ALEXANDRIA, Va.-A federal credit union employee cannot provide investment advice or affect securities transactions that would bring the employee or institution under federal or state securities laws, a recent NCUA legal opinion letter read. Unless, of course, they are a shared employee with a broker, dealer or adviser. “FCU employees, however, may provide general financial counseling in their capacity as a credit union employee, or investment advice if acting under the control of a third-party as a shared employee of both the FCU and third-party,” NCUA Associate General Counsel Sheila Albin wrote. NCUA offered guidance on third-party sales of securities to credit union members in a 1993 Letter to Credit Unions (No. 150), which states that federal credit unions have no power to provide advice on investments, she explained. The NCUA Board also clarified this in the preamble to the incidental powers rule, she added. Additionally, Albin wrote, the preamble distinguishes financial counseling and finder activities regarding nondeposit investment sales. However, she noted, a federal credit union is permitted to share its employees with a broker, dealer, or investment adviser (legal opinion letter 01-0742, August 31, 2001) and that employee may provide investment advice “exclusively on behalf and under the control of the licensed or otherwise regulated third-party and not in his capacity as an FCU employee.”

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