Waters Rankings 2020: Best Alternative Data Provider—FactSet

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As the universe of alternative data continues to expand, investment firms are able to get their hands on a wealth of information that, 10 years ago, they could only dream of. It’s proved to be a bountiful source of alpha, it gave life to the “quantamental” investing shift, and helped traders, governments and citizens contend with the many twists and turns of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The crowded alt data space has attracted startups and big names alike, offering the best and most cutting-edge data each can compile. This year, FactSet becomes the second-ever winner of the Waters Rankings category of best alternative data provider, which in its first year was won by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

FactSet’s data, analytics and technology is used by more than 130,000 buy- and sell-side users. In 2018, it launched its alternative data marketplace, dubbed Open:FactSet, an online ecosystem that leverages symbology to align FactSet datasets with those of pre-screened third-party providers.

The sheer number of datasets and data providers can threaten capital markets firms’ data integrity and integration efforts. In addition to helping mitigate those issues, FactSet helps its clients manage their cost pressures and uncover risk using alt data, according to Peter Davaney-Graham, vice president and head of Open:FactSet content strategy. “This type of information proves crucial in times such as the Covid-19 pandemic in navigating portfolio exposure to align with client risk profiles and maintain performance,” he says. “For example, during the months following the original Brexit vote, nearly all UK firms underperformed. However, the first to bounce back were firms that sourced the majority of their revenue from outside the UK. In the face of Covid-19, alternative data will present investors with similar opportunities.”

FactSet will continue to enhance its alt data offering and integrate additional sources within its Workstation and via data feeds and APIs. The company is planning to invest further in cloud-centric access points, while its API offering will include coverage for the providers on the Open:FactSet Marketplace, as well as create a “new universe” of data for private markets.

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