Research teams in asset management have a unique job that does not lend itself well to horizontal software tools, although that is what is typically used in our work setting. OneNote for storing notes for example. Email for sending and receiving information and file attachments and communicating internally and externally. Thanks to Slack and MS Teams, and Bloomberg messenger, there is also real-time chat as well. These are all horizontal tools, not tailored to solve the pain points PM and analyst teams face. There is no Monday.com, Trello, Asana, or ClickUp for asset management research teams. Sure, you could attempt to repurpose these apps for the use case, but it wouldn’t work well. Heck, the industry is still repurposing Excel for research tracking, note taking, activity tracking, and the list could go on and on about what we try to make Excel do. But Excel wasn’t built for those jobs, was it?
Then there are the vertical software vendors like Bloomberg and FactSet. These platforms are largely data providers with a not-so-great UI that everyone in the industry knows by heart. If you worked outside the industry and saw the Bloomberg or FactSet UI you would cringe. That Bloomberg and FactSet are “largely data vendors” is an oversimplification, but if you’re in the industry you know what I mean. Each has tried to offer productivity and collaboration tools, but it’s mostly an afterthought. Their bread is buttered delivering data, not saving PMs and analyst teams hours of time each day with a work-flow tool.
So why has this problem for our industry been ignored? My theory is that the big vertical vendors don’t care much about the problem and the horizontal app makers don’t understand the problem. Generally, Big Software doesn’t niche down to a specific persona either. I don’t think it would move the needle for Microsoft to care that much about the asset management persona, besides they have the market more or less locked up anyway. “Use MS Teams, Outlook, SharePoint, and Excel however you want to do your job, we’ve done ours,” is how they think. So, what exists today is a clunky, dreadful-to-use, band-aid solution that wastes time.
There is also another reason and that is that we analysts and PMs do not demand a better solution. I think I know why and it is not that we don’t want a better way, we do. The reason we haven’t demanded a better solution is that we don’t have any time at all that is not allocated to doing our day-to-day job of model updates, writing research, conference calls, management meetings, marketing, and so on. We don’t have the time to contemplate the art of the possible. Better to use the snipping tool to copy a section of a company’s investor day slide deck and paste it into an email, type up a couple of bullets about why the thesis is intact and hit send.
For an app to really nail the solution for asset management teams, the developers need to walk a mile in our shoes.
Thank you all for reading this blog post. My name is Andrew Meister. I have been a career equity research analyst for 27 years. I’m a co-founder of DoTadda, a very early-stage start-up to help asset management teams gain total control of their research workflow and data. Please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn or follow me on Twitter @DrewMMeister.