FINRA Manual: Contents
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5310. Best Execution and Interpositioning
• • • Supplementary Material: --------------
.01 Execution of Marketable Customer Orders. A member must make every effort to execute a marketable customer order that it receives fully and promptly.
.02 Definition of "Market." For the purposes of Rule 5310 and the accompanying Supplementary Material, 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.
.03 Best Execution and Debt Securities. Rule 5310(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 "accessibility of the quotation." In the context of the debt market, this means that, when quotations are available, FINRA 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. Accessibility is only one of the non-exhaustive reasonable diligence factors set out in Rule 5310(a)(1). 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.
.04 Best Execution and Executing Brokers. 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. 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.
.05 Use of a Broker's Broker. Paragraph (b) of the Rule provides that when a member cannot execute directly with a market but must employ a broker's broker or some other means in order to ensure an execution advantageous to the customer, the burden of showing the acceptable circumstances for doing so is on the member. Examples of acceptable circumstances are where a customer's order is “crossed” with another firm that has a corresponding order on the other side, or where the identity of the firm, if known, would likely cause undue price movements adversely affecting the cost or proceeds to the customer.
.06 Orders Involving Securities with Limited Quotations or Pricing Information. Although the best execution requirements in Rule 5310 apply to orders in all securities, markets for securities differ dramatically. One of the areas in which a member must be especially diligent in ensuring that it has met its best execution obligations is with respect to customer orders involving securities for which there is limited pricing information or quotations available. Each member must have written policies and procedures in place that address how the member will determine the best inter-dealer market for such a security in the absence of pricing information or multiple quotations and must document its compliance with those policies and procedures. For example, a member should analyze pricing information based on other data, such as previous trades in the security, to determine whether the resultant price to the customer is as favorable as possible under prevailing market conditions. In these instances, a member should generally seek out other sources of pricing information or potential liquidity, which may include obtaining quotations from other sources (e.g., other firms that the member previously has traded with in the security).
07. Orders Involving Foreign Securities. The obligation in Rule 5310(a) that a member use “reasonable diligence” in exercising best execution applies to customer orders in both domestic and foreign securities. However, Rule 5310(a) also recognizes that the markets for different securities can vary dramatically, and the standard of “reasonable diligence” must be assessed by examining specific factors, including “the character of the market for the security” and the “accessibility of the quotation.” Accordingly, the determination as to whether a member has satisfied its best execution obligations necessarily involves a “facts and circumstances” analysis.
The handling of customer orders in foreign securities that do not trade in the U.S. can differ substantially from the handling of orders in U.S.-traded securities. In particular, the character of the particular foreign market and the accessibility of quotations in certain foreign markets may vary significantly. Some foreign jurisdictions, for example, may not have similar best execution requirements as those imposed by Rule 5310, or may not have comparable access and pre-trade or post-trade transparency standards.
Even though a security does not trade in the U.S., members still have an obligation to seek best execution for customer orders involving any foreign security. Consequently, a member that handles customer orders involving foreign securities that do not trade in the U.S. must have specific written policies and procedures in place regarding its handling of customer orders for these securities that are reasonably designed to obtain the most favorable terms available for the customer, taking into account differences that may exist between U.S. markets and foreign markets. While best execution obligations take into account differing market structures, best execution obligations also must evolve as changes occur in the market that may give rise to improved executions, including opportunities to trade at more advantageous prices. As such, members also must regularly review these policies and procedures to assess the quality of executions received and update or revise the policies and procedures as necessary.
.08 Customer Instructions Regarding Order Handling. If a member receives an unsolicited instruction from a customer to route that customer's order to a particular market for execution, the member is not required to make a best execution determination beyond the customer's specific instruction. Members are, however, still required to process that customer's order promptly and in accordance with the terms of the order. Where a customer has directed that an order be routed to another specific broker-dealer that is also a FINRA member, the receiving broker-dealer to which the order was directed would be required to meet the requirements of Rule 5310 with respect to its handling of the order.
.09 Regular and Rigorous Review of Execution Quality.
Amended by SR-FINRA-2011-052 eff. May 31, 2012.
Amended by SR-FINRA-2009-054 eff. May 9, 2011.
Amended by SR-FINRA-2010-003 eff. June 28, 2010.
Amended by SR-FINRA-2009-078 eff. Dec. 14, 2009.
Amended by SR-FINRA-2007-024 eff. Sep. 8, 2009.
Amended by SR-NASD-2004-130 eff. Sep. 28, 2007.
Amended by SR-NASD-2004-026 eff. Nov. 8, 2006.
Amended by SR-NASD-2005-087 eff. Aug. 1, 2006.
Amended by SR-NASD-2000-20 eff. Nov. 24, 2000.
Amended by SR-NASD-98-57 eff. March 26, 1999.
Amended by SR-NASD-97-42 eff. Oct. 22, 1997.
Amended by SR-NASD-87-55 eff. May 2, 1988.
Interpretation adopted eff. May 1, 1968.
Selected Notices: 97-88, 99-16, 00-78, 06-58, 07-40, 09-58, 10-26, 10-42, 12-13.