New York—Cleveland, the Rodney Dangerfield of American cities, has quietly become a hotbed of investment research. By our count there are a dozen research firms based in Cleveland, a number which has been growing as current firms spawn competitors and new players set up shop. Cleveland hosts some of the leading channel checking firms, and other innovative research firms.
The most recent arrival has been Ivy Zelman, a top-ranked housing analyst who had spent over 17 years on Wall Street before setting up her own shop, Zelman & Associates, last September in a suburb of Cleveland.
One of the more established research firms in Cleveland is FTN Midwest Research, which was started in 1996 by former analysts of Roulston & Company, which shut down its research department. Midwest was acquired by First Tennessee National in early 2001 and rebranded FTN Midwest Research.
In September, 2006, forty FTN Midwest Research staffers, including twenty-five analysts, left to form Cleveland Research. A senior spokesperson for FTN at the time cited differences of opinion. Cleveland Research founders indicated that they were chafing at FTN’s emphasis on investment banking.
Another FTN Midwest offshoot is Longbow Research, a well-regarded boutique with a strong channel checking orientation. Longbow was founded in 2003 by the former CEO of Midwest Research.
(Colorado-based Wedge Partners, a highly regarded technology research firm which performs extensive channel checks, was another spinoff from the First Tennessee acquisition of Midwest Research.)
Roulston & Company, which was the progenitor of Midwest Research, morphed into Fairport Asset Management, a wealth management group. In 2005, Tom Roulston, who had been an SVP at Roulston & Company, set up his own research firm, Roulston Buyside Research, which has set up closed networks for institutional investors to share ideas and questions. Each network is set up along eight industry verticals, including Financial, Energy and Technology, and offers forums for investors, secure chat rooms, as well as channel checking and other services.
Cleveland is also home to The Townsend Group, a real estate investment consultancy that offers proprietary research on real estate, which has had its own spinoff, Courtland Partners.
Although not top of mind for investment research, Cleveland has developed a thriving research ecosystem, which is especially strong in channel checking expertise.