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Jul 5 2007 - May 8 2014May 9 2014 onwards

IM-2440-2. Additional Mark-Up Policy For Transactions in Debt Securities, Except Municipal Securities1

This rule is no longer applicable. NASD IM-2440-2 has been superseded by FINRA Rule 2121. Please consult the appropriate FINRA Rule.

(a) Scope
(1) IM-2440-1 applies to debt securities transactions, and this IM-2440-2 supplements the guidance provided in IM-2440-1.
(b) Prevailing Market Price
(1) A dealer that is acting in a principal capacity in a transaction with a customer and is charging a mark-up or mark-down must mark-up or mark-down the transaction from the prevailing market price. Presumptively for purposes of this IM-2440-2, the prevailing market price for a debt security is established by referring to the dealer's contemporaneous cost as incurred, or contemporaneous proceeds as obtained, consistent with NASD pricing rules. (See, e.g., Rule 2320).
(2) When the dealer is selling the security to a customer, countervailing evidence of the prevailing market price may be considered only where the dealer made no contemporaneous purchases in the security or can show that in the particular circumstances the dealer's contemporaneous cost is not indicative of the prevailing market price. When the dealer is buying the security from a customer, countervailing evidence of the prevailing market price may be considered only where the dealer made no contemporaneous sales in the security or can show that in the particular circumstances the dealer's contemporaneous proceeds are not indicative of the prevailing market price.
(3) A dealer's cost is considered contemporaneous if the transaction occurs close enough in time to the subject transaction that it would reasonably be expected to reflect the current market price for the security. (Where a mark-down is being calculated, a dealer's proceeds would be considered contemporaneous if the transaction from which the proceeds result occurs close enough in time to the subject transaction that such proceeds would reasonably be expected to reflect the current market price for the security.)
(4) A dealer that effects a transaction in debt securities with a customer and identifies the prevailing market price using a measure other than the dealer's own contemporaneous cost (or, in a mark-down, the dealer's own proceeds) must be prepared to provide evidence that is sufficient to overcome the presumption that the dealer's contemporaneous cost (or, the dealer's proceeds) provides the best measure of the prevailing market price. A dealer may be able to show that its contemporaneous cost is (or proceeds are) not indicative of prevailing market price, and thus overcome the presumption, in instances where (i) interest rates changed after the dealer's contemporaneous transaction to a degree that such change would reasonably cause a change in debt securities pricing; (ii) the credit quality of the debt security changed significantly after the dealer's contemporaneous transaction; or (iii) news was issued or otherwise distributed and known to the marketplace that had an effect on the perceived value of the debt security after the dealer's contemporaneous transaction.
(5) In instances where the dealer has established that the dealer's cost is (or, in a mark-down, proceeds are) no longer contemporaneous, or where the dealer has presented evidence that is sufficient to overcome the presumption that the dealer's contemporaneous cost (or proceeds) provides the best measure of the prevailing market price, such as those instances described in (b)(4)(i), (ii) and (iii), a member must consider, in the order listed, the following types of pricing information to determine prevailing market price:
(A) Prices of any contemporaneous inter-dealer transactions in the security in question;
(B) In the absence of transactions described in (A), prices of contemporaneous dealer purchases (sales) in the security in question from (to) institutional accounts with which any dealer regularly effects transactions in the same security; or
(C) In the absence of transactions described in (A) and (B), for actively traded securities, contemporaneous bid (offer) quotations for the security in question made through an inter-dealer mechanism, through which transactions generally occur at the displayed quotations.
(A member may consider a succeeding category of pricing information only when the prior category does not generate relevant pricing information (e.g., a member may consider pricing information under (B) only after the member has determined, after applying (A), that there are no contemporaneous inter-dealer transactions in the same security).) In reviewing the pricing information available within each category, the relative weight, for purposes of identifying prevailing market price, of such information (i.e., either a particular transaction price, or, in (C) above, a particular quotation) depends on the facts and circumstances of the comparison transaction or quotation (i.e., such as whether the dealer in the comparison transaction was on the same side of the market as the dealer is in the subject transaction and timeliness of the information).
(6) In the event that, in particular circumstances, the above factors are not available, other factors that may be taken into consideration for the purpose of establishing the price from which a customer mark-up (mark-down) may be calculated, include but are not limited to:
•   Prices of contemporaneous inter-dealer transactions in a “similar” security, as defined below, or prices of contemporaneous dealer purchase (sale) transactions in a “similar” security with institutional accounts with which any dealer regularly effects transactions in the “similar” security with respect to customer mark-ups (mark-downs);
•   Yields calculated from prices of contemporaneous inter-dealer transactions in "similar" securities;
•   Yields calculated from prices of contemporaneous dealer purchase (sale) transactions with institutional accounts with which any dealer regularly effects transactions in "similar" securities with respect to customer mark-ups (mark-downs); and
•   Yields calculated from validated contemporaneous inter-dealer bid (offer) quotations in "similar" securities for customer mark-ups (mark-downs).
The relative weight, for purposes of identifying prevailing market price, of the pricing information obtained from the factors set forth above depends on the facts and circumstances surrounding the comparison transaction (i.e., whether the dealer in the comparison transaction was on the same side of the market as the dealer is in the subject transaction, timeliness of the information, and, with respect to the final factor listed above, the relative spread of the quotations in the similar security to the quotations in the subject security).
(7) Finally, if information concerning the prevailing market price of the subject security cannot be obtained by applying any of the above factors, NASD or its members may consider as a factor in assessing the prevailing market price of a debt security the prices or yields derived from economic models (e.g., discounted cash flow models) that take into account measures such as credit quality, interest rates, industry sector, time to maturity, call provisions and any other embedded options, coupon rate, and face value; and consider all applicable pricing terms and conventions (e.g., coupon frequency and accrual methods). Such models currently may be in use by bond dealers or may be specifically developed by regulators for surveillance purposes.
(8) Because the ultimate evidentiary issue is the prevailing market price, isolated transactions or isolated quotations generally will have little or no weight or relevance in establishing prevailing market price. For example, in considering yields of “similar” securities, except in extraordinary circumstances, members may not rely exclusively on isolated transactions or a limited number of transactions that are not fairly representative of the yields of transactions in “similar” securities taken as a whole.
(9) "Customer," for purposes of Rule 2440, IM-2440-1 and this IM-2440-2, shall not include a qualified institutional buyer ("QIB") as defined in Rule 144A under the Securities Act of 1933 that is purchasing or selling a non-investment grade debt security when the dealer has determined, after considering the factors set forth in IM-2310-3, that the QIB has the capacity to evaluate independently the investment risk and in fact is exercising independent judgment in deciding to enter into the transaction. For purposes of Rule 2440, IM-2440-1 and this IM-2440-2, "non-investment grade debt security" means a debt security that: (i) if rated by only one nationally recognized statistical rating organization ("NRSRO"), is rated lower than one of the four highest generic rating categories; (ii) if rated by more than one NRSRO, is rated lower than one of the four highest generic rating categories by any of the NRSROs; or (iii) if unrated, either was analyzed as a non-investment grade debt security by the dealer and the dealer retains credit evaluation documentation and demonstrates to NASD (using credit evaluation or other demonstrable criteria) that the credit quality of the security is, in fact, equivalent to a non-investment grade debt security, or was initially offered and sold and continues to be offered and sold pursuant to an exemption from registration under the Securities Act of 1933.
(c) "Similar" Securities
(1) A "similar" security should be sufficiently similar to the subject security that it would serve as a reasonable alternative investment to the investor. At a minimum, the security or securities should be sufficiently similar that a market yield for the subject security can be fairly estimated from the yields of the "similar" security or securities. Where a security has several components, appropriate consideration may also be given to the prices or yields of the various components of the security.
(2) The degree to which a security is "similar," as that term is used in this IM-2440-2, to the subject security may be determined by factors that include but are not limited to the following:
(A) Credit quality considerations, such as whether the security is issued by the same or similar entity, bears the same or similar credit rating, or is supported by a similarly strong guarantee or collateral as the subject security (to the extent securities of other issuers are designated as “similar” securities, significant recent information of either issuer that is not yet incorporated in credit ratings should be considered (e.g., changes to ratings outlooks));
(B) The extent to which the spread (i.e., the spread over U.S. Treasury securities of a similar duration) at which the “similar” security trades is comparable to the spread at which the subject security trades;
(C) General structural characteristics and provisions of the issue, such as coupon, maturity, duration, complexity or uniqueness of the structure, callability, the likelihood that the security will be called, tendered or exchanged, and other embedded options, as compared with the characteristics of the subject security; and
(D) Technical factors such as the size of the issue, the float and recent turnover of the issue, and legal restrictions on transferability as compared with the subject security.
(3) When a debt security's value and pricing is based substantially on, and is highly dependent on, the particular circumstances of the issuer, including creditworthiness and the ability and willingness of the issuer to meet the specific obligations of the security, in most cases other securities will not be sufficiently similar, and therefore, other securities may not be used to establish the prevailing market price.

1 The Interpretation does not apply to transactions in municipal securities. Single terms in parentheses within sentences, such as the terms “(sale)” and “(to)” in the phrase, “contemporaneous dealer purchase (sale) transactions with institutional accounts,” refer to scenarios where a member is charging a customer a mark-down.

Adopted by SR-NASD-2003-141 eff. July 5, 2007.

Selected Notice: 07-28.

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