Message from Leadership

   

   "The MSRB wants to encourage more retail investors, municipal issuers and other stakeholders to take advantage of the information available on EMMA." 

- Colleen Woodell (right), Chair
Lynnette Kelly, Executive Director

Investor protection is poised for a game-changing year as the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) continues to improve the fairness and transparency of the costs of buying or selling a municipal bond. Building on our fair pricing rules and the recently implemented best-execution requirement for handling customer orders, the MSRB is seeking to ensure that dealers disclose their compensation – the mark-up or mark-down – on municipal securities transactions with retail investors. Pending Securities and Exchange Commission approval of our proposed mark-up rule, the MSRB will work with market stakeholders to facilitate implementation of this important new protection for investors.

Among the provisions of our proposed mark-up rule is a requirement that customer confirmations include links to the MSRB’s Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA®) website for more information on pricing and dealer compensation. The MSRB wants to encourage more retail investors, municipal issuers and other stakeholders to take advantage of the information available on EMMA. To determine how we can make the EMMA website easier for investors and others to use, we plan to meet with stakeholders throughout the year to gather feedback and suggestions for usability improvements. Meanwhile, we will continue to enhance the site with features that support market transparency, including a new-issue calendar, third-party yield curves and, potentially, pre-trade price data.

Continually revisiting the MSRB’s long-term vision for EMMA is a key aspect of our strategic planning process. This year the Board of Directors will convene for a strategic planning session to consider how we should best advance our mission to promote a fair, transparent and efficient municipal market in the years ahead. Input from market stakeholders helps inform the Board’s discussion and prioritization of regulatory, transparency and educational initiatives.

On the heels of a year in which the MSRB implemented historic new regulations for municipal advisory professionals, we recognize the need to allow the industry to adjust to these new regulatory responsibilities and professional standards. Given the importance of the regulations for the municipal entities that rely on municipal advisors for advice, the MSRB will continue to facilitate compliance with the rules through outreach and education.

The MSRB plans to begin to assess the impact of the municipal advisor rules to further inform our efforts to build on the new regulatory framework. This year, the MSRB is establishing additional professional qualification standards for municipal advisors, including an examination for municipal advisor principals and continuing education requirements to ensure all professionals are properly qualified and trained. The MSRB also plans to address municipal advisors’ advertising practices and the activities of solicitor municipal advisors, who are not covered by the MSRB’s core conduct regulation, Rule G-42.

The MSRB believes market education is critical to supporting effective rulemaking and transparency initiatives. The MSRB’s online Education Center and on-demand regulatory webinars ensure free public access to non-commercial, authoritative information on the municipal securities market. The MSRB has leveraged advances in education technology to supplement these resources with a suite of interactive, online courses for municipal market participants called MuniEdProSM. The MSRB will continue to build out the MuniEdProSM course catalog and deliver a free course on municipal securities for both investors and municipal entities.

As the municipal market continues to evolve, the MSRB remains committed to ensuring that our regulatory, transparency and education initiatives reflect the needs of the market of today and create a more fair, efficient and transparent market of tomorrow. The MSRB welcomes input from market participants and other stakeholders to help inform our current policymaking and our strategic planning for the future.

        
 Colleen Woodell, Chair  Lynnette Kelly, Executive Director

        

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