Scrumptious Takeaways From the BST Awards

Wrapping up a great affair in Mayfair.

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Recovering from a couple weeks spent in Europe, Tim dissects the results of yet another successful Buy-Side Technology awards.

As usual, the eighth iteration of the event—held this year at the tony May Fair Hotel off Berkeley Street in London—is Waters' only such cememony hosted in the UK, naturally making the affair a bit more of a party, which begins earlier in the day than most of our other awards that are held afterhours (and usually after conferences).

Somehow I got out alive, learned a thing or two about international rugby, and thanks to the wisdom of my colleague Marina, even grabbed some delicious Pad Thai afterwards in Soho. But I digress.

We'll be rolling out all the winners' writeups across 31 categories online in the next few days, and in the December print issue as well. As one of the judges for the event, though, I thought it was worth highlighting a few trends, and perhaps make a suggestion or two for future years' entrants.

First of all, the quality of the entries has never been higher, and this has reflected itself in many—if not most—categories going to different winners from year to year. In 2014, almost all of them had at least three finalists worthy of taking home the prize.

Even the handful of exceptions to that rule—Markit and Rimes have dominated several of the data categories since the awards' inception, to cite two examples—are being pushed harder by their peers, and it's proving rare to see a unanimous or overwhelming victor. That can only be a good thing.

Winners Above Replacement
So, given that competition, how to come top?

One of the differentiators for these awards is variety: the buy side has always been incredibly diverse in its different needs and shapes.

For those of us in the States who follow baseball, you might say these awards are Sabermetric: they should account for all five tools a player (or, in this case, vendor) can offer, and the top shop should have the highest cumulative "wins above replacement", just like American League MVP Mike Trout did this year, rather than do one thing for one client segment very well.

Yes, there will be certain categories, like investment book of record (IBOR), that are tailored to certain kinds of firms. But generally speaking, a provider that can service the range of buy sides, and even provide references to that point—from smaller fund managers or family offices to institutional investors and mandates—has a definite advantage with the judges.

Displaying acumen and solutions for very acute problems—be they regulatory, business-related, or just plain technical—is yet another area where winning entries exceled. And as always, in a space where many providers are very well-established, we like to know what's new; no two entries year-to-year should look quite the same.

Mix those three ingredients into an entry, and you've got a pretty good shot.

Congratulations to all the winners and indeed all the finalists too, who deserve recognition of their own, and would receive it—if not for the 31 categories and the limited amount of time in an afternoon. We're already looking forward to another round of tough decisions next year.

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