Happy New Year! I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday season and is geared up for the endless possibilities the new year brings. I’d like to take a moment to reflect on the past year at Visible Alpha, as well as look ahead to 2018.
The Year in Review
Major News and Events
Our biggest news of 2017 was Visible Alpha’s commercial launch in February. It was quite a long journey from our initial meeting of the founding partners in 2007, where the ideas that would motivate Visible Alpha were first discussed, through 2011 when the project was started in earnest. In the years since, the Visible Alpha team has been nurturing and feeding those ideas and turning them into the incredible products that are beginning to have a dramatic impact on the way the Street communicates.
Acquisitions & Partnerships
In the investment research workflow, Visible Alpha Insights focuses on discovery, idea generation and fundamental analysis, enabling buy-side analysts and portfolio managers to uncover new investment ideas, test theories and interact with deep company forecast data.
In January 2017, Visible Alpha acquired ONEaccess, a leading corporate access, resource tracking and broker valuation platform. With this acquisition, we were able to support more functions within the investment management workflow, including tracking and valuing corporate access events, research and broker interactions.
Then, in November 2017, Visible Alpha acquired Alpha Exchange, an innovative research discovery and management platform for investment professionals. The addition of Alpha Exchange’s advanced technology platform to Visible Alpha’s existing services created a unified consumption and collaboration experience across research reports, analyst models and corporate access events backed by a robust compliance framework. From within one environment, clients can now discover, consume, collaborate, track, budget, value, pay and manage research content.
Finally, we established a host of important partnerships throughout the year, including Thomson Reuters, IHS Markit and Factset, among others. These interconnections allow for comprehensive solutions to MiFID II-related challenges in a multitude of environments.
MiFID II, the new European regulation that rolled out on January 3, 2018, was a significant driver of change for the investment community in 2017, including the need to incorporate more quantitative elements into research and broker valuation. Much of our clients’ and contributors’ time over the past year was spent preparing for MiFID II, whether handling the mechanics of unbundling research payments and tracking research consumption or tackling the more existential question of how to value research itself.
Visible Alpha spent the past year helping clients lay a solid foundation for MiFID II. Our goal was not to simply provide a set of administrative tools, but to help clients discover and implement sustainable approaches to meeting compliance requirements in ways that add value to their underlying businesses.
We launched our MiFID II solution in March and an extensive MiFID II campaign to help firms prepare (including a MiFID II timeline, checklist and infographic). We also partnered with Institutional Investor and Substantive Research to conduct a survey of senior asset managers and asset owners to shed light on their expectations. Read the full MiFID II compliance survey results here.
Visible Alpha has grown significantly over the past year, more than doubling the size of our team to over 400 employees in four offices around the world. At the same time, our network has expanded exponentially, with contribution from over 450 research providers, models covering 7,500+ companies, deep consensus on over 2,100 companies and a client base with over $16 trillion in AUM.
New Product Features and Enhancements
Over the past year, our product and development teams released key functionality. A few highlights include:
- Excel Add-in – Pull deep analyst forecast data from Visible Alpha Insights directly into Excel with just a few clicks.
- Tear sheets – Excel-based snapshots of the latest consensus and broker estimates – particularly useful for earnings previews and reviews.
- Charting – Customizable and interactive visual insights into estimates distribution, revisions and trend analyses.
- Line Item Monitoring – Instant access to the latest consensus estimates and analytics. Set alerts on metrics important to you and your portfolio.
- Budgeting – Advanced budgeting functionality allows firm administrators to set budgets for teams, individuals, time periods and more.
Email Tracking & Classification
- Inducement Monitoring – To help clients manage the risk of research inducements via email, we partnered with SPi Global to classify all email data, content and attachments received, and evaluate and flag it for potential inducements.
A Look Ahead
With the January 3 milestone behind us, focus is shifting from preparing for MiFID II to learning to operate and excel in the new environment. While meeting compliance obligations will provide the backdrop, the industry’s critical task of 2018 will be delivering not just value, but quantifiable value to respective clients. Institutional investors will need to focus on innovation in an increasingly competitive market to find new ways of discovering and generating alpha. We believe that Visible Alpha, in collaboration with our contributing research providers, can significantly contribute to the success of those efforts.
Like the industry with MiFID II, 2018 for Visible Alpha will be about building off of a solid foundation set last year to deliver tangible and impactful value to our clients. To that end, one of our goals is to reduce the friction of using our systems by providing a single, unified experience across all of our continuously improving products and data sets.
We will continue to grow our investment in all aspects of the company. (We’re hiring! Check out the open Visible Alpha career opportunities.) The year is already off to a strong start as we add new content contributors and new companies to our coverage daily and, I am humbled to say, more and more clients are putting their trust in our services.
On an organizational level, we have a big announcement coming up very soon. Stay tuned!
I hope that you are as ready to take on the new year as the Visible Alpha team is. To our clients, contributors and partners – please know that we sincerely appreciate the trust that you place in us with your business and collaboration. We could not be more excited to see what 2018 has in store for all of us.
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