A California-based securities firm is hoping to provide more accessibility, price discovery, transparency, and liquidity to independent and wealth advisors, and other clients who are active in municipal bonds.
Through the use of technology-based services to buy, sell, and manage tax-exempt bonds, 280 CapMarkets is aiming to bring Silicon Valley to Wall Street with its new trading platform officially being launched Tuesday, though the first trade using the service took place on May 16.
The business operates 280 Securities, a licensed broker-dealer, and works closely with independent financial advisors to provide access to municipal bond offerings by unifying bond pricing information in a single platform from its own trading desk, with a focus on fair pricing and value.
Headquartered in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Seattle, the firm services wealth advisors, institutional traders, and portfolio managers from its trading desk.
Its chief executive officer Gurinder S. Ahluwalia and Dave Rudd, managing director and head of institutional sales, said the firm hopes to give wealth advisors an easier and more efficient path to accessing individual bonds in a sometimes-complicated market.
“The idea was to provide better access in an opaque market like fixed income,” Rudd said in an interview on Friday. “Technology allows trading, but it doesn’t provide the less sophisticated investor the tools for comparing prices given the nuances of municipal bonds. "
280 Securities provides an insight into the bonds available on The Street and then provides pricing and valuation data to the wealth advisors through use of a proprietary fixed income platform called Bond Navigator.
The advisors use the platform’s cloud-based software to gain full access to the market and to connect with 280’s team of capital markets experts in investment banking, underwriting, research, institutional sales and trading.
Advisors can compete with larger institutions on access to products, price, and execution, while they can compare and evaluate fixed income securities and select the best available pricing with best execution support.
280's institutional sales team interacts with mutual funds, ETF sponsors, banks, and insurance companies who bid and offer billions of dollars of bonds, while the advisor liaison team is serviced by the street to see other dealers’ best deals, inventory, new issues, and research.
The market-making desk leverages the firm’s capital and expertise to drive better pricing.
Besides its trading desk, 280 also services investment banking clients with new issue bond structuring and underwriting led by a team of experienced experts on its own capital markets desk. 280 CapMarkets plans to expand its origination efforts in public finance, according to Ahluwalia and Rudd.
The trading platform was created to increase fixed income discovery by providing more information about and simplifying access to municipal bonds for wealth managers and investment advisors through the use of technologically-advanced software developed by market veterans, according to the firm’s website, www.280capmarkets.com.
Ahluwalia, a co-founder of 280, has over 25 years of experience in operating and financial services business and was a former president and CEO of GE Private Asset Management and Genworth Wealth Management, while Rudd, also a visionary of the firm, has 20 years of institutional sales and trading experience, having served as director of fixed income capital markets R.W. Baird in San Francisco
On the trading and underwriting side, Ahluwalia and Rudd are joined by Jason Ware, managing director and head of institutional trading; and Tom Lockard, managing director and head of investment banking.
In his 16 years of municipal market experience, Ware was previously head of municipal trading for both J.P. Morgan and Robert W. Baird’s Western Region, while Lockard is a public finance veteran who previously worked at Fundrise, a pioneering fintech company specializing in commercial real estate and was a managing director at Stone & Youngberg.
280 hopes it has identified a solution for advisors who have long been challenged to buy bonds in an opaque market.
Ahluwalia said advisors and independent wealth planners have already been very receptive to 280’s trading platform because of its ability to give them a “big boy view” of the market’s municipal bond offerings, as well as liquidity.
While the core product is municipals, and the company plans to add additional institutional sales on that trading desk, it also hopes to “push more aggressively” into taxable fixed income trading as well, Rudd said.
“The idea for us is to go beyond munis and round out a complete fixed income capital market platform,” he said.
280 CapMarkets is the holding company that owns and operates its two subsidiaries, 280 Securities and 280 Technologies.