Carrying Brokers: Simplifying Brokerage Operations
Carrying brokers are specialized firms that handle back-office tasks for other brokers, allowing the latter to focus on core functions. They ensure compliance, manage client documents, and monitor credit risk for margin accounts.
Carrying brokers play a crucial role in the world of brokerage firms. They act as support entities, enabling other brokers to concentrate on essential tasks, such as acquiring new clients or offering dedicated support to existing ones. These client-focused brokerage firms are often referred to as introducing brokers (IB).
What Carrying Brokers Do
Back-office responsibilities for a network of broker clients are efficiently handled by carrying brokers through leveraging their staff and technology. Instead of each broker duplicating administrative functions, carrying brokers provide economies of scale by outsourcing these tasks. This approach frees broker clients to concentrate on revenue-generating activities.
Competing for business, carrying brokers promote the quality of their personnel, systems, and track record. In this industry, established and larger carrying brokers hold an advantage over newer, smaller ones. This advantage arises from the substantial legal and regulatory implications associated with tasks delegated to carrying brokers, such as preventing money laundering.
Carrying Brokers Benefits
Besides size and track record, clients consider various factors when selecting a carrying broker. One crucial aspect is the depth and speed of information delivery. Carrying brokers that promptly provide accurate information about transactions, margin statuses, and collateral levels are more valuable for risk management.
Carrying brokers also compete based on the markets and products accessible through them. If a brokerage client wishes to trade on a new exchange or with a unique financial instrument, the carrying broker must accommodate this request.
Maintaining high customer service standards and offering competitive fees are additional competitive factors. Carrying brokers often assign dedicated account managers to handle issues promptly. For significant or valuable clients, they may negotiate special fees, such as waiving specific margin or transaction costs based on maintained volume or assets under management (AUM).
A non-carrying broker-dealer differs significantly from a carrying broker-dealer. The key distinction lies in custody. Non-carrying broker-dealers do not have custody of customer assets and, therefore, file exemption reports reviewed by independent public accountants. In contrast, carrying broker-dealers, possessing custody, must submit compliance reports for examination.
Broker vs. Clearing House
Brokers and clearing houses perform different roles in the financial transaction process. Clearing houses facilitate actual transactions with exchanges, while brokers ensure trade acceptability for themselves and their represented companies. Brokers then transmit trades to clearing houses, which execute them on the corresponding exchange.
Understanding Carrying Agreements
According to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), a carrying agreement is a contractual arrangement between two firms involved in securities transactions. In 2018, FINRA recognized deficiencies in the language surrounding carrying agreements and revised the FINRA manual to provide greater clarity. FINRA Rule 4311 governs these extensive changes, including prohibiting members from entering securities transaction agreements with non-FINRA entities.
Carrying brokers streamline brokerage operations by executing detailed transactions on behalf of broker-represented firms, both institutional and retail. These brokers handle the necessary transactions and paperwork, charging a service fee to clients for their transaction management services. In a complex financial landscape, carrying brokers serve as essential partners for brokerage firms, allowing them to focus on their core business activities.