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Transfer Agents & Issuers: Are You Prepared For The Future?

The 2015 Industry Index Helps Us Get To Safe Shores

The ground-breaking Industry Index was launched in October of 2015, with the objective of helping all of us in our industry navigate the future. The leading Index has been designed to identify, year on year, what the most critical issues are for issuers and shareholder  services.

The EAC Industry Study: The new voice of the Industry. In 2011, American Stock Transfer (AST) acknowledged the demand for a neutral industry group that could exchange ideas, explore relevant topics and bring to light the challenges issuers face from various perspectives. With this in mind, the Executive Advisory Council (EAC) was formed.The EAC,sponsored by AST,works independently for the good of the industry at large and is comprised of executives from leading organizations in North America who actively interact with issuer and shareholder service providers, thereby keeping a pulse on trends, issues and concerns that various stakeholders may  have.

The award winning 2014 EAC Industry Study was a multi-stage research initiative, led by industry thought- leaders and sponsored by AST. Designed to develop meaningful insights into what investors and corporations need across a broad spectrum of issuer and shareholder services, this Study included the most comprehensive array of insights available in the industry today. More than 300 executives provided ideas on several different platforms of study. Some simple statistics quickly reveal the true extent of this initiative that is rapidly gaining momentum to be the new voice of our industry:

  • More than 2,000 hours of researchers’ time for investigation, discovery and analysis
  • Over 300 expert contributors from many areas of issuer corporations
  • Four different, in-depth survey designs covering 12 different aspects of the  industry

A direct outcome of the 2014 Study, the industry leading 2015 Index is the first independent benchmark aimed at providing all stakeholders with an understanding of how the major industry providers are performing in aggregate relative to issuer concerns and  priorities.

Using statistical modeling tools, the Index survey identifies eight areas that represent the most critical issues identified by stakeholders across the industry. These eight items, detailed below, will be the same year on year, with the 2015 results establishing the base line for future trend analysis:

Basic Performance: My provider performs predictably, communicating appropriately while always looking for ways to be efficient.

Work Interface: Myproviderisflexibleandknowledgeable, with RM/staff reliably and quickly acting on our  behalf.

Response to Trends and Technology: My provider understands technology and media trends and is alert to ways to save costs and how technology/trends might impact our reputation.

Data Safety and Security: My provider is attentive to data safety and security while making it as user friendly as possible.

Powerful Voice: My provider has a good reputation with a powerful voice in the industry.

Shareholder Satisfaction: My provider keeps our shareholders happy and understands the impact shareholder satisfaction has on our reputation and  work.

Institutional Soundness: My provider is institutionally sound and can provide complex offerings that meet our changing needs.

Regulatory Environment Response: My provider responds well to the complex regulatory environment and changing rules/procedures enacted by regulatory bodies.

The results are in for the first year of the cutting edge 2015 Industry Index and they show that the industry as a whole still has room for improvement to meet customer expectations and improve customer satisfaction. Probing a little deeper into the Index survey results, here is what we are seeing:

  • Data security is seen as very important to the industry as a whole, underlining the need for continued focus on how to minimize breaches and improve overall safety;
  • Overall, Proxy Solicitation and Advisory Services fare well, though providers’ performances are uneven across the industry, while Investor Relation Services are perceived as falling short of expectation across the industry, which is bringing down the overall industry index;
  • Investor Relations Services are perceived as having the most room for improvement, particularly with respect to data security, basic performance, shareholder satisfaction and work interface;
  • Corporate Actions are perceived in a more favorable light, particularly with respect to data safety, but weaknesses still exist when it comes to basic performance and shareholder  satisfaction;
  • Overall, providers are seen as exceeding expectations when it comes to providing the industry with a unified voice;

The Index enables all of us in our industry to better understand the service strengths and gaps to stay ahead of issuer concerns, proactively monitor industry trends and gain insights into how each and every one of us can improve what we do.

The 2015 Industry Index represents a game changer for our industry. It provides a voice for all to be heard and a guidepost on how to navigate the complex and ongoing changes we all experience.

With the results surprisingly consistent across all respondents, among the questions the 2015 Index brings to the forefront is:

Where should providers focus in order to improve client perceptions?

How can an industry voice help drive the industry as whole forward?

What does the function of a relationship manager look like in the future, given trends in technology and the sometimes conflicting expectations of  customers?