What is the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB)?
The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) is a regulatory organization that drafts protection rules and several other rules that regulate broker-dealers, banks, and other parties within the United States municipal securities market.
What are Municipal Securities?
Municipal securities are financial securities that are offered by a government municipality, state, or township to raise funds for various public projects and investments. The types of securities offered by a municipal government include:
- Municipal bonds
- Municipal notes
- Other municipal securities
Municipal securities are a multi-trillion-dollar market, with millions of investors participating in the market. They are crucially important for raising funds for community services and infrastructure projects, such as:
- Roads, highways, and bridges
- Sewer systems
- Public schools
- Public hospitals
Municipal securities are raised by three primary participants:
- Finance professionals
State or local government entities are the issuers of the securities that require funding for various projects. They work with finance professionals like dealers and municipal advisors to sell the securities to investors who are compensated with interest payments and tax-free incentives.
Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) Explained
The MSRB was established to protect the interests of investors and the issuing government entities. It was established in 1975, and its mission is to protect the state and local governments, the public interest, and investors by promoting a fair, efficient, and transparent municipal securities market.
The MSRB is a self-regulatory organization that is under the oversight of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The SEC works as an independent agency of the United States federal government, enforcing federal securities law and maintaining fair, orderly, and efficient markets.
The MSRB was originally made up of members from regulated broker-dealers and banks, in addition to members from the general public. However, after October 2010, the MSRB was recomposed to consist of independent public members to promote the publics’ best interests.
The MSRB implements three key tools to accomplish its mission:
The MSRB creates rules and legislations to hold financial professionals accountable for best practices and to prevent fraud within the municipal securities market. The MSRB possesses the power of the federal government when drafting regulations and rules.
The MSRB provides widespread information for investors about the municipal securities market. MSRB operates the Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA) platform to distribute the information. The information includes:
- Real-time trading prices
- Disclosure documents
- Market-wide statistics
The MSRB is an independent and objective provider of information and is a national resource on the municipal securities market.
Regulated Security Types
The MSRB regulates various types of municipal securities. The general types of municipal bonds regulated are:
- General obligation bonds (GO Bonds)
- Revenue bonds
- Short-term municipal bonds, such as Tax Anticipation Notes (TANs), Revenue Anticipation Notes, (RANs) and Bond Anticipation Notes (BANs)
- Other exotic and unique bonds
The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board developed various rules that securities firms, banks, municipal advisors, and other parties must adhere to when engaging in municipal securities transactions in the market. The rules must also be followed when advising investors and state and local governments.
The MSRB also formulated general rules such as best practices, professional qualifications, and calculation/reporting standards.
The MSRB also established administrative rules such as the rules and powers of the Board, membership status of the Board, and other bylaws regarding the operation of the MSRB.
The MSRB also played a substantial role in the development of various regulations. In the 1980s, the MSRB assisted the SEC in creating SEC Rule 15c2-12, which was focused on continuous disclosure. It was important to ensure that the issuers of municipal securities would provide transparent information regularly about individual securities. It came in the form of annual financial reports that provided information on delinquencies and defaults.
Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA)
The MSRB also played a large role in helping to transform the standards for electronic records in the securities industry. Late in the 2000s, the MSRB launched the Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA) web page, which provided free public access to information regarding municipal securities trading and other important disclosure documents.
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