I came across an interesting analysis of financial disclosure rates by regions around the world. The blog, written by Mark Bodnar, a librarian at Simon Fraser University (British Colombia), observed limited financial disclosure in North America and much of AsiaPac, but broader financial availability in Europe.
Of the 18 million North American companies covered, only about 35,000 have detailed financials. That’s about 0.19%. Those would be from the relatively rare cohort of publicly traded companies we mentioned earlier. The other 99.81% of the companies are privately held, and in North America that means that they are under almost no obligation to reveal their financials.
Compare that to Western Europe, where about 10 million of their 30 million companies in the database have detailed financials…
Oceania (incorporating AUS, NZ, and many wonderful island nations) is also down around 0.2%, largely because there are detailed financials for only about 0.15% of the companies based in the biggest country in the region, Australia.
While none of this would be a surprise to people in the business information sector, it was a good way to surface the information for students and non-experts. European countries have a long history of requiring non-public (aka non-quoted or non-listed) companies to publicly file annual returns. The depth of filing varies by country and size of company, but Europe has a deep set of financials available to assist with credit and supplier risk analysis, prospecting, company research, KYC/AML, and market analytics.
In the US, disclosure is limited to public companies, non-profits, and financial services companies. Of these, only public company financials, which are filed via EDGAR (SEC), are fully transparent with few accessing state insurance filings, IRS 990 filings (non-profits), or the FDIC (banks).
I would take the author’s analysis of countries with deepest coverage of financials with a grain of salt. It is likely that many of the countries with the highest disclosure rates have limited coverage of companies not subject to financial disclosure. Furthermore, some of the filing regimes do not require financials for smaller companies.
Bureau van Dijk announced a series of enhancements to their Orbis company research and financial analysis platform. New or enhanced features include financial transparency, customization, batch search, improved navigation, expanded searching, and the addition of Moody’s research.
As ever, we’re creating, incorporating and rolling out features and functionality on the new Orbis interface all the time. Each enhancement is intended to help make sure that you can take full advantage of our rich, structured data in order to carry out your research processes as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Bureau van Dijk CMO Louise Green
Bureau van Dijk added custom variables that are available in books (reports), chapters, an searches. Users may also create custom books and chapters.
UI enhancements include improved book navigation so that users can move between chapters more easily; batch searching of company names by pasting a list of company names into the name search; expanded searching of ownership structures; free-text searching of notes; and enhanced viewing and filtering of corporate directors and advisors. Directors are now sorted by department and filterable by role, seniority, and data source.
Users can now click on financial values to see the underlying calculations.
New premium content includes research from Moody’s Analytics spanning 9,000 company and 7,500 industry reports. Both public and private companies and banks are covered. The reports may be purchased using BvD credits on a pay-per-view basis. In September, Moody’s rating announcements will be added to the service. Other company research sources include MarketLine, Morningstar, and GlobalData. MarketLine also provides industry market research to Bureau van Dijk products.
Finally, Bureau van Dijk added a new tax explorer premium service which flags “entities in low-tax jurisdictions.”
Moody’s is in the midst of acquiring Bureau van Dijk. The transaction is expected to close this month. Moody’s CEO Raymond McDaniel said he “looks forward to further extending Moody’s position as a leader in risk data and analytical insight.” The firm has already received EU Merger Regulation approval from the European Commission.
Earlier this quarter, Bureau van Dijk announced that it integrated aRMadillo’s original document ordering system into their Orbis platform. Documents are available from over 1,000 registries spanning 200 countries.
Original document research is important for compliance, legal, and anti-corruption research. Sourcing original images from official registries helps safeguard against forgeries.
Registered filings include
Articles of association
“All of our documents are sourced directly from official sources – where they physically scan the original documents – so you can be sure of their provenance,” said aRMadillo CEO Manny Cohen.
While filing is centralized in the UK (Companies House), it is split across fifty states in the US, 32 jurisdictions in Mexico, and 28 in Brazil. “People assume that because it’s so simple here [in the UK], it must be as easy elsewhere,” said Medina. “It isn’t.”
I answered the above question on Quora, but I thought it was worth posting the answer on my blog as well.
B2B is a broad category, so I will be providing a high-level process:
Start with the open web — the company website, corporate blog, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Vimeo, and SlideShare.
Jump to the LinkedIn and Twitter pages of key executives.
Continue with third-party review sites such as TrustRadius, G2 Crowd, Glass Door, and Quora. Also compare web (Alexa, SimilarWeb) and social media activity (Owler) of the company vs. its top competitors.
If a US public company, obtain their 10-K, 10-Q, Annual Report, Proxy, and 8-Ks. Also, review all material on their investor page and look for Fair Disclosure Earnings Transcripts (Seeking Alpha, NASDAQ), investor presentations, financial models, etc.
If a US or global public, analyst reports are often available subject to a one week embargo. Vendors with analyst reports include D&B Hoovers, Factiva, Zacks, FactSet, Capital IQ, and Investext. Reports with fewer than five pages tend to only look at the stock, and provide little in the way of detail. Particularly good are the Initiating Coverage reports as they often entail an overview of the business.
If a US or global public, review the synopsis of material events going back over a decade. Significant Developments are available from Reuters, Factiva (Reuters), D&B Hoovers (Reuters), Capital IQ, and FactSet.
If a European private, they are likely to have filed financials, directors, and shareholdings with a local registry. You can obtain these through D&B Hoovers, Bureau van Dijk Orbis, or local registries.
Major companies are profiled by MarketLine and Global Data. Check to see if they or key competitors are profiled. Industry vendors also profile companies and products within their target segments. These profiles include SWOTs, company histories, market shares, and overviews of key products and segments.
Determine the firm’s list of competitors. If it is a public company they will list this in a proxy. If it is a private company, refer to Hoovers, Global Data, or Marketline.
If you are looking for technology employed, refer to Datanyze, HG Data, BuiltWith, DiscoverOrg, or RainKing.
Review all news for the company. The open web thins out quickly, so you are best off using an archival service such as Factiva or LexisNexis
For Intellectual Property and Legal, use LexisNexis or Westlaw. You can also search the USPTO site for trademarks and patents.
Check research from industry vendors. Most focus on only one or a few sectors (e.g. Gartner, Forrester, and IDC for Hardware and Software). A few provide higher level market overviews at the country or global level which include national or regional market shares, forecasts, and mini-profiles of the top 3-4 competitors in the market:
MarketLine (country and global)
Euromonitor (country or global)
BMI (Emerging Markets)
IBISWorld (US, China, Australia, Global)
A few US industries are required to file with state or federal agencies. These include banks (FDIC), insurance (states), and nonprofits (990 forms with the IRS).
Larger companies file ERISA forms (5500s) annually with the Department of Labor. This filing covers benefit plans so is useful for direct research on a company and plan advisors. Judy Diamond offers a freemium service (FreeErisa) for ERISA filings.
If the firm has PE or VC funding, refer to Crunchbase, DataFox, Mattermark, PrivCo, or other vendors that collect this detail. Crunchbase and Owler provide this information for free.
Setup news alerts on the company and competitor you are evaluating. This can be done via Owler, Contify, InsideView, D&B Hoovers, Factiva, and LexisNexis.
Obtain a credit report (D&B, Experian, or local credit company if overseas)
Research the company family tree and review major subsidiaries and recent acquisitions. Global Family Trees are available from D&B Hoovers, Bureau van Dijk, and InsideView (parents and subs only). Public companies also list their subsidiaries in their 10-K (Note 21).
M&A research can be performed with Zephyr (Bureau van Dijk), Mattermark, FactSet, Capital IQ, and other vendors.
This is a quick overview for secondary research. For primary research, reach out to customers, partners, and former employees. They can be identified via Case Studies (generally fans so don’t be overly reliant on them), customer references on site, TrustRadius, G2 Crowd. Former employees can be determined via LinkedIn. Partners are generally listed on the company website.
One area that is particularly difficult to obtain is pricing data. Some B2Bs are transparent while others publish virtually no details, particularly if they have complex product lines and pricing. Don’t be surprised if you find little in this area beyond “Pricing begins in the five digits” for many vendors. Pricing details may require primary research and this will provide data points, but not full price lists.
If you are performing regular competitive analysis work, consider joining SCIP (Strategic & Competitive Intelligence Professionals).
Moody’s announced this morning that they are acquiring business intelligence vendor Bureau van Dijk for €3.0 billion (approximately $3.27 billion). Moody’s stated that “the acquisition extends Moody’s position as a leader in risk data and analytical insight.” The deal is subject to EU approval and is expected to close in Q3.
Bureau van Dijk will be acquired with approximately $1.3 billion in offshore cash and $2 billion in debt. Bureau van Dijk will be folded into Moody’s Analytics’ Research, Data & Analytics (RD&A).
Last year, Bureau van Dijk earned $281 million (€258 million) and posted and EBITDA of $144 million (€132 million). Bureau van Dijk has a ten-year Compound Average Growth Rate (CAGR ) of 9.3%. The firm anticipates $45 million of annual revenue and expense synergies by 2019 and $80 million by 2021.
Bureau van Dijk offers three major product lines:
Orbis – Financial analysis tools spanning 220 million companies. Information includes firmographics, public and private company financials, original documents, global family trees, shareholdings, news, and M&A research (Zephyr). Orbis provides the deepest set of global private company financial coverage tied to very strong linkage data including minority shareholdings. Orbis was redesigned last year with a new user interface and workflows. The Orbis product line is also available as regional and local products such as Amadeus in Europe, Oriana in AsiaPac, and Fame in the UK.
Mint – Sales intelligence product line
Catalyst – Set of workflow tools for valuation, transfer pricing, credit analysis, wallet sizing, etc.
All three product lines leverage the Orbis global company file which is collected from 160 information partners.
“Bureau van Dijk is a high growth information aggregator and distributor that positions Moody’s at the center of a unique network of global risk data,” said Raymond McDaniel, President and Chief Executive Officer of Moody’s. “This acquisition provides significant opportunities for Moody’s Analytics to offer complementary products, create new risk solutions and extend its reach to new and evolving market segments.”
The Bureau van Dijk customer base is split fairly evenly across 6,000 financial institutions, professional service firms, government authorities, and corporations. Key use cases include compliance, KYC/AML, risk decisioning, purchasing, transfer pricing, B2B sales and marketing, financial analysis, and economic research.
Moody’s listed a three-pronged product strategy post-acquisition:
Apply MA analytics to data to generate off-the-shelf financial metrics
Package BvD data subscriptions with MA analytical software & models
Enrich MIS/MA data sets with BvD’s proprietary identifiers
Moody’s will also be looking to extend Bureau van Dijk’s commercial presence beyond Europe and to non-financial customers. The acquisition helps Moody’s extend its addressable market beyond credit to provide “Moody’s-branded scores/assessments for tax risk, transfer pricing, compliance, financial crime, [and] supply chain management.”
“Moody’s is a highly regarded, authoritative source of credit ratings and analytical tools, with a strong brand and global reach,” said Mark Schwerzel, Deputy CEO of Bureau van Dijk. “The addition of Bureau van Dijk’s powerful information platform to Moody’s Analytics’ suite of risk management solutions presents a wide range of opportunities for us to better serve our combined customer base.”
Bureau van Dijk has been owned by a series of private equity firms with EQT acquiring the firm from Charterhouse Capital Partners in September 2014. At the time, the sale price was not disclosed. Charterhouse acquired Bureau van Dijk in 2011 from BC Partners for €960m.
EQT noted the following areas of investment during its ownership period:
Development of the organisational structure to prepare for further growth
Investments in the sales organization, including the introduction of a matrix sales structure, implementation of a global CRM system, and expansion of the salesforce
Strong focus on the development of new products and continued improvement of existing ones, e.g. the launch of a new user interface
Substantial investments in marketing and corporate branding
Bureau van Dijk rolled out the latest set of enhancements to its Orbis company research and financial analysis platform. Orbis was re-platformed last year and given a modern user interface. New features include a document ordering module, improved peer reporting, and enhanced customization. The new document ordering module assists with KYC/AML and company research by delivering original images of business documents, such as certificates of incorporation, shareholders’ details, and annual reports. The new module was built in partnership with aRMadillo (FKA RM Online) and delivers reports “usually within an hour.” Users can even order reports for companies not found in the Orbis database.
Customization features include calculated variables which can be shared across the account group, chapters, and classifications.
“The new interface arranges company reports into “books” that are further organised into “chapters”, that contain related information,” said CMO Louise Green. “This feature lets you create your own customised chapters, which could include: your company logo or other images; widgets from the profile page; worksheets with selected financials; and any of your own fields that you have imported into Orbis.”
Custom classifications allow users to map their own industry and geographic codes to ORBIS data.
I am proud to announce that I released the second edition of my book, 2017 Field Guide to Sales Intelligence Vendors yesterday. It has been a long process of updating and expanding the original eleven profiles, adding three new profiles for the UK (Bureau van Dijk, Artesian Solutions, and DueDil), and adding four profiles for Account Based Sales Development (ABSD) vendors with ecosystems (KiteDesk, Outreach, Quota Factory, SalesLoft).
I have written blog articles on almost all of the seventeen profiled vendors in the past year. So if you’ve found my blog useful, the book will be invaluable for procurement decisions or staying abreast of the key vendors in the SI space.
As sales teams and procurement departments may have gone through vendor demos or trials back in 2015 or early 2016, I have added sections which detail product changes over the past year. These include new product launches, vendor changes, enhancements, and pricing changes.
I have also added or expanded discussions on Account Based Marketing (ABM), Account Based Sales Development (ABSD), Marketing Automation connectors, and the UK market.
You will even find a new Glossary.
Feel free to contact me at 978-692-0170 or MLevy@GZConsulting.org. I am offering a 20% licensing discount during the month of January.
There are two approaches to UI enhancements: Big Bang and Incremental. With the big bang approach the entire product is refreshed. Such a project is a major endeavor and often involves a completely new look and feel to the service and upgraded workflows and design elements. It may also involve new standards such as responsive design in support of mobile devices.
One example of broad product redesigns are the new interfaces found in Bureau van Dijk’sOrbis and Fame products. These products focus on financial analysis and account research. New design elements included a navigation bar, a contemporary UI, faster list building, new report types, shared information sets (e.g. reports, lists searches), and new analytical tools.
Unfortunately,Bureau van Dijk has not indicated any plans for addressing the old-fashioned Mint sales intelligence user interface.
Another example of redesign is InsideView which refreshed its user interface for its web browser and CRM connectors. The browser changes were relatively minor, but the CRM connectors had a broader set of design and workflow upgrades.
DiscoverOrg also redesigned their user interface at the beginning of 2016 (it was in beta in 2015). In February 2016, DiscoverOrg released a new platform designed with better speed, performance, and scalability. It included a new UI and enhanced features:
Streamlined prospecting against 62 variables across five broad categories: companies, employees, technology products, location, and triggers. The new UI immediately presents an updated result list as variables are selected. The same selects are available across three results views: companies, contacts, and triggers.
Export of contacts as profiles or as VCF
Company and contact notes
Suppression of companies or contacts when prospecting (e.g. suppress named accounts from lists for territory reps).
Admin user management and usage reporting
Ability to toggle between multiple departments on the same page (depending on subscription)
Ability to follow a company or contact with update alerting, including if they leave a company and reappear in the database under another profiled company (a unique DiscoverOrg capability)
Customizable dashboard based on followed lists
Contact profiles include previous job history and education
Company profiles include lists of current employees and recently departed staff.
RainKing went through a rebranding exercise which included a refreshed user interface. The platform has faster response times, improved searching, and an expanded technology taxonomy.
Zoominfo repackaged its service as the Zoominfo Growth Acceleration Platform for sales and marketing effectiveness. The new platform helps sales and marketing teams “identify, connect, and engage with qualified prospects and replicate success.” The Growth Acceleration Platform is a cross-product branding that supports company and executive searching, list building, file enrichment, and data Insights (segmentation analysis and persona identification).
The second approach is more incremental. Instead of changing the overall look and feel of the platform, workflow and layout improvements are made to a set of contained tools. For example, list building is a contained functional category. Upgrades to prospecting workflows do not impact the whole product, but are focused in a functional subset, allowing the upgrades to be compartmentalized.
Avention took an incremental approach to workflow with redesigns of their active homepage, build a list, and watchlists. The Build a List user interface was redesigned to improve usability while expanding to 150 selects. Lists may now be exported to Salesforce, MS Dynamics, Oracle for Sales, Marketo, and Eloqua. New list management features include rename, pin to desktop, delete, modify criteria, and clone list.
The Avention active home page is now customizable with users able to drag and drop information tiles. There is also an improved SmartList tile display and onboarding tiles containing product tips.
Expanded notification functionality allows Avention reps to manage new company and sales trigger alerts from a centralized location. This Watchlist supports filtering by read/unread notices, priority flag, trigger type, and list. A new flag allows users to flag notifications as important.
Likewise, Data.com originally launched the Dun & Bradstreet family trees in the classic UI, but implemented the Lightning UI for family tree viewing. The family tree information mashes together the Dun & Bradstreet global family tree (e.g. linkages, location type, city, country, revenue, and employees) with Salesforce.com account intelligence including whether the location is already an account and the name of the account owner. Users may expand or collapse nodes and add an account via clicking on a Plus button.
Owler improved the user interface for their advanced search (Build a List). They also added selects for area code and ZIP/Postal Code.
Unlike content and functional upgrades, one would not want to have annual UI upgrades as they require customers to relearn key elements of the service. There is value to both stability and change (a fact which is true of both product design and life in general). If a platform goes too long without a refresh, it becomes stale and fails to leverage new browser and mobile device capabilities. Furthermore, as new content and features are added to a platform, it can become overly busy and illogical. Conversely, a platform which changes its design elements and workflow too often will frustrate users. There are benefits in knowing how to efficiently complete a task or where to find specific information. Change should never be simply for change sake.
One of the most straightforward ways to increase the value-add of a Sales Intelligence Service is to expand the content it delivers to its users. Generally, a vendor can license additional content within the same general category (e.g. more contacts) or expand coverage into new content categories not previously supported by the product. The first approach is usually faster and less expensive as there is limited development involved in adding additional coverage within a currently supported category (assuming the vendor is not hitting up against platform limits), but there are still costs involved with licensing, de-duping, and merging content sets. As such, it is much more common for firms to increase the scope of current data sets than to add entirely new content categories to their services.
So which of the fourteen sales intelligence vendors discussed in my new Sales Intelligence book invested in increasing their depth of coverage? Basically, all of them. Of course, the scope of content investment varied greatly:
Avention roughly doubled their global company, contact, and email coverage. Their product now spans sixty million companies, eighty million contacts, and twenty million emails (US and UK). I previously discussed their AsiaPac expansion, but the coverage expansion was global with most of the new content outside of the US, UK, and Canada where they already had significant depth.
DiscoverOrg also greatly increased its coverage as it grew to 60,000 editorially researched company profiles and one million researched contacts. Over the past twelve months, DiscoverOrg had a 91% increase in company coverage, 134% increase in contact coverage, and a 371% increase in non-IT contact coverage (numbers supplied by DiscoverOrg). The non-IT increase was due to an expansion of their job functions datasets to include Product Management (TEDD), Sales, CxO, and HR. The firm also continued to invest in their marketing dataset. CMO Katie Bullard noted that “the Marketing budget has begun to meet or exceed the IT department budget in many companies and vendors” while “service providers selling into marketing continue to proliferate.”
RainKing continues to build out its company and contact coverage and expects to hit one million executives by the end of 2016. The firm roughly doubled the number of decision makers in its database while extending its international coverage. They also have increased the number of marketing, finance, and HR decision makers.
InsideView’s executive coverage grew to 17 million US contacts and 8 million European contacts. Total global contacts more than doubled to 31 million and global emails grew by 10 million to 17 million.
Bureau van Dijk added RepRisk environmental, social, and governance (ESG) risk reports to their service while continuing to build out their company database. At the end of the year, Bureau van Dijk provided close to 210 million active and inactive company profiles
DueDil rolled out enhanced financials for UK and Irish registered companies. Along with performance and growth metrics such as EBITDA and multiple CAGRs (compounded annual growth rates), DueDil is providing historical graphs for key metrics. In total, six new metrics and 12 key performance indicators (KPIs) have been added.
Data.com expanded the Dun & Bradstreet content displayed in a new Prospect Insights view. Extended company intelligence includes D&B WorldBase firmographics and linkage, Hoover’s top company descriptions and competitors, and First Research industry overviews with call prep questions and industry summaries.
Infofree grew its executive email file to 26 million.
Salesgenie raised its business email count to 58 million US contacts.
Owler’s primary focus in 2016 was to expand their Competitive Graph and gather additional company intelligence. The Competitive Graph improved as the user base has grown and the firm has implemented a set of data cards (simple user queries such as is company X a competitor of company Y) which help refine sizing data, competitors, and a few other firmographic topics. Revenue and employee figures have grown to 2.7 million companies.
Zoominfo expanded its set of company enrichment variables with the addition of 200 new Company Attributes in October 2016.
LinkedIn continues to add two members per second. At the end of the year, they delivered 467 million global profiles across ten million companies.
Dun & Bradstreet grew its WorldBase file of global companies to 265 million active and inactive firms. Over the past few years, they have also focused on improving the depth and accuracy of their international file.
So who did I omit? Technically Artesian Solutions did not make the content list, but that is simply because their new US edition will be discussed in the new product category. Likewise, InsideView’s Tech Profiler Premium is also being discussed as a new product.
Bureau van Dijk partnered with RepRisk to integrate RepRisk’s environmental, social, and governance (ESG) risk reports into their global ORBIS database. Content includes ESG risk metrics and analytics from the RepRisk ESG Risk Platform. RepRisk claims to provide “the world’s most comprehensive database on ESG risks.”
The RepRisk Index combines company and country risk intelligence alongside Bureau van Dijk’s corporate ownership data. RepRisk screens 80,000 third-party sources spanning fifteen languages. Company, country, and industry risk data is updated daily. The company tracks 28 specific issues and 45 topics (e.g. fracking, indigenous peoples, illegal mining) across 70,000 companies.
Use cases include client onboarding, credit risk, compliance, and supply chain vetting. Content will also be available via Bureau van Dijk’s Catalyst workflow solutions.
“In today’s business climate, there is a growing demand for information on environmental, social and governance reputational risk,” said Louise Green, Bureau van Dijk’s global marketing director. “RepRisk is an industry leader in the field of dynamic ESG risk analytics and metrics whose data complements our own extensive combination of financial, compliance, sanctions and risk-related information and gives our users the ability to make better-informed business decisions with a greater degree of certainty.”
“Our research focuses on capturing and analyzing data from media, stakeholders, and other public sources external to the company. This insight helps balance and substantiate the information provided by the company itself, and helps assess whether a company’s intention – policies, processes, and commitments – translates into practice,” says the RepRisk website. “We believe that corporate responsibility goes hand-in-hand with sound financial and reputational risk management, operational excellence, and profitable growth in the medium and long term.”