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Episode One: Ensure success with Research Evaluation

March 2, 2020 Insight

The latest Red Deer survey of buy-side firms (60+), carried out with The TRADE identified the top three challenges for the research manager as:

  • Research Evaluation (32%)
  • Consumption tracking and accuracy (29%)
  • Front office engagement (16%)


All three of these items have something in common
. A requirement for the front office consumer to complete some work. Research evaluation can only be carried out by the consumer, likewise consumption tracking and accuracy is best informed by the end consumer. Finally, general engagement with the research process (trial periods, completing votes on time, feeding back accurately), is a challenge for all parties.

The good news is, there are a number of guaranteed ways as a research manager, you can improve the outcomes of each of these problems, and increase the quality of the front office process. In this 3 part series of articles, we’ll address each of these in turn

CHALLENGES - research evaluation


The principal challenge with the research evaluation is the need to balance a desire for detailed feedback and the time and complexity involved in completing the evaluation.

It can be difficult to simplify the desired qualitative data points - particularly in larger firms with multiple investment styles - and at the same time, retain the level of insight needed to meaningfully feedback to research providers. This is particularly difficult where contracts are larger and negotiated centrally.

The final challenge we have experienced comes from a lack of meaningful participation, which can happen for a number of reasons. The most common is completing the minimum required to return an evaluation, with no detail in the comments or useful feedback of any kind.

SOLUTION - research evaluation

To resolve these issues, keep a file of each front office user and spend 10 minutes with each of them to understand the qualitative factors they consider important in a research provider. Once recorded, the head of research / CIO can work with the research manager to identify the most common qualitative factors and reduce the list to a number under 5 (anything over that can lead to decreased engagement levels).

From there, it can help to remind users as to the value of the feedback. One way we have seen this done successfully, is to explain to the user the way that research contracts are agreed and paid, and to demonstrate the value in feedback when it comes to negotiating both a better price and a better service. This can be a difficult conversation, but for firms of a reasonable size can pay dividends.

Research managers should follow-up post the evaluation, with specific feedback. This is especially true where this has led to a change in the package, price or service level. The outcome of this is to help reinforce the value in continued engagement with a detailed process.

Most effective of all though, is to make the process quick and automated where possible. The front office are busy and speed of completion can be improved at every step; from the time to load the first page in the browser, bulk actions for faster review, shortcut keys so no scrolling or mouse is required and a simple and easy to understand single page evaluation process. All of these will pay off immediately with those who complete the vote, and better still, as a research manager, you’ll be recognised for that improvement.

If you would like to learn more or speak to one of your peers who have experienced and overcome the challenges outlined here, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Written by Alistair Downes, VP of Product, Red Deer

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