Informed consumers can be a powerful antidote to bad news about advisors who do wrong by their clients.
By Cyril Tuohy
The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) has announced that it will conduct a survey of registered municipal advisors beginning the week of June 16 and lasting until early July to gather input on a professional qualification exam for municipal advisors.
The confidential electronic survey will assess the business activities of municipal advisory professionals, the MSRB said. No end date was given for the survey.
MSRB Executive Director Lynnette Kelly said the board hopes to collect information from as many “municipal advisor professionals” as possible. There are 900 municipal advisor companies registered with the MSRB.
“Because of the diversity of the industry, responses from a variety of firms will play a central role in guiding the MSRB’s work to develop a professional qualifications program that makes sense for all municipal advisors,” Kelly said in a news release.
The survey will be conducted by an independent survey administrator. The administrator will distribute the survey to individuals at registered municipal advisor firms who are designated as a regulatory contact for the MSRB.
Survey recipients are invited to distribute the survey to other “appropriate professionals” within the firm, the MSRB also said.
Municipal advisors who have previously indicated a willingness to complete the survey will also receive the survey, which will run from the week of June 16 until early July, the MSRB said.
The MSRB will host a webinar at 4 p.m. June 18 to provide instructions for completing the survey, and registered municipal advisors will receive a registration link to the webinar.
Professional qualification exams are one way for regulators to bring more order and supervision to the $3.7 trillion municipal securities marketplace, one that has until now been lightly regulated and almost always opaque.
Other ways in which regulators are seeking to bring more oversight to the municipal market include the appointment of a chief compliance officer within an advisory firm.
Examinations and stiffer compliance measures are part of a new regulatory framework for municipal advisors outlined in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act passed by Congress in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.
In December, the city of Detroit filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy after it couldn’t pay an estimated $18 billion in debt and long-term liabilities. It is the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.
Cyril Tuohy is a writer based in Pennsylvania. He has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at [email protected].
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