MSRB to Focus on Key Issues Affecting Fairness, Transparency and Efficiency in the Coming Year

November 5, 2013

By The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board

The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB), the regulator of the municipal market, each year sets clear priorities and engages market participants in constructive dialogue about effective ways to achieve these priorities. In the coming year, the MSRB is focused on implementing a regulatory framework for municipal advisors and improving pricing for investors and issuers as its top priorities.

Price transparency is essential to fulfilling the MSRB’s mission to protect investors, state and local governments and other issuers of municipal bonds. The MSRB’s Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA®) website has brought municipal market transparency to new levels by providing free public access to real-time trade prices and other data and disclosure documents.

The MSRB is working to enhance EMMA with better usability and still more data, particularly related to pricing. In fiscal year 2014, the MSRB plans to move forward with developing a platform to provide comprehensive, interactive and real-time display of both pre- and post-trade pricing data. This is a gradual process that will involve extensive opportunities for market feedback on how best to expand public access to “live” information about the current state of the municipal market. 

Implementing a regulatory framework for municipal advisors is another priority that will benefit from extensive market input. With the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)’s final guidance on the definition of “municipal advisor” released in September 2013, the MSRB will carefully study the guidance and continue its outreach to municipal advisors as it assumes oversight responsibilities. The MSRB will take an incremental approach to rulemaking in light of the SEC’s final guidance and seek public comment on all rule proposals. It will also continue to work with the municipal advisory industry to develop a professional qualification exam to establish standards of competency for municipal advisors. 

In addition to these top priorities, the MSRB continues to focus on improving regulatory efficiency by streamlining or consolidating MSRB rules and related guidance and aligning the MSRB rule book with the rules of other regulators as appropriate. 

For example, the MSRB is moving forward with a package of rule proposals to simplify interpretive guidance associated with MSRB Rule G-17 on fair dealing by consolidating key principles into stand-alone rules. The MSRB also plans to consolidate the numerous provisions and rules related to registering with the MSRB into a single MSRB registration rule. Importantly, all MSRB rule proposals are informed by a thorough process to assess the costs, benefits and alternatives to proposed rulemaking.

The MSRB also remains committed to providing education, outreach and market leadership on a range of municipal market topics. Its online Investor Toolkit and State and Local Government Toolkit are frequently updated with new information and resources. The MSRB is also expanding its use of video to educate investors and issuers about working with financial professionals in the municipal market.

The MSRB encourages municipal market participants to explore the organization’s website to access up-to-date information and sign up to receive updates. Feedback on the MSRB’s priorities is welcomed, whether through the formal process of responding to requests for comment on potential rules, or through contact forms on the MSRB websites. Input from a wide variety of market stakeholders helps the MSRB ensure that its efforts contribute to its goal of a fair and efficient municipal market. Sign up for MSRB email updates.