals and, by reading from prepared scripts, introduce the services offered by a municipal securities dealer, prequalify potential customers, or suggest the purchase of specific securities currently being offered by a municipal securities dealer.

Board rule G-3(a) defines municipal securities representative activities to include any activity which involves communication with public investors regarding the sale of municipal securities but exempts activities that are solely clerical or ministerial. In the past, the Board has permitted nonqualified individuals, under the clerical or ministerial exemption, to contact existing customers in very limited circumstances. In an interpretive notice on rule G-3, the Board permitted certain ministerial and clerical functions to be performed by nonqualified individuals when municipal securities representatives and principals who normally handle the customers' accounts are unavailable, subject to strict supervisory requirements. These functions are: the recording and transmission in customary channels of orders, the reading of approved quotations, and the giving of reports of transactions. In this notice, the Board added that solicitation of orders by clerical personnel is not permitted. The Board is of the view that individuals who solicit new account business are not engaging in clerical or ministerial activities but rather are communicating with public investors regarding the sale of municipal securities and thus are engaging in municipal securities representative activities which require such individuals to be qualified as representatives under the Board’s rules.

Finally, under rule G-3(i)[*], a person serving an apprenticeship period prior to qualification as a municipal securities representative may not communicate with public investors regarding the sale of municipal securities. The Board sees no reason to allow nonqualified individuals to contact public investors, except for the limited functions noted above, when persons training to become qualified municipal securities representatives may not do so.

[*] [Currently codified at rule G-3(a)(iii)]