WASHINGTON—The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB), and FINRA today announced the opening of registration for a virtual Compliance Outreach Program for Municipal Advisors. The webcast program will be held Thursday, August 13, 2020, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. ET. Additional information, including the agenda, is available on SEC.gov.
The program will provide municipal market participants an opportunity to hear from SEC, MSRB, and FINRA staff on timely regulatory and compliance matters for municipal advisors. Topics of discussion include, among other things, the duties and standards of conduct for municipal advisors under MSRB Rules G-42 and G-17 and the fiduciary duty under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934; the SEC's temporary conditional exemption from broker registration for certain direct placement activities; operational considerations for registered municipal advisors; and OCIE and FINRA examination processes and common observations, as well as relevant SEC and FINRA enforcement actions.
Registration is free and available through MSRB's website. Participants are also encouraged to submit questions in advance of the event by emailing [email protected]. Continuing professional education credit is available.
"We look forward to this opportunity each year to communicate directly with the municipal advisor community to promote greater understanding of and compliance with municipal advisor duties under the federal securities laws, including municipal advisors' fiduciary duty to their municipal entity clients. There is no better way to ensure that the regulators and the municipal advisor community are on the same page than to continue this kind of engagement among us," said OMS Director Rebecca Olsen.
Peter Driscoll, Director of the SEC's Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations added, "This outreach program targets a critical segment of the financial markets. The program provides important insight and information to those in the compliance community, especially as to areas we view to be of higher risk and significance to our investor protection mission. The opportunity for a robust exchange of ideas and challenges between the participants is crucial to the program's success, and we look forward to discussing the issues with a view towards promoting improved compliance in this space."
"As cash-strapped state and local governments take steps toward economic recovery following the COVID-19 outbreak, lost revenues and market volatility have opened new opportunities for potential misconduct within the municipal market," said Cynthia Friedlander, FINRA's Senior Director of Fixed Income Regulation. "All of these developments have made effective market oversight more important than ever. By participating in events such as this one, FINRA, working closely with the SEC and the MSRB, plays a key role in helping municipal advisors understand and comply with their obligations to municipal issuers. At their core, these responsibilities are designed to protect investors and taxpayers."
MSRB's Chief Compliance Officer Gail Marshall said, "We are pleased to again partner with the SEC and FINRA on a program that allows the regulators to directly address questions from municipal advisors about regulatory topics and the efficiency and effectiveness of the regulatory framework for municipal advisors. This year was to be our fifth year hosting an in-person program and while COVID-19 delayed plans for an in-person event, we wanted to ensure continued engagement between the regulators and the municipal advisor community. This is one of the many ways the MSRB receives important feedback from municipal advisors that helps the MSRB in developing tools and resources to facilitate compliance with MSRB rules."
There is no cost to access the program. For those who cannot attend the live webcast, the program will be archived on the SEC's Compliance Outreach Program for Municipal Advisors webpage for later viewing.
FINRA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to investor protection and market integrity. It regulates one critical part of the securities industry—brokerage firms doing business with the public in the United States. FINRA, overseen by the SEC, writes rules, examines for and enforces compliance with FINRA rules and federal securities laws, registers broker-dealer personnel and offers them education and training, and informs the investing public. In addition, FINRA provides surveillance and other regulatory services for equities and options markets, as well as trade reporting and other industry utilities. FINRA also administers a dispute resolution forum for investors and brokerage firms and their registered employees. For more information, visit www.finra.org.