By Rob Daly

Disintermediating Research Provisioning

The independent research market is going through a massive transformation fueled by MiFID II’s requirement to unbundle sell-side provided research from trading commissions.

While asset managers are adapting to the new experience of managing research budgets, one can look towards Asia to see how independent research providers could deliver their content in the future.

Independent research “has been growing for many years in the US,” said Raghav Kapoor, co-founder and CEO of Smartkarma. “But in Asia, it has just begun.”

For Smartkarma, which went live with its delivery platform in April 2016, has placed its bet on a subscription-based model that provides access to all of its aggregated research, online interactions with analysts who generated it, and additional tools for a flat fee.

“Capital markets are going from an agency/principal model to peer-to-peer, collaborative digital networks,” Kapoor told Markets Media. “The trend is towards sustained disintermediation.”

He likens his firms model to that of Netflix or Spotify rather than a storefront or shopping cart that offers research on a per-item basis.

Although the majority of its current research centers on Asia and most of its client base also is located in the region, SmartKarma is in the process of expanding the breadth and depth of its offering leveraging a recent $21 million Series B investment round led by Sequoia India.

The firm has expanded from its Singapore headquarters to open office recently in London and New York. SmartKarma plans to open another office in continental Europe.

Regarding content, he noted that there is an increasing demand by clients for thematic research on private companies.

“More companies are staying unlisted longer, but asset managers are increasingly agnostic when it comes to investing in public or private companies,” said Kapoor.

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