A group of 14 regional broker-dealers have formed the Regional Bond Dealers Association, a new trade organization based in Alexandria, Va., tofocus on municipal bonds and other fixed-income securities.
The group, which opened its doors Monday after months of planning, comes after some regional broker-dealers had complained that they were not receiving enough attention to their issues from the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, a much larger industry group that oversees equities and fixed-income securities and has offices around the world.
But sources said the group was formed not because of complaints about SIFMA, but rather because of the common interests of the regional firms, many of which are still members of SIFMA.
On its surface, RBDA's creation seems like deja vu, in a which a smaller group of fixed-income broker-dealers again bolts from a larger industry group, mirroring the establishment of the Public Securities Association in 1976 by fixed-income members of the Securities Industry Association.
Ultimately, the PSA became The Bond Market Association, which merged back with SIA in late 2006 to form SIFMA.
The point is not lost on Mark Medford, who is the chair of RBDA and also president and chief executive officer of Memphis-based FTN Financial. He referenced the establishment of PSA in a brief interview yesterday, but stressed that RBDA's establishment does not reflect disappointment with SIFMA among fixed-income dealers.
"It's a grassroots effort that is extremely needed and will absolutely compliment SIFMA," he said, adding that one of the group's most important roles will be "to lead the industry to consensus on practices and standards of fixed-income dealers."
Among the issues of concern for the group, Medford highlighted the tax treatment of municipal securities, bond-market price transparency and the current credit cycle and volatility in the subprime mortgage market.
RBDA has recruited two SIFMA alums, Michael Decker and Mike Nicholas, who will serve as its co-chief executive officers. Decker, previously senior managing director, research and public policy at SIFMA, said that the group is interested in trying to either eliminate the individual alternative minimum tax altogether or, at a minimum, to remove its application to private activity bonds, as well as addressing regulatory or legislative fixes to the stresses in the variable-rate and auction-rate securities markets.
Nicholas, formerly managing director of the capital markets group at SIFMA, noted that last year, regional dealers underwrote over $340 billion of municipal, securities, corporate and agency bonds.
The two said RBDA will cover "the whole gamut of fixed-income securities," including municipal and corporate bonds, Treasuries, and asset-backed securities. The group will lobby Congress and federal agencies, sponsor roundtables, seminars and conferences, and engage in the typical activities of a trade group, they said.
The group is being funded with annual dues from its member firms. The dues are based on a firm's size and its level of activities. Decker and Nicholas declined to quantify the dues.
The RBDA already has a slate of other officers, besides Medford. Kenneth Williams, president and CEO of San Francisco-based Stone & Youngberg LLC, will serve as vice chair and Silas Matthies, executive vice president of Minneapolis-based Wells Fargo Brokerage Services LLC, as secretary-treasurer.
The other founding members are from: Little Rock-based Crews & Associates Inc.; Minneapolis-based Cronin & Co.; Memphis-based Duncan-Williams Inc. and Vining-Sparks IBG; Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Securities; Jersey City-based G.X. Clarke & Co.; Chicago-based Incapital LLC,; Beverly Hills-based ML Stern & Co.; Seattle-Northwest Securities Corp.; Dallas-based Southwest Securities Inc., and Austin-based Tejas Securities.