Letter from the Board Chair and the CEO (January 2023)
Since 1975, the MSRB has been entrusted to serve as an independent, private, self-regulatory organization (SRO) for the municipal securities market. Our mission to protect investors and issuers in this market has never been more important as financial markets continue to evolve at an ever-increasing pace. This country’s long tradition of state and local government financing through the issuance of municipal securities makes it possible to build the nation’s public schools, hospitals and other critical infrastructure that make our lives better today and provide for a better tomorrow. The municipal securities market has earned the trust of investors from around the world and benefited tens of thousands of communities across the nation. This trust did not come about overnight, however. It’s built on a regulatory framework established by the MSRB that enabled this market to grow into a $4 trillion engine of capital formation.
As the principal regulator of the municipal securities market, the MSRB fulfills its Congressional mandate to serve the public interest and uphold the public trust by establishing rules that ensure a transparent, efficient and fair market. We constantly engage in dialogue with stakeholders, fellow regulators and the general public to ensure all viewpoints are represented as we seek to protect and strengthen our market.
Strong markets function best when regulations keep pace with evolving market practices and technologies. That is the focus of the MSRB’s four-year Strategic Plan developed with extensive public input. We are pleased to communicate our progress across all four strategic pillars:
- Modernizing the MSRB rulebook to create a more fair and efficient market: In addition to continuing to provide regulatory relief due to the impacts of COVID-19, we worked closely with our fellow financial regulators to undertake a comprehensive examination of fixed income market structure. The MSRB has launched or plans to launch a series of regulatory initiatives aimed at improving post-trade, time of trade, and pre-trade transparency, including the issuance of a request for comment (RFC) on proposed amendments to post-trade reporting requirements.
- Enhancing municipal securities market transparency and access on EMMA: We are investing in modernizing the Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA®) website. We continued to work on enhancing EMMA to facilitate regulatory compliance and make EMMA easier to use. While we are still in the middle of a major refresh of the EMMA user experience, we are focused on improving the continuing disclosure submission process and other critical enhancements based on user feedback such as improving capabilities for issuers to make voluntary disclosures. We also redesigned our website MSRB.org.
- Improving the quality of market data to enhance investor and issuer protection: We took important steps to enhance our ability to serve as the central repository of data for the municipal securities market. One major initiative was the launch of EMMA Labs, the MSRB’s innovation sandbox. EMMA Labs enables municipal market participants to co-create the future of transparency by testing prototypes of data analytic tools and services for their potential release on EMMA.
- Upholding the public trust through transparency and accountability: Our duty to uphold the public trust in the municipal securities market and in the MSRB as the market’s SRO begins with fiscal transparency and accountability. We instituted a new fee-setting process that better manages our reserves and ensures the MSRB has sufficient revenues to fund operations as we deliver on our multi-year strategic plan.
As we look forward to FY 2023, our highest responsibility is to serve the public interest and advance the public’s trust in the MSRB. We continue to make critical investments in the future of the MSRB and its ability to serve as the principal regulator of the municipal securities market. And we remain inspired by our vision to give America the confidence to invest in its communities.
Meredith L. Hathorn, Board Chair
Mark Kim, CEO
Letter from the CEO (September 2021)
For over 45 years, the MSRB has served as the principal regulator of the municipal securities market. As this dynamic market continues to evolve, the MSRB’s vision to give America the confidence to invest in its communities has never been more important. The market we regulate touches people’s lives every single day by financing the country’s infrastructure, from public schools that educate our children and hospitals that care for our loved ones to the water we drink. We remain firmly grounded in our Congressional mandate to protect investors, state and local government issuers and the public interest by promoting a fair and efficient market.
The pace of change is accelerating in every capital market, and municipal securities are no exception. There has never been a more important time for the MSRB to plan for the future and I am delighted to present our FY 2022-2025 Strategic Plan, which lays out a clear roadmap of where we are going, how we will get there and what it means for you. The four strategic goals and guiding principles will advance our mission to strengthen the market that enables access to capital and economic and social progress for communities across the country.
This Strategic Plan draws on input from an extensive public engagement process over the past year that included an open comment period and a series of in-depth interviews with core stakeholders—investors, issuers, broker-dealers and municipal advisors—as well as other market participants. In developing this plan, we stayed true to what we heard from you and trust you will see your important perspectives reflected within. As a self-regulatory organization, we depend on your ongoing engagement to keep this plan relevant, and ultimately, to achieve better outcomes.
You will see in this Strategic Plan our steadfast commitment to serve the public interest and embrace our social responsibility as a regulator. We will redouble our efforts not only to be a more diverse and inclusive organization, but also to promote greater diversity and inclusion within the market we regulate and to foster a more sustainable and resilient future.
On behalf of the MSRB, I wish to express my gratitude to everyone who contributed to the development of this Strategic Plan. In particular, I would like to acknowledge the commitment and dedication of our staff and Board of Directors who shared their thoughts, wisdom and vision for the future. Together, we will continue to build an organization that engenders public trust and gives America the confidence to invest in its communities. Onward!
Chief Executive Officer