SEC sets vote on ‘naked access’ trading ban

By Dow Jones Newswires
Posted Oct. 27, 2010 at 2:17 p.m.

The Securities and Exchange Commission will vote Nov. 3 on whether to adopt a proposed ban on “naked access,” a trading arrangement that allows some firms to trade anonymously.

Naked access, offered to customers by some major banks and brokerage firms, allows traders to buy and sell stocks on exchanges using a broker’s computer code, which can shield their identity from regulators and exchanges.

The arrangement, used by some quantitative trading firms, lets them avoid being slowed by a broker’s risk controls and helps mask their trades from brokers running their own proprietary trading groups.

SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro has described the practice as “giving your car keys to a friend who doesn’t have a license and letting him drive unaccompanied.”

The SEC issued a proposal in January that would require brokers to subject clients to pretrade checks before giving access via their codes.

Traders would then need to direct market orders through the broker’s computer systems before the orders go to the exchange, in an arrangement known as “sponsored access.” By contrast, naked-access orders are largely subject to checks that occur after trades have been executed.

The SEC may vote on a modification of that proposal Wednesday, reflecting comments it has received from stakeholders and the public.

The SEC also will vote on a proposed ban on fraud and manipulation in the security-based market, implementing a requirement of the Dodd-Frank financial law.

And the commission will vote on rules to implement a new whistleblower award program created under the Dodd-Frank law. Among other things, the commission must decide what constitutes “original information” presented to the commission in order for informants to qualify for a claim.

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