In an interesting no-action letter presented by FINRA, the SEC staff granted relief in that where FINRA saw multiple class ownerships where some of these classes indicate almost a relationship between a broker dealer and a customer, the staff would permit such ownership classes without it affecting SEC Exchange Act Rule 15c3-3.

The SEC would allow such arrangements so long as there is an outside lawyer’s opinion letter indicating it was a good legal standing, that the person is actually an equity participant in the firm, the relationship between the person and the brokerage is spelled out in writing, and that their investment is not considered protected under the securities Laws or Securities Investors Protection Act, this person must reaffirm this in writing each year, and the registered person is appropriately registered.

This no-action letter will permit those who wish to invest in broker dealers who seem to be customers are in fact owners.  See Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, SEC No-Action Letter, (12/10/12), and http://sec.gov/divisions/marketreg/mr-noaction/2012/finra-121012-15c3-1.pdf.