According to industry sources, New York-based agency broker Bloomberg Tradebook shuttered its entire independent research sales business last week. In addition, the firm laid off a slew of others including senior commission management executives.
Almost 17 months after hiring Instinet’s independent research sales team, Bloomberg Tradebook also decided to get out of this business. Bloomberg Tradebook had been marketing third-party independent research alongside its agency brokerage business for more than seven years. The three Tradebook salespeople impacted were Justin Tannenbaum, Kyle Henderson and Craig LoGrande who headed the unit.
In addition to closing down its research sales business, sources tell Integrity Research that Bloomberg Tradebook also laid off a number of other staff, including senior executives in its commission management business. One such casualty was Sean Steinmetz, Tradebook’s Global Head of Commission Management and a 6 year veteran of the firm.
In the wake of these layoffs, a number of market participants wonder whether Bloomberg Tradebook is planning to continue offering commission management services to its buy-side clients. However, Bloomberg Tradebook management has assured Integrity Research that it remains as extremely committed to providing commission management services to Tradebook’s customers.
Mother Ship Also Impacted
Besides the layoffs at Bloomberg Tradebook, mother Bloomberg also recently experienced a number of staff reductions. Close to 30 journalists in the U.S., Europe and Asia were laid off or left last week as part of Bloomberg’s latest move to restructure its news operation.
As part of this layoff, Bloomberg Businessweek editor Ellen Pollock and deputy editor Brad Wieners will depart. The new editor of Businessweek will be Megan Murphy, the former Financial Times Washington bureau chief hired last year to helm Bloomberg’s Washington DC bureau.
Bloomberg’s news and media group has implemented layoffs each of the last two years, much like other media organizations including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Gannett which have struggled dealing with declining circulation.
This is a sad day for independent research firms as Bloomberg Tradebook represented the last major agency broker who was committed to providing “boots on the ground” sales coverage for boutique research firms serving the institutional investor community. The remaining players in the “research sales” space are small sales agents who each work with a limited number of independent research firms.
While a growing number of new research distribution platforms have sprung up over the past few years, most of these require that clients find the right research themselves by leveraging a technology solution rather than relying on knowledgeable salespeople. Unfortunately, few of these research distribution platforms have yet proven they can gain traction with buy-side consumers of research.
The big question for independent research firms is how best to grow their businesses. With the reduction in the number of firms providing third-party sales coverage, options for IRPs have shrunk. While hiring a dedicated sales team has always been the most reliable way to gain clients, it is also an expensive and risky undertaking that many founders of independent research firms don’t understand well. Ultimately, we suspect one trend that may develop in the future is the merger of IRPs to build the scale required to support an internal sales team.