RIXML.org, a consortium of buy-side, sell-side and vendor firms committed to the development and implementation of the first open standard for investment research, is pleased to announce that RBC Capital Markets has joined RIXML.org as a new member.

RBC Capital Markets’ parent, the Royal Bank of Canada, is the 5th largest bank in North America; RBC Capital Markets(RBCCM) is a premier investment bank operating out of 70 offices in 15 countries across North America, the U.K., Europe and Asia Pacific, offering structured products and trading services in equities, fixed income, currencies and commodities, and corporate advisory services including equity and debt origination, M & A and corporate lending.

“RIXML.org welcomes RBC Capital Markets as a new member” said Jack Roehrig, Executive Director of RIXML.org. “As a top-ranked Research team with over 300 analysts and associates, across the globe, they will bring a valuable perspective to help RIXML.org’s ongoing mission. We look forward to our partnership and to their contributions.”

Chip Fauver, Co-COO of Global Research at RBCCM, writes: “RBCCM is pleased to join RIXML.org in its pursuit of industry-leading Research standards. It has become abundantly clear that RIXML is now the preeminent forum for providers, vendors and readers of institutional research to discuss evolving trends and change in our industry. My colleagues at RBCCM and I look forward to active participation in the dialogue to vet, and subsequently shape, these standards for the future.”

In early July, RIXML.org member ANALEC and the NYSSA sponsored a standing room only panel discussion about the potential impact that pending MiFID II rules could have on the research industry. The four panelists from the sell-side and buy-side all agreed that European regulators were downplaying the unintended consequences of the proposed ban of using client commissions to pay for research, and there were other viable options which would achieve their aims that they should consider.

Panel Discussion

The purpose of the panel was to promote an industry discussion about the EU’s plans to eliminate the use of commissions to pay for sell-side and independent research, the impact this ban would have on various segments of the financial services market and the broader economy, the winners and losers of such a ban, and possible alternatives to the current MiFID II language. The expert group of panelists who participated included:

Moderator

  • Michael Mayhew, Principle and Founder, Integrity Research Associates

Panelists

  • Tom Conigliaro – Managing Director, Investment Services, Markit
  • Robert Fagin – Director of Research, Cowen and Company
  • Gerald Lins – Managing Director, General Counsel, Voya Investment Management Co.
  • Neal Scarth – Principal, Frost Consulting

The panel answered a series of prepared questions for 45 minutes, followed by 45 minutes of insightful questions posed by the more than 150 industry participants who attended the event.

Key Takeaways

While the unbundling discussion ranged across a broad set of topics, the panel came to six (6) key takeaways, including:

Global Impact: Everyone agreed that the proposed MiFID II unbundling language was likely to impact a wide number of buy-side and sell-side firms around the world. The large global asset managers will not want to establish and implement various policies and systems based on the regulatory regime. Consequently, they are likely to adopt the MiFID II unbundling rules. Sell-side firms will be forced to adopt whatever their customer demands. This could mean that any broker-dealer with EU based clients will be impacted. There was some discussion that “equivalency” language in MiFID II could create a regulatory requirement that non-EU headquartered firms wanting to do business in the EU might be forced to adopt the MiFID II commission ban.

Many Unintended Consequences: A large portion of the panel was spent discussing the numerous unintended consequences the proposed unbundling language would have on various segments of the financial services industry. However, the panel also pointed out the more important economic impact of these changes would have on small and mid-cap companies’ ability to raise capital, reduced employment at these firms, and the reduced number of investment options for individual investors.

Few Winners: The panel concluded that the main winners from the proposed unbundling language would be the largest investment banks and largest asset managers in the world as they would be better able to handle the increased costs or lower revenue that would result, consequently enabling them to pick up market share from the smaller players. In addition, technology firms might benefit is they could build solutions to help the industry better value research or manage research payment accounts.

Some Critical Implementation Issues: The panel discussed a number of implementation issues that are likely to arise if the EU passes MiFID II as it currently stands, including the difficulty many US investment banks will have in accepting cash payments for their research; the tax impact on research providers and clients; and the difficulty in handling cross border business with some clients being able to pay in commissions while others won’t.

Growing Industry Response: During the panel discussion, it became clear that many participants in the US were becoming increasingly concerned about EU developments regarding unbundling. Some industry participants were in the process of forming the Alliance to Preserve Investment Research (AIPR) to come up with viable responses to European regulatory developments. Even US Congress was getting concerned about the potential impact the pending MiFID II rules could have on US companies and jobs, as well as the extra-territorial impact these rules could have on US financial services firms.

A Few Viable Options: The panelists concluded that EU regulators do not have to ban the use of client commissions to achieve their aims. Some felt that requiring asset managers to provide increased transparency around what is being spent on research would go a long way to addressing any concerns that client commissions were being misused. Other panelists felt that the buy-side should establish research budgets and use CSAs to fund research payment accounts until that predetermined budget is hit. Once that occurs, buy-side firms would be required to trade at an execution only rate. Regardless of which option is preferred, the four experts agreed that either approach would not have the consequences that the current proposal would have. Finally, all the panelists agreed that the EU should approach the unbundling topic carefully, weighing the likely impact of proposed regulatory changes in a more measured approach.

RIXML.org is grateful to the hosts of this conference and the panel members for sharing their insights and providing guidance to our members during this critical time of transition for the Research industry.

Highlights from the June Meeting

We are very grateful to Gabriel Lowy of TechTonics Advisors for presenting “Investment Research: A New Way Forward” at our June meeting. The presentation surveyed facts and figures relating to buy-side pressures, the importance of good data and good data management, the impact of demographics, regulations, and technology on the investment landscape, and evolving research business models and roles.

We were also fortunate to have Chris Williams of S&P Capital IQ presenting “Audience development – relevance for Investment Research”. Chris reviewed a case study tracking readership of two reports, raising interesting questions and illustrating several points. The presentation drew insightful parallels between the audience model for investment research and historic audience models for network television and popular music. Highlighting discovery, promotion, and connection as key attributes of audience development, Chris explored the art and science of getting content to readers and fostering a “tribe” of readers.

Many thanks again to Gabe and Chris for their provocative presentations, and to Morgan Stanley for hosting.

Emerging Technology

Mark Daniels of Thomson Reuters led one call for our Emerging Technology work stream since our last Quarterly Meeting – on August 7th. (The July and September Emerging Tech calls were canceled due to the Independence Day and Labor Day holidays.)

The group also met for an in-person workshop on July 23rd at Jordan & Jordan in New York. Citi led the workshop by reviewing SAML 2.0 integration and broader vendor integration issues. Thomson Reuters contributed their specification for Link Generation, as well.

The Emerging Tech call followed-up on the themes discussed in the Workshop. The conversation is heading toward entitlement types and the management of entitlement synchronization across publishers and aggregation vendors. The Link-Back Model is proving to be a nuanced topic with multiple facets offering opportunities for RIXML to add value.

Componentization

Two comments on Componentization: First, we published an article describing our work-to-date and our plans ahead on the Integrity Research blog on August 24. Our thanks to Sandy Bragg for the opportunity to showcase RIXML activities on this very well-read forum. And we’re grateful to the kind assistance from Deirdre Goldenbogen on the visuals. Awareness is a necessary ingredient of our success and this article will help us get our message out to the marketplace and ensure we’re on the right track.

A New Framework To Componentize Research Reports [integrity-research.com]

Second, we’re very pleased that several of our members have volunteered their time and expertise toward continuing our Componentization effort and moving forward with a pilot program. More to come on this shortly…

“A New Framework To Componentize Research Reports”

By Sal Restivo August, 2015

The following is a guest article by Sal Restivo, a co-founder of RIXML.org and Chairman of the RIXML Standards Committee.

RIXML, an industry-wide standard for tagging investment research in XML, is about to launch a pilot program to standardize the components of research reports. The new componentization guidelines are designed to make it easier to parse research reports to extract the information of greatest interest.

RIXML.org is a standards body operated by member firms from the buy-side and the sell-side, as well as research aggregation vendors, market data vendors, and technology vendors. The organization created the RIXML schema 15 years ago and it has become widely adopted across the investment research marketplace. The RIXML schema offers research publishers a standard way to tag their reports such that publishers and aggregators can effectively categorize them and improve the research discovery process for their readers.

Now the organization is taking the next step by creating a standard framework for publishers to identify internal components of their reports. Development of this componentization framework has reached the stage where it’s ready for critical evaluation via a pilot program.

Component-Level Addressability

Research reports are typically made of several component parts, such as the Investment Thesis, Valuation Method, and Key Assumptions. Each part plays a specific role in communicating the author’s message to the reader. The presence of a key phrase within one component may have a different meaning or significance from the same phrase in another component.

With the whole document as the sole unit of research content, an interested party cannot focus a search operation on any particular parts. Additionally, the archive being searched cannot offer results that directly point to the most relevant parts. Even if the document is well-tagged in an accompanying RIXML file, the most the archive can do is refer the interested party to a qualifying document or set of documents. The document itself is too coarse-grained a unit to support these types of operations effectively.

In order to offer more specific results, a finer-grained unit of content is needed. By providing component-level addressability the RIXML organization expects to improve the precision of tagging and searching. Better precision in the research discovery process leads to higher quality results. And that would be a natural extension of what RIXML already does.

Standard Component Types

The RIXML organization is now developing standardized tagging at the component level, rather than stopping at the document level. We worked with our member firms to analyze a broad sampling of published content. We collected lists of component types from the sample content and collated them. We removed duplicates and esoterics, and pared the list down to what we consider a canonical result.

The resulting list of standard component types will be the basis for component-level addressability. Publishers can use the standard component type labels in the RIXML list, applied to their own content as hidden tags within an HTML5 rendering to communicate context to consumers. Research consumers will then benefit from component addressability across publishers.

Benefits of Componentization

As an example, imagine an investor interested in learning more about analysts’ views on how rising beef costs will affect the short term performance of Shake Shack’s stock price. A typical search using key phrases “shake shack” and “beef costs” may yield some good results – i.e. research reports that have something to say on the subject.

However, if the search space can be focused on components tagged as Summary or Key Investment Drivers, the investor will identify the most relevant insights even more quickly and easily. Component-level addressing pushes higher-quality search results to the top and prunes lower-quality results.

Let’s consider that example a bit differently. Suppose the investor did not focus the search on specific components, but instead made a general query using the same key phrases. Even when the investor does not make use of component-level addressability, the archive can include references to the components containing the key phrases when presenting the search results. This draws the investor’s attention more directly to the most relevant parts of a document, akin to a “light box” that shines a light on those parts while maintaining the overall context.

The RIXML componentization framework offers finer granularity in addressing content, i.e. sort of a higher-resolution approach to querying and finding the best quality results. It gives the interested party the means of expressing more precisely the material sought. And it gives the party serving the results a way of focusing the reader’s attention based on relevance.

Pilot Program

Before finalizing and releasing the framework, we plan to pursue a pilot program to illustrate and validate our work. Our guidance documentation lays out the method for applying the standard component type labels and further advises on how they can be put to good use in the discovery process. We will implement component tagging according to our own guidelines against a set of sample research content in HTML5 format. We will then use it to illustrate key use-cases, possibly via an e-seminar.

Once we’ve reached the right level of consensus, we will post the framework materials for general availability. Interested readers can learn more about the RIXML organization and our standards for enriching the investment research discovery process by visiting our web site at RIXML.org.

With many thanks for the contributions of Deirdre Goldenbogen, who oversees our Marketing/Communications efforts, we have stepped up our activity on LinkedIn. Please join our Group, review our "Getting to know RIXML" series and provide feedback on continuous ways to bolster our Outreach efforts.

Interested in joining RIXML.org? Call our Program Office and 212-652-4470 or email us at to=This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." target="_blank">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for additional information.

PLEASE NOTE: This viewpoint is entirely my own and neither the official viewpoint of RIXML.org nor the viewpoint of any of its member organizations.

“Parts of the Sum”: Get Ready…Get Set….COMPONENTIZE !

It seems to me, the word Componentization has different meanings to different people. On the surface, it has an “engineering” feel to it, where, one is required to dig deeper…

As it relates to the practical side of published research, one would think the idea of breaking down(as Donald Trump might utter: “Huuuuuuuuuge”) monolithic .pdf reports into more useful sub-components that can contextually relate, is not exactly breakthrough technology, but, it is relatively new technology in the research space nonetheless, and is coming to the forefront due to:

  • Evolving research payment ground rules to usher in more creative research “packaging” and delivery going forward, to fully realize payment.
  • Evolving technology suite(Tablets, Smartphones, et al) that better lend themselves to the rendering and delivery of such components(“price blocks”, “industry comp” tables, spreadsheets, audio, video, et al)
  • User demographics – try selling a .pdf through a smartphone to anyone under 40 years of age….enough said.

A basic definition of Componentization involves the process atomizing (breaking down) resources into separate reusable packages that can be easily recombined. While I would not recommend that anyone start off a meeting with their respective head of Research Compliance with the word “atomizing”, I am seeing very encouraging signs and a good deal of interest in the uptake of the Componentization topic amongst RIXML.org members and within our Technology Working Groups.

As per Sal Restivo, our Technology & Standards Committee Chair, RIXML.org is now in a position to take the next step by creating a standard framework for publishers to identify internal components of their reports. Development of this componentization framework has reached the stage where it is ready for critical evaluation via a pilot program.

While in the early innings, several of our members have volunteered their time and expertise toward this effort. In addition to Sal Restivo, I am grateful to Mark Daniels, Susan Walton, Dave White, Frank Jaramillo, Maribeth Martorana and Richard Brandt for their contributions.

Componentization is about packaging…and will remain a key deliverable and priority in 2016 and beyond…it will be fun to see it take shape..stay tuned….same bat time, same bat channel.

"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower."

      Albert Camus

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