We Should All Manage our Contacts Better

Expert Relationships and How to Better Manage Knowledge Contacts

Whether you’re an investigative journalist or an investment analyst you need regular access to insights from reliable, expert sources.

In some cases it’s gathering collaborative evidence to support assumptions, in others it’s perhaps just to run a sanity channel check; regardless of the type of research you’re conducting, facts and opinions garnered from experts in the field are critical to your ability to make informed decisions.

And, when your collection of professional contacts is one of your greatest assets, how you store, manage and mine that expert network information is critical to success.


The Rise and Rise of Expert Relationships

In the investment world, you can clearly see the demand for these expert relationships in the rise and continued success of professional networks such as GLG, Guidepoint and AlphaSights. These firms are paid to connect investors (though not exclusively) with experts all across the world, in all subject matters.

Whether it’s sourcing local intel on an emerging market’s regional consumer preferences or speaking with a neurosurgeon on the challenges of a new technical procedure, this level of bespoke primary research is critical to differentiating an analyst’s investment thesis.

Investors certainly relied on expert advice long before the rise of these professional firms, regularly mining the old Rolodex and absorbing scholarly periodicals; however, it’s easy to see why these expert networks have done well, providing formalized, compliant access to experts all across the world. A late 2009 report by Integrity Research showed just how critical a part of the process these networks had become to investment managers, with 40% considering the networks either “very” or “extremely” important.

Of course we all know the industry came under the spotlight soon after, and are familiar with the headlines and fall-out of insider trading, improper information disclosure and MNPI regulations. And while many funds acted with caution following the crackdown, as demonstrable compliance and due-diligence took a front seat in the expert network industry, demand for these services continued at pace.

Compliance Adds Value, Research Gains an Edge

As professional facilitators in the flow of information and expertise, most expert networks today have legal compliance ingrained in their activity and large compliance teams that develop a partnership approach with their clients. With that added support for demonstrating MNPI and compliance best practice, fund manager’s consider the services an integral research tool in their arsenal today.

Put simply, in the world of 24/7 connectivity and increasing quality and quantity of accessible information flowing freely online, if you’re not out there actually talking to people in the know, then it’s hard to imagine regularly outperforming the market and your peer fund managers, which is what your LPs pay you to do.

So this all begs the question, if expert network contacts offer an edge, and bearing in mind their services don’t come cheap, why do so many funds use antiquated methods of managing those professional contacts, and the content associated with them?

Manage Your Research Content and Context via Contacts

How you manage expert network information – professional contacts, research content and data – is critical to your ability to employ that expertise within the fund and institutionalize that knowledge for future benefit.

And yet, it will come as no surprise that the majority of funds rely on organizing professional network information via email content in Outlook.

We all know managing your inbox is a challenge at best, and searching through old emails to quickly gleam insights on a matter you investigated nine months ago is difficult, time-consuming and frustrating. Yet it’s all too common.

Email has become an accidental storage system, a system of record that was never meant to be. Its lack of classification and indexing makes it difficult to quickly find and leverage past expert network research information and email exchanges, a situation exacerbated by the fact that 30/60 day email archiving policies are the norm for many.

At Bipsync we believe it’s important to capture and organize research at the contact level, just as it is to organize research by ticker or any other object.

This is not RMS aiming to replace Outlook as the place where you send emails to external parties, and it is not a replacement for CRMs or archivers to capture every single email sent and received – rather, it is the mobile and always accessible system of record where your contacts’ information lives, and where all related insights and context gathered from those contacts over many years is captured, organized and retrieved whenever you need it…far beyond 30 days.

To help our clients better-manage these knowledge contacts, we continue to further improve and build-out our Contact Management feature  – which is centrally incorporated into Bipsync’s rich note-taking and productivity environment – and we’re building-out integrations with third-party CRM providers because, just as with managing research in Outlook, capturing long-form notes,  and organizing documents in most CRMs can be a painful process too.

Building-in a rich organizational network of metadata – company, industry, geography, author, date, custom organization schemes, and of course contact – is key to your ability to get value from research data once it’s captured. When it comes to professional ​​​contacts, this increases findability, consistency and context to your research, meaning you can apply expert network information within a broader range of investment contexts for better decision making.

Let us know how you manage your contacts today, and if you’d like to learn more about how Bipsync can help.