S&P's Downgrade of U.S. Long-Term Credit Rating: Impact on Broker-Dealers

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Yoomi Lee | Bloomberg Law FINRA Regulatory Notice 11-38 (August 2011) The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) issued a regulatory notice reassuring broker-dealers that Standards & Poor's (S&P) August 5, 2011 downgrade of the U.S. long term credit rating will not affect application of Rules 15c3-1 (Net Capital Requirements for Brokers or Dealers) and 15c3-3 (Customer Protection - Reserves and Custody of Securities) under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (Exchange Act). With respect to the net capital requirements, FINRA maintained that the credit rating assigned to U.S. Treasury securities—or any other security issued or guaranteed as to principal or interest by the U.S. or any of its governmental agencies—is not a factor in determining the net capital treatment for such securities. Further, FINRA noted that S&P's action does not affect the definition of a "qualified security" under Exchange Act Rule 15c3-3(a)(6). Accordingly, FINRA said that broker-dealers may continue to use U.S. issued securities or securities whose principle and interest is guaranteed by the U.S. to meet deposit requirements under Exchange Act Rule 15c3-3(e)(1).

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