Bonds

MSRB starts FY2024 with spotlight on technology expenses, new rate-setting process

The MSRB’s annual budget, published at the beginning of our fiscal year, provides the organization with the resources necessary to advance our mission of protecting investors and issuers and promoting the fairness and efficiency of the $4 trillion market that ensures access to capital for communities across the country.

For fiscal 2024, the Board approved a $47 million budget, which represents a 4.8% increase over the prior fiscal year.

Since 2018, we have published an annual budget report to support our commitment to transparency about our projected revenues, expenses and reserve funds. This fiscal 2024 report provides a closer look at the stewardship of our reserve funds and how we plan to allocate technology resources in the year ahead to deliver value to our stakeholders.

In response to stakeholder comments, we are providing a more detailed breakdown of our investment in the technology systems that power our market and enable investors, issuers and market participants to make more informed decisions.

All of the key initiatives described in this report are aligned with the strategic goals we outlined in the long-term strategic plan we adopted two years ago.

Now at the midpoint of that plan, we continue to make progress on our investment in modernizing municipal market regulation, providing transparency through technology, fueling innovation through data and upholding the public trust.

In the area of modernizing market regulation, we expect to move forward with an important change to our trade reporting rule, Rule G-14, to increase price transparency for investors while carving out exceptions that recognize the role of small firms and manual trades in our market.

We continue to review the entire body of interpretive guidance in the MSRB rule book and have completed or are in the process of proposing the codification or retirement of approximately 20% of the MSRB’s interpretive guidance pieces since launching our rulebook modernization initiative in February 2021.

As in prior years, technology remains a significant expense for the MSRB. We are in the midst of the largest investment in technology in the MSRB’s history, starting with a migration to cloud computing that began in 2018.

Today, we are pleased to report that 100% of the MSRB’s technology systems and market data are in the cloud and that the migration was completed without any system downtime or market disruption. In 2021, the MSRB launched the second and final phase of its journey to the cloud, which is to modernize its systems to leverage the power of cloud computing and provide greater availability, reliability and security to all market participants. The MSRB is on track to complete the system modernization initiative in 2025.

In response to stakeholder comments, we are providing a more detailed breakdown of our investment in the technology systems that power our market and enable investors, issuers and market participants to make more informed decisions. The majority of our technology-related expenses are dedicated to maintaining and continuously improving the public’s access to real-time price transparency and hundreds of thousands of disclosure documents on our free Electronic Municipal Market Access (EMMA) website.

For fiscal 2024, the MSRB’s new fee-setting process will adjust rates to ensure a more timely return of any excess revenue (i.e., surplus) to regulated entities and to better manage the organization’s reserve funds.

Following an 18-month, 40% fee reduction that returned over $19 million to the industry, we have achieved our goal to reduce excess reserve levels that had accumulated over the years. We are projecting to end the year with a reserves balance near our current target of $35 million, down from a high of $67 million in 2018. A detailed explanation of our reserves and fee-setting process are included in this report.

We trust that our fiscal 2024 budget report answers our stakeholders’ call for greater transparency and provides sufficient detail and context for you to understand our financial position and the key initiatives we are pursuing to enhance the fairness, transparency and efficiency of our market. 

We look forward to continuing to engage with you on these and other matters in the year ahead as we work together to give America the confidence to invest in our communities.

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