Mark Collins, a Moody's director whose gregarious personality and intimate knowledge of the municipal market propelled a 30-year career in the industry, died Saturday. He was 55.

Collins spent the bulk of his career at Moody's Analytics, where he was a director and member of the strategic calling officer team. He originally joined the company as the head of investor outreach and research sales at Moody's Investors Service, in 1991.

"It was the perfect job for him because he knew the business well and he was very good at building and maintaining relationships with people," Mark Almeida, president of Moody's Analytics, said in an interview. "He was a very extroverted guy, so he was fearless when we said you have to call one of these big companies and find the right person to talk to."

Acting as a liaison between the rating agency and buy-side credit analysts, Collins was the go-to man anytime a complex project needed to be presented with finesse, said Almeida, who worked closely with Collins for more than 15 years.

"Whenever we had a difficult message or we knew we'd have a difficult conversation in the market with someone, we'd call on Mark," Almeida said. "He was gifted at diffusing contentious situations."

Combining deep knowledge of the market with an extroverted personality that enabled him to build lasting relationships with clients, friends and colleagues said, Collins was the ideal person for a job that called for trust and clarity.

"In Mark Collins there was no better friend and advocate to have In the municipal business," Paul Mansour, head of municipal research at Conning Asset Management said in an email. "His well-deserved respect within Moody's, professionalism and his commitment to helping others were constants that we all treasured."

Collins separated himself from the everyday salesman by genuinely looking out for clients, said Dennis Farrell, a managing director at Morgan Stanley who worked with Collins at Moody's.

"I'd go on calls with him and he would explain to potential clients how they actually could spend less and get more, even though it meant less on his end," Farrell said in an interview.

Collins was a graduate of Manhattan College and lived in Pleasantville, in Westchester County, New York. His wife, Gigi, son, Brendan and daughter Aileen survive him.

Colleagues knew Collins was ultimately a family man who was very active in his church and enjoyed being a part of the community. He often attended college football games with his son, and marched with Manhattan College alumni in New York's Saint Patrick's Day parade.

"Finance gets a bad name because we have a few bad apples. Mark was the exact opposite of a bad apple," Farrell said.

Memorial services will be held on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. at Holy Innocents R.C. Church in Pleasantville. Visitation hours are from 3:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Thursday and Friday at Beecher Flooks Funeral Home in Pleasantville.

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