Friday, December 28, 2007

The Value of Vetting

We see it in all sectors, professions, and projects: A vetting process for identifying value. Whether it’s the A&R guys who find us the best bands; the headhunters that find us the best executives; or the search engines that finds us the best information – we are a society that has come to value the processes that fast-track us to top results.

We’re learning the same is true for StreetBrains and its vetting process for qualifying the analysts we add to our brand. To give a rough idea, 400+ analysts have been through StreetBrains vetting process in the past 8 months. However, we have only launched 10 of those as brands. Our purpose has always been that we want to represent great insights and analysis, so we’ve been extremely selective in bringing on new brands who offer insights that cannot be found anywhere else. But we’ve learned from several clients recently that the value of our vetting process is actually much bigger than that.

A recent study by the Noble Group – a UK investment bank – found that financial directors of AIM (Alternative Investment Market) listed companies had a very low awareness of independent research.

The findings show:

75% of respondents could not name an independent research company.

58% did not even try to name an independent research company.

17% thought they could name one but named a broker or an information service rather than an independent research company.

Only 24% could name an independent research company.

Part of the problem with even the best of the best independent analysts is that most clients don’t have the time to go out and seek out and assess the quality of every independent researcher they come across. In theory, they like the idea of using independent research…but, where to find them? We’re hearing more and more often that firms find this ‘discovery’ process to be a daunting task.

By bringing a variety of analyst brands onto one platform after a stringent vetting process, StreetBrains is able to cut an enormous amount of ‘vetting’ time out for the client. That client is now able to focus on finding tradable insights, rather than trying to assess credibility, writing style, or brand focus. In essence, we bring the mountain to Mohammed.

The Noble survey also found that 84% of the surveyed AIM financial directors think that broker research is biased.

While this comes as no surprise to us, it underscores the importance of increasing the awareness and visibility of truly independent analysts. (Truly being the operative word…but that’s a topic for another day!)

Bottom line: if the objective insights of independent analysts can be more easily accessed, it seems that their insights would be welcomed by clients who are clamoring for non-biased research.