MSRB Chair Talks About Pri­or­i­ties

The Bond Buyer - - Front Page - BY KYLE GLAZIER

PHOENIX -- Trail­blazer Lucy Hooper is set to pre­side over a sig­nif­i­cant shift at the Mu­nic­i­pal Se­cu­ri­ties Rule­mak­ing Board, as the board fin­ishes man­dated rule­mak­ing for mu­nic­i­pal ad­vi­sors and fo­cuses more on re­view­ing some ex­ist­ing rules to de­ter­mine if they need up­dat­ing as well as help­ing mar­ket par­tic­i­pants com­ply with its rules.

Hooper, who as­sumes the chair­man­ship of the board with the start of the MSRB’s new fis­cal year Oct. 1, is an ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent and di­rec­tor of fixed in­come sales and trad­ing with Daven­port & Com­pany.

A mem­ber of the MSRB since 2014, she be­comes chair as the board un­der­takes a re­view of its rules on pri­mary of­fer­ing prac­tic- es to de­ter­mine if de­vel­op­ments in re­cent years war­rant their up­dat­ing. The board is also try­ing to do more out­reach to mar­ket par­tic­i­pants so that they un­der­stand its rules and can bet­ter com­ply with them.

The board’s new agenda rep­re­sents what Hooper con­sid­ers a “shift in fo­cus” fol­low­ing its con­clu­sion of mu­nic­i­pal ad­vi­sor rule­mak­ing man­dated by the Dodd-Frank Act, which sub­jected mu­nic­i­pal ad­vi­sors to fed­eral over­sight and reg­u­la­tion.

Hooper hails from Front Royal, Va., a town of about 15,000 sit­u­ated just off In­ter­state 66 some 70 miles west of Wash­ing­ton, D.C. She grad­u­ated from Ran­dolph-Ma­con Woman’s Col­lege, now called Ran­dolph Col­lege, in Lynch­burg, Va., and moved to Rich­mond, Va. with friends.

She went to work for First and Mer­chant Na­tional Bank, which be­came Sovran Bank. Hooper said she be­came ad­min­is­tra­tive as­sis­tant to the chief econ­o­mist, and then worked as a trader of gov­ern­ment se­cu­ri­ties for a year be­fore launch­ing what would be her main ca­reer in in­sti­tu­tional bond sales.

Hooper was among the first wave of muni pro­fes­sion­als to

take and pass the MSRB’s Se­ries 52 exam for mu­nic­i­pal se­cu­ri­ties rep­re­sen­ta­tives, which de­buted in late 1978. She passed the test in March 1979 and in 1981 was again break­ing new ground when she was re­cruited to be­come the first fe­male pro­fes­sional at Rich­mond-based Daven­port, which was then a fairly small firm. She has been there ever since.

Hooper said she is tak­ing a holis­tic view of the MSRB’s strate­gic goals, a mul­ti­year list of pri­or­i­ties that the board re­leased ear­lier this year. It in­cludes ed­u­ca­tion to mar­ket par­tic­i­pants to help them com­ply with the rules, con­tin­ued evo­lu­tion of the board’s EMMA web­site, op­ti­miz­ing the use of mar­ket data to im­prove trans­parency, lever­ag­ing the MSRB’s ex­per­tise to ad­vance the in­tegrity and ef­fi­ciency of the mar­ket, and pro­mot­ing fi­nan­cial sus­tain­abil­ity of the MSRB.

“When you look at our strate­gic goals, not one is more im­por­tant to me than the other,” Hooper said. “We will try to make EMMA the best it can be for all of our users.” She said the board has lots of data that it will be study­ing to glean more in­for­ma­tion about the mu­nic­i­pal se­cu­ri­ties mar­ket.

There has been a bit of con­tro­versy re­gard­ing the MSRB’s fi­nances over the years, with some mar­ket par­tic­i­pants ques­tion­ing why the self-reg­u­la­tor needs such large fi­nan­cial re­serves: its an­nual re­port for the 2016 fis­cal year lists more than $69.5 mil­lion in net as­sets, the ma­jor­ity of which is in­vest­ments. Hooper said the MSRB is con­stantly re­view­ing its fi­nan­cial po­si­tion and the way it uses its funds, most of which come from fees as­sessed on reg­u­lated par­ties. Dodd-Frank also gave the MSRB a share of fines that the Se­cu­ri­ties and Ex­change Com­mis­sion and Fi­nan­cial In­dus­try Reg­u­la­tory Au­thor­ity col­lect for MSRB rule vi­o­la­tions.

The board will be pub­lish­ing a bud­get sum­mary some­time in Oc­to­ber in the in­ter­est of trans­parency, Hooper said.

In early Septem­ber, the board pub­lished a no­tice aimed at dis­cour­ag­ing is­suers from mak­ing “se­lec­tive dis­clo­sure,” a prac­tice in which is­suers make cer­tain in­for­ma­tion known to a se­lect group of in­vestors, of­ten un­in­ten­tion­ally. The guid­ance gen­er­ated some crit­i­cism from at­tor­neys in the mar­ket, who be­lieved it was out­side the MSRB’s core mis­sion be­cause the board does not reg­u­late is­suers. Dis­clo­sure pro­po­nents wor­ried it might cause is­suers to dis­close less in­for­ma­tion out of an abun­dance of cau­tion to avoid mak­ing se­lec­tive dis­clo­sure. Hooper said the board has a lot of ex­per­tise and will likely con­tinue to share it on im­por­tant muni mar­ket top­ics.

“Those are the kinds of is­sues where we think that we, as a board and a staff, can share our ex­per­tise, Hooper said. “It would be our in­tent to do more of that.”

The board will con­tinue to be fo­cused on ed­u­cat­ing reg­u­lated en­ti­ties, she stressed.

“What we want to do is help peo­ple com­ply with our rules,” said Hooper. “We want to ed­u­cate, we want to give them the tools and re­sources. Firms are ask­ing for that.”

Hooper will chair the board un­til Sept. 30, 2018, when her term at the MSRB will ex­pire. ◽

New MSRB chair Lucy Hooper says the board wants to give deal­ers and mu­nic­i­pal ad­vi­sors the re­sources to help them to com­ply with its rules.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.