Understanding investment banking rules, securities markets, brokerage accounts, margin and debt

Join Our Mailing List

A Primer for Investors and Entrepreneurial Medical Professionals

Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™

SPONSOR: http://www.CertifiedMedicalPlanner.org

[PART 1 OF 8]

BC Dr. Marcinko

NOTE: This is an eight part ME-P series based on a weekend lecture I gave more than a decade ago to an interested group of graduate, business and medical school students. The material is a bit dated and some facts and specifics may have changed since then. But, the overall thought-leadership information of the essay remains interesting and informative. We trust you will enjoy it.


The history, function and processes of the investment banking industry, and the rules and regulations of the securities industry and their respective markets, as well as the use of  brokerage accounts, margin and debt, will be briefly reviewed in this ME-P series.

An understanding of these concepts is required of all doctors and medical professionals as they pursue a personal investment strategy.


New economy corporate events of the past several years have provided many financial signs and symptoms that indicate a creeping securitization of the for-profit healthcare industrial complex. Similarly, fixed income medical investors should understand how Federal and State regulations impact upon personal and public debt needs. For, without investment banking firms, it would be almost impossible for private industry, medical corporations and government to raise needed capital.


When a corporation such as a physician practice management company (PPMC), or similar entity needs, to raise capital for growth or expansion, there are two methods. Raising debt or equity. If equity is used, the corporation can market securities directly to the public by contacting its current stockholders and asking them to purchase the new securities in a  rights offering, by advertising or by hiring salespeople. Although this last example is somewhat exaggerated, it illustrates that there is a cost to selling new securities, which may be considerable if the firm itself undertakes the task.

For this reason, most corporations employ help in marketing new securities by using the services of investment bankers who sell new securities to the general public.  Although the investment banking is an exciting and vital industry, many SEC rules regulating it are not. Nevertheless, it is important for all physician executives to understand basic concepts of the industry if raising public money is ever a possibility or anticipated goal. It is also important for individual healthcare investors  to understand something about securities underwriting to reduce the likelihood of fraudulent investment schemes or ill-conceived transactions which ultimately result in monetary loss.

Fundamentals of the Investment Banking Industry

Investment bankers are not really bankers at all. The fact that the word banker appears in the name is partially responsible for the  false impressions that exist in the medical community regarding the functions they perform.

For example, they are not permitted to accept deposit, provide checking accounts, or perform other activities normally construed to be commercial banking activities. An investment bank is simply a firm that specializes in helping other corporations obtain the money they need under the most advantageous terms possible.

When it comes to the actual process of having securities issued, the corporation approaches an investment banking firm, either directly, or through a competitive selection process and asks it to act as adviser and distributor.  Investment bankers, or under writers, as they are sometimes called, are middlemen in the capital markets for corporate securities.

The medical corporation requiring the funds discuss the amount, type of security to be issued, price and other features of the security, as well as the cost to issuing the securities. All of these factors are negotiated in a process known as known as negotiated underwriting. If mutually acceptable terms are reached, the investment banking firm will be the middle man through which the securities are sold to the general public. Since such firms have many customers, they are able to sell new securities, without the costly search that individual corporations may require to sell its own security. Thus, although the firm in need of  additional capital must pay for the service, it is usually able to raise the additional capital at less expense through the use of an investment banker, than by selling the securities itself.

The agreement between the investment banker and the corporation may be one of two types. The investment bank may agree to purchase, or underwrite, the entire issue of securities and to re-offer them to the general public. This is  known as a firm commitment.

When an investment banker agrees to underwrite such a sale,  it  agrees to supply the corporation with a specified amount of money. The firm buys the securities with the intention to resell them. If it fails to sell the securities, the investment banker must still pay the agreed upon sum. Thus, the risk of selling rests with the underwriter and not with the company issuing the securities.

The alternative agreement is a best efforts agreement in which the investment banker makes his best effort to sell the securities acting on behalf of the issuer, but does not guarantee a specified amount of money will be raised.

When a corporation raises new capital through a public offering of stock, on might inquire from where does the stock come? The only source the corporation has is authorized, but previously un-issued stock. Anytime authorized, but previously un-issued stock (new stock) is issued to the public, it is known as a primary offering. If it’s the very first time the corporation is making the offering, it’s also known as the Initial Public Offering (IPO). Anytime there is a primary offering of stock, the issuing corporation is raising additional equity capital.

A secondary offering, or distribution, on the other hand, is defied as an offering of a large block of outstanding stock. Most frequently, a secondary offering is the sale of a large block of stock owned by one or more stockholders. It is stock that has previously been issued and is now being re-sold by investors. Another case would be when a corporation re-sells its treasury stock.

Prior to any further discussions of investment banking, there are several industry terms that’s should  be defined.

For example, an agent buys or sells securities for the account and risk of another party, and charges a commission. In the securities business, the terms broker and agent are used synonymously. This is not true of the insurance industry.

On the other hand, a principal is one who acts as a dealer rather than an agent or broker. A dealer buys and sells for his own account Finally, the dealer makes money by buying at one price and selling at a higher price. Thus, it is easy to understand how an investment banking firm earns money handling a best efforts offering; they make a commission on every share they sell.

  Comprehensive Financial Planning Strategies for Doctors and Advisors: Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners™

The Securities Act of 1933 (Act of Full Disclosure)

When a corporation makes a public offering of its stock, it is bound by the provisions of the Securities Act of 1933, which is also known as the Act of Full Disclosure. The primary requirement of  the Act is that the corporation must file a registration statement (full disclosure) with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC); containing some of the following items:

  • Description of the business entity raising the money.
  • Biographical data regarding officers and directors of the issuer.
  • Listing of share holdings of officers, directors, and holders of more than 10% of the issuer’s securities (insiders).
  • Financial statements including a breakdown of existing capitalization (existing debt and equity structure).
  • Intended use of offering proceeds.
  • Legal proceedings involving the issuer, such as suits, antitrust actions or strikes.

Acting in its capacity as an adviser to the corporation, the investment banking firm files out the registration statement with the SEC. It then takes the SEC a period of time to review the information in the registration statement. This is the “cooling off period” and the issue is said to be “in registration” during this time. When the Act written in 1933, Congress thought that 20 days would be enough time from the filing date, until the effective date the sale of  securities is permitted.

In reality, it frequently takes much longer than 20 days for the SEC to complete its review. But, regardless of how long it lasts, it’s known as the cooling off period. At the end of the cooling off period, the SEC will either accept the issue or they will send a letter back to the issuer, and the underwriter, explaining that there is incomplete information in the registration statement. This letter is known as a deficiency letter. It will postpone the effectiveness of the registration statement until the deficiency is remedied. Even if initially, or eventually approved, an effective registration does not mean that the SEC has approved the issue.

For example, the following well known disclaimer statement written in bold red ink, is required to be placed in capital letters on the front cover page of every prospectus:




During the cooling off period, the investment bank tries to create interest in the market place for the issue. In order to do that, it distributes a preliminary prospectus, more commonly known as a “red herring”. It is known as a red herring because of the red lettering on the front page.  The statement on the very top with the date is printed in red as well as the statements on the left hand margin of the preliminary prospectus.

The cost of printing the red herring is borne by the investment bank, since they are  trying to market it.. The red herring includes information from the registration statement that will be most helpful for potential medical investors trying to make a decision. It describes the company and the securities to be issued; includes the firm’s financial statements; its current activities; the regulatory bodies to which it is subject; the nature of its competition; the management of the corporation, and what the expected proceeds will be used for. Two very important items  missing from the red herring are the public offering price and the effective date of the issue, as neither are known for certain at this point in time.

The public offering price is generally determined on the date that the securities become effective for sale (effective date). Waiting until the last minute enables the investment bankers to price the new issue in line with current market conditions. Since the investment banker uses the red herring to try to create interest in the market place, stock brokers [aka: Registered Representatives (RRs) with a Series # 7 general securities license –  After a 2 hour multiple-choice computerize test, I held this license for a decade ) will send copies of the red herring to their clients for whom they feel the issue is a suitable investment. The SEC is very strict on what can be said about an issue, in registration.

In fact, during the pre-filing period (the time when the negotiations are going on between the issuer\and underwriter), absolutely nothing can be said about it to anyone.  For example, if the regulators find out that your stock broker discussed with you  the fact that his firm was negotiating with an issuer for a possible public offering, he could be fined, or jailed.

During the cooling off period (the time when the red herring is being distributed), nothing may be sent to you; not a research report, nor a recommendation from another firm, or even the sales literature. The only thing you are permitted to receive is the red herring. The red herring is used to acquaint prospects with essential information about the offering. If you are interested in purchasing the security, then you will receive an “indication of interest”, but you can still not make a purchase or send money.

No sales may be made until the effective date; all that can be used to generate interest is the red herring.


Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Link: http://feeds.feedburner.com/HealthcareFinancialsthePostForcxos

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com


Product DetailsProduct DetailsProduct Details


3 Responses

  1. Dr. Marcinko,

    Awesome essay. I can’t wait for the remainder in this series. And, I enjoy your writing style and syntax.



  2. What Investment Bankers Say About Rating Agencies Behind Their Backs

    Credit-rating agencies are supposed to make independent judgments about the risks of a deal.


    But, in their pitches for state business in tobacco bonds, bankers bragged they could manipulate the raters to get favorable treatment for their transactions.



  3. Definitely an amazing blog :)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: