CLIENT SPOTLIGHT: Grillo's Pickles

If you haven't been to the Grillo's Pickles website, you should. There, you'll find the fantastic story of how this company began. We've copied part of it here to save you a click.

Grillo's Pickles began with a pickle cart, just a small wooden stand in downtown Boston, where Travis Grillo and his friends would sell two spears for one dollar. Travis would make the pickles by night using his family's 100-year old recipe - one he'd memorized from making pickles every summer as a kid. In the morning, Travis would bike to the Boston Common and set up the cart with his buddies. They'd hang out all day, urging people to try the simple Grillo family pickle. It was a small business but Travis worked hard for it. He made more pickles, biked more miles, and slept less hours than he ever had before.
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CLIENT SPOTLIGHT: Factory Five Racing

Factory Five Racing was founded in 1995. Over the years they have grown from a start-up business in a small garage to become the world's largest manufacturer of "build-it-yourself" component car kits. They employ a full-time crew of about 40 people, and are located in Wareham, Massachusetts (about an hour south of Boston). They make their products right here in the USA, in the heart of New England where American manufacturing was born.
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CLIENT SPOTLIGHT: Luca + Danni

Fred and Danny Magnanimi grew up watching their father create beautiful, handcrafted jewelry in the family's Cranston, RI jewelry manufacturing business. When the boys grew up, Fred moved to New York and began working on Wall Street as an investment banker, while younger brother Danny, still enamored by the family business, stayed home. Increased competition from overseas businesses created significant challenges for the business, but Danny was confident he could find a way for the family business to evolve and thrive. This was his mission, this was his passion.
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        "New SEC Rules for Municipal Advisors Take Effect July 1, 2014"

        Under rules adopted by the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) last September that go into effect July 1, 2014, municipal advisors must now register with the SEC.  The rules are the result of provisions in the Dodd-Frank Act and are intended to provide additional protections to municipal securities issuers.  In addition to the registration requirement, the rules provide that municipal advisors have a fiduciary duty to their municipal entity clients, which differ from broker-dealers or underwriters. 

        While the overall impact of the new rules is not yet clear in the municipal finance community, participants need to determine whether their activities fall within the definition of a municipal advisor or whether they instead fall within one of the stated exemptions from the definition.  Under the rules, broker-dealers, underwriters or banks that provide “advice” to municipal entities may be considered municipal advisors.  The determination as to whether “advice” is being given is described by the SEC as being based on “all of the relevant facts and circumstances”, including consideration as to: (i) whether the advice consists of a “recommendation” to the municipal entity; (ii) whether it is particularized in a way that meets a specific need of the municipal entity (as distinguished from providing general information); and (iii) whether it relates to municipal financial products or the issuance of municipal securities. 

        For example, under the new rules broker-dealers can no longer provide a conduit borrower or issuer specific advice to redeem or refund an outstanding bond issue without falling within the scope of providing “advice”.

        While the definition of municipal advisor is broad, the rules provide numerous exemptions from the definition.  Certain public officials and employees, underwriters, attorneys, engineers, banks advising municipal entities in certain areas, accountants, or registered swap dealers, may qualify for exemption if such individuals meet certain stated requirements.  The rules further provide exemptions specifically relating to information provided in response to certain requests for proposals or requests for qualifications, as well as those giving advice to a municipal entity which has an independent registered municipal advisor.  SEC staff has issued useful guidance on many of the exemptions in its responses to frequently asked questions, which are available at: http://www.sec.gov/info/municipal/mun-advisors-faqs.pdf.

        For additional information on the new municipal advisor rules and how they may impact your interactions with others in the municipal bond community, please feel free to contact any of the members of the Public Finance Group.