The NASD has advised its members that they must save all instant message communications for at least three years and ensure that those messages follow guidelines for sales literature and correspondence. Similar rules already apply to the use of e-mails.

Independent broker/dealers will probably ask their employees and registered representatives to restrict or do away with instant messaging rather than submit to the onerous task of keeping records of such communications, consultants said.

Particularly in today's post-boom era of conservative investing and careful asset allocation, rapid-fire communication is not a business necessity for most representatives. Unlike active traders, they rarely use instant messaging for communications with clients, each other or broker/dealer management. And most execute orders through their broker/dealer's own technology platform.

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