MSRB announces members of its transparency advisory group

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Thirteen municipal market participants, including ex-regulators and well-known analysts, will have a say on the future of EMMA as members of the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board’s new transparency advisory group.

The MSRB announced the members of its new Market Transparency Advisory Group Monday. Its members will advise the MSRB’s board of directors on ways to modernize and enhance the MSRB's EMMA site.

“Especially in these times of unprecedented market volatility and uncertainty as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, we appreciate the outpouring of support for this new advisory group from everyone who volunteered their time, creativity and forward-thinking in support of municipal market transparency,” said Ed Sisk, MSRB chair.

The MSRB has been increasingly public over the past two years about wanting to engage with outside participants and it is an initiative for current Board Chair Ed Sisk.

The new MTAG members will help the MSRB make the most of its migration to the cloud from its old physical hard drive storage system, which will allow EMMA and other market transparency systems to deliver more value to market stakeholders, Sisk added.

The MSRB established the group in late February. MTAG will convene in April and continue through September 2020.

MTAG will generally meet via conference call on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. MTAG members were scheduled to convene for a one-day workshop in Washington to “facilitate the establishment of the goals and objectives for the MSRB’s system modernization initiative.”

The MSRB confirmed that that meeting would not be happening because of COVID-19. MSRB plans to work with its new MTAG members on virtual-only activities.

Hillary Phelps, partner at Chapman and Cutler LLP, is among the 13 members. Phelps was also former senior counsel at the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of Municipal Securities. Lisa Washburn, managing director and chief credit officer at Municipal Market Analytics will also be on board. Washburn is also the industry and media liaison for the National Federation of Municipal Analysts.

Some others include Colleen Davis, Delaware state treasurer; Cynthia Evangelisti, Chicago Park District treasurer; Charles Giffin, managing director of public finance at J.P. Morgan, Chris Kendall, vice president of fixed-income trading at Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.; and Jason Richter, deputy treasurer of debt management for Washington State.

The MSRB has been increasingly public over the past two years about wanting to engage with outside participants, making it a major initiative under previous Chair Gary Hall and continuing under Sisk.

The analyst community has expressed dissatisfaction with EMMA in the past, particularly with the site’s search functionality. Recently, the MSRB received approval from the SEC to add a submission calculator, a new feature to EMMA that tracks the amount of time following the end of an issuer’s reporting period until the audited financials are available on EMMA.

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