Last month at our summer Unbundling Uncovered conference, panellists addressed key issues around valuation and budgeting for buy side firms, and with the pandemic causing a seismic shift towards virtual engagements, the conversation continued to be focussed around how this has impacted the value of relationships.

Looking back at previous conferences, this panel has always been centered around the debate between quantitative vs qualitative valuation models (i.e. interactions vs vote based models), where approaches vary significantly, not just between firms but often across desks too. 

The move to ‘virtual’ presents yet another dimension to the debate and many buy-side firms are keen to understand how these dynamics will evolve as we emerge from a post-lockdown world. Indeed, while the argument rages that virtual interactions are less valuable, the consumption of content across multiple channels may actually lead to an increase in overall interactions when compared to the pre-COVID world. 

Here are the 5 key issues the buy side should think about: 

– The move to ‘virtual’ has exacerbated differences between buy and sell side perceptions of value.

– The sell side are keen to move away from the perception that virtual interactions should be valued less than physical, and have expressed a preference for a “vote-led” research valuation process rather than their “interactions-led” equivalents.

– At the same time, in Europe the vote is playing a much less important role in the process these days, with increasing focus on interactions.

– Consensus amongst the panelists was that the pandemic has presented a great opportunity for innovation – the fragmentation of channels and how content is consumed in a virtual world not only improves reach, but is much easier to track and measure.

– Future tweaking to regulation is unlikely to change budgeting processes, where buy side firms argue the operational burden significantly outweighs the benefit.

The Substantive community continues to debate these topics, where we are working closely with our clients to navigate the changing environment by providing greater visibility across research consumption and spend.

In a young market which is still a long way from clearing, our focus is to provide the tools to help buy-side firms drive value from their research partners and optimise their external research budget. To find out more please email [email protected]