Research Management Collaboration Adds HTML5 Capabilities

EFA, a Hong-Kong-based content management software provider, has added an HTML5 conversion engine offered by London-based Responsive Labs. Worldflow, a London-based IT consultancy which specializes in the dissemination of premium content, is also a partner in the collaboration designed to offer brokerages and boutiques end-to-end research management capabilities.  The addition of Responsive Labs’ HTML conversion software underscores the increasing componentization of research content.

EFA, founded in 2003 by ex-analysts, offers financial modeling, data capture, analytics, MS Word authoring, workflow and API distribution.  In 2016 it partnered with Quark Software to integrate its ability to upload and distribute analyst models into Quark’s existing platform.

Worldflow Connect specializes in delivering content to established research aggregators such as Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters, FactSet and Capital IQ.  The firm also creates mobile applications for research distribution.

Growing Demand for HTML5 

Responsive Labs restructured its product earlier this year, ditching its research distribution service in order to focus on the increasing demand for its HTML5 conversion engine.

The larger investment banks began switching from PDF to HTML5 in 2016, led by Citigroup which was the first to shut off PDF report distribution to market data vendors, requiring all report access to be hosted on Citi’s servers.  Now MiFID II is making HTML5 dissemination de rigueur for all research providers.

There are a few key reasons for the growing importance of HTML5.  Using HTML5 requires authentication, providing better control over research distribution.  Since UK regulators require that asset managers only receive research for which they have previously contracted, HTML5 reduces the risk of inducement.  Also, HTML5 facilitates research consumption on servers hosted by the research provider, allowing the research provider to measure engagement.  The resulting interactions data is valuable both to the research provider and to the buy-side clients, which often use the data as part of their valuation process.  Finally, HTML5 allows dynamic content such as interactive graphics or real-time market data to be embedded in the research improving its usability.

Componentization

RIXML, an industry-wide standard for tagging investment research in XML, began releasing componentization standards in 2015, reflecting the ability of HTML5 to track usage of the different components of a research report, such as graphics, models, or portions of the text.

Responsive Labs cites an example of a client which redesigned its flagship research product after learning that clients primarily relied on one data table and ignored 17 pages of commentary, allowing its analysts to refocus on more value-added activities than writing content that nobody read.

Our Take

Research dissemination is going through a radical transformation, especially in Europe where the research firehose is officially dead.  Worldflow and EFA’s decision to add Responsive Labs’ HTML5 conversion software is emblematic of the shifting environment, as written research becomes more controlled, responsive and measured.