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96-33 NASD Clarifies Rules Governing RR/IAs
NASD Clarifies Rules Governing RR/IAs
|Legal & Compliance|
On May 15, 1994, the NASD® issued Special Notice to Members 94-44, , which clarified the applicability of Article III, Section 40 of the NASD Rules of Fair Practice to investment advisory activities of registered representatives (RRs) who also are investment advisers (RR/IAs). In particular, the Notice addressed the supervision of securities transactions conducted by RR/IAs away from the NASD members with which they are associated. Since the issuance of Notice to Members 94-44, , the NASD has responded to questions concerning the types of records that may be used and recordkeeping systems that may be established by an NASD member to ensure that investment advisory transactions subject to Article III, Section 40 are properly recorded and the RR/IA adequately supervised. The NASD also has responded to other general compliance and interpretive questions relating to Article III, Section 40. To further facilitate member firm compliance with Article III, Section 40, this Notice discusses recordkeeping approaches and presents the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding Section 40 since the release of Notice to Members 94-44, .
Questions regarding this Notice may be directed to Daniel M. Sibears, Director, Regulation, at (202) 728- 6911; or Mary Revell, Senior Attorney, Regulation, at (202) 728-8203.
As reviewed in Notice to Members 94-44, , Article III, Section 40 requires that any person associated with an NASD member who participates in a private securities transaction must, before participating in the transaction, provide written notice to the member with which he or she is associated. The written notice must describe the transaction, the associated person's role, and disclose whether the associated person will or may receive selling compensation. Thereafter, the NASD member must advise the individual in writing whether it approves or disapproves the associated person's participation in a private securities transaction. If the member approves the transaction, the transaction must be recorded on the member's books and records, and the member must supervise the associated person's participation as if the transaction were executed on behalf of the member.
Most notably, Notice to Members 94-44, clarifies the analysis that members must follow to determine whether the activity of an RR/IA falls within the parameters of Section 40. Fundamental to this analysis is whether the RR/IA participates in the execution of a securities transaction such that his or her actions go beyond a mere recommendation, thereby triggering the recordkeeping and supervision requirements of Section 40.
Where the RR/IA does not participate in the execution of securities transactions, Notice to Members 94-44, reminds members and their RR/IAs that while Section 40 may not apply, the activity, nonetheless, may be subject to the notification provisions of Article III, Section 43. That section requires an RR to provide written notice to the NASD member with which he or she is associated of any proposed employment or outside business activity pursuant to which he or she will receive compensation from others. The form and content of an Article III, Section 43 notice is to be determined by the NASD member.
Article III, Section 40 Books And Records Relating To Investment Advisory Transactions
Where a member has approved an RR/IA's participation in private securities transactions for which he or she will or may receive selling compensation, the member must develop and maintain a recordkeeping system that, among other things, captures the transactions executed by the RR/IA in its books and records and facilitates supervision over that activity. Recordkeeping systems that simply record all transactions will not result in adequate supervision under Article III, Section 27 of the Rules of Fair Practice. Rather, the records created and recordkeeping system used, together with relevant supervisory procedures, must enable the member to properly supervise the RR/IA by aiding the member's understanding of the nature of the service provided by an RR/IA, the scope of the RR/IA's authority, and the suitability of the transactions.
Since the transactions subject to Section 40 by definition occur at and through another member or directly with a product sponsor, the NASD member licensing the RR/IA is not required to record the activity in the same manner it records transactions executed on behalf of its own firm (i.e., on its purchase and sales blotter). Rather, members may develop and use alternative approaches that meet their specific needs and business practices, such as special blotters, separate Section 40 recordation forms and files, and unit systems, for capturing the RR/IA activity that occurs through other firms. In this regard, Section 40 recordkeeping systems may involve many of the following books and records:
Neither the federal securities laws nor the NASD Rules of Fair Practice mandate the supervisory system or structure that a member must use. Rather, each member can develop and implement its own supervisory system that is reasonably designed to detect and prevent violations. In this regard, no single document or combination of the referenced documents is specifically required or necessarily adequate to comply with Section 40 requirements. Rather, each member that determines to permit its associated persons to transact securities business through another broker/dealer must decide which tailored combination of records is necessary to develop an adequate supervisory system that addresses the allowable activities of RR/IAs. For example, obtaining duplicate confirmation statements directly from the RR/IA alone would permit a member to fulfill recordation requirements for the trades represented by confirmations received, but would not necessarily permit a member to reasonably ensure that it is capturing all trades. However, an arrangement under which the member obtains duplicate confirmation statements directly from the firm (or firms) that executes transactions for the RR/IA should be sufficient to ensure that the member captures all trades.
Member firms have tremendous flexibility to develop and implement recordkeeping and supervisory systems that meet the unique nature and scope of their own operations, and the permitted activities and services provided by their dually registered persons. In all circumstances, however, recordkeeping and supervision must be adequate to ensure that full and complete transaction information is captured, and be reasonably designed to detect and/or prevent misconduct that could violate the federal securities laws and NASD Rules.
Answers To Frequently Asked Questions Concerning The Application Of Article III, Section 40 To Investment Advisory Activities
Question #1: Does Article III, Section 40 require prior approval of each transaction executed by an RR/IA away from his or her NASD member firm if the compensation received by the RR/IA is not transaction based?
Answer: An RR/IA may be involved in numerous transactions on a daily basis for which he or she receives asset-based or performance-based fees. Requiring prior notice of each trade effected under these conditions may hinder investors from properly receiving the investment advisory services provided by RR/IAs. Accordingly, the Board of Governors, acting on the recommendation of a special Ad Hoc Committee, has interpreted Article III, Section 40 to require prior notice of the investment advisory services that will be provided by the RR/IA for an asset-based or a performance-based fee, rather than prior notice of each trade effected by an RR/IA for a particular customer. This interpretation is intended to vigorously apply the investor protection concepts of Article III, Section 40 to investment advisory activities in a practical manner.
A member must receive prior written notice from an RR/IA requesting approval to conduct investment advisory activities for an asset-based or performance-based fee on behalf of each of his or her advisory clients. This notice must include details such as:
Only after written approval from the NASD member may the RR/IA engage in the disclosed activities. If there is a change in the RR/IA's proposed role or activities for any customer from what the member initially approved, the RR/IA must provide the member with a subsequent written notice that details the changes and requests the member's further approval to conduct advisory activities on behalf of the customer. The employer member must thereafter record subsequent transactions on its books and records and supervise activity in the affected accounts as if it were its own.
Members are reminded, however, that if the RR/IA receives transaction-based compensation, the member's prior approval of each trade is required.
Question #2: Does Article III, Section 40 apply to persons employed by or associated with registered investment advisory firms if such persons are not registered in an individual capacity with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or various states?
Answer: Yes. Article III, Section 40 of the Rules of Fair Practice applies to all of an associated person's private securities transactions, regardless of whether or not such associated persons are also registered with other regulatory authorities such as the SEC or the states. The reference to registered investment advisers in Notice to Members 94-44, does not limit the applicability of Article III, Section 40 to only those persons individually registered as such with other regulatory entities. In addition, if the advisory service is not registered with any regulatory agency, a member should ensure that such registration is not required.
Question #3: Is it appropriate for a limited principal (i.e., a Series 26 Investment Company Principal) to supervise Article III, Section 40 transactions in products such as equity securities that are not covered by that registration category?
Answer: Limited principals may not supervise Article III, Section 40 transactions in products not covered by their registration category. Therefore, if a firm only has principals registered in a limited capacity, associated persons engaging in Article III, Section 40 transactions may do so only in products covered by the licenses of the firm's principals.
Question #4: Is it appropriate for a limited representative (i.e., a Series 6 Investment Company Representative) to execute Article III, Section 40 transactions in products such as equity securities that are not covered by that registration category?
Answer: A limited RR who is otherwise in compliance with applicable federal and state registration requirements, such as the SEC's investment adviser registration requirements, may not execute transactions in securities not covered by his or her NASD registration. Registration with the NASD as a representative subjects an individual to all NASD rules, regulations, and requirements, including qualification requirements. Those rules preclude a limited representative from acting as a representative in any area not covered by his or her registration category. A limited representative who wishes to execute transactions in securities not covered by his or her registration category is required to pass an appropriate qualification exam.
Question #5: If an RR/IA is registered with more than one NASD member, must all members approve, supervise, and record the Article III, Section 40 transactions?
Answer: All members with whom a person is registered are responsible for the registered representative's involvement in Section 40 transactions. Members may develop a detailed, formal allocation arrangement whereby at least one member agrees and is able to provide the supervision and recordkeeping required by Article III, Section 40. However, the other members would be required to take the reasonable steps necessary to ensure that Section 40's recordkeeping and supervisory requirements are being carried out since members cannot delegate, by contract or otherwise, their ultimate responsibility for compliance with regulatory requirements.
Question #6: What is a member's responsibility with regard to supervising Section 40 securities transactions where an advisory client of an RR/IA refuses to provide information to the member, citing the confidentiality of client information provisions of an investment advisory agreement?
Answer: Article III, Section 40, which was adopted in 1985, and its predecessor Interpretation of the Board of Governors have always stipulated that a member that allows an associated person to participate in a Section 40 transaction is responsible for supervising that transaction as if it were its own. If a member determines that in order to meet its supervisory obligations under Section 40, it must have certain information from the customer and if the customer refuses to provide the information, the member should deny the associated person's request who would then be precluded from participating in the Section 40 activity.
Question #7: Are there circumstances under which income received as salary payments may be deemed selling compensation as defined by Article III, Section 40?
Answer: As explained in Notice to Members 94-44, , selling compensation is broadly defined to include any compensation paid directly or indirectly from whatever source in connection with or as a result of the purchase or sale of a security. If salary payments are direct or indirect compensation for an RR/IA's participation in the execution of securities transactions away from his or her member firm, the salary payments would be deemed "selling compensation," and the activities would be subject to Article III, Section 40.
Question #8: Where investment seminars are conducted by RR/IAs away from their employing NASD member and seminar participants are charged a fee for attendance, would any income derived from the seminar for this investment advisory activity be governed by Article III, Section 40 or Section 43 of the Rules of Fair Practice?
Answer: If an investment seminar itself does not result in the execution of securities transactions, Article III, Section 43 would govern the investment advisory activity. In determining whether Article III, Section 40 applies, the NASD has focused primarily upon the RR/IA's participation in the execution of securities transactions and whether the participation goes beyond a mere recommendation. If after an investment seminar, however, participants decide to engage in securities transactions with the participation of the RR/IA, that subsequent activity and any compensation received in connection therewith would be subject to Section 40.
Question #9: Must a member review performance reports produced by RR/IAs to properly discharge its supervisory responsibilities under Article III, Section 40?
Answer: It has come to the NASD's attention that some RR/IAs use information supplied by the broker/dealer through which they conduct private securities transactions or by the investment advisory service corporations with which they are associated to create performance reports for their advisory clients. These reports may be individualized performance reports that provide customized information for a specific client or standardized performance reports that provide general information to multiple clients. With regard to this practice, members and RR/IAs are cautioned that in creating or recreating performance reports, a risk is taken that calculations for securities transactions may be inaccurate, incomplete, or misleading, thus resulting in material misrepresentations being made or material facts being omitted. NASD member supervisory responsibilities should include a determination as to whether to permit associated persons to develop performance reports for securities transactions. If this activity is permitted, the member firm must review the performance reports. Standardized reports sent to multiple clients are considered sales literature and must be reviewed by a registered principal at the member firm before distribution by the RR/IA to clients. If the RR/IA uses the same standardized format for different clients, principal approval before use is required only on the performance report prototype. This review must ensure that the reports are accurate, not misleading, or otherwise in violation of NASD or SEC Rules. In particular, members should review the standards set forth in Article III, Section 35 of the NASD Rules governing member communications with the public, as well as applicable SEC regulations.
Individualized performance reports are considered correspondence. As such, review by the member firm before RR/IA distribution to clients is not required. However, the firm must have appropriate procedures in place, as required by Article III, Section 27 of the NASD Rules of Fair Practice, for review and retention of individualized performance reports and other correspondence.
Question #10: Must NASD members that employ RR/IAs provide training to this segment of their associated persons under the Firm Element of the Continuing Education requirements?
Answer: The Firm Element of the Continuing Education requirements (see Schedule C of the NASD By- Laws) is designed to be flexible and to permit firms to develop tailored educational programs based on their business practices and needs. In this regard, each member that permits its associated persons to conduct securities transactions through another firm should assess the need to provide specific Firm Element training with regard to Section 40 requirements. Where the assessment establishes a need for educational initiatives for all or some portion of the covered persons conducting business away from the member, the firm's written training plan should include defined and scheduled Section 40 training for specified individuals.
Although this Notice and previously issued Notices to Members 91-32 and 94-44 clarify the application of Article III, Section 40 to investment advisory activities, Section 40 has been in effect since November 12, 1985 (see Notice to Members 85-84). Accordingly, members and their RR/IAs are expected to be in compliance with Article III, Section 40.