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Investment research: A sneak peek into how analysts use surveys to get proprietary insights

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Investment research: A sneak peek into how analysts use surveys to get proprietary insights

Investment research through surveys with SurveyMonkey Audience.Investment research is a competitive field where gaining any kind of edge can make a big-bucks difference. Some very savvy analysts turn to primary research tools, including surveys, to obtain proprietary insights about markets and consumers that help them stay ahead of the pack.

Who are they? Well… we can’t tell you.

Investment analysts are not only competitive, they’re also a quite secretive bunch—at all times, they have to avoid tipping their hand to competitors. So, if they find a research tool that gives them exactly what they need to gain an edge, they prefer to remain anonymous when discussing it.

That’s what we found out when we asked investment professionals about the projects for which they use SurveyMonkey Audience, our global survey panel. Analysts told us they use this fast market research solution for everything from measuring consumer sentiment in reaction to company news to validating investment hypotheses before signing off on a big round of venture capital investment. (Keep reading for more investment research use cases.)

These are people who make decisions fast and hence greatly value the ability to collect information speedily.

“With SurveyMonkey Audience, we can validate investment hypotheses quickly,” said a partner at a venture capital firm who, as was the case with others, asked not to be identified by name.

In fact, a very convincing majority (81%) of banking, investment, and financial services organizations we surveyed said the number one reason they choose SurveyMonkey Audience is speed.

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A global survey panel with many investment research use cases

Investor surveys—where investment professionals are asked about their views on a particular market or industry—are pretty common. But they aren’t the only way that a survey can help you make great investment decisions.

Here are all the different types of investors and analysts who use SurveyMonkey Audience to carry out their investment research and stand out among heavy competition.

  • Private equity: These are funds that invest in private companies of varying sizes, often with an eye towards streamlining operations and improving performance before “exiting” by way of a sale that gives them a good return. They typically use primary research to understand consumers in the markets where they operate and get a good sense of the market opportunity awaiting them in a possible acquisition.
  • Venture capital: These firms fund new companies to help them launch and grow fast. They’re not exclusive to the tech industry, although they are generally associated with developing new technologies and business innovation. For them, survey research can validate whether launching into a new category is worth their time and money, and confirm that a new product or service will address an actual market need or consumer pain point.
  • Hedge funds: These have “high net worth individuals” and big companies as investors in their funds, which they typically use to invest in publicly traded companies. They use SurveyMonkey Audience to do research on public business-to-consumer companies in industries like entertainment, telecom, consumer goods, retail, and food. Many times hedge fund investors use surveys to get a pulse on the market before a public company holds its quarterly earnings call.
  • Investment banks: Wealth managers conduct primary research to publish reports that increase their visibility and credibility. They can attract more customers—mostly individual investors—by displaying their knowledge about markets and investment opportunities. They also use investment research surveys to track consumer sentiment and gauge the public’s reaction to company news, price changes, and other events.
  • Consumer finance: The banks and companies that provide financial services to individuals and families do research to gain visibility and to keep their customers informed of the latest trends and investment opportunities. One example is KeyBank, where research analyst Katherine Kutnick has become a SurveyMonkey Audience user. “Audience provides an economical tool that can be leveraged for user insight, fast enough in an agile environment,” Kutnick says.

An investment analyst speaks up

Not everything is cloak-and-dagger in the world of investment research. Some analysts, as we said, place a high value on visibility and showcasing their industry knowledge.

One example is SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, an investment bank based in Atlanta. SunTrust has attracted great attention for its tracking study on social media trends, conducted through SurveyMonkey Audience.

SunTrust uses the “tracker” to look at the latest trends in the internet sector and then be able to answer questions from its investors, says Robert Peck, managing director and internet equity analyst at the bank. (You can watch our video interview with Peck here.)

The bank’s analysts, Peck says, reaped the fruits of proprietary research when they faced the question of whether Facebook had stopped being cool among younger people—a key question among observers of the biggest social media company in the world.

“When you looked at the data, it was quite interesting,” Peck says. “Away from the headlines, the actual data (showed) the users were staying.”

Investors, he adds, get very valuable signals from these studies before they make crucial decisions. SunTrust is able to provide answers and solutions to its customers through its partnership with SurveyMonkey Audience.

“(Clients) find it critical,” Peck says. “Every quarter they come to us waiting to see what these results will say.”

There’s a lot more you can do with SurveyMonkey Audience, our survey panel solution for market research. Check it out now.

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