On a summer evening in 1972, two magazine editors met over drinks to devise an idea for a story on the best analysts on Wall Street.

That year, Institutional Investor would publish the first-ever All-America Research Team: a list of 85 sell-side analysts valued by money managers for their coverage across 26 industries. And what was pitched, originally, as a bit of fun — complete with illustrations of analysts dressed up as football players — became a career-making institution.

“Research departments have restructured themselves, and investment banks have been willing to fund and resource analysts that do better in II,” says Brett Hodess, head of Americas equity research at Bank of America. “The notoriety that II generated for analysts created a shorthand way for people to understand who is adding value for clients.”

Today,II publishes the 50th All-America Research Team, ranking analysts across 60 industry and macro sectors and recognizing an industry that has survived government investigations, market downturns, and game-changing regulations — and come out stronger than ever before. 

“In the mid-’70s, when commission rates collapsed, everyone thought the sell side was going to go away,” says Nick Rosato, head of North America equity research at JPMorgan Chase & Co. “Fast-forward to the other big events, such as the tech crash of 2000, Eliot Spitzer in 2002, the global financial crisis in 2008, and the real existential crisis of MiFID II in 2018 — here we are in 2021, and the business is thriving and has evolved along with the needs of our clients.”

After 49 years, the AART remains the leading barometer of the buy side’s opinion of analysts and their firms — even as the job of adding value has gotten a lot harder...

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