Contact: Leah Szarek, Chief External Relations Officer
MSRB’S BOARD VOTES TO RETURN $19 MILLION IN EXCESS RESERVES TO THE INDUSTRY
Washington, DC – The municipal market’s self-regulatory organization approved an 18-month, 40% reduction in certain market-based fees, a move projected to return $19 million in excess reserves to the organization’s primary funders by the end of Fiscal Year 2022. The Board of Directors of the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) met virtually on January 27-28, 2021, where it also voted to provide additional regulatory relief in light of the ongoing impact of the pandemic.
“While the Board has approved fee rebates and reductions in the past, this is the most substantial move yet to return excess money to the dealer community, whose fees account for over 75% of the MSRB’s revenues,” said Patrick Brett, Chair of the Board’s Finance Committee. “This decisive action puts money back in the hands of those who contributed it, and it does so quickly and efficiently.”
As detailed in the MSRB’s 2020 annual report, higher-than-expected revenues from market activity in 2020 and expense savings from shifting to virtual operations both contributed to excess reserve levels.
“Today's Board action reflects our commitment to be engaged with the industry we regulate and the market we serve, and to listen to the concerns of our stakeholders,” said MSRB CEO Mark Kim. “We did not expect to end last year with a surplus, but I am pleased that we are in a position now to return all of our excess reserves to the industry.”
The 40% fee reduction will apply to underwriting, transaction and technology fees assessed for dealer activity from April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2022. The MSRB will file the temporary fee reduction with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the coming weeks.
Also at its meeting, the Board determined to provide additional regulatory relief by extending the compliance date until August 2, 2021 for implementing amended Form G-32, which will collect additional data points on primary offerings. To help firms prepare for compliance, the MSRB today published a draft submission manual for the new form.
As part of its retrospective rule review, the Board authorized staff to issue a request for comment on next steps in modernizing MSRB Rule G-27 on dealer supervision.
“It is clear that our way of working is forever changed by this pandemic, and we recognize that our rules will need to adapt,” Kim said. “We look forward to working in coordination with the industry and our fellow regulators to ensure our supervisory rule is effective and appropriate going forward.”
The Board also authorized staff to advance amendments to Rule G-3, on professional qualification requirements, to facilitate implementing the recommendations of the Securities Industry/Regulatory Council on Continuing Education related to CE program requirements.
The Board named Jacob Lesser to serve as general counsel effective February 1, 2021. Lesser has led the MSRB’s Office of the General Counsel as deputy general counsel.
“The organization has greatly benefitted from Jake’s leadership and legal acumen, and with his promotion to General Counsel, our senior leadership team is well-positioned to carry out our important mission,” Kim said.
The Board also met with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) President and CEO, Robert Cook, and discussed matters of regulatory coordination, including ongoing coordination to review the practice of pennying.
Finally, the Board prepared for its February 3-4, 2021 strategic planning workshop, where it will continue synthesizing stakeholder input to develop a new vision and mission statement that articulates the organization's strategic goals and priorities for the future.
The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) protects and strengthens the municipal bond market, enabling access to capital, economic growth, and societal progress in tens of thousands of communities across the country. The MSRB fulfills this mission by creating trust in our market through informed regulation of dealers and municipal advisors that protects investors, issuers and the public interest; building technology systems that power our market and provide transparency for issuers, institutions, and the investing public; and serving as the steward of market data that empowers better decisions and fuels innovation for the future. The MSRB is a self-regulatory organization governed by a board of directors that has a majority of public members, in addition to representatives of regulated entities. The MSRB is overseen by the Securities and Exchange Commission and Congress.