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IM-2310-2. Fair Dealing with Customers

This rule is no longer applicable. NASD IM-2310-2 has been superseded by FINRA Rule 2111. Please consult the appropriate FINRA Rule.

(a)(1) Implicit in all member and registered representative relationships with customers and others is the fundamental responsibility for fair dealing. Sales efforts must therefore be undertaken only on a basis that can be judged as being within the ethical standards of the Association's Rules, with particular emphasis on the requirement to deal fairly with the public.
(2) This does not mean that legitimate sales efforts in the securities business are to be discouraged by requirements which do not take into account the variety of circumstances which can enter into the member-customer relationship. It does mean, however, that sales efforts must be judged on the basis of whether they can be reasonably said to represent fair treatment for the persons to whom the sales efforts are directed, rather than on the argument that they result in profits to customers.
(b) District Business Conduct Committees and the Board of Governors have interpreted the Rules, taken disciplinary action and imposed penalties in many situations where members' sales efforts have exceeded the reasonable grounds of fair dealing. Some practices that have resulted in disciplinary action and that clearly violate this responsibility for fair dealing are set forth below, as a guide to members:
(1) Recommending Speculative Low-Priced Securities
Recommending speculative low-priced securities to customers without knowledge of or attempt to obtain information concerning the customers' other securities holdings, their financial situation and other necessary data. The principle here is that this practice, by its very nature, involves a high probability that the recommendation will not be suitable for at least some of the persons solicited. This has particular application to high pressure telephone sales campaigns.
(2) Excessive Trading Activity
Excessive activity in a customer's account, often referred to as "churning" or "overtrading." There are no specific standards to measure excessiveness of activity in customer accounts because this must be related to the objectives and financial situation of the customer involved.
(3) Trading in Mutual Fund Shares
Trading in mutual fund shares, particularly on a short-term basis. It is clear that normally these securities are not proper trading vehicles and such activity on its face may raise the question of Rule violation.
(4) Fraudulent Activity
(A) Numerous instances of fraudulent conduct have been acted upon by the Association and have resulted in penalties against members. Among some of these activities are:
(i) Fictitious Accounts
Establishment of fictitious accounts in order to execute transactions which otherwise would be prohibited, such as the purchase of hot issues, or to disguise transactions which are against firm policy.
(ii) Discretionary Accounts
Transactions in discretionary accounts in excess of or without actual authority from customers.
(iii) Unauthorized Transactions
Causing the execution of transactions which are unauthorized by customers or the sending of confirmations in order to cause customers to accept transactions not actually agreed upon.
(iv) Misuse of Customers' Funds or Securities
Unauthorized use or borrowing of customers' funds or securities.
(B) In addition, other fraudulent activities, such as forgery, non-disclosure or misstatement of material facts, manipulations and various deceptions, have been found in violation of Association Rules. These same activities are also subject to the civil and criminal laws and sanctions of federal and state governments.
(5) Recommending Purchases Beyond Customer Capability
Recommending the purchase of securities or the continuing purchase of securities in amounts which are inconsistent with the reasonable expectation that the customer has the financial ability to meet such a commitment.
(c) While most members are fully aware of the fairness required in dealing with customers, it is anticipated that the practices enumerated in paragraph (b), which are not all inclusive, will be of future assistance in the training and education of new personnel.
(d) The Commission has also recognized that brokers and dealers have an obligation of fair dealing in actions under the general anti-fraud provisions of the federal securities laws. The Commission bases this obligation on the principle that when a securities dealer opens his business he is, in effect, representing that he will deal fairly with the public. Certain of the Commission's cases on fair dealing involve practices not covered in the foregoing illustrations. Usually, any breach of the obligation of fair dealing as determined by the Commission under the anti-fraud provisions of the securities laws could be considered a violation of the Association's Rules.
(e) Fair Dealing with Customers with Regard to Derivative Products or New Financial Products
The Board emphasizes members' obligations for fair dealing with customers when making recommendations or accepting orders for new financial products. As new products are introduced from time to time, it is important that members make every effort to familiarize themselves with each customer's financial situation, trading experience, and ability to meet the risks involved with such products and to make every effort to make customers aware of the pertinent information regarding the products. Members must follow specific guidelines, set forth below, for qualifying the accounts to trade the products and for supervising the accounts thereafter.
(1) Security Futures
Members must comply with the Rules, regulations and procedures applicable to security futures contained in Rule 2865.
(2) Index Warrants
Members are obliged to comply with the Rules, regulations and procedures applicable to index warrants and foreign currency warrants contained in the Rule 2840 Series.
(3) Hybrid Securities and Selected Equity-Linked Debt Securities ("SEEDS") Listed on Nasdaq as Global Market Securities
With respect to Hybrid Securities and Selected Equity-Linked Debt Securities ("SEEDS") that have been listed as Nasdaq Global Market Securities, members are obligated to comply with any Rules, regulations, or procedures applicable to such securities.
Amended by SR-NASD-2006-087 eff. Aug. 1, 2006.
Amended by SR-NASD-2005-087 eff. Aug. 1, 2006.
Amended by SR-NASD-2002-40 eff. Oct. 15, 2002.
Amended by SR-NASD-95-37 eff. Sept. 28, 1995.
Amended by SR-NASD-94-49 eff. Sept. 30, 1994.
Amended by SR-NASD-91-48 eff. June 11, 1992.

Selected Notices: 90-52, 94-62, 95-21, 96-32, 96-60.

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