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IM-2320. Interpretive Guidance with Respect to Best Execution Requirements

This rule is no longer applicable. NASD Rule 2320 has been superseded by FINRA Rule 5310. Please consult the appropriate FINRA Rule.

Rule 2320(a) requires, among other things, that a member or person associated with a member comply with Rule 2320(a) when customer orders are routed to it from another broker/dealer for execution. This Interpretive Material addresses certain interpretive questions concerning the applicability of the best execution rule.
The term “market” has been in the text of Rule 2320 since its adoption, but it is an undefined term. For the purposes of Rule 2320, the term “market” or “markets” is to be construed broadly, and it encompasses a variety of different venues, including, but not limited to, market centers that are trading a particular security. This expansive interpretation is meant to both inform broker/dealers as to the breadth of the scope of venues that must be considered in the furtherance of their best execution obligations and to promote fair competition among broker/dealers, exchange markets, and markets other than exchange markets, as well as any other venue that may emerge, by not mandating that certain trading venues have less relevance than others in the course of determining a firm's best execution obligations.
Rule 2320(a)(1)(D) provides that one of the factors used to determine if a member has used reasonable diligence in exercising best execution is the “location and accessibility to the customer's broker/dealer of primary markets and quotations sources.” In the context of the debt market, this means that, when quotations are available, NASD will consider the ''accessibility of such quotations'' when examining whether a member has used reasonable diligence. For purposes of debt securities, the term “quotation” refers to either dollar (or other currency) pricing or yield pricing. NASD notes, however, that accessibility is only one of the non-exhaustive reasonable diligence factors set out in Rule 2320. In the absence of accessibility, members are not relieved from taking reasonable steps and employing their market expertise in achieving the best execution of customer orders.
Lastly, NASD is clarifying that a member's duty to provide best execution in any transaction “for or with a customer of another broker/dealer” does not apply in instances when another broker/dealer is simply executing a customer order against the member's quote. Stated in another manner, the duty to provide best execution to customer orders received from other broker/dealers arises only when an order is routed from the broker/dealer to the member for the purpose of order handling and execution. This clarification is intended to draw a distinction between those situations in which the member is acting solely as the buyer or seller in connection with orders presented by a broker/dealer against the member's quote, as opposed to those circumstances in which the member is accepting order flow from another broker/dealer for the purpose of facilitating the handling and execution of such orders.

Amended by SR-FINRA-2007-024 eff. Sep. 8, 2009.
Adopted by SR-NASD-2004-026 eff. Nov. 8, 2006.

Selected Notice: 06-58.

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