As the coronavirus pandemic spread around the globe, freezing up economies and upending all expectations for how markets would behave, investors found themselves with far more questions than answers — and demand for sell-side research skyrocketed.

All year long, in every market around the world, top-ranking research professionals interviewed by Institutional Investor reported sharp increases in readership of research reports, interactions between analysts and clients, and attendance at (now virtual) investor conferences and corporate access events.

At UBS Group, for example, analysts “spent more time with clients in 2020 than 2019 by a significant percentage,” said Dan Dowd, global head of research. “As wild as things were, people wanted to spend even more time with sell-side research — and we provided that to them.”

For Bank of America Corp.’s head of global research Candace Browning, the year served as proof that sell-side research still plays a fundamentally important role in the larger investment industry.

“I’m actually very optimistic about research,” she said. “You look at a year like this and what happened when we went into a huge period of uncertainty. It shows that people want research; they need it; they’re consuming it.”

Where, exactly, did investors turn for this must-have research? Throughout 2020 and into the beginning of 202, II asked investors to vote for their favorite research providers across equities and fixed income, in developed markets and emerging ones. These results were detailed across eight major rankings: the All-America Research Team; the All-Asia Research Team; the All-China Research Team; the All-Europe Research Team; the All-Japan Research Team; the Emerging Europe, Middle East & Africa Research Team; the Latin America Research Team; and the Global Fixed-Income Research Team.

When all of these votes were added up, one firm emerged as 2020’s Top Global Research Firm...

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