2020 marks the second year for the publication of the survey’s commission-weighted results (previous years’ results were weighted by companies’ assets under management). The commission-weighted approach more accurately reflects how the buy-side values and rewards the sell-side for their research advisory services.

This year’s survey included a new macro category, Thematic Research, allowing asset managers to recognize value at those firms that can combine research from several sectors and contribute to investment strategy that may not be specific to a single stock or market. The Software and Internet sectors were expanded into Large-Cap and Small & Mid-Cap sectors.

Changes are underway for how research is valued, consumed, and paid for, and many asset owners in the US are adopting similar practices to those enforced in Europe to comply with MiFID II, in spite of the uncertainty around the impact of unbundling on sell-side firms in the US. The Covid-19 crisis has not diminished the appetite by asset managers for sell-side research and advisory services, and the competitive landscape remains tight. If research and commission wallets continue to decline, selecting the highest quality firms and analysts will continue to be essential for buy-side firms to justify how they spend their client’s, or their own, research budget.

Selection Criteria

To select the members of the All-America Research Teams, Institutional Investor solicited opinions of directors of research and investment professionals at asset management firms with a commission and/or a research wallet of at least US$250k and who are recognized as using sell-side research advisory services. For the All-America survey, we received responses from more than 3,667 individuals at 1,446 firms. The names of individuals surveyed are kept confidential to ensure their continuing cooperation.

Participants rated their top firms in each sector and then separately rated individual analysts at those firms to create two distinct rankings for each sector. A numerical score was produced by weighting each vote based on the responding firm’s commissions or assets under management in the sector and the rating awarded. This created the Commissions and AUM-weighted rankings.

Using those scores, ranks were determined. Firms/analysts are awarded a “Runner‐Up” position if their score comes within 35 percent of the third-place score in a sector. For the analyst rankings, the cut-off date for individuals is the date of the survey opening (1st June 2020).

Voters must meet strict eligibility requirements, and winners must achieve a minimum vote count. All ballots are subject to review by the Research Operations Group.

Sales & Corporate Access

In addition to Research, voters are invited to rate firms on both Sales and Corporate Access criteria at the firm level only. Voters could rate up to seven firms in overall Generalist Sales as well as eight Specialist Sales categories and then assess each firm on several criteria.

For Corporate Access, buy-side voters could rate up to seven firms in each of seven categories. The Top 10 tables were produced based on the aggregated commission-weighted points or AUM-weighted points across the categories. Corporate voters could vote for up to four corporate access across five attributes. Votes were weighted by the place awarded to each firm and aggregated to create the corporate view Top 10 table.