The Regional Bond Dealers Association announced the formation of a new technology and operations committee for fixed-income businesses at regional broker-dealers to help them compete with Wall Street firms.

The RBDA's committee on fixed-income technology and operations will consist of 16 professionals from regional broker-dealers and address issues concerning trade reporting, trading systems, and data distribution.

Improving technologies at regional firms "is a huge issue" for regional dealers, said Michael Nicholas, the RBDA's co-chief executive officer.

"You could make the case that the need for efficient technology processing is more important for regional guys than for the 'bulge bracket' guys," he said.

The largest national broker-dealers for municipal bond underwriting and trading have suffered losses, completed hurried merger deals, or filed for bankruptcy in the case of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. Regional dealers will need the best technology available if they are looking to snap up fix-income business from these struggling firms, Nicholas said.

This will be the first committee focused on municipal market technologies at the regional broker-dealer level, he said. The committee will discuss the advantages of different trading platforms offered by MarketAxess Corp., the BondDesk Group LLC, and TheMuniCenter LLC, he said. Members may also advise one another about expanding into retail trading. Nicholas said he hopes the committee will eventually make best practice recommendations relating to electronic trading and fixed-income operations.

"The changing market structure has raised the bar for regional fixed-income dealers," said committee chairman Eric L. Vos, vice president with Wells Fargo Brokerage Services. "Our work directly supports the health of America's capital markets. This committee will enable us to collectively advocate, innovate, and share best practices for our specific operational and technical challenges."

The committee will also include Donn Lassila, vice president and chief information officer with Davidson Cos. in Great Falls, Mont. The kick-off meeting is scheduled for Dec. 3 at D.A. Davidson & Co. in Denver.

Other dealers expected to participate include St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Raymond James & Associates Inc., Memphis-based Vining Sparks LP, San Francisco-based Stone & Youngberg LLC, Seattle-Northwest Securities Corp., and Little Rock, Ark.-based Crews & Associates Inc.

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