Sell-side research has credibility problem

Sell-side analysts need to launch a charm offensive to win back the trust of City journalists who have grown sceptical of the independence of their research, according to survey findings out this week.

A survey of print and broadcast journalists in the UK, Europe and the US reveals journalists are demanding more objectivity from sell-side research and are turning to alternative sources for information, such as academics, think tanks and ratings agencies.

The study was prompted by criticism of sell-side research within investment banks following the stock market boom and bust.

The survey findings show the media are increasingly shunning sell-side equity research in favour of its buy-side counterpart, which is produced by fund managers and unit trusts and is seen as more objective.

According to the study, conducted by corporate communications consultancy ECD Insight, the heightened scepticism over sell-side research means 'news items such as earnings reports now require another quote from a completely different source, preferably one with an opposing view'.

But despite the criticism, ECD's study shows a continued reliance on sell-side information among the media, because it provides an as-yet-unrivalled breadth and depth of information.

The results highlight the fact that the media is becoming more demanding in the quality of research they use and is looking for clarification of independence.

ECD's report says journalists 'want regular, mutually respectful dialogue with analysts who are free to share their views, whether or not they are at odds with other areas of their institutions'.

The results follow just a month after the sell-side analyst sector was heavily criticised in a report by the Financial Services Authority.

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