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Guidance for Alternative Trading Systems


An alternative trading system (ATS) is an SEC-regulated trading venue in which a computerized system matches buy and sell orders of securities. An ATS is not a national securities exchange, an ATS may apply to the SEC to become a national securities exchange.1 An ATS that registers as a broker-dealer must also comply with the obligations associated with being a registered broker-dealer, including FINRA membership and compliance with FINRA rules.2

For purposes of this Guidance, a prospective applicant for new membership should carefully review, in particular, Rules 1012 (General Provisions), 1013 (New Member Application and Interview), 1014 (Department Decision), and for an existing member that is contemplating the operation of an ATS, Rules 1012, 1014, and 1017 (Application for Approval of Change in Ownership, Control, or Business Operations).

FINRA Compliance Tools Disclaimer

This optional tool is provided to assist member firms in fulfilling their regulatory obligations. This tool is provided as a starting point, and you must tailor this tool to reflect the size and needs of the applicant. Using this tool does not guarantee compliance with or create any safe harbor with respect to FINRA rules, the federal securities laws or state laws, or other applicable federal or state regulatory requirements. This tool does not create any new legal or regulatory obligations for firms or other entities.


This tool was last updated on June 29, 2023. This tool does not reflect any regulatory changes since that date. FINRA periodically reviews and updates these tools. FINRA reminds member firms to stay apprised of new or amended laws, rules and regulations, and update their WSPs and compliance programs on an ongoing basis.

Additional Guidance

Member firms seeking additional guidance on certain regulatory obligations should review the Broker-Dealer Registration Topic Page and other relevant FINRA Topic Pages. Applicants are also encouraged to avail themselves of MAP’s pre-filing meeting process by contacting MAP at [email protected] or 212-858-4000 – Option 5 – Membership Applications.

Staff Contact(s)

FINRA’s Office of General Counsel (OGC) staff provides broker-dealers, attorneys, registered representatives, investors, and other interested parties with interpretative guidance relating to FINRA’s rules. Please see Interpreting the Rules for more information.

OGC Staff Contacts
Kosha Dalal and Sarah Kwak
1700 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 728-8000

MAP Staff Contact
Jante Turner
(202) 728-8317

MAP Intake
[email protected]
(212) 858-4000
(Option 5 – Membership Applications)


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1 See generally “Alternative Trading Systems (ATSs),” SEC’s

2 See Securities Exchange Act Release No. 40760 (December 8, 1998), 63 FR 70844 (December 22, 1998) (Regulation of Exchanges and Alternative Trading Systems). See also FINRA Regulatory Notice 18-25 (August 2018) (reminding ATSs of their obligations to supervise activity on their platforms).