4th Quarter 2015, Issue 38
In this issue, we are pleased to announce the recipient of our 2015 Leadership award, we welcome BCA Research as a new member, we highlight a recent NYSSA hosted Research Event, we highlight a recent article relating to the likely delay of MiFID II, we highlight an emerging standard known as SAML and we get a perspective from Jack Roehrig, Executive Director of RIXML.org.
To ALL Members of RIXML.org:
I am very pleased to announce, as voted by our members, the 2015 RIXML.org Leadership Award recipient is Mark Daniels of Thomson Reuters. Mark has made significant contributions to RIXML.org over several years, from both research business and technology perspectives. One of our voting members cited “the consistent leadership and expertise that Mark brings to us and his elevated role this year specifically.” Mark has added value through his contributions toward key development areas, including our “Linkback” and Componentization efforts, which will continue to be high profile priorities for RIXML.org going forward.
Please join me in congratulating Mark on receiving this award. We look forward to a formal presentation of the award to Mark at our upcoming quarterly members’ meeting on Thursday, January 14, 2016, 10:00am – Noon(EST), which will be hosted at Goldman Sachs’ Headquarters in NYC.
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 BCA Research has joined RIXML.org as a new member.
BCA Research is the leading independent provider of global investment research. Since 1949, BCA’s mission has been to support its clients in making better investment decisions through the delivery of leading-edge analysis and forecasts of all the major asset classes and economies, as well as educating, informing and stimulating discussion through clear and thought-provoking research.
BCA provides its services to financial professionals across six continents through a wide range of products, services, and meetings. The firm maintains a head office in Montreal, with local offices in London, New York, San Francisco, Hong Kong, Sydney, Cape Town and São Paulo.
“RIXML.org welcomes BCA Research as a new member” said Jack Roehrig, Executive Director of RIXML.org. “As a leading provider of independent investment research around 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, particularly, within our Technology Working Groups.”
“BCA Research is proud to join RIXML.org” said Paul Chow, BCA Research’s Director of Information Technology. “The ever-increasing amount of available investment research makes it critical to ensure more effective targeting, personalization, and overall usability are present in all forms of research dissemination. We are excited and eager to participate with other members in shaping the future of research distribution.”
On November 19th, RIXML.org member ANALEC and Integrity Research Associates co-sponsored a NYSSA hosted event in NYC. The following is a summary by Michael Mayhew from Integrity Research Associates, who moderated a panel. Our organization is grateful to be part of these timely and most relevant forums.
Last Thursday evening, more than 100 research professionals braved the torrential rain to attend a panel discussion co-sponsored by ANALEC and Integrity Research Associates titled Investment Research: The Next Big Thing. Research industry experts including Gene Ekster, Gabe Lowy, Divya Narendra, and Indy Sarker contributed to the panel, which Mike Mayhew moderated.
The purpose of the panel discussion was to help investment professionals think through where the research industry is heading given current pressures from regulatory developments, technology innovation, competition, and changing client demands.
However, based on the expertise of the panel, questions from the moderator, and the interests of the audience the panel focused on a few topics, including the impact that changing buy-side demand would have on the sell-side research product, key trends in the use of alternative data and data analytics by the sell-side and buy-side, and advice the panelists had for analysts who are in the early stages of their careers.
Changing Buy-Side Demand
One of the questions posed to the panel addressed the buy-side’s changing demands for the equity research they consume and how this might alter what the sell-side needs to provide them. The panelists highlighted the following areas of interest.
- Alternative data – One panelist noted that buy-side analysts and PMs have expressed a growing interest in research driven by unique non-traditional data. He explained that investment professionals are increasingly looking for insights that can be backed up quantitatively through the use of alternative data sets including web scraped traffic data, credit card transaction data, point of sales data, or even data collected from satellite imagery. This panelist concluded that a growing number of sell-side firms will need to add alternative data and the ability to work with it to their research teams in the future.
- Not looking for maintenance research coverage – Another panelist explained that the buy-side doesn’t value maintenance research, nor are they looking for duplicate coverage on the same large cap and mid cap names that all the large investment banks are producing. He concluded that to provide value-added research, the sell-side needs to provide research on less covered stocks, including small cap or even private companies.
- Non-consensus ideas / short ideas – Another panelist explained that the research most highly read by buy-side analysts included short ideas and research presenting a nonconsensus view on a stock. He acknowledged that the sell-side tends not to produce this type of research today, and that he expects some sell-side firms will try to create more of this type of research in order to get paid by the buy-side in the future.
- Help buy-side understand where their returns are coming from – Our final panelist argued that most buy-side firms do not understand what aspect of the research and data they consume drives their performance. Consequently, he contends that in the future, the sell-side will provide advice to the buy-side helping them to identify the source of their returns and enabling them to support a quantitative research process which can support healthy returns. Ultimately, he sees the sell-side providing more customized advisory services and less published research.
Advice for Young Analysts
Another question posed to the last week’s panel of research industry experts was what advice would you give to an aspiring analyst to help them develop a successful career? The following was what the panelists suggested.
- Acquire data analytics / statistics experience: Two panelists recommended that young analysts try to obtain data analytics and/or statistics experience. They both admitted that very few traditional sell-side or buy-side analysts have this type of experience today, but that this will be an increasingly more important skillset in the future. Consequently, these panelists felt that analysts that have both traditional investment research skills PLUS data analytics experience will be extremely valuable in the future.
- Build your brand: Another panelist explained that in the future investment analysts need to proactively try to build his or her brands and reputations by leveraging social media. This might include publishing research on platforms like Seeking Alpha or SumZero, or leveraging other platforms like Estimize to develop a track record. The ultimate purpose of posting research or tracking your estimates on these platforms is to build your brand and make yourself more credible to potential employers.
- Read two books: The final panelist recommended that aspiring young analysts try to enhance their investment research educations by reading two classic books. The first book is The Intelligent Investor, The Definitive Book On Value Investing. Originally written in 1949 by famed value investor Benjamin Graham, revised editions were published in 2003 and 2009 by Jason Zweig and Warren Buffet. The second recommended book is Data Just Right: Introduction to Large-Scale Data & Analytics by Michael Manoochehri.
While last week’s panel on the future of the investment research industry could not cover all the important topics that industry professionals wanted addressed, it clearly struck a nerve with the audience as most stayed for the entire two hour event, despite the bad weather.
The panelists all agreed that fundamental research and the traditional equity research analyst was not going away anytime soon – particularly sell-side or buy-side analysts who could provide deep industry expertise and a rigorous and objective research process to their work. However, the panel did agree that the future of the research industry was likely to be quite different from the past due to the explosion in the availability of alternative data; the growing sophistication of analytic tools; and an overhaul to the commercial model for research. These trends would alter the sell-side research product and change the skill sets most valued by research analysts in the future.
Our organization is grateful to Tom Conigliaro, MD, from RIXML.org member Markit, for sharing his insights and valuable perspective throughout 2015 regarding potential regulatory changes which will impact research business and buy-side payment models.
Speculation about delays to Mifid II has been all but confirmed. Last week Esma’s chairman Steven Maijoor expressed concerns about whether there was enough time to implement the revisions of the proposed rules by January 2017. Whether the delays will mean adopting a ‘quick fix’ or a ‘staggered approach’ is yet to be decided. Although it’s fair to say that the former option (which would entail a one year delay) would undoubtedly be easier than the latter which would involve a more complex negotiation process to produce a list of delayed measures.
From the beginning, I’ve been an advocate of calling for cooler heads to prevail and for regulators not to take a ‘nuclear’ approach -- ‘nuclear’ meaning forcing through cumbersome rule changes that would result in a plethora of unintended consequences, as well as not giving industry participants enough time to implement. Given the magnitude of Mifid II, the last thing anyone wants to see is the rushing through of legislation, especially if there is a potential lack of readiness to implement. During our third annual investment services seminar this week, attendees and customers made it clear that regulatory sentiment has moved from ‘what are you doing?’ to ‘how are you doing it?’ Customers have shifted their focus from learning about Mifid II to preparing for its implementation. This is also evident through Esma’s skepticism about IT systems being ready for the original deadline and concerns around the significant coordination that would be needed across reference data, transaction reporting, transparency threshold-calculating and position reporting systems.
I’ve also emphasized for some time the potential unintended consequences of Mifid II, ranging from a reduction in research coverage to the risk of regulatory arbitrage. It’s important that we take the time now to prevent or minimize the potential negative repercussions of Mifid II by ironing out the finer details rather than doing so after the rules are implemented
Overall, it’s good news to hear that the regulators are listening to the concerns of the marketplace and are delaying the rules in an effort to put forth the most suitable regulations. The full impact of Mifid II may not be known for years, but as market participants we can influence what is being put forward by the regulators now!
SAML is gaining traction as part of discussions within our Technology Working Groups. We anticipate further discussion to leverage this markup language going forward. Further details can be obtained via:
What is SAML?
Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) is an XML standard that allows a user to log on once to the log on site for all the trusted websites. SAML was released in 2002 with version 1.0 and in 2005 version 2.0 was released. SAML is designed for B2B and B2C transactions. SAML has the following components:
- Assertions: Authentication, attribute, authorization
- Protocols: HTTP, SMTP, FTP, SOAP
- Bindings: SAML over SOAP, SAML over HTTP
How SAML Works
SAML defines three roles:
- Identity Provider (IDP): This role will validate the identity of a user who is asking for a service.
- Service Provider (SP): This role will provide services to user.
- Principal: This is typically the user asking for a service from SP and getting validated by IDP.
PLEASE NOTE: This viewpoint is entirely my own and neither the official viewpoint of RIXML.org northe viewpoint of any of its member organizations.
“The Research Analyst of the Future: Data Worlds Colliding or Blending? It’s all about the VALUE”
I attended a NYSSA hosted event about a month ago entitled “Review of Research: The Next Big Thing”(see the event summary above) that I believe provided an excellent perspective, from the panel’s point of view, of how the research analyst’s role has evolved and will evolve going forward. The panel discussion has made me reflect on the merits of “analysts past, present and future”( I just had to throw in the Dickensian reference since Christmas is nigh).
Given the event was hosted at the NYSSA, fittingly, the name of Benjamin Graham was invoked numerous times. Ben Graham is considered the “father of security analysis”, who was known as the “poster boy” for value investing. His mantra “value will out” likely rolls off the tongue of anyone that has sat for the CFA exam. Ben Graham preached(paraphrase) to “buy your Winter coats in the Spring”, when they were out of favor and likely undervalued(clearance sale). In Graham’s day, the tools of the trade included “green eye shades”, a slide rule, an “adding machine” boxes of #2 pencils in the pouring over of lots and lots of company annual reports, earnings, product line descriptions, and data….LOTS of data…all by hand.
Graham’s approach was to look for stocks that were hidden gems, where the company’s assets were greatly undervalued on the books and such value was not fully reflected in the stock price—one example where Graham had great success was investing in Railroad stocks since often the asset value of the Railroad’s land rights were highly understated and their stock price relative to earnings, book value, cash flow, et al, per share were cheap compared to market benchmarks.
I started my career as a Fortran programmer, building custom stock screens against the CompuStat/Fundamentals and Telstat/Pricing(talk about trivia!) databases for institutional clients, and quite often, put Ben Graham’s data rules to the test. While colleagues came along later that were more gifted “coders” than I was(Management suggested I would have a brighter future in marketing/sales ☺), I have to admit, it was fun to start out my career immersed in the data…which required a thorough understanding of company fundamentals and various investment strategies, including Ben Graham’s.
Which brings me back to the question: How might the research analyst role evolve going forward? Of course, while I hope that one will never lose sight of the fundamentals(Geezer’s Lament), discussions concerning the role of the “new world order” analyst begs several questions:
- How might alternative data and analytics pair with the fundamentals?—seems analysis of data scale/relationships/patterns could well uncover more gems
- Technology---while we won’t be going back to the days of the green eye shades/data sheets and slide rules(yes, I still have mine), might there be a rapid(too rapid) commoditization of the tech tools/data sets as tech innovation rage on?
- Analyst Skills---seems we are headed toward an “analyst team” model, where, the fundamental analyst teams up with the research subject matter expert with respect to data mining, analytics, et al…this “data expert” role could well be very exciting and opportunistic for someone starting a career in research
- Changing research business models – the “perfect storm” of events, including regulatory mandates, technology advancement, evolving investor demographics, genuine emerging research “profit centers” all will contribute to the strategic use of data(fundamental, alternative, analytics) with greater urgency to “prove out the value” of one’s research in order to, in no uncertain terms, get paid.
So….as the answers to the above questions will continue to seek their right level within RIXML.org in 2016, we should expect to continue to embrace and adopt standards(tagging, authentication, components, others) in the spirit of adopting the same mindset that Ben Graham adopted and preached well over 60 years ago: VALUE WILL OUT.
Since we are at the close of 2015, I would like to cite the extraordinary contributions of our members, particularly, within our technology working groups. I never cease to be impressed by the level of expertise and tireless dedication among those involved in these working groups, knowing this is "above and beyond" contributions, given very limited bandwidth, which benefits all members and YOURorganization at large—I am grateful.
Topics, including the influence of pending research regulatory changes(MiFID II, ESMA), the rapid evolution of “new world order” research payment models, the emphasis to embrace standards around User Authentication(“Linkback”), the opportunity to build and embrace standards for research “components” and establish test pilots and the early exploration of emerging technologies, i.e., Cloud Computing, Big Data Analytics, A.I., are all topics that will have increasing influence(very exciting !) in 2016. Stay tuned.
I would also like to acknowledge the contributions of and offer thanks to Michael Mayhew and Sandy Bragg from Integrity Research Associates, Tom Conigliaro from Markit, Gabriel Lowy from Tech-Tonics Advisors and Fabrice Bouland from Alphametry, who shared their Research business and Technology insights in kicking off our quarterly members’ meetings over the course of 2015. Their contributions have received high praise amongst our members.
We are grateful to Deirdre Goldenbogen for her tireless efforts to enhance our Marketing presence and to further the cause of RIXML.org in the marketplace. Many thanks.
We are also grateful to Jim Ulrich, our Treasurer, for his dedication and professionalism to ensure our financials are managed in a most timely and seamless fashion.
I would also like to recognize the ongoing efforts and support from our Program Office, led by Kathy McGovern and Tom Jordan, from Jordan & Jordan. Many Thanks.
I wish you and your families all the best for the holidays and a happy, peaceful and healthy 2016.
They're cutting down trees
They're putting up reindeer
And singing songs of joy and peace
Oh I wish I had a river I could skate away on
Joni Mitchell, River, 1971