The global wealth management firm Morgan Stanley Smith Barney is outfitting its registered representatives with a new tool to research muni bonds.
The firm will use the MuniGUARD News service, provided by DPC DATA Inc., to access local and regional publications in order to receive expanded news and disclosure research on U.S. municipal bond issues. The service lets Morgan Stanley Smith Barney tap more than 600 largely local and regional publications, linked to a specific bond issue and its obligors.
The financial firm has long viewed munis as an important asset class and wanted to ensure its reps had the tools to navigate the many changes the market has undergone over the past 10 years to make better decisions for their investors, according to Peggy Glanzman, an executive director and municipal product manager of the credit analytics and products solutions group at MSSB.
MuniGUARD would, for example, flag early in the news cycle recent stories on Stockton, Calif.’s decision to no longer make general fund payments toward debt service on hundreds of millions of dollars in bonds.
“Something like that would definitely influence a registered rep when making a purchasing decision to add to somebody’s portfolio,” Glanzman said. “Or maybe determine the direction of whether they decide to sell something a client already owns.”
Each article is categorized in an index according to its relevancy, such as by CUSIP or series, obligor, location and bond type. Users can click on a title to open the story on its website of origin.
The firm is encouraging clients to talk more about muni holdings and potential acquisitions with their representatives to determine how MuniGUARD can be best deployed to help build and maintain their portfolios.
DPC DATA, a company that has long specialized in municipal bond disclosure data and information services, also developed two other products that Morgan Stanley Smith Barney registered reps have used to research munis: MuniPOINTS and MuniDOCS Online.
MuniPOINTS offers links that use CUSIP numbers and abstracts of bond data taken from official statements. MuniDOCS Online provides in-depth listings of official disclosure filings by municipal issuers and obligors.
DPC DATA, which provides an archive of municipal securities disclosure documents to the general public, developed both to address regulatory disclosure and advisory responsibilities for dealers and financial advisors.
The vendor said it now has four clients who either have MuniGuard up and running or are implementing it, and 30 other firms with which it is actively engaged in discussions.
“We started working with [DPC DATA] on MuniPOINTS,” Glanzman said. “They’ve continued to evolve based on the ever-changing nature of the muni marketplace.”
In other muni-related product news, E*TRADE last week introduced its online Bond Resource Center to help new and veteran investors buy and sell municipal bonds.
The discount brokerage worked with fixed-income technology vendor BondDesk Group LLC to develop the resource center.
Investors can use the center’s interactive relative-value charts to assess live bond offerings for the most actively traded municipal, investment-grade and high-yield issues. There is also a search function that finds bonds using issuer name, ticker symbol or CUSIP number.
In addition, the resource center includes research from Moody’s Investors Service; portfolio alerts to learn about trading desk notifications, material events and orders on bond holdings; strategies and insight from E*TRADE’s fixed-income trading desk; as well as education, videos and webinars for investors and traders at all levels.