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.
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.”
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.
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.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator: LinkedIn rolled out a series of enhancements to their service:
Sales Navigator introduced InMail 2.0 with support for signatures, attachments, and conversational insights.
Sales Navigator updated its prospecting user interface and added additional searching tools and screening variables. Sales Spotlights are LinkedIn specific variables that are displayed on top of screening results allowing for additional filtering:
Accounts with senior leadership changes in the last three months
Lead changed jobs in past 90 days
Leads with TeamLink Intro
Lead mentioned in the news the past 30 days
Lead posted on LinkedIn in past 30 days
Lead shares an experience with the sales rep
Leads that follow rep’s company on LinkedIn
New prospecting filters include
Department [Job Function] employee ranges
Department [Job Function] employee growth (plus or minus 100%)
Lead search results have been expanded to include a previously viewed flag, tenure at current company, and a quick drill down to TeamLink introductions.
The Sales Navigator app added a new Discover tab which acts as a “Tinder for leads.” The tab provides five daily new lead and account recommendations.
Sales reps may now add tags (e.g. Qualified) and notes to leads and accounts. Tags are searchable and synch with Salesforce.
The Sales Navigator Android and iOS apps now display up to ten daily account or lead recommendations based upon user preferences. Recommendations will expire after 24 hours and be replaced with fresh recommendations.
Artesian Solutions: Artesian rolled out V14 and V15 of its platform. New features include
Salesforce Opportunity rollup information in Artesian and Artesian intelligence within SFDC Opportunity records.
Improved Company Searching rolls up companies into a group
Improved de-duplication logic reduces news duplicates and rolls similar articles into a group.
Added North American prospecting filters for counties, business type, and the presence of specific job functions at a company.
A redesigned CRM connector for SFDC and MS Dynamics
Full sales trigger customization
Market sector alerts
An updated employees page which supports executive filtering by job role and seniority.
Artesian rolled out version 3.0 of the Artesian Ready mobile app which provides company and executive insights synched with the mobile calendar. Ready also supports collaborative note taking and a “360° comprehensive profile of customers and prospects.” New Ready features include company searching, company add to Watchlists, Twitter timelines and Twitter sharing, social links (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, AngelList, Crunchbase), job information, and a data quality form for reporting incorrect information.
DueDil: Along with entering the US market, DueDil implemented a series of product enhancements.
Export Custom Company reports in PDF format.
DueDil Connect helps users identify and connect to decision makers, map and understand their network connections, and alert users on company news related to their contact network. Users can also filter by colleague connections within Advanced Search.
An ownership tab which makes it easier for users to perform due diligence (e.g. Know Your Customer compliance) and assess a firm’s governance structure. Ownership content includes directorship information, shareholders, and portfolio companies. The new tab also contains a Related Companies widget which identifies companies which are not formally linked but which have a high likelihood of sharing an economic interest. Related Companies may be registered at the same location, share several directors, have a set of similar investments, or have name similarities.
Dynamic company lists automatically update allowing firms to keep tabs on customers, prospects, partners, and competitors.
Alerts are provided on lists, with notifications displayed in a new DueDil dashboard which breaks events into news, opportunities, and risk sections. DueDil event alerts include changes in leadership or ownership, recent news, updates to budget windows, changes of address, changes in employee number, company blog posts and changes in credit score.
Upload a file into a list for matching, deduplication, and enrichment.
Custom list formats may be downloaded as CSV files.
Segment reporting on uploaded lists
Match and enrich functionality against uploaded files.
Avention: Avention had a series of enhancements including content, UI, new products, and new connectors. As each of these categories is being covered under a different blog, the number of strict functional enhancements is more limited. These included
New list management features including rename, pin to desktop, delete, modify criteria, and clone list.
When lists are uploaded for match and append, improved matching heuristics and a larger reference database result in significantly higher match rates. The system now also tracks unmatched records.
Expanded notification functionality which allows 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 mark notifications as important.
Data.com: Salesforce began offering a two-part account record data assessment report. The new Lightning report analyzes both data quality and segmentation. The data quality section begins with a Data Health overview score which assesses account data quality across three factors: Matchability vs. Dun & Bradstreet WorldBase data in Data.com, Accuracy vs. WorldBase, and Uniqueness (lack of duplicates). In Data.com Clean, Lead records are now enriched with the Dun & Bradstreet WorldBase file. Finally, Data.com announced a new Data Exchange with three partners: HG Data, Bombora, and MCH. Bombora released their integrated intent file service just before the end of the year.
DiscoverOrg: In September, DiscoverOrg launched Deal Predict which ranks prospects on a one to five-star scale based upon a set of firmographic, technographic, and biographic variables defined by marketing or sales operations. Deal Predict scores are displayed in both DiscoverOrg and CRMs.
Dun & Bradstreet: Hoover’s doubled the Build a List download size to 10,000 records. Meanwhile, the NetProspex Workbench data hygiene platform added company record enrichment. The service also added profile discovery and TAM analysis to its set of marketing capabilities.
Infofree: Infofree added support for text-only email templates to its CRM101 platform. Users may send up to 25 emails in a single blast and up to 250 emails per day from Infofree’s SMTP server. Infofree also now lets users integrate their Outlook or Google calendar accounts with CRM101.
Zoominfo: Zoominfo released a set of enhancements to its service in March 2016 including a country select field in its List Builder. Other new features include contact Send to Salesforce and email an electronic business card to the user’s inbox.
Owler: Owler implemented a set of advanced heuristics that help personalize the service. Stories are displayed according to interest in a topic and frequency of stories for tracked companies (i.e. rarely covered companies are given higher priority).
Salesgenie: Salesgenie launched a Custom Fields service which provides scoring and custom analytics models. Infogroup builds custom models for cross-sell, upsell, acquisition, and at risk accounts. Scores are based on deciles and available for screening within Build a List.
So it was a busy year on the functionality front. As I have broken out integration connectors and the user interface as separate topics, you should view this as a sub-list of product enhancements. Thus, even though Bureau van Dijk did not make this list, they introduced a new user interface for Orbis (Global) and Fame (UK) this spring. Likewise, InsideView rolled out additional connectors and refreshed their CRM connector user interfaces.
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.”
Bureau van Dijk (BvD) is releasing a new user interface for their ORBIS financial analysis product. The ORBIS product line provides global company financial analysis tools with very deep financial coverage of European privates. This platform is also employed for regional products such as Amadeus (Europe), Oriana (AsiaPac), and country specific products within Europe such as Fame (UK), Markus (Germany, Austria, Luxembourg), and Ruslana (Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan).
The modernized UI is fast to use and supports tablets. New features include an icon-based navigation panel along the left edge and improved multi-step searches. Users can also group their favorite search steps together and adjust list layouts.
New report types include a visual profile and “Excel-friendly financial worksheets.” Users can also quickly share searches, results, and reports with colleagues.
A new Tools Zone provides a set of analytical tools for peer analysis, pivot-table building, ownership research, and Excel plug-ins.
Both the old and new UI will be available while users migrate their saved searches and reports to the new ORBIS.
The firm did not indicate whether similar enhancements were planned for the MINT sales product line.
ORBIS is the leading financial analysis tool for European and AsiaPac companies. They have been rapidly expanding their global company coverage and now span 200 million companies (roughly 3/4 of which are active) with market leading company linkage (ownership) intelligence. This dataset is available in ORBIS, their regional financial analysis editions, MINT sales intelligence editions, and their line of Catalyst workflow tools (e.g. credit risk analysis, transfer pricing, valuation).