Would You Pay $1,000 For Each Equity Research Piece You Read? Autonomous Research Thinks You Will
Would you pay $1,000 for each piece of equity research you read throughout the day? How about $5,000 for an industry piece?
Well, Autonomous Research, which was founded in 2009 by former Merrill Lynch analysts, is really hoping you’ll agree that those are appropriate clearing prices for their daily market wisdom. According to Bloomberg, as equity research providers in the Europe continue to figure out how exactly to best comply with upcoming MiFID II rules, Autonomous thinks that a piecemeal approach will allow them to reach smaller funds that lack the resources to purchase more expensive annual contracts for bulge bracket research.
Autonomous Research LLP is offering a pay-as-you-go model for its European equity product in the run-up to the MiFID II rules, which are set to shake up the way money managers pay for analyst reports, people with knowledge of the matter said.
The prices for the new service start at $1,000 for a single stock report and climb to $5,000 for high-end industry research, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. Autonomous Research, which specializes in analysis of financial companies, also charges a single user $5,000 for access to its daily round-up of news and analysis, with the price per client falling as more sign up, the people said.
“We have been transparent with our clients on pricing for research since inception eight years ago,” said Chief Financial Officer Jonathan Firkins. “We have a clear and transparent pricing menu which we discuss proactively with existing and prospective clients.”
Of course, as we recently pointed out, bigger firms like Barclays have opted for larger 1x, all-you-can-eat packages priced at the bargain basement rate of just $455,000 per year…it’s hard to imagine how hedgies won’t be knocking down their doors to gain access.
The firm is proposing three levels of service — bronze, silver and gold — with the premium package comprising unlimited reports, field trips and “occasional” one-on-one meetings with analysts and corporate executives, according to a pricing document seen by Bloomberg News. At the bottom end of the scale, read-only access to European research will start at 30,000 pounds.
At Barclays, even if clients stump up 350,000 pounds for the gold “trans-Atlantic” package, they could still end up spending more. “Bespoke” analyst work and corporate access is priced separately, according to the document. Field trips, industry events and company management meetings are also at the bank’s discretion, and analyst one-on-ones are “capped,” it shows.
Prices in the document may not apply to all clients, have been in flux and could still be subject to change, a person familiar with the process said, asking not to be identified discussing the matter. A Barclays spokesman declined to comment.
Banks are scrambling as they enter the last six months before the decades-old practice of sending out free analyst reports as a courtesy and marketing strategy comes to an end. The European Union’s MiFID II regulations, enforced from Jan. 3, require money managers to separate the trading commissions they pay from investment-research fees. This means banks in turn have to be more transparent, providing specific charges for their analysts’ time and work in order to comply.
Of course, the logical takeaway from these exorbitant offering prices, if they hold, is that institutional clients will ultimately be forced to consolidate their vendors…translation, so long to the small independent research shops. Meanwhile, investment banks will be forced to control costs by trying to focus on writing reports that people actually read (vs. the 1% hit rate they have today). All of which means that those shrinking analysts pools are about to completely collapse.
In fact, as McKinsey recently noted, up to 30% of research analysts could be at risk of losing their cushy banking jobs as result of Europe’s new regulations.
Europe’s impending ban on free research will cost hundreds of analysts their jobs with banks set to cut about $1.2 billion of investment on the area, according to a report by McKinsey & Co.
The consultancy estimates the $4 billion that the top-10 sell-side banks currently spend on research annually is likely to fall by 30 percent as clients become pickier about what they pay for, McKinsey Partner Roger Rudisuli said in an interview. Investment banks’ cash equity research headcount has fallen 12 percent to 3,900 since 2011 compared with as much as 40 percent in sales and trading, leaving the area facing “big cuts” to catch up, he said.
“Two to three global banking players will preserve their status in the new era, winning the execution arms race and dominating trading in equities around the globe,” McKinsey said in a report Wednesday, which Rudisuli helped write. “Over the coming five years, banks will need to make hard choices and play to their strengths. Not only will the top ranks be thinned out, there will be shakeouts in regional markets.”
Of course, as we’ve said before, almost any amount of money seems, at least to us, to be too much to have the same people give you the same advice over and over again, namely “buy more stocks, faster.”