Expert Networks Proliferate as Investors Increase In-House Research

New York - 4 March 2008

Expert networks, which connect investors with industry experts, have doubled in the last five years as investors increasingly conduct their own primary investment research, according to Integrity Research, a specialist research firm covering the investment research industry.

In its latest edition of ResearchFocus, which reviews key segments of the research industry, Integrity identified twenty five expert network firms, up from four firms ten years ago. “Expert networks were initially embraced by hedge funds looking for unique insights,” says Michael Mayhew, Integrity’s chairman and co-author of the study. “Much of the recent growth has come from mutual funds and other long-only investors which are increasing their internal research staff.”

Expert networks and their clients have come under regulatory scrutiny to determine if they are being used by institutional investors to obtain material, non-public information about publicly-traded companies, in violation of securities regulations. In its study, Integrity reviewed the compliance programs of expert networks and formulated best practices guidelines for the expert network industry. Integrity compared each expert network’s compliance procedures to its best practice guidelines. “Regulators have focused on the largest expert networks, which have the most robust controls against leaks of proprietary, non-public information. However, not all expert network providers have made an equal commitment to implementing stringent compliance procedures like the ones we endorse,” added Mayhew.

Integrity also selected its 2008 Top Picks for Expert Networks in five categories of expert networks: Generalists, Technology Specialists, Healthcare Specialists, Europe, and Asia/Emerging Markets. Evaluations of the research providers are based on inputs from institutional investors and Integrity’s own assessments.

Integrity’s 77-page ResearchFocus report includes analysis of the regulatory and market trends impacting expert networks, analysis of the key evaluation metrics such as the breadth and depth of the networks, discussions of the top expert network providers, and reports on each of the twenty-five expert networks. The report is used as a “buyers guide” by research directors and analysts at institutional investors.

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