Richard P. Larkin, a widely recognized 40-year veteran of the municipal bond industry, has died at age 66, his family confirmed Monday.
At the time of death on Thursday, Mr. Larkin was director of municipal credit analysis at Stoever Glass in Boca Raton Fla., where he had worked since 2016.
Mr. Larkin was a well-known figure throughout the municipal finance world for many years.
“Dick taught us how to think and talk about credit and market issues at the same time,” said Matt Fabian, a partner at Municipal Market Analytics. “He’s an essential part of our market’s history and helped make us what we are today.”
Mr. Larkin began his career at S&P Global Ratings in 1975 in credit rating analysis, working his way up to chief municipal rating officer, responsible for muni rating policy, practices, governance and criteria.
After 21 years at S&P, he became a financial advisor for Fairmount Capital Advisors, developing credit enhancement programs for public pension funds.
Later, he helped found Reliance SRL, a rating agency that performed local credit ratings in Uruguay.
Mr. Larkin went on to Fitch Ratings in 1998 where he became a managing director.
He left Fitch in 2003 to become a municipal trading desk analyst and senior vice president at J.B. Hanauer, where he specialized in high-yield analysis.
In 2008, he became senior vice president and director of Credit analysis at HJSims & Co. and stayed there until last year when he moved to Stoever Glass.
“Dick's knowledge of the municipal bond market was second to none, as was his ability to explain it to audiences from seasoned investors to the general public,” said Roland Stoever, President of Stoever Glass. “His was a one-of-a-kind personality, and our industry is a little less lively with his passing. We will miss him.”
Mr. Larkin graduated from Iona College in 1973 with a BA in Economics and received an MA in economics from Fordham University in 1975.
From 1988-1992, Mr. Larkin was a charter member of the Anthony Commission on Public Finance, created to protect tax-exempt bonding for state & local governments.
From 1995-1998, he served on the National Advisory Council on State & Local Budgeting, a task force that identified some of the best budgeting practices implemented by state and local governments.
“He had a real intensity about him and a very deep appreciation for the business and what we are all trying to accomplish on a daily basis,” said John Hallacy, program manager at The Bond Buyer, and who worked with Mr. Larkin at S&P. “He was not always correct in his assessment, no analysts are, but you always understood clearly what his rationale was and why. He was a real personality.”
In 2002, Mr. Larkin authored a study on the impact of local government’s management practices on bond ratings, entitled “The 12 Habits of Highly Successful Finance Officers.”
He was a frequent speaker at conferences held by The Bond Buyer and the Government Finance Officers’ Association. And he appeared frequently on CNBC, Bloomberg Television and Fox Business News.
He had served on the Municipal Policy Committee for the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, and was a founding member of Municipal Bonds For America, a public/private group charged with educating government officials about the benefits of tax-exemption for municipal bonds.
He was given the National Federation of Municipal Analysts’ Award for Excellence in 1996 and was selected as the First or Second Team All-Star Special Revenue Bond Analyst by Smith’s Research & Gradings from 2008 through 2015.
“He was, for sure an icon in the municipal industry,” said Natalie Cohen, Managing Director at Wells Fargo. “He was never, ever afraid to take a contrarian position or speak his mind on things he cared about – a rare trait. He was also one of the best analysts around. He definitely will be missed.”
Other muni professionals agreed.
“Dick was a guy who heard the train coming before the rest of us. Cigarette bonds, Chicago, Puerto Rico, Detroit. He usually knew when the tides were receding,” said John Mousseau executive vice president at Cumberland Advisors. “He also recognized when things were overdone by headline risk. He was very knowledgeable, accessible, and a hell of a nice guy. Those attributes carry you a long way in any business.”
Muni veteran George Friendlander also remembered Larkin fondly.
“Dick was a passionate advocate for ideas, for the muni sector and for muni creditworthiness and disclosure,” Friedlander said. “Even after he moved out of the N.Y. area, he made it a point to come back for MAGNY events whenever he could, because he cared about our community and the issues we discussed.”
Funeral and service arrangements were pending.