Volunteers sought for MSRB advisory committee

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Muni market participants have an opportunity to directly influence the future of EMMA by serving on a newly announced advisory panel.

The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board said earlier this week it is establishing a new Market Transparency Advisory Group (MTAG) to advise its Board of Directors on “strategic initiatives to modernize and enhance” EMMA, the board's online bond disclosure portal. The MSRB is seeking volunteers for the fiscal 2020 MTAG, which will convene in April and continue through September 2020.

“As we migrate our market transparency systems to the cloud, the MSRB sees tremendous potential for the EMMA website to deliver even greater value to our market stakeholders by enabling dynamic comparison, regulatory compliance and big data analytics,” said Ron Dieckman, chair of the board’s Technology Committee.

MSRB Chair Ed Sisk

The MSRB will accept applications through March 13, according to a release, and will select candidates based on their “individual knowledge and experience as well as other factors such as diversity in geographic location and size and type of firm.” The MSRB expects to announce the MTAG members in March.

“This new advisory group will provide a forum for stakeholders to partner with the MSRB in identifying and prioritizing data and technology initiatives that advance transparency in our market, ultimately contributing to a fairer and more efficient market for all participants,” said Jerry Ford, chair of the board’s Stakeholder Engagement Committee.

The board is seeking a wide array of perspectives for the committee, including regulated entities such as broker-dealers and muni advisors, issuers, investors, and other market participants with knowledge of the EMMA website and the MSRB’s market data to serve on the MTAG.

The MSRB has been increasingly public over the past two years about wanting to engage with outside participants, making it a major initiative under previous Chair Gary Hall and continuing under current board chair Ed Sisk.

EMMA has been an area where the analyst community has expressed dissatisfaction, particularly with respect to the site’s search functionality.

The MSRB recently received Securities and Exchange Commission approval to add a new feature to EMMA, the submission calculator, which tracks the amount of time following the end of an issuer’s reporting period until the audited financials are available on EMMA.

According to an MSRB notice published along with the MTAG announcement, MTAG will generally meet via conference call on a monthly or bi-monthly basis, with in-person meetings scheduled as needed. In April, MTAG members will convene for a one-day workshop in Washington to “facilitate the establishment of the goals and objectives for the MSRB’s system modernization initiative.”

MTAG members will be reimbursed for their travel costs related to in-person meetings but are otherwise not compensated for their time, the MSRB said.

Advisory group meetings are closed to the public and members will be required to maintain confidentiality of non-public proceedings.

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