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The Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board (MSRB) protects investors, state and local governments and other municipal entities, and the public interest by promoting a fair and efficient municipal securities market. The MSRB fulfills this mission by regulating the securities firms, banks and municipal advisors that engage in municipal securities and advisory activities. To further protect market participants, the MSRB provides market transparency through its EMMA website, conducts extensive education and outreach to market stakeholders, and provides market leadership on key issues. The MSRB is a Congressionally-chartered, self-regulatory organization governed by a 21-member board of directors that has a majority of public members, in addition to representatives of regulated entities. The MSRB is subject to oversight by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
MSRB rules are intended, first and foremost, to protect investors, issuers and the public interest, to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices, and to promote just and equitable principles of trade. MSRB rules address fair dealing obligations of municipal finance professionals, suitability of their recommendations, fair pricing of transactions and disclosures of material information to investors. These rules require municipal securities dealers and municipal advisors to observe the highest professional standards in their activities and relationships with their customers. The MSRB also establishes rules intended to promote a free, efficient and open market in municipal securities.
The MSRB has authority to make rules regulating the municipal securities activities of securities firms and banks that underwrite, trade and sell municipal securities, as well as the municipal advisory activities of municipal advisors. The MSRB does not have authority over issuers, investors or other market participants.
A key way the MSRB protects investors and municipal entities in the municipal market is by making market information as transparent and widely available as possible. The MSRB collects municipal market data, disclosures and statistics and makes them available to investors and the public for free, primarily through the EMMA website. The MSRB also makes this information available on a subscription basis in real-time, for a fee. By providing free access to municipal bond offering documents, continuing disclosures, trade prices, interest rates and other information, investors and others can better understand the terms, characteristics and risks of a particular security. At the same time, the mechanisms of a transparent market enable issuers of municipal securities to provide information to existing and potential investors and to gain a comprehensive view of the marketplace, allowing them to compare their securities with other bonds. The SEC designated the EMMA website as the official repository for municipal securities disclosures in 2009.
Providing objective educational content about the municipal securities market is fundamental to the MSRB’s mission to protect investors, state and local government issuers, and other municipal entities. The MSRB’s resources help market participants and others understand the roles and responsibilities of financial professionals, how municipal bonds are bought and sold, and how to access information that can assist in decision-making. The MSRB Education Center is a free online library of multimedia resources about the municipal securities market. The MSRB also hosts outreach events to engage with market stakeholders.
The MSRB’s activities are subject to SEC oversight. In addition, Congress has delegated the responsibilities for examining securities firms, banks and municipal advisors for compliance with MSRB rules, and for enforcing such rules, to various other federal regulators – the SEC, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority for broker-dealers, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Federal Reserve System and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency for banks.