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It’s that time of the year again.

No, not that time. It’s time for A-Team’s Valuations in European Buy-Side Institutions Performance Benchmarking survey!

Now in its second year, our benchmarking survey is the industry’s opportunity to have its say on the performance of its suppliers. We recently published the results of the North American version of this buy-side valuations survey, and we’re currently formulating the European version’s survey questions for the 2012 edition. Lending us a hand in setting the survey questions – and the overall direction of the project – is a Steering Committee of industry practitioners from some of the market’s most innovative firms.

While we’re here, it’s probably worth revisiting why we launched our A-Team Performance Benchmarking series in the first place. And yes, other iterations are in the pipeline.

Part of our motivation was to provide some insight into some of the more esoteric areas of the financial technology and information marketplace. We at A-Team relish delving into very specific areas of the business to bring news, analysis and research to those whose business brings them into contact with these vertical segments. We like to shine a light where once there was darkness. A-Team Performance Benchmarking asks genuine market practitioners about the quality of service they are receiving from their service providers. It generates serious results, and is taken very seriously both by those practitioners benefiting from the results and by the service providers it covers.

We felt Valuations was a good place to start, since it’s an increasingly important area of the industry, particularly as scrutiny falls upon how firms value their portfolio of illiquid or hard-to-price over-the-counter securities. The A-Team reports covering European and North American valuations services are available free of charge from the Research section of the A-Team web-site: www.a-teamgroup.com/site/research.

At the same time, we felt frustrated by the glut of awards organised by other publications and industry bodies. We are inundated with press releases announcing how this or that vendor has been named ‘Best of Something or Other’, with little or no explanation of the methodology behind the award of such accolades. In many cases, the awards criteria amount to little more than a straight reader or member vote, which is obviously open to serious abuse: Vote Early and Often, indeed.

Our methodology is totally transparent, and developed in conjunction with our industry Steering Committee. We believe the results of our Performance Benchmarking surveys represent a credible representation of true industry experience. The growing numbers of survey respondents and full-report recipients seem to bear that out.

So, if you are involved in portfolio valuations on the buy side, get in touch and get involved. We will be closing recruitment for our Steering Committee shortly, and embarking on the survey process. If you have a view, we’d love to have you on board. You can truly make a difference.

We expect to publish the results of the European Valuations survey late Q1 next year. In the meantime, if there are areas of the business that you feel would be a good fit for this approach – where you’d like A-Team to shine its torch to lift the darkness – let us know.

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