Shining Light on Order Routing


After 100 downloads of its order-routing due diligence checklist, the Healthy Markets Association is gaining traction across the institutional buy side and sell side.

Tyler Gellasch,
Healthy Markets

“We’ve been encouraged by some of the responses we’ve been hearing from brokers and investors,” Tyler Gellasch, executive director of the Healthy Markets Association.

The asset-management trade group sent its 200-item due-diligence questionnaire to approximately 35 broker-dealers to complete as well as members sending the survey to  their broker-dealers independently.

The organization shares all of the broker-dealer responses with its members, but it is up to the individual members to decide whether to share their survey results with other members, said Gellasch.

He also noted that the association is not in the loop when non-members download the checklist from the organization’s website and use it for their own purposes, which has led to unusual situations.

One association member that was doing sub-advising for a larger non-member asset manager found that the larger asset manager asked whether the member firm used the Healthy Markets checklist, according to Gellasch.

The association ultimately wants to have responses from the widest array of broker-dealers so that they can create a de facto standard of order-routing disclosures and provide members with an apples-to-apples comparison.

Or as Gellasch put it, “The SEC’s proposed changes for Rule 606 on steroids.”

“Our goal is to help get investors the information they need, while also helping reduce the burdens on brokers, many of which are currently trying to answer numerous questionnaires from their different customers,” he said. “There are huge benefits to standardizing this process– for all sides.”

Gellasch is not that concerned that the same broker-dealer may provide different answers to the same questions based on who requests the information.

“After a slew of regulatory enforcement cases against brokers for routing and execution abuses, investment advisers are working harder than ever to protect their customers; and one of the simplest and most effective ways to do that is to ask questions of their service providers,” he said “It’s really simple: If you’re worried your broker may be taking advantage of you, ask them.”

Any variation in answers made by a broker-dealer between current or prospective clients would be a violation of federal securities law, which would expose an offending firm to charges of fraud.

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