Exemptions to Broker-Dealer Registration: Issuer, M&A Broker, and 15a-6 Chaperone Explained

The Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (“Exchange Act”) specifies numerous definitions and requirements for broker-dealers in the United States. It classifies a “broker” as anyone making security transactions on behalf of others and “dealer” as any person engaged in the business of buying and selling securities for his own account, through a broker or otherwise.

In certain circumstances, firms or people can be exempted from having to register as a broker dealer. This blog post will explore the most important exemptions that exist.

Broker-Dealer Registration Requirements

There are multiple factors to consider and forms to go through to register as a broker-dealer

Who needs to register as a broker-dealer?

When defining whether a person or a firm is acting as a broker, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) applies a facts-and-circumstances analysis. They look at multiple factors, including: 

  • Assisting an issuer in structuring securities transactions
  • Identifying potential investors for a securities offering
  • Soliciting securities transactions (including advertising/marketing)
  • Screening potential participants in a transaction for creditworthiness
  • Negotiating between the issuer and the investor(s)
  • Making valuations as to the merits of an investment or giving advice
  • Taking “orders” or facilitating the execution of a securities transaction
  • Handling customer funds or securities.

Compensation Structures

Compensation that the person or firm receives from soliciting investors also plays an important role.

Receiving commissions, fees, or other forms of compensation tied to the success or completion of securities transactions is a strong indicator of broker activity. Indeed, compensation factors are among the most critical when it comes to classifying a person or a firm as a broker-dealer.

There are multiple factors related to a firm receiving a payment as transaction-based compensation, such as the size or completion of any securities transaction, commission, or success fee.

There may be occurrences when a person or firm does not receive transaction-based compensation, but can still be considered a “broker” due to their activities related to securities transactions, such as soliciting clients, negotiating on behalf of clients, etc.

Risks and Consequences for Unregistered Brokers

Engaging in broker activity without a broker-dealer license can cause serious consequences, ranging from reputational harm to criminal liabilities and harsh sanctions. The SEC can block the ability to enforce contracts and the companies may even face criminal prosecution under state and federal law.

Section 20 of the Exchange Act imposes liabilities on “control” persons, subject to a good faith defense, as well as persons who aid and abet anyone in violation of the Exchange Act. The securities laws of some states have similar liability provisions.

Exemptions to Broker-Dealer Registration

There are several exemptions to registering as a broker-dealer:

1. Issuer Exemption

Issuers generally don’t qualify as either brokers or dealers, and hence under specific circumstances are exempt from the broker-dealer registration requirement. They are generally not considered brokers because they don’t sell securities for other firms, and they are generally not considered dealers because while they do sell their own securities, they do not do so as part of their day-to-day business. 

SEC Rule 3a4-1: The Issuer Exemption

SEC Rule 3a4-1 outlines specific conditions under which an associated person of an issuer can be exempt from broker-dealer registration under the Exchange Act. To qualify for this exemption, the person must meet several criteria:

  • No Statutory Disqualification: The person must not have committed certain "bad actor" events as defined in Section 3(a)(39) of the Exchange Act, which includes specific disqualifying misconduct.
  • No Transaction-Based Compensation: The person must not receive compensation that is contingent on the transaction's success, such as commissions or bonuses based on the amount of funds raised.
  • No Association with a Broker-Dealer: The person must not be associated with a broker-dealer, such as being a registered representative engaged in sales activities outside the supervision of the broker-dealer.
  • Meeting One of Three Alternative Arrangements: Additionally, the associated person must satisfy the conditions of one of the following three exemptions:
    • First Exemption (Restricted Sales): The associated person may engage in sales to certain financial institutions, sell securities that are exempt from registration under specific sections of the Securities Act of 1933 (Sections 3(a)(7), 3(a)(9), or 3(a)(10)), conduct sales in connection with reorganizations, or sell securities as part of an employee benefit plan.
    • Second Exemption (Limited Sales): The associated person must primarily perform substantial duties for or on behalf of the issuer other than selling securities and has not been a broker or dealer, or an associated person of a broker-dealer, within the past twelve months; neither did he participate in the sale of securities for any issuer more than once every 12 months.
    • Third Exemption (Passive Sales): The associated person may only engage in passive sales activities, which include responding to unsolicited requests by prospective investors or performing clerical or ministerial work related to effecting any transaction.

Limitations and Additional Requirements

While SEC Rule 3a4-1 provides an exemption from broker-dealer registration under the Exchange Act, associated persons of an issuer must also consider whether they need to register under applicable state securities laws. State regulations can vary, and compliance with these laws is essential to ensure lawful operation in different jurisdictions.

2. M&A Broker Exemption

On March 29, 2023, a new federal exemption became effective under the Exchange Act (Section 15(b)(13)) for brokers facilitating merger and acquisition (M&A) transactions involving certain privately held companies. This M&A Broker Exemption codifies principles from the SEC's 2014 "M&A Broker" no-action letter but includes limitations on the size of the company involved in the transaction.

Federal and State Regulations

The M&A Broker Exemption does not preempt state broker-dealer registration requirements. M&A brokers must still comply with state securities laws, assessing whether they qualify for any exclusions or exemptions under those laws.

Definition of an M&A Broker

An M&A broker is a broker, including any associated persons, involved in effecting securities transactions related to the transfer of ownership of an eligible privately held company. This can involve various activities such as purchase, sale, exchange, issuance, repurchase, redemption, or business combinations involving securities or assets of the company.

Conditions for the Exemption

  • Control and Management: Upon transaction completion, any acquiring party must control the company and be active in its management. Control is presumed if the buyer can vote or sell 25% or more of a class of voting securities or, in partnerships or LLCs, has the right to 25% or more of the capital upon dissolution.
  • Access to Financial Information: Any person offered securities in exchange for assets must receive access to recent fiscal year-end financial statements and other relevant financial information before finalizing the transaction.
  • Eligible Privately Held Company: A privately held company with no registered securities under Section 12 of the Exchange Act and no requirement to file periodic reports under Section 15(d). In the fiscal year preceding the engagement of the M&A broker, the company must have less than $25 million in EBITDA or less than $250 million in gross revenues. These thresholds will adjust for inflation every five years.

Excluded Activities

  • Custody of Funds or Securities: M&A brokers cannot directly or indirectly handle the funds or securities exchanged in the transaction.
  • Public Offerings: M&A brokers cannot engage in public offerings of any securities registered under Section 12 or subject to Section 15(d) reporting.
  • Shell Companies: Transactions involving shell companies are generally excluded unless they are business combination-related shell companies.
  • Providing Financing: Brokers cannot provide financing for the transaction or assist in obtaining financing without complying with applicable laws and disclosing any compensation.
  • Dual Representation: Brokers must disclose and obtain consent if representing both buyer and seller.
  • Passive Buyers: Transactions involving passive buyers are not allowed.
  • Binding Parties: Brokers cannot bind parties to the transaction.


Brokers (including officers, directors, or employees) barred or suspended by the SEC, any state, or SRO from association with a broker-dealer cannot rely on this exemption.

3. 15a-6 chaperone 

Foreign broker dealers have an exemption from registering as a broker-dealer provided they work with a chaperone service under SEC Rule 15a-6. Such services provide an opportunity to save time and money by employing a licensed US chaperone. Marco Polo Exchange (MPX) is a leading provider of 15a-6 rule service and has experience serving over 100 clients from 50 countries via its revolutionary product called MPX Passport.

What is 15a-6?

Rule 15a-6 of the Exchange Act provides conditional exemptions from broker-dealer registration for foreign broker-dealers that engage in certain specified activities involving U.S. investors. These activities include:

  1. Unsolicited Transactions: Foreign broker-dealers can effect unsolicited securities transactions with U.S. investors. This means that the transaction must be initiated by the U.S. investor, not solicited by the foreign broker-dealer.
  2. Research Reports: They can provide research reports to major U.S. institutional investors (“MUSSIs”) and effect transactions in the subject securities with or for those investors. The research reports must comply with certain SEC requirements. Providing research reports to major U.S. institutional investors, and effecting transactions in the subject securities with or for those investors;
  3. Chaperoned Transactions: Foreign broker-dealers can solicit and effect transactions with or for U.S. institutional investors or major U.S. institutional investors (“MUSIIs”) if the transactions are conducted through a registered U.S. broker-dealer acting as a “chaperone.” The chaperone must ensure compliance with SEC regulations and take responsibility for certain activities of the foreign broker-dealer.
  4. Transactions with Certain Entities: Soliciting and effecting transactions with or for registered broker-dealers, banks acting in a broker or dealer capacity, certain international organizations, foreign persons temporarily present in the U.S., U.S. citizens resident abroad, and foreign branches and agencies of U.S. persons.

MPX facilitates the chaperoning process for foreign broker-dealers through our technology platform, MPX Passport. This platform provides real-time tracking, compliance management, and data insights. The chaperoning is provided by Marco Polo Securities, Inc., the U.S. broker-dealer affiliate of MPX. 

Broker-Dealer Registration Requirements in the US: A Step-by-Step Guide to Registering a Broker-Dealer Firm

Broker-dealer firms are, simply put, what make the financial industry go ‘round.

Their services power the global economy by facilitating capital flow, enhancing liquidity, promoting price discovery, and providing market access for investors.

The United States capital markets are the deepest, most dynamic, and most liquid in the world. The US equity markets alone have a market cap of 52 trillion dollars, or 61% of the global total as of February 2024, according to Visual Capitalist. Not surprisingly, having a US broker dealer license can be a valuable asset

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) regulate broker-dealers in the US. The broker-dealer registration process can seem daunting at first but the consequences of engaging in broker-dealer activity without the requisite licenses can result in legal trouble with the regulatory authorities

This blog post will provide a general guide to broker dealer registration in the US, depict the services and benefits of a broker-dealer and introduce the broker dealer chaperoning service for foreign financial institutions. Note, however, that this is not to be construed as legal advice, and that firms should consult with an attorney regarding their specific situation. 

But first, 

What is a Broker Dealer in the US?

A US broker-dealer is a financial institution that is licensed to buy and sell securities on behalf of clients (as a broker) and for their own account (as a dealer). The term combines two key functions within the securities industry: 

  • Broker: Acts as an agent for clients in executing buy or sell orders. Brokers earn a commission or fee for this service. Their primary role is to facilitate transactions between buyers and sellers in the financial markets. 
  • Dealer: Acts as a principal, buying and selling securities for their own account. Dealers make a profit from the spread between the bid (buy) and ask (sell) prices. They may also hold an inventory of securities to facilitate trading and provide liquidity in the market. 

Broker-dealer functions and services

Broker-dealers execute trades, provide liquidity, and offer a wide array of services to investors.

Beyond transaction execution, broker-dealers offer advisory services, providing investment recommendations, financial planning, and portfolio management. They also underwrite new issues of securities, lend funds for margin trading, and offer custodial services.

Additionally, many broker-dealers provide online trading platforms, research and analysis, and educational resources to empower investors with the tools and knowledge needed for informed decision-making. 

Who needs to be registered as a broker-dealer?

Anyone engaged in the business of buying or selling securities for themselves or others must be registered as a broker-dealer.

This requirement applies to individuals or firms that execute trades on behalf of clients, facilitate securities transactions, or act as intermediaries in the trading process. Registration is mandatory for entities participating in underwriting new securities issues, market making, and providing investment advice in conjunction with securities transactions. This includes traditional brokerage firms, independent financial advisors, and even trading platforms. It is essential for individuals and companies engaged in transaction-based compensation to understand the complex rules regarding broker-dealer registration with the SEC.

Broker-dealer registration requirements

To become a registered broker-dealer in the United States, firms and individuals must comply with specific regulatory requirements, which include:

  • Exchange Act Registration: Section 15(a)(1) of the Exchange Act mandates that any broker or dealer using the mail or any other method of U.S. interstate commerce (such as telephone, email, or website) to effect transactions or to solicit the purchase or sale of securities must register with the SEC.
  • Self-Regulatory Organization (SRO) Membership: Besides SEC registration under the Exchange Act, broker-dealers are required to join an SRO. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (FINRA) serves as the primary SRO for U.S. broker-dealers.
  • State Registration: Every U.S. state and territory has its own registration requirements for individuals conducting securities business as broker-dealers or on behalf of broker-dealers within their jurisdiction. For instance, Utah’s broker-dealer and related personnel licensing requirements are detailed in Sections 61-1-3(1) and (2) of the Utah Uniform Securities Act.
  • Associated Persons of Broker-Dealers: Certain "associated persons" of a broker-dealer must register as "representatives" and/or "principals" with FINRA (and possibly other SROs) and as "agents" or "salespersons" under state securities laws.
  • Net capital requirements: you’ll need to meet minimum net capital requirements set by the SEC and FINRA, which, depending on your specific business, could range. The minimum net capital requirements for registering a broker-dealer in the US are set by the SEC’s Rule 15c3-1. Net capital requirements can range from $5,000 to many millions. Services of a consultant that can help with FINRA registration are somewhere in the range of $40,000 to $60,000
  • Written Supervisory Procedures (WSP): Broker-dealers must establish comprehensive Written Supervisory Procedures to ensure all activities comply with regulatory standards and are properly supervised.
  • Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Program: Broker-dealers are required to implement an Anti-Money Laundering Program that includes customer identification, monitoring of transactions, and reporting of suspicious activities to prevent financial crimes.
  • Business Continuity Plan (BCP): A Business Continuity Plan must be in place for broker-dealers to ensure that critical business operations can continue during and after significant disruptions.
  • Employee Trading Policy: Broker-dealers need an Employee Trading Policy to regulate the personal trading activities of their employees, preventing conflicts of interest and ensuring compliance with securities laws.
  • Beneficiaries: Broker-dealers must disclose detailed information about all direct and indirect owners and beneficiaries to ensure transparency and compliance with regulatory requirements.
  • Organizational Structure: Broker-dealers are required to document their organizational structure, detailing the roles, responsibilities, and hierarchy within the firm to support effective governance and regulatory compliance.

US broker dealer registration can take several months or up to a year, although the exact duration can vary depending on the complexity of the application and the responsiveness of the regulatory authorities.  An example of a timeline can be found in this Medium article

A good first step is to put together a business plan including executive bios and proposed activities. Focus mainly on the technical business lines from a regulatory standpoint, the customer onboarding process, external partnerships, and the flow of customer securities and funds. This can be used as a blueprint to help prepare the other materials for your application. 

Broker-dealer registration: Application forms

  • Form BD: This is the primary application form that must be submitted to the SEC for broker-dealer registration. It requires detailed information about the firm’s business, ownership, and regulatory history.
  • Form U4: This form is used to register associated persons (representatives and principals) with FINRA and other SROs. It collects information about the individual’s background, including employment and disciplinary history.
  • FINRA New Member Application (NMA): In addition to the SEC’s Form BD, firms seeking FINRA membership must complete the NMA, which involves a comprehensive review process including a detailed business plan, supervisory procedures, and financial statements.
  • Form BR: This form is used to register branch offices of the broker-dealer with FINRA and relevant state securities regulators. It provides information about the locations and operations of the branch offices.
  • State-Specific Registration Forms: Individual states may have additional forms or specific requirements for broker-dealer registration. These forms vary by state and must be completed to comply with local regulations.
  • Form ADV (if applicable): If the broker-dealer also provides investment advisory services, they may need to register as an investment adviser and submit Form ADV to the SEC or state securities regulators.

FINRA exams for getting a broker-dealer license

To obtain a broker-dealer license, firms must ensure they have at least two General Securities Principals and one Financial and Operations Principal (FINOP), unless they are a sole proprietorship, in which case only one General Securities Principal is required.

To qualify as a General Securities Principal, individuals must pass the Series 24 exam, which has prerequisites including the Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) exam and the Series 7 exam.

The Series 27 exam qualifies individuals to oversee the financial and operational responsibilities of the broker-dealer.

Additionally, depending on the firm's business activities and roles, other exams may be necessary. To sit for any of these exams, except the SIE, candidates must be sponsored by a broker-dealer. Preparing for these exams requires substantial study time, and while the exams themselves are not particularly engaging, they are a crucial part of the licensing process. Many new firms start with the required Series 24 principals and often outsource their Series 27 responsibilities.

Chief Compliance Officer (CCO)

FINRA requires every broker-dealer to designate a Chief Compliance Officer (CCO). The CCO is tasked with developing, implementing, and overseeing the broker-dealer’s compliance program to ensure adherence to all regulatory requirements. 

Financial and Operations Principal (FINOP)

FINRA also requires broker-dealers to choose a Financial and Operations Principal (FINOP). The FINOP is responsible for managing the financial and operational aspects of the broker-dealer’s business, ensuring regulatory capital requirements are met and accurate financial records are maintained. 

Record retention

Under SEC Rule 17a-4, broker-dealers are required to retain various types of records, such as emails, trading records, customer account information, and financial documents, for specified periods, ranging from several years to the life of the firm. Retained data must be stored in Write Once Read Many (WORM) format and must be accessible by a Designated Third Party (D3P) that can provide it to FINRA upon request. 

Broker dealer registration costs

Registering as a broker-dealer involves fees that firms must consider as part of the application process. Readers are encouraged to go to FINRA’s website for updates on costs. Below is an overview of the fees associated with broker-dealer registration:

  • Membership Fees: New member application fees range from $7,500 to $55,000, depending on the size of the applicant firm and its intended activities. Additional surcharges may apply for firms engaging in clearing and carrying activities, mergers, material changes, ownership changes, transfers of assets, and acquisitions.
  • General Registration Fees: Registration fees for initial Form U4 filings and amendments are $125 per filing. Additional fees may apply for disclosure processing, late disclosures, terminations, and late terminations.
  • Branch Office Registration Fees: Branch office initial registration fees and system processing fees are $75 each per branch office.
  • Qualification Exam Fees: Fees for qualification examinations vary depending on the exam, but range from $60 to $350, and are listed separately by FINRA.
  • Renewal Fees: Renewal fees for broker-dealers encompass annual renewal fees for firm, individual and branches and are calculated based on several factors which are detailed on FINRA’s website.

The Membership Interview and Technology Demo

The Membership Interview is a crucial step in the broker-dealer registration application process, conducted by FINRA to evaluate the applicant firm's preparedness to operate in the securities industry in the US.

During this interview, FINRA reviews the firm's business plan, supervisory procedures, compliance programs, financial condition, and the qualifications of its principals and associated persons.

As part of the Membership Interview, the firm must also conduct a Technology Demo, demonstrating its technological systems and platforms for executing trades, managing customer accounts, monitoring compliance, and safeguarding data.

This comprehensive assessment ensures that the firm meets all regulatory requirements and is equipped to maintain operational integrity and protect investor interests.

Broker-dealer registration exemption for foreign institutions

Did you know that there is a way for foreign firms to avoid the whole broker-dealer registration process altogether?

Under SEC Rule 15a-6, you can hire a licensed US chaperone that will allow your financial institution to operate in the States without registering as a broker-dealer, all while still being compliant with the SEC and FINRA. Employing an experienced 15a-6 chaperone can safeguard your firm from potential legal issues you may encounter in the US. Not only that, but you will have access to expert guidance on how to navigate the intricacies of the US capital markets.

Introducing MPX’s Broker-Dealer Chaperoning Services

If you wish to navigate the registration process with trustworthy guidance, you can hire the professional services of Marco Polo Exchange (MPX). With over 100 clients from 50 countries, this technology company is at the forefront of transforming regulatory compliance and market access within the financial sector and will answer every question your firm may have about engaging in broker-dealer activities inside the US financial market.

MPX has streamlined the 15a-6 chaperoning process through our state-of-the-art platform, MPX Passport.

Passport enables foreign financial institutions to quickly and easily remain compliant by providing comprehensive regulatory and back-office solutions that ensure a smooth, compliant, and efficient experience. Passport is provided for foreign financial institutions that work within a 15a-6 chaperoning agreement with Marco Polo Securities Inc., MPX’s broker-dealer subsidiary.

Key Features of MPX Passport

  • Regulatory Compliance: Ensure full compliance with SEC Rule 15a-6 through a comprehensive suite of tools designed to meet U.S. securities laws.
  • Workflow Management: Manage all aspects of your business operations, including deal placements, trading blotters, research reports, and client interactions, in one centralized platform.
  • Distribution Capabilities: Seamlessly distribute your investment products to U.S. institutional investors through a compliant and efficient electronic environment.
  • Advanced Analytics: Gain insights into your market performance and client relationships with customizable dashboard tools and detailed reporting features.

Benefits of Using MPX Passport

  • Real-Time Tracking: Monitor all U.S. marketing activities in real time.
  • Compliance Management: Ensure all interactions comply with SEC Rule 15a-6 requirements.
  • Data Insights: Access detailed summary information and management dashboards for better business oversight.


In conclusion, navigating the broker-dealer registration process in the United States can be complex and time-consuming, but it is a critical step for any firm seeking to participate in the dynamic U.S. capital markets.

By understanding the requirements set forth by the SEC and FINRA, including registration, compliance, supervisory procedures, and net capital requirements, firms can ensure they meet regulatory standards and avoid potential legal issues.

For foreign institutions, leveraging the broker-dealer chaperoning services under SEC Rule 15a-6 offers a streamlined path to accessing U.S. markets without the full registration burden. MPX’s Broker-Dealer Chaperoning Services, facilitated through the MPX Passport platform and provided by Marco Polo Securities, Inc., the broker-dealer affiliate of MPX, provide comprehensive regulatory and back-office solutions, ensuring compliance and operational efficiency.

Whether you are a domestic firm embarking on the registration journey or a foreign institution seeking U.S. market access, understanding and adhering to these regulatory requirements is essential.

Consulting with legal experts and utilizing professional services like those offered by MPX can provide valuable guidance and support throughout the process, helping your firm to achieve its business objectives while maintaining compliance in the highly regulated U.S. financial landscape.

SEC Rule 15a-6 for CIRO Members: How MPX Passport Streamlines Compliance

Navigating cross-border financial activities presents a challenge when it comes to regulatory compliance. For members of the Canadian Investment Regulatory Organization (CIRO), understanding SEC Rule 15a-6 is essential to engaging U.S. clients efficiently and securely. This blog post explores the key provisions of SEC Rule 15a-6, its implications for Canadian financial institutions, and how MPX Passport simplifies compliance, helping you overcome regulatory hurdles and expand your business into U.S. markets.

What is SEC Rule 15a-6?

SEC Rule 15a-6, established by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), outlines the conditions under which foreign broker-dealers can engage with U.S. clients. This rule facilitates cross-border transactions while ensuring investor protection and market integrity. Under SEC Rule 15a-6, non-U.S. broker-dealers can interact with U.S. institutional investors without registering as U.S. broker-dealers, provided they work through a licensed U.S. broker-dealer chaperone.

Marco Polo Exchange, through its broker-dealer affiliate Marco Polo Securities, Inc., offers tech-enabled compliance solutions that align with SEC Rule 15a-6, simplifying cross-border transactions and ensuring regulatory compliance.

Here are some of the Key Provisions of SEC Rule 15a-6 for CIRO members to be aware of:

1. Interaction with Major U.S. Institutional Investors:

Foreign financial institutions (FFIs) can conduct business with major U.S. institutional investors (AUM > $100 million) and certain other institutional investors (AUM > $10 million) through a registered U.S. broker-dealer chaperone like Marco Polo Securities Inc., the broker-dealer affiliate of Marco Polo Exchange.

2. Chaperoned Transactions:

Foreign broker-dealers can solicit and conduct securities transactions with U.S. investors if chaperoned by a registered U.S. broker-dealer like Marco Polo Securities, Inc., the broker-dealer affiliate of Marco Polo Exchange. The U.S. broker-dealer must participate in the transaction and take responsibility for the compliance of the foreign broker-dealer's activities.

3. Research Reports:

Foreign broker-dealers can provide research reports to U.S. institutional investors through a registered U.S. broker-dealer, adhering to SEC content and distribution requirements.

4. Principal Trades with U.S. Investors:

Foreign broker-dealers may engage in principal trades with U.S. investors if the trades are effected through a registered U.S. broker-dealer chaperone and the U.S. broker-dealer takes responsibility for the trade and ensures compliance with U.S. regulations.

5. Record-Keeping and Reporting:

Foreign broker-dealers must maintain and provide access to transaction records to ensure compliance with U.S. regulatory standards.

Challenges Faced by CIRO Members in Complying with SEC Rule 15a-6

CIRO members face several challenges in complying with SEC Rule 15a-6 when engaging with U.S. institutional investors:

  1. Regulatory Complexity:

CIRO members must comply with both Canadian and U.S. regulations, which can be complex and sometimes conflicting. Regulatory requirements frequently change, necessitating continuous monitoring and updates to compliance practices. Marco Polo Securities, Inc., the broker-dealer affiliate of MPX, works with all of their chaperoned clients to ensure that they are in compliance with US regulations.

  1. Operational Hurdles:

Ensuring that compliance systems and processes align with both Canadian and U.S. requirements can be technically demanding. MPX Passport streamlines the compliance process.

  1. Enhanced Due Diligence and Supervision:

Thorough Due Diligence: CIRO members must conduct comprehensive due diligence to ensure compliance with SEC Rule 15a-6, which requires significant time and effort.

  1. Increased Supervision:

Continuous supervision and oversight of cross-border transactions are necessary to ensure ongoing compliance, adding to the operational burden. CIRO members must be prepared for regulatory audits and inspections, requiring meticulous documentation and record-keeping practices. MPX Passport allows for easy uploading of documents to ensure FFIs remain in compliance with US regulations.

Navigating U.S. Markets Made Easy for Foreign Financial Institutions with MPX Passport

MPX Passport is Marco Polo Exchange's proprietary Reg-Tech platform designed to streamline the process for foreign financial institutions (FFIs) to access U.S. capital markets through SEC Rule 15a-6, offered through Marco Polo Securities, Inc., the broker-dealer affiliate of MPX. Built on industry-leading technology, MPX Passport integrates regulatory compliance, workflow management, and distribution capabilities into a single, user-friendly portal. This innovative tool enables FFIs to meet cross-border compliance obligations efficiently, without the need for a U.S. broker-dealer license.

Key Features of MPX Passport for SEC Rule 15a-6

Regulatory Compliance: Ensure full compliance with SEC Rule 15a-6 through a comprehensive suite of tools designed to meet U.S. securities laws, offered through MPX’s US broker-dealer affiliate, Marco Polo Securities, Inc.

Workflow Management: Manage all aspects of your business operations, including deal placements, trading blotters, research reports, and client interactions, in one centralized platform.

Distribution Capabilities: Seamlessly distribute your investment products to U.S. institutional investors through a compliant and efficient electronic environment.

Advanced Analytics: Gain insights into your market performance and client relationships with customizable dashboard tools and detailed reporting features.

Efficient and Compliant Access to U.S. Markets through MPX Passport

CIRO members face significant challenges in navigating the complex regulatory landscape of the U.S. capital markets. MPX Passport offers a solution that simplifies compliance with SEC Rule 15a-6, enabling CIRO members to focus on expanding their business without the administrative and financial burden of obtaining a U.S. broker-dealer license.

Benefits MPX Passport for CIRO Members

Faster Time to Market: MPX Passport accelerates the process of entering the U.S. market by providing a streamlined, compliant pathway for cross-border transactions.

Maintained Brand Identity: Continue to build and promote your brand in the U.S. market while leveraging the regulatory framework provided by MPX Passport.

Full Transparency: Benefit from full visibility into your compliance status and business operations with real-time reporting and monitoring tools.

Key Functionalities of MPX Passport:

Self-Registration: Easily create an account and company profile, upload onboarding documents, and execute agreements through a simple online process.

Product and Activity Registration: Use data-driven technology tools to efficiently register your products and activities, ensuring ongoing compliance with regulatory requirements.

Customized Solutions for CIRO Members:

In addition to MPX Passport, Marco Polo Securities, Inc., the broker-dealer affiliate of MPX, offers the opportunity for CIRO members to employ a dedicated sales team based in the U.S. to enhance real-time interaction with U.S.-domiciled institutions, backed by comprehensive HR, compliance, and IT support.


Navigating SEC Rule 15a-6 compliance is critical for CIRO members looking to engage with U.S. institutional investors. MPX Passport provides an efficient, automated solution that simplifies the compliance process, mitigates risks, and enhances operational efficiency, through MPX’s US broker-dealer affiliate, Marco Polo Securities, Inc. By partnering with MPX, CIRO members can focus on their core business activities while confidently navigating the U.S. regulatory landscape.

Navigating SEC Rule 15a-6: A Guide for Canadian Exempt Market Dealers

The United States buy-side is the largest source of foreign capital for Canadian issuers, both primary and secondary. According to Pitchbook Data, about 44% of Canadian private equity deal value involves US investors. So far this year, that number is over 80%. As Canadian Exempt Market Dealers (EMDs) increasingly seek to expand their reach into the U.S. market, understanding and navigating SEC Rule 15a-6 becomes crucial. This rule provides a framework that allows foreign broker-dealers, including Canadian EMDs, to engage in certain activities with U.S. investors without full SEC registration. Marco Polo Exchange is here to guide you through the essentials of SEC Rule 15a-6 and ensure your cross-border transactions remain compliant and efficient.

Understanding SEC Rule 15a-6

What is SEC Rule 15a-6?

SEC Rule 15a-6, enacted under the U.S. Securities Exchange Act of 1934, offers exemptions from registration requirements for foreign broker-dealers. This rule aims to facilitate international securities transactions while ensuring that U.S. investors are protected.

Key Provisions of SEC Rule 15a-6

• Foreign Broker-Dealer Exemption: Allows Canadian EMDs to engage in certain limited activities with U.S. investors without full SEC registration.
• Intermediary Arrangements: Permits Canadian EMDs to operate through a registered U.S. broker-dealer, which acts as an intermediary.
• Chaperoning Requirements: Specifies situations where Canadian EMDs must be "chaperoned" by a registered U.S. broker-dealer.

How SEC Rule 15a-6 Applies to Canadian EMDs

Foreign Broker-Dealer Exemption

Canadian EMDs can leverage this exemption to interact with U.S. institutional investors and major U.S. institutional investors. Activities typically include unsolicited transactions and limited solicitations, provided they meet the rule's criteria.

Intermediary Arrangements

Under Rule 15a-6(a)(3), Canadian EMDs can partner with registered U.S. broker-dealers to facilitate transactions. This arrangement requires the U.S. broker-dealer to oversee compliance and supervisory functions, ensuring all activities adhere to SEC regulations.

Chaperoning Requirements

When engaging in solicitation or offering securities to U.S. institutional investors, Canadian EMDs need to be chaperoned by a U.S. broker-dealer.

Compliance and Regulatory Considerations

Record-Keeping Requirements

Canadian EMDs must maintain detailed records of transactions involving U.S. clients. This includes documentation of communications, trade confirmations, and compliance with regulatory requirements.

Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Compliance

Adhering to AML regulations is critical. Canadian EMDs should implement robust AML policies and procedures, ensuring they align with both Canadian and U.S. standards.

Reporting Obligations

Understanding and fulfilling reporting obligations under SEC Rule 15a-6 is essential. This includes timely submission of required documentation and regular updates to both Canadian and U.S. regulatory bodies.

Practical Tips for Canadian EMDs

Building Effective Intermediary Relationships

Select a reliable U.S. broker-dealer partner with a strong compliance track record. Regularly review and update partnership agreements to reflect current regulatory requirements and ensure mutual understanding of responsibilities.

Ensuring Smooth Operations

Stay informed about changes in both Canadian and U.S. regulations. Engage in continuous compliance training for your team and conduct regular internal audits to identify and address potential issues proactively.

Introducing Marco Polo Exchange's Passport: Your 15a-6 Compliance Tech Solution

Marco Polo Exchange provides 15a-6 chaperoning services through its cutting-edge reg tech platform, Passport. Passport allows Canadian EMDs to track their marketing activities to the U.S. buyside and provides comprehensive summary and management dashboard information about their business operations. MPX is able to provide chaperoning services on Passport through their US broker dealer affiliate, Marco Polo Securities, Inc.

Benefits of Using Passport:

• Real-Time Tracking: Monitor all U.S. marketing activities in real-time.
• Compliance Management: Ensure all interactions comply with SEC Rule 15a-6 requirements.
• Data Insights: Access detailed summary information and management dashboards for better business oversight.


SEC Rule 15a-6 offers opportunities for Canadian EMDs to engage with U.S. investors even if they do not have a registered U.S. broker-dealer license. By understanding the rule's provisions, maintaining stringent compliance, and leveraging strategic partnerships, Canadian EMDs can expand their market presence while safeguarding their operations.

MPX offers a technology solution with embedded licenses to facilitate accessing US buy-side accounts via its Passport™ platform. Passport supports and facilitates Canadian Exempt Market Dealers’ marketing and compliance challenges, so that your sales team can focus on closing business.

For more information and personalized guidance, contact Marco Polo Exchange. Our team of experts is ready to help you navigate SEC Rule 15a-6 and achieve your cross-border business goals. With our Passport platform, you can ensure compliance, manage your marketing activities efficiently, and gain valuable insights into your business operations. By optimizing your understanding and application of SEC Rule 15a-6, you can confidently expand into the U.S. market and enhance your business growth.

Wall Street New York

Demystifying SEC Rule 15a-6: What You Need to Know About Chaperoning Services

What is SEC Rule 15a-6?

SEC Rule 15a-6 is a regulation established by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Also known as the "Foreign Broker-Dealer Chaperoning Rule," it outlines the conditions under which non-US broker-dealers and other foreign financial institutions (FFIs) can conduct business with US institutional investors (the US buy side). This rule aims to regulate cross-border transactions while ensuring investor protection and market integrity.

At its core, SEC Rule 15a-6 allows non-US broker-dealers to interact with US institutional investors under specific circumstances without registering as a broker-dealer in the US. Instead, they can rely on a licensed chaperoning broker-dealer to facilitate these transactions within the bounds of regulatory compliance. Because of SEC Rule 15a-6, certain foreign financial institutions are exempt from registering as U.S. broker-dealers under specific conditions.

What is a 15a-6 Chaperone?

A 15a-6 chaperone, also known as a 15a-6 chaperoning broker, serves as an intermediary between non-U.S. financial institutions and U.S. institutional investors. This role is critical in ensuring that foreign broker-dealers can engage with U.S. markets while adhering to the stringent regulatory requirements set forth by the SEC.

Key Responsibilities of a 15a-6 Chaperone:

Regulatory Oversight:

The chaperone ensures that all transactions comply with U.S. securities laws and SEC regulations. This includes supervising the execution of trades and maintaining detailed records to ensure transparency and compliance.

Facilitating Transactions:

Acting as a bridge, the chaperone enables foreign financial institutions to offer their investment products and services to U.S. institutional investors. The chaperone provides the necessary oversight to facilitate these transactions smoothly.

Expert Guidance:

A reputable 15a-6 chaperone possesses deep expertise in regulatory compliance and cross-border finance. They offer comprehensive support and guidance, helping FFIs navigate the complexities of the U.S. financial market.

Risk Management:

By ensuring adherence to regulatory standards, chaperones help mitigate the potential risks associated with cross-border transactions. This safeguards both the foreign broker-dealers and U.S. investors involved in these transactions.

Benefits of Working with a 15a-6 Chaperone:

Access to U.S. Markets: Non-U.S. broker-dealers can engage with U.S. institutional investors without the need for full SEC registration.

Regulatory Compliance:

Chaperones ensure that all transactions meet the stringent requirements of U.S. securities laws, providing peace of mind to foreign financial institutions.

Operational Efficiency:

By leveraging the expertise and infrastructure of a chaperone, foreign broker-dealers can streamline their operations and focus on their core business activities.

Choosing the Right 15a-6 Chaperone:

When selecting a 15a-6 chaperone, it is crucial to choose a firm with a proven track record and extensive experience in regulatory compliance. A reputable chaperone will have not only the necessary licenses, but also a deep understanding of both U.S. and international financial markets, and the technology to make the process as smooth as possible.

Marco Polo Exchange (MPX) stands out as the largest provider of 15a-6 chaperoning services, offering unparalleled expertise and a comprehensive suite of services to facilitate compliant and efficient cross-border transactions for foreign financial institutions.

What sets MPX apart is its Reg-Tech enabled platform, MPX Passport, which integrates advanced technology to automate compliance checks, monitor transactions in real-time, and ensure adherence to U.S. securities laws. This tech-enabled approach not only enhances operational efficiency but also provides a higher level of security and transparency, making MPX the preferred choice for foreign financial institutions seeking to engage in the U.S. markets. MPX is able to provide chaperoning services on Passport through their US broker dealer affiliate, Marco Polo Securities, Inc.

What is 15a-6 chaperoning service?

The chaperone service enables FFIs, not licensed in the US, to distribute investment products to US institutional investors. In a chaperoning arrangement, a registered U.S. broker-dealer acts as an intermediary or "chaperone" between the foreign broker-dealer and the U.S. client. The U.S. broker-dealer provides oversight to ensure compliance with U.S. securities laws and regulations.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) adopted Rule 15a-6 in 1989 to provide certain exemptions for foreign broker-dealers to engage in securities transactions with US customers without registering with the SEC. Over the years, the scope of Rule 15a-6 has been expanded and clarified through a series of related no-action letters, notably the “Seven Firms Letter” in 1996 and the “Nine Firms Letter” in 1997. Additionally, the SEC released responses to frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding Rule 15a-6 in March 2013.

15a-6 chaperone law

SEC Rule 15a-6 is not a law in the traditional sense but rather a regulation enacted by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The purpose of SEC Rule 15a-6 is to regulate cross-border interactions within the global financial market, balancing the need for investor protection and market integrity with the facilitation of international investment activities. Compliance with this rule is essential for FFIs seeking to engage with US institutional investors, as it delineates the permissible scope of their activities and the necessary safeguards to mitigate potential risks.

Reg-Tech enabled 15a-6 chaperoning

Marco Polo Exchange (MPX) offers the most comprehensive and secure tech-enabled registration environment for foreign firms to compliantly enter the US markets through MPX Passport. Marco Polo Securities, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of MPX, is licensed by the SEC to provide chaperoning services to MPX clients.

15a-6 chaperoning broker

As mentioned, the term 15a-6 chaperoning broker and 15a-6 chaperone are interchangeable. FFIs can solicit institutional buyers of execution services, deal flow and data products through MPX’s leading chaperone service. MPX is the largest 15a-6 chaperone in the United States.

15a-6 chaperone exemption

The provision within SEC Rule 15a-6 that establishes the conditions under which cross border transactions can occur between foreign financial intuitions (FFIs) and US institutional investors without requiring the FFI to register as a broker dealer in the US, through a licensed US chaperone.

The 15a-6 chaperone exemption refers to the provision under Rule 15a-6 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 which allows foreign broker-dealers to engage in certain activities in the United States without having to register with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). This rule is designed to facilitate cross-border securities transactions while maintaining investor protections.

Under this exemption, foreign broker-dealers can conduct a limited range of activities, such as:

  1. Effecting unsolicited trades: Foreign broker-dealers can accept and execute trades that are initiated by U.S. investors without any solicitation.
  2. Engaging in specific transactions with certain U.S. institutions: They can conduct business with certain qualified institutional buyers and major U.S. institutional investors.
  3. Chaperoning by a U.S. broker-dealer: Foreign broker-dealers can engage in certain solicited activities if they are "chaperoned" by a registered U.S. broker-dealer. This means the U.S. broker-dealer supervises and participates in the transaction, ensuring compliance with U.S. securities laws.

The chaperone exemption is particularly important for foreign broker-dealers looking to access the U.S. market without undergoing the full registration process, provided they adhere to the conditions set forth in Rule 15a-6.


Registering and maintaining a US broker-dealer can be difficult for FFIs, from both a time and cost standpoint. Working with a 15a-6 chaperone can provide a more cost-effective way to engage in broker dealer activities in the US without having to register as a US broker dealer. With over 120 clients foreign financial institution clients served, MPX is the leading provider of automated 15a-6 chaperoning service. Contact us today to learn more.

Wall Street New York

15a-6 Chaperoning: Pathway to the US Capital Markets

The US Capital Markets

The U.S. capital markets are the deepest, most dynamic and most liquid in the world, offering tremendous opportunities for securities firms looking to raise capital for their clients. However, our robust securities regulations provide challenges for foreign financial institutions seeking access to the US capital markets.

US Regulatory Environment

The SEC and FINRA provide essential services to the US economy and our capital markets participants. In the process of providing oversight and protection, they have created rules and regulations that securities firms must comply with.

The Choices for Foreign Financial Institutions

For foreign financial institutions interested in doing business in the United States, there are two options: The first option is to establish their own US broker-dealer, and the second option is to enter the US with a chaperone under SEC Rule 15a-6. The process of establishing a US broker-dealer is complex and bureaucratic, involving a significant time and financial commitment.

The 15a-6 Chaperoning Solution

The SEC permits foreign financial institutions to operate in the US through a chaperone under Rule 15a-6. A 15a-6 chaperone, registered with the SEC and FINRA, oversees and supervises the activities of the foreign firm in the U.S, allowing them to remain compliant with the SEC and FINRA.

Benefits of 15a-6 Chaperoning

Employing a 15a-6 chaperone comes with several benefits. Most importantly, chaperones help foreign financial institutions remain compliant with all applicable U.S. laws and regulations, safeguarding them from potential legal issues. Moreover, they provide access to U.S. institutional investors, a valuable resource that may not be easily accessible to foreign firms. They also can provide expert guidance on navigating the intricacies of the U.S. capital markets.

Does 15a-6 Apply to Your Firm?

If you are considering accessing the U.S. capital markets, you might be wondering whether your organization qualifies as a Foreign Financial Institution (FFI) under Rule 15a-6. In general, a foreign financial institution refers to any non-U.S. entity that is engaged in the business of buying and selling securities. This can include investment banks, broker-dealers, asset managers, private equity firms, insurance companies, banks, financial services firms, government entities, and other specialized financial institutions involved in securities transactions.

MPX Passport

Marco Polo Exchange has streamlined the 15a-6 chaperoning process through our state of the art platform, MPX Passport. Passport enables foreign financial institutions to quickly and easily remain compliant by providing comprehensive regulatory and back-office solutions that ensure a smooth, compliant, and efficient experience. Passport is provided exclusively for foreign financial institutions that work within a 15a-6 chaperoning agreement with Marco Polo Securities Inc., MPX’s broker-dealer subsidiary.


The U.S. capital markets offer immense opportunities, but the path to these can be complex for foreign firms. With 15a-6 chaperoning, this journey becomes significantly easier. By ensuring regulatory compliance, providing access to institutional investors, and delivering expert insights into the U.S. capital markets, 15a-6 chaperones serve as an invaluable ally for foreign financial firms.

Partner with Marco Polo

If your firm is a foreign financial institution with ambitions to grow in the United States, schedule a call with our team to discuss partnering with MPX and Marco Polo Securities for US chaperoning.