2017 Fixed Income Strategy Session

On February 9 & 10, 2017, BDA helds its annual strategy session for full member firms at the Ritz Calrton, Half Moon Bay in California.  This event gathered the BDA Board of Directors plus key contacts at BDA full member firms for presentations, discussions, networking, and relationship building. We hosted over 25 member firms and had approximately 40 attendees.

The strategy session included discussions on the political outlook, legislation, regulation, fixed income market conditions, and newfound opportunities for our membership in Washington, DC.  A full event recap follows and the Strategy Session agenda can be found here.

On Thursday afternoon we discussed expectations for politics, legislation, regulation, enforcement, and BDA advocacy efforts.

Remarks were provided by:

  • David Urban, President, American Continental Group
  • Julie Philp, Partner, American Continental Group
  • Andrew Southerling, Partner, Morgan Lewis
  • Matthew Miner, Partner, Morgan Lewis
  • Mitch Rapaport, Partner, Nixon Peabody

Political Climate

  • Although we have a GOP House, Senate, and White House, which generally leads to major changes and reforms, this is not the best environment for legislative change.  
  • In the House, there are enough conservative members in the Freedom Caucus to sink GOP efforts if they remain aligned.  
  • On the Senate side, there are enough Democrats up for reelection in states that President Trump won that they will likely cross party lines to vote with Republicans on certain issues, but in most cases, not in sufficient numbers to overcome the 60-vote threshold. 
  • Senate confirmations are proceeding at a glacial pace and this is the first time in recent memory that it has taken more than a week to appoint a director for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which matters because OMB’s most prominent function is to produce the president’s Budget. 
  • Slides prepared for attendees by Morgan Lewis are available here.


  • There is uncertainty regarding the timing for a number of items before the House Ways & Means committee, including big ticket items like repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act and Tax Reform.  
  • On tax reform, current conversations are focused on border adjustment and since some Republicans are opposed to the idea, there is a delay in releasing a piece of tax reform legislation for review.  
  • With regard to corporate and individual tax reform, the conventional thinking is that it is probable that both will happen at the same time.   
  • Whether the tax exemption for municipal bonds is at risk is a serious question and BDA’s efforts to educate and inform staff and Members of Congress about the associated pitfalls of repeal are extensive and ongoing. 
  • The importance a robust infrastructure package would be to the country, especially as it relates to future economic growth.
  • What a bond bank would look like and BDA concerns with the concept.

Regulatory Efforts

  • Our efforts will continue as we strive to influence the policy process by direct meetings with senior leadership at the SEC, MSRB, FINRA, Treasury and in key policy positions within the Administration. 
  • BDA will continue to push for common sense market structure changes so that regulators better understand the burden the current regulatory system puts on dealers. 
  • We will ensure BDA continues to offer constructive alternatives to regulatory proposals.

BDA Advocacy

  • BDA members discussed continuing to brand ourselves as Main Street firms with unique perspectives separate from Wall Street firms. 
  • We will continue to interact with key members of Congress and senior policy makers at regulatory agencies and the Administration in order to tell our story. 
  • We will provide real world examples to demonstrate that the current regulatory regime, if left unchanged, will only continue to burden small and middle-market firms.
  • BDA will educate and inform decision makers in DC about the key role our firms play in the overall health and strength of the economy.

On Thursday evening, attendees and their significant others enjoyed a cocktail reception and a private dining experience at the Ritz Carlton. Our dinner speaker was David Urban, President of ACG and former Senior Advisor for the Donald J. Trump for President campaign.  David is also a frequent speaker in DC and political commentator on CNN.  David spoke about the challenges faced by the Trump campaign throughout the run for the Presidency and how ultimately, President Trump came to be elected as the 45th President of the United States.

On Friday morning, the strategy session continued with presentations focusing on work at the BDA, the market outlook for 2017, and BDA advocacy items for 2017.

Remarks were provided by:

  • Dan Deaton, Partner, Nixon Peabody
  • Rich Gordon, Managing Director, Fixed Income Market and Portfolio Strategy, Wells Fargo Securities

Dan Deaton spoke about the amicus brief BDA filed in a Wisconsin court of appeals related to a decision by a Wisconsin circuit court that an assignor of bonds made an implied warranty that the bonds were valid.  BDA submitted the amicus brief to avoid a dangerous legal precedent that could confuse investors in the market concerning whether they absorb the risk of the validity of bonds they sell.

Next, strategy session participants heard a presentation by Rich Gordon of Wells Fargo Securities focusing on the 2017 Market Outlook.  Rich presented a holistic view of the markets for 2017 and beyond, coupled with commentary, charts and a robust question and answer session. Slides for Rich’s presentation can be found here.

Finally, we concluded the day with a discussion about BDA’s policy focus for 2017. We discussed our advocacy strategy to address federal regulatory and legislative priorities of the BDA membership including increasing the BDA’s political presence and overall impact in Washington, DC.

In sum, BDA’s annual strategy session provided member firms with an opportunity to have a direct line into our strategy and advocacy efforts for 2017.  We encourage you to reach out to us for additional information about this event and to share your views with us about what the BDA can be doing to directly benefit your firm.

We hope this event recap was helpful.  Please contact us with any questions or comments.


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