View from the Board

A regular feature on members of the MSRB Board of Directors; excerpts from the MSRB Update. Subscribe to the MSRB Update

Christopher Ryon

For municipal securities investor and MSRB Board Member Christopher Ryon, the most important role of the MSRB is to create a fair and efficient market that allows investors to confidently put their capital to work. Millions of investors rely on the municipal market, and Ryon says the ability of the MSRB to provide access to market information is essential to maintaining a healthy climate for investors.

“If people have confidence in the market, they’ll access it through individual securities, mutual funds or separately managed accounts,” he says. “And if they know they are getting the right price, odds are they will commit more capital. The transparency and disclosure the MSRB makes possible help increase that confidence.”

That confidence is important in a market that attracts the largest percentage of individual investors and more bond issuers than any other capital market. Ryon, who is managing director at Thornburg Investment Group, says the MSRB’s EMMA website and trade data feeds that the MSRB makes available to market participants help investors create a full picture for pricing municipal securities. “Our in-house database incorporates MSRB trade price data with other indicative data, so we can see where a specific municipal bond should trade,” he says. This ability to more accurately price a bond supports a more efficient market. “Because of MSRB data, investors have a better price discovery tool to strengthen their bids, which is good for the market as a whole.”

As a professional investor who has been analyzing municipal bonds for more than 30 years, Ryon remembers the time when disclosure meant getting a phone call with someone giving a description of a bond, or when he would find out that a bond he purchased was different than what he thought he bought. Ryon says the availability of official statements and secondary market disclosures on EMMA has provided more certainty for municipal market investors. “A market is based on uncertainty,” he says, “But the surprises that you used to have because you didn’t have clarity into what you were buying has been significantly reduced.”

Renee Boicourt

As one of three non-dealer municipal advisor representatives to the Board, Renee Boicourt knows that success in the municipal market is all about collaboration. Through her 30 years of work in the industry advising municipal bond issuers, Boicourt has observed that the public finance sector is at its peak when all parties have a place at the table. Now Managing Director at Lamont Financial Services Corporation, Boicourt sees the same dynamic at work on the MSRB Board of Directors.

She says that just as all parties need to work together for a successful transaction, successful oversight of the municipal securities market requires the collective input of the different participants. “The Board does well by having diversity of disciplines. You’ve got expertise from a lot of different angles,” she says. “The regulated members of the Board take the time to understand and think through the potential second-order effects of proposed regulations on market dynamics and the public members bring other points of view. The right people are at the table.”

As one of many Board members who has dedicated their professional life to public finance, Boicourt appreciates the common purpose that draws many to the municipal securities market. “I think the public finance industry has this self-selection process of who goes into the profession,” she says. “It draws in people who care about public policy. You’re helping, advising and lending into policy settings, essentially helping clients solve policy problems. It’s very rewarding.”  

Boicourt is among those municipal financial professionals who until 2010, were not federally regulated. The MSRB has since established rules of professional conduct and qualification requirements for municipal advisors. She says that while regulation sometimes is viewed as a burden, it is essential for protecting the market.

“Sometimes you hear that nobody wants to be regulated, but I don’t think that is true. What we want is to be self-regulated so that the bad actors don’t destroy the business and hurt the clients and the market,” she says. “In that sense, we do want to be regulated, and we want to be regulated by a technically well-informed body like the MSRB.”