MSRB seeks SEC approval to reduce dealer disclosures

Bonds

The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board has officially filed for Securities and Exchange Commission approval of rule changes that would reduce the volume of mandatory disclosures dealers make to customers.

The MSRB announced the filing Monday after having decided on that course at its quarterly board meeting last month. The changes to MSRB Rules G-10 on investor and municipal advisory client education and protection and G-48 on transactions with sophisticated municipal market professionals would require dealers to make certain disclosures only to customers who hold a muni position or who have made a municipal bond transaction in the prior year and would exempt SMMPs from receipt of those disclosures.

“Narrowing the scope to those customers that engage in municipal securities transactions would reduce the burden of remitting the notifications unnecessarily to all customers, while ensuring that dealers remit the notifications to customers who would most benefit from receiving them,” the MSRB told the SEC in its filing.

SEC headquarters

Bloomberg News

Rule G-10 currently requires dealers and muni advisors to provide either electronically or in writing by the end of each calendar year certain notifications to their customers and clients. The notifications include a statement that the firm is registered with the MSRB and the Securities and Exchange Commission, the MSRB’s web address, and a notification about a brochure available on the MSRB website that describes the protections of MSRB rules and how to file complaints with regulators.

Under the proposed changes, dealers would not need to make these disclosures to customers who do not have and had not recently had any muni investments. But the rule would still require dealers to have those disclosures available on its website, so all customers could access them.

“As a result, the MSRB does not believe there is a detrimental impact to such customers and believes that not receiving the notifications may avoid confusion for customers who currently receive such notifications even though they have not effected a municipal securities transaction or hold municipal securities,” the MSRB said.

Dealer groups have been supportive of the proposed changes, which the SEC must approve in its capacity providing oversight of the MSRB. The SEC approves MSRB filings the overwhelming majority of the time.

The MSRB said it will announce the effective date of the proposed rule change no later than 10 days following SEC approval, and the effective date will be no later than 30 days following SEC approval.

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