Research salespeople constitute a vital link in the institutional investment process.

“The portfolio manager takes the decision to buy or to sell, the analysts offer the intellectual framework under which a stock should be bought or sold — and the salesperson has to be the filter to sort out the ‘right’ and useful information for the portfolio manager’s needs on a daily basis,” explains one participant in Institutional Investor’s 2012 All-Europe Research Team survey. (We keep confidential the identities of respondents and their firms to ensure their continuing cooperation.) Salespeople “offer the work of their analysts on a tailor-made basis, adding their specific views — which often gives an additional level of information.”

This portfolio manager doesn’t hesitate to declare Deutsche Bank home to Europe’s best equity research sales force — and he’s far from alone in his opinion. We asked participants in this year’s survey to tell us which firms excel in research sales, and Deutsche Bank captures the pole position in our inaugural All-Europe Sales Team. BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research takes second place, followed by J.P. Morgan Cazenove and then Morgan Stanley.

Nearly 1,500 buy-side analysts and money managers at approximately 650 firms that collectively manage some $5 trillion in European equity assets responded to our question about Europe’s top sales teams — that’s roughly 67 percent of the people who cast votes in the research survey, representing 85 percent of the participating buy-side institutions. For more information, see our methodology.