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The challenge of producing quality research Back  
In the 2002 Finance Stockbroking Survey, the quality of equity research was voted as being the number one criteria by which Irish and international fund managers rank Irish stockbrokers. No surprise in light of the events of the past year, which has seen the independence and integrity of several respected brokerage houses in the US brought into question and several large publicly quoted companies severely damaged by allegations of fraudulent accounting. Finance asked John Sheehan, recently voted ‘Analyst of the Year’ for the second time running in the Finance Stockbroking Survey 2002, which was published in September, to address how important research will be in the coming year.
Since our foundation 21 years ago, NCB’s strategy for growth has been based on an unwavering commitment to research. Its importance is enshrined in our mission statement. ‘Research underpins every client proposition. In all of our analysis, we foster independence of thought and creativity while continually seeking to add value’. We firmly believe that research will continue to occupy center stage in investment markets over the next 12 months and beyond. And while independence will remain a key issue, we believe that investors will place a high value on research that reflects superior industry knowledge.
The biggest challenge over the next 12 months will be to continue to produce high quality research that is relevant to our clients and that keeps pace with a dynamically changing securities market. We will resist the temptation to publish research for the sake of it. Our goal will be to produce analysis that is informed, incisive and timely. We will also seek to deliver the product to our clients as efficiently as possible and harness the latest technological innovations where it adds value.
NCB has a dedicated team of 17 full time analysts. Importantly, we are also members of the European Securities Network, an alliance of 10 independent European securities houses. Between the members, we employ nearly 150 analysts covering 1300 stocks. That resource creates significant added value for our clients. Also, as a stockbroker we occupy a central position within the market which provides us with a unique overview of the key issues and concerns of all participants and enables us to reflect these themes in our own output.
On the issue of corporate governance, it is clearly a key theme for investors at the moment and is an issue that would rank high on the checklist of items to be covered in our analysis. The extent to which this topic will feature in our research will differ from industry to industry and from company to company.
We have long believed that we must view companies and the trends that affect them on a sectoral/international basis. Through our membership of ESN, we have jointly evolved new research models to analyse the European market. We have now developed top-down pan-European sector views on 1000 companies across 29 sectors. We have also broadened the use of alternative research tools through the development of new product offerings based on quantitative, technical and strategic analysis.

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