Lobbying group ASA triples size through affiliate program

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The American Securities Association is adding 50 more firms to its ranks, a substantial growth for the young broker-dealer lobbying group which has become increasingly vocal on muni issues in the past year.

ASA announced Wednesday it was adding a new affiliate member program through a partnership with ASA member firm Hilltop Securities.

“ASA is proud to partner with industry leader Hilltop Securities to launch a new affiliate member program expanding our nationwide footprint and increasing our voice in Washington,” said Chris Iacovella, ASA CEO. “Growing our membership in this way enhances our grassroots advocacy efforts to promote trust and confidence in the U.S. capital markets on behalf of America’s mom-and-pop investors, small businesses, and municipalities.”

Chris Iacovella, American Securities Association CEO, wants to increase ASA's voice in Washington.

The new member program is similar to an initiative Hilltop undertook with another trade association, the Bond Dealers of America. In October 2019, Hilltop partnered with BDA on an affiliate membership available to broker-dealers with a total revenue of $10 million or less that cleared through a current BDA member firm.

“As a full-service municipal investment bank, we are seeking to broaden our advocacy across all sectors of the financial markets,” Lana Calton, head of clearing services at Hilltop said in a statement to The Bond Buyer. “Therefore we will transition our Affiliate Member program to the American Securities Association (ASA) in October 2020 to better serve our full-service clearing clients.”

The new ASA member program will bring in 50 broker-dealers and registered investment advisers for a total of 71 members.

“We are excited to provide our correspondent firms across the country with affiliate memberships to the American Securities Association and the range of benefits it offers,” wrote Brad Winges, Hilltop Securities president and CEO. “As a full-service municipal investment bank, Hilltop Securities represents all sectors across the financial markets and the ASA allows us to expand the reach of our advocacy to better serve the needs of our diverse client base.”

ASA is fairly new in the fixed income and infrastructure lobbying space. In February, the ASA said it had plans to become more involved in the muni and infrastructure space.

ASA was created in 2016 as an umbrella organization for BDA and Equity Dealers of America. In 2018, EDA dissolved and ASA became its own trade organization.

Dealers, like other municipal market participants, have had to adjust to many new regulations over the past decade. The 2010 Dodd-Frank Act led to a new municipal advisor regulatory regime, including new muni securities rules governing firms and individuals who provide bond advice to state and local governments.

The muni market has evolved over the years and was especially impacted by the elimination of tax-exempt advance refunding and the near-demise of private activity bonds in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. That led to a larger, more focused and more collaborative municipal market lobby in Washington. BDA and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association are the other two prominent broker-dealer lobbying groups active in the muni space.

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