Last week, the Bond Dealers of America wrapped up its 6th annual National Fixed Income Conference at the Trump International Hotel and Towers in Chicago, IL. Below is a full recap of the event. Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or comments or need additional information on the BDA.
The BDA's National Fixed Income Conference is the business event of the year for fixed income leadership at securities dealers and banks with a primary focus on the U.S. markets. The conference covered new and emerging issues affecting the fixed income markets - both municipal and taxable - and focused on the top tier items facing middle-market and regional securities firms.
We're happy to report record turnout in terms of attendees, sponsors and exhibitors. The BDA welcomed over 180 conference attendees from over 70 firms headquartered coast to coast.
Attendees were provided an opportunity to have candid discussions with regulators from the IRS, FINRA, MSRB and SEC while addressing outstanding concerns with recently proposed and finalized rules, as well as to network with industry colleagues.
You can view the full conference agenda here.
Prior to the start of the conference, the BDA hosted a panel focusing on Municipal Securities Rulemaking Initiatives and Market Regulation. Attendees heard from MSRB representatives including Michael Post, Deputy General Counsel and Sharon Zackula, Associate General Counsel. The panelists spoke about MSRB priorities including:
- MSRB Municipal Advisor Regime
- G-42 on standards of conduct
- G-44 on supervision and compliance obligations
- G-3 on professional qualifications
- G-37 on pay to play restrictions
- G-20 on gifts and gratuities
- The evolution of G-18, best execution and its application to the municipal market including associated proposed amendments to G-48 on transactions with SMMPs and proposed changes to D-15.
You can find a copy of MSRB's presentation here.
Next, we heard from a panel on Fixed Income Market Regulation and Enforcement including insight from FINRA, the IRS and the SEC. The panel was moderated by Angelique David, Senior Managing Director, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary of B.C. Ziegler & Company who discussed enforcement initiatives and ongoing focus items of concern to the regulators.
- Cindy Friedlander, Director, Fixed Income Regulation, Regulatory Operations, FINRA, who spoke about examination priorities with a focus on municipal advisor exams, which will be split into four areas including registration, record keeping, fiduciary responsibilities and related MSRB rules regarding the MA regime.
- Karen Skinder, Tax Exempt Bond Office, IRS, who discussed the Tax Exempt Bond Office's compliance program including two areas of compliance focus: issuance and post-issuance, TEB's tax compliance focus including field operations, issuance procedures such as education outreach services and recent publications.
- Eric Celauro, Senior Counsel, Municipal Securities and Public Pension Unit, SEC who discussed the municipal securities and public pension unit's mission, underwriter's due diligence obligations, secondary market transparency and an overview of the SEC's recent MCDC initiative.
Our lunch keynote was Tom Ricketts, Chairman of the Chicago Cubs and Chairman of Chicago-based Incapital, LLC who presented on the transition from bonds to baseball and the analytics required to build a successful franchise.
Next, the audience heard from Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former Congressional Budget Office Director and recent Commissioner on the Congressionally-chartered Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. Doug spoke about his experiences and thoughts on the economic policy of the nation including the ongoing struggle with respect to economic growth, increased regulation and the current U.S. budget situation. He focused on the need to remove impediments to national growth and prospects for durable tax reform.
We then transitioned into a series of panels and interviews featuring the fixed income buy-side and a panel of sell-side leadership on the many opportunities and challenges facing middle-market and regional fixed income dealers.
Bill Grady, Senior Portfolio Manager, Allstate, was interviewed by Chris Tota, Head of Municipal Bond Sales and Trading at William Blair and provided a perspective from the buy-side on best execution, the corporate bond model, the interplay with the ATS platforms and effects of regulation on the market generally.
The State of the Industry panel was moderated by Mike Nicholas, BDA CEO and consisted of a roundtable discussion regarding the current state of the fixed income markets, challenges facing middle-market and regional securities firms and strategies for increasing market share and growing a business. The panel discussed perspectives on growth in the muni market, liquidity concerns, risk appetite, opportunities for institutional investors in taxable fixed income and how firms have and continue to strategically restructure in the challenging business environment.
- Brian Brennan, Managing Director and Head of Fixed Income, KeyBanc Capital Markets
- Craig Noble, Senior Managing Director and Head of Capital Markets Trading, Wells Fargo Advisors
- Alan Polsky, Senior Vice President and Head of Municipal Fixed Income and Research, Dougherty & Company
- Calvin Sullivan, Chief Strategy Officer, Raymond James & Associates
Day one concluded with Municipal and Taxable Market Tracks focused on the following:
- Municipal Track
- A Panel Discussion Focusing on Muni Sales & Trading - Challenges and Opportunities
- A Panel Discussion Focusing on The Future of Public Finance
- Taxable Track
- Taxable Fixed Income Market Structure including a discussion by Anthony Perrotta, Jr, Principal and Head of Fixed Income Research at the TABB Group. Download his presentation here.
- A Panel Discussion Focusing on Firms Efforts on Margin requirements, Pre-trade Transparency, Markups and More.
Day two of the conference began with a panel discussion regarding Fixed Income Risk Management including challenges and strategies unique to middle-market and regional securities firms. Panelists discussed risk management issues including operational controls, financial risk management and balancing regulatory requirements and associated challenges.
- Brian Pearce, Market Risk Manager, Risk Management, Wells Fargo Advisors
- Steve Genyk, Managing Director & Head of Fixed Income Capital Markets, Janney Montgomery Scott
- Blake Morris, Chief Compliance Officer, FirstSouthwest Company
Next, conference attendees attended dealer breakout sessions where they were afforded an opportunity to more candidly discuss among their peers, those issues of primary concern.
Breakout sessions focused on both institutional and retail issues and covered issues such as:
- The Regulator's Desire for More Transparency Surrounding Matched Trades
- Lessons learned from the SEC's MCDC Initiative
- The SEC's final Municipal Advisor Rule
- The Increasing Cost of Regulation and Compliance
- Electronic Trading
- Best Execution and more
The conference closed with a panel focusing on Cybersecurity in the U.S. Securities Markets including a focus on being ready for 21st century threats, the protection of critical infrastructure and the focus on meaningful elements of cybersecurity to move universally toward nationwide protection of the financial securities industry.
- Colin Sheppard, Director of Incident Response, Fidelity National Information Services
- Charles Bretz, Director of Payment Risk, Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center
- Ron Rowe, Criminal Investigative Division, U.S. Secret Service Cybercrimes Division
- Roberta Stempfley, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity and Communications, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
In addition to the annual conference, the BDA held a Legal & Compliance roundtable the afternoon prior to the conference which provided an opportunity for candid discussion and information sharing among fixed income legal and compliance leadership at BDA member firms. You can view the roundtable agenda here.
Roundtable discussion included:
- SEC's Final Municipal Advisor Rule
- MSRB's regulatory framework for municipal advisors
- Municipal Continuing Disclosure Cooperation Initiative (MCDC)
- The Regulator's Push for Best Execution in the Municipal Market
- FINRA's Amendments to Rule 4210 on Margining
- FINRA CARDS Concept Proposal
- Matched Trades
- Placement Services by Non-Dealer FA's
- TRACE Reporting Issues
- Direct Market Access (SEC Rule 15c3-5)
- Branch Office Inspections/Exams & New Developments in Enforcement
*Please be on the lookout for a survey requesting feedback about this year's conference so that we can incorporate any comments into next year's event.
Thanks again to the many sponsors and exhibitors at this year's conference.
THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS