In a victory for banks, the National Association of Securities Dealers has issued a position statement that allows for a more liberal use of corporate names and logos on investment sales materials.
The statement, which is touted as a clarification of the NASD's earlier position, will enable bank-affiliated broker-dealers to display parent company imagery provided it is not "misleading or confusing" to customers.
This modification should offer some relief to bankers who have been confused by the policy. Banks have also argued that their efforts to cross- sell products to customers would be undermined if they could not use their names and logos on sales literature.
"It takes a while to work through the interpretation of all these things," said Richard Davies, president of the brokerage arm of First Chicago Corp. "We're just happy now that it has been clarified and that we can go back to using some signage and some identification that customers have come to understand and associate with First Chicago."
"It's certainly a step in the right direction," said Robert M. Kurucza, a Washington-based attorney and general counsel of the Bank Securities Association, a trade group based in Corte Madera, Calif. "It clearly reflects a more careful and thoughtful approach than was previously issued, and that's welcome."
The new statement allows for the linked use, in advertisements, of names and logos of both banks and their broker-dealers. That leaves it up to banks and their brokerage subsidiaries to make sure the ads do not confuse the customer.
A key issue for banks that sell mutual funds is to overcome the misperception that these investments are backed by the bank or that they carry federal deposit insurance.
But Mr. Kurucza said some "residual" issues remain to be addressed by the NASD.
An issue the statement does not address, he said, is what to do in the case of hybrid products - products that are offered by both the bank and its brokerage subsidiary - such as mutual fund wrap accounts.
Much has been made of the NASD's recent efforts to scrutinize bank brokerages, culminating in a series of rules proposed last December that sought to establish the NASD as a serious regulator.
After the release of the proposed rules, the NASD, a securities industry self-regulatory body that sets professional standards for broker-dealers, got lots of angry responses from bankers and bank regulators.