Why should we care about Alternative Data?

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#AI  #altdata  #bigdata  #machinelearning  #quantamental

These terms have received a lot of attention from the financial press, and it seems every investing conference these days has a panel discussion about how great alternative data is.  But should we care?

Many of alt data’s early adopters – and ExtractAlpha’s first clients – were quant hedge funds.  This crowd learned the hard way that if they all traded on the same information, they not only were at a competitive disadvantage; they may even face an existential risk. 

In early August 2007, massive drawdowns rippled through many of the factors then used by equity quants, forcing redemptions, fund closures, and a lot of soul-searching. We discussed this Quant Quake in some detail on its ten-year anniversary and provided some takeaways from it.

One key takeaway, which applies equally well to discretionary managers as to quants, is that sources of investing edge should be diversified, and in particular diversified away from what one’s competitors are doing. We need to diversify to provide an investing edge, but also to avoid being exposed to the same factors as our competitors, since their losses could then cascade through to our losses, as happened in 2007. And of course we need to diversify to tell a better story to our own investors as to why we are different and more innovative than other investment managers.

Diversification can be methodological (how to act on information) but can also be materials-based (what information to use).  And alternative datasets are a great way to get at new perspectives on a company’s prospects.

But embracing alternative data is tricky in a few ways, which a some recent surveys have noted, and which we observe from our discussions with clients:

  • There are too many alternative data providers out there – hundreds! – and it’s hard to know which ones to pay attention to
  • The datasets are often large and complex
  • Many managers don’t have the infrastructure to efficiently ingest and evaluate new datasets – especially fundamental managers
  • The datasets can be expensive
  • Turning the datasets into actionable intelligence is not always easy

And most importantly, after all that,

  • The datasets often don’t deliver any value

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Insight by ExtractAlpha is designed to address these issues for fundamental portfolio managers, analysts, and traders.  We’ve looked through dozens of datasets since our founding in 2013 and identified a curated, manageable set which have displayed proven investment value.  We’ve then applied our proprietary technology to distill these large, complex datasets – as diverse as options implied volatilities, patent filings, government contracts, and consumer complaints – into easy-to-use tools, such as portfolio-level and stock-level scoring systems and ESG rankings, all within a single platform, ExtractAlpha Insight.  The tools in Insight are designed to align with institutional investors’ workflows, such as custom watchlists and trade-timing signals. The scores are backed by research by our in-house quant research team as well as published academic studies, and are used by some of the top quant firms worldwide.

Insight makes valuable, unique data immediately actionable – without the buzzwords.

Currently, Insight covers 3000 US stocks and we continue to actively refine the platform and expand coverage. The Insights platform can be accessed in evaluation mode here.

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Founded in 2013, ExtractAlpha is a premiere provider of alternative data solutions. The company sorts through huge amounts of alternative data sets with proven value in forecasting fundamentals, returns and risk, and delivers that data in clean, intuitive ways. The rigorously researched data sets are designed for institutional investors to gain a measurable edge over their competitors. ExtractAlpha partners with some of the world’s leading FinTech data firms to identify investment value in big data sets, and therefore, help investors profit from unique sources of information.

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Chloe Miao

Chloe joined ExtractAlpha in 2023. Prior to joining, she was an associate director at Value Search Asia Limited. She earned her Masters of Arts in Global Communications from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Matija Ratkovic

Matija is a specialist in software sales and customer success, bringing experience from various industries. His career, before sales, includes tech support, software development, and managerial roles. He earned his BSc and Specialist Degree in Electrical Engineering at the University of Montenegro.

Jack Kim

Jack joined ExtractAlpha in 2022. Previously, he spent 20+ years supporting pre- and after-sales activities to drive sales in the Asia Pacific market. He has worked in many different industries including, technology, financial services, and manufacturing, where he developed excellent customer relationship management skills. He received his Bachelor of Business in Operations Management from the University of Technology Sydney.

Perry Stupp

Perry brings more than 20 years of Enterprise Software development, sales and customer engagement experience focused on Fortune 1000 customers. Prior to joining ExtractAlpha as a Technical Consultant, Perry was the founder, President and Chief Customer Officer at Solution Labs Inc. a data analytics company that specialized in the analysis of very large-scale computing infrastructures in place at some of the largest corporate data centers in the world.

Perry Stupp

Perry brings more than 20 years of Enterprise Software development, sales and customer engagement experience focused on Fortune 1000 customers. Prior to joining ExtractAlpha as a Technical Consultant, Perry was the founder, President and Chief Customer Officer at Solution Labs Inc. a data analytics company that specialized in the analysis of very large-scale computing infrastructures in place at some of the largest corporate data centers in the world.

Janette Ho

Janette has 22+ years of leadership and management experience in FinTech and analytics sales and business development in the Asia Pacific region. In addition to expertise in quantitative models, she has worked on risk management, portfolio attribution, fund accounting, and custodian services. Janette is currently head of relationship management at Moody’s Analytics in the Asia-Pacific region, and was formerly Managing Director at State Street, head of sales for APAC Asset Management at Thomson Reuters, and head of Asia for StarMine. She is also a board member at Human Financial, a FinTech firm focused on the Australian superannuation industry.

Leigh Drogen

Leigh founded Estimize in 2011. Prior to Estimize, Leigh ran Surfview Capital, a New York based quantitative investment management firm trading medium frequency momentum strategies. He was also an early member of the team at StockTwits where he worked on product and business development.  Leigh is now the CEO of StarKiller Capital, an institutional investment management firm in the digital asset space.

Andrew Barry

Andrew is the CEO of Human Financial, a technology innovator that is pioneering consumer-led solutions for the superannuation industry. Andrew was previously CEO of Alpha Beta, a global quant hedge fund business. Prior to Alpha Beta he held senior roles in a number of hedge funds globally.

Natallia Brui

Natallia has 7+ years experience as an IT professional. She currently manages our Estimize platform. Natallia earned a BS in Computer & Information Science in Baruch College and BS in Economics from BSEU in Belarus. She has a background in finance, cybersecurity and data analytics.

June Cook

June has a background in B2B sales, market research, and analytics. She has 10 years of sales experience in healthcare, private equity M&A, and the tech industry. She holds a B.B.A. from Temple University and an M.S. in Management and Leadership from Western Governors University.

Steven Barrett

Steve worked as a trader at hedge funds and prop desks in Hong Kong and London for 15+ years. He also held roles in management consultancy, internal audit and business management. He holds a BA in Business Studies from Oxford Brookes University and an MBA from Hong Kong University of Science & Technology.

Jenny Zhou, PhD

Jenny joined ExtractAlpha in 2023. Prior to that, she worked as a quantitative researcher for Chorus, a hedge fund under AXA Investment Managers. Jenny received her PhD in finance from the University of Hong Kong in 2023. Her research covers ESG, natural language processing, and market microstructure. Jenny received her Bachelor degree in Finance from The Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2019. Her research has been published in the Journal of Financial Markets.

Kristen Gavazzi

Kristen joined ExtractAlpha in 2021 as a Sales Director. As a past employee of StarMine, Kristen has extensive experience in analyst performance analytics and helped to build out the sell-side solution, StarMine Monitor. She received her BS in Business Management from Cornell University.

Triloke Rajbhandary

Triloke has 10+ years experience in designing and developing software systems in the financial services industry. He joined ExtractAlpha in 2016. Prior to that, he worked as a senior software engineer at HSBC Global Technologies. He holds a Master of Applied Science degree from Ryerson University specializing in signal processing.

Jackie Cheng, PhD

Jackie joined ExtractAlpha in 2018 as a quantitative researcher. He received his PhD in the field of optoelectronic physics from The University of Hong Kong in 2017. He published 17 journal papers and holds a US patent, and has 500 citations with an h-index of 13. Prior to joining ExtractAlpha, he worked with a Shenzhen-based CTA researching trading strategies on Chinese futures. Jackie received his Bachelor’s degree in engineering from Zhejiang University in 2013.

Yunan Liu, PhD

Yunan joined ExtractAlpha in 2019 as a quantitative researcher. Prior to that, he worked as a research analyst at ICBC, covering the macro economy and the Asian bond market. Yunan received his PhD in Economics & Finance from The University of Hong Kong in 2018. His research fields cover Empirical Asset Pricing, Mergers & Acquisitions, and Intellectual Property. His research outputs have been presented at major conferences such as AFA, FMA and FMA (Asia). Yunan received his Masters degree in Operations Research from London School of Economics in 2013 and his Bachelor degree in International Business from Nottingham University in 2012.

Willett Bird, CFA

Prior to joining ExtractAlpha in 2022, Willett was a sales director for Vidrio Financial. Willett was based in Hong Kong for nearly two decades where he oversaw FIS Global’s Asset Management and Commercial Banking efforts. Willett worked at FactSet, where he built the Asian Portfolio and Quantitative Analytics team and oversaw FactSet’s Southeast Asian operations. Willett completed his undergraduate studies at Georgetown University and finished a joint degree MBA from the Northwestern Kellogg School and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in 2010. Willett also holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation.

Julie Craig

Julie Craig is a senior marketing executive with decades of experience marketing high tech, fintech, and financial services offerings. She joined ExtractAlpha in 2022. She was formerly with AlphaSense, where she led marketing at a startup now valued at $1.7B. Prior to that, she was with Interactive Data where she led marketing initiatives and a multi-million dollar budget for an award-winning product line for individual and institutional investors.

Jeff Geisenheimer

Jeff is the CFO and COO of ExtractAlpha and directs our financial, strategic, and general management operations. He previously held the role of CFO at Estimize and two publicly traded firms, Multex and Market Guide. Jeff also served as CFO at private-equity backed companies, including Coleman Research, Ford Models, Instant Information, and Moneyline Telerate. He’s also held roles as advisor, partner, and board member at Total Reliance, CreditRiskMonitor, Mochidoki, and Resurge.

Vinesh Jha

Vinesh founded ExtractAlpha in 2013 with the mission of bringing analytical rigor to the analysis and marketing of new datasets for the capital markets. Since ExtractAlpha’s merger with Estimize in early 2021, he has served as the CEO of both entities. From 1999 to 2005, Vinesh was the Director of Quantitative Research at StarMine in San Francisco, where he developed industry leading metrics of sell side analyst performance as well as successful commercial alpha signals and products based on analyst, fundamental, and other data sources. Subsequently, he developed systematic trading strategies for proprietary trading desks at Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley in New York. Most recently he was Executive Director at PDT Partners, a spinoff of Morgan Stanley’s premiere quant prop trading group, where in addition to research, he also applied his experience in the communication of complex quantitative concepts to investor relations. Vinesh holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago and a graduate degree from the University of Cambridge, both in mathematics.

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