News Article | April 19, 2017
Homing pigeons may share the human capacity to build on the knowledge of others, improving their navigational efficiency over time, a new Oxford University study has found. The ability to gather, pass on and improve on knowledge over generations is known as cumulative culture. Until now humans and, arguably some other primates, were the only species thought to be capable of it. Takao Sasaki and Dora Biro, Research Associates in the Department of Zoology at Oxford University, conducted a study testing whether homing pigeons can gradually improve their flight paths, over time. They removed and replaced individuals in pairs of birds that were given a specific navigational task. Ten chains of birds were released from the same site and generational succession was simulated with the continuous replacement of birds familiar with the route with inexperienced birds who had never flown the course before. The idea was that these individuals could then pass their experience of the route down to the next pair generation, and also enable the collective intelligence of the group to continuously improve the route's efficiency. The findings, published in Nature Communications, suggest that over time, the student does indeed become the teacher. The pairs' homing performance improved consistently over generations - they streamlined their route to be more direct. Later generation groups eventually outperformed individuals that flew solo or in groups that never changed membership. Homing routes were also found to be more similar in consecutive generations of the same chain of pigeon pairs than across them, showing cross-generational knowledge transfer, or a "culture" of homing routes. Takao Sasaki, co-author and Research Fellow in the Department of Zoology said: 'At one stage scientists thought that only humans had the cognitive capacity to accumulate knowledge as a society. Our study shows that pigeons share these abilities with humans, at least to the extent that they are capable of improving on a behavioral solution progressively over time. Nonetheless, we do not claim that they achieve this through the same processes.' When people share and pass knowledge down through generations, our culture tends to become more complex over time, There are many good examples of this from manufacturing and engineering. By contrast, when the process occurs between homing pigeons, the end result is an increase in the efficiency, (in this case navigational), but not necessarily the complexity, of the behavior. Takao Sasaki added: 'Although they have different processes, our findings demonstrate that pigeons can accumulate knowledge and progressively improve their performance, satisfying the criteria for cumulative culture. Our results further suggest that cumulative culture does not require sophisticated cognitive abilities as previously thought.' This study shows that collective intelligence, which typically focuses on one-time performance, can emerge from accumulation of knowledge over time. Dora Biro, co-author and Associate Professor of Animal Behaviour concludes: 'One key novelty, we think, is that the gradual improvement we see is not due to new 'ideas' about how to improve the route being introduced by individual birds. Instead, the necessary innovations in each generation come from a form of collective intelligence that arises through pairs of birds having to solve the problem together - in other words through 'two heads being better than one'.' Moving forward, the team intend to build on the study by investigating if a similar style of knowledge sharing and accumulation occurs in other multi-generational species' social groups. Many animal groups have to solve the same problems repeatedly in the natural world, and if they use feedback from past outcomes of these tasks or events, this has the potential to influence, and potentially improve, the decisions the groups make in the future.
News Article | April 18, 2017
The ability to gather, pass on and improve on knowledge over generations is known as cumulative culture. Until now humans and, arguably some other primates, were the only species thought to be capable of it. Takao Sasaki and Dora Biro, Research Associates in the Department of Zoology at Oxford University, conducted a study testing whether homing pigeons can gradually improve their flight paths, over time. They removed and replaced individuals in pairs of birds that were given a specific navigational task. Ten chains of birds were released from the same site and generational succession was simulated with the continuous replacement of birds familiar with the route with inexperienced birds who had never flown the course before. The idea was that these individuals could then pass their experience of the route down to the next pair generation, and also enable the collective intelligence of the group to continuously improve the route's efficiency. The findings, published in Nature Communications, suggest that over time, the student does indeed become the teacher. The pairs' homing performance improved consistently over generations - they streamlined their route to be more direct. Later generation groups eventually outperformed individuals that flew solo or in groups that never changed membership. Homing routes were also found to be more similar in consecutive generations of the same chain of pigeon pairs than across them, showing cross-generational knowledge transfer, or a "culture" of homing routes. Takao Sasaki, co-author and Research Fellow in the Department of Zoology said: 'At one stage scientists thought that only humans had the cognitive capacity to accumulate knowledge as a society. Our study shows that pigeons share these abilities with humans, at least to the extent that they are capable of improving on a behavioural solution progressively over time. Nonetheless, we do not claim that they achieve this through the same processes.' When people share and pass knowledge down through generations, our culture tends to become more complex over time, There are many good examples of this from manufacturing and engineering. By contrast, when the process occurs between homing pigeons, the end result is an increase in the efficiency, (in this case navigational), but not necessarily the complexity, of the behaviour. Takao Sasaki added: 'Although they have different processes, our findings demonstrate that pigeons can accumulate knowledge and progressively improve their performance, satisfying the criteria for cumulative culture. Our results further suggest that cumulative culture does not require sophisticated cognitive abilities as previously thought.' This study shows that collective intelligence, which typically focuses on one-time performance, can emerge from accumulation of knowledge over time. Dora Biro, co-author and Associate Professor of Animal Behaviour concludes: 'One key novelty, we think, is that the gradual improvement we see is not due to new 'ideas' about how to improve the route being introduced by individual birds. Instead, the necessary innovations in each generation come from a form of collective intelligence that arises through pairs of birds having to solve the problem together - in other words through 'two heads being better than one'.' Moving forward, the team intend to build on the study by investigating if a similar style of knowledge sharing and accumulation occurs in other multi-generational species' social groups. Many animal groups have to solve the same problems repeatedly in the natural world, and if they use feedback from past outcomes of these tasks or events, this has the potential to influence, and potentially improve, the decisions the groups make in the future. Explore further: Passenger pigeons help to navigate More information: 'Cumulative culture can emerge from collective intelligence in animal groups' written by Takao Sasaki and Dora Bird, features in the 18th April 2017 edition of Nature Communications.
News Article | May 3, 2017
VANCOUVER, British Columbia, May 03, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- According to the 2017 National Opinion Poll (NOP) Canadian Views on Engagement with China released today by the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada (APF Canada), uncertainty about the direction that Canada-U.S. relations are taking under a Trump presidency coupled with concerns about rising protectionist sentiments in Britain and Europe are motivating Canadians to be more open to engagement with China. Canadians feel that global economic dynamics are changing: over two-thirds (68%) feel that China can become a global leader on economic issues, while 62% believe that expanded trade with China is important today due to rising protectionism in the U.S. and Europe. Our poll also shows that over half of Canadians (55%) support a Canada-China FTA, up 9 points from 2016 and up 19 points since 2014. According to the 2017 NOP, when it comes to enhanced engagement with China, Canadians also support increasing the number of highly qualified immigrants entering Canada, investing in transport infrastructure, and prioritizing collaboration on measures to address pollution and protect the environment. “Our 2017 National Opinion Poll results across a number of key indicators – from free trade and economics, to infrastructure, immigration and the environment – show a Canadian public increasingly open to deeper engagement with China,” said APF Canada President and CEO, Stewart Beck. “These results don’t capture the Canadian upset over Trump’s recent decision on softwood lumber, or his comments on our supply management regime for dairy. And yet they clearly demonstrate that the anti-trade sentiments we’re seeing in Europe and the States are pushing diversification into the national conversation around Canada’s future economic prosperity.” APF Canada’s new poll shows that Canadians’ support for expanded economic engagement with China stems from their belief that it will bring more opportunities for Canadian business (76%) and youth (70%), bring greater economic prosperity to Canada (57%), encourage needed investment in Canadian businesses (63%), and increase Canada’s international competitiveness (54%). Notwithstanding overall public support for Canada’s greater economic engagement with China, Canadians continue to have concerns that engagement will make Canada more vulnerable to economic and political pressures from China and will lead to an influx of cheap Chinese goods in domestic markets. Canadians also expect their government to call on the Chinese government to respect human rights and introduce democratic reforms in the Chinese political system. “This is consistent with our previous polling on Canadian attitudes toward Asia,” said Dr. Eva Busza, Vice-president, Research and Programs, at APF Canada. “Canadians expect a broad and balanced agenda from government that addresses both economic, as well as social and political issues, in connection with China. But clearly, based on these new results, as Ottawa pushes forward with its China agenda, it can draw some confidence from Canadians’ increasing openness to stronger economic relationships with the world’s second largest economy.” For 13 years, APF Canada’s National Opinion Poll has examined Canadian opinion and attitudes towards Canada’s engagement with Asia. This year, APF Canada commissioned EKOS Research Associates to conduct a survey of 1,654 Canadian adults who are participants in the Probit online survey panel. The survey was conducted from March 20 to March 27, 2017. The full poll results are available here. About the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada: The Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada is dedicated to strengthening ties between Canada and Asia with a focus on expanding economic relations through trade, investment and innovation; promoting Canada’s expertise in offering solutions to Asia’s climate change, energy, food security and natural resource management challenges; building Asia skills and competencies among Canadians, including young Canadians; and, improving Canadians’ general understanding of Asia and its growing global influence. The Foundation is well known for its annual national opinion polls of Canadian attitudes regarding relations with Asia, including Asian foreign investment in Canada and Canada’s trade with Asia. The Foundation places an emphasis on China, India, Japan and South Korea while also developing expertise in emerging markets in the region, particularly economies within ASEAN. For media information or to arrange an interview please contact:
News Article | November 3, 2016
Eliminating waste and reducing costs, while driving efficiency, within your Risk Adjustment and Quality programs requires new and innovative solutions. Mr. Criswell will discuss how the shift from legacy Gap Closure approaches to new and effective technology will improve your Gap Analytic programs. During this presentation, attendees will get a better understanding of innovative solutions for Risk and Quality programs, including the following: Mr. Criswell looks forward to sharing with the audience the innovative, data-driven strategies being deployed by leading health plans and at-risk provider organizations to succeed in today’s increasingly risk-adjusted and quality-rated environment. About Pulse8 Pulse8 is the only Healthcare Analytics and Technology Company delivering complete visibility into the efficacy of Risk Adjustment and Quality Management programs, enabling health plans and at-risk providers to achieve the greatest financial impact in the ACA Commercial, Medicare Advantage, and Medicaid markets. By combining advanced analytic methodologies with extensive health plan experience, Pulse8 has developed a suite of uniquely pragmatic solutions that are revolutionizing risk adjustment and quality. Pulse8’s flexible business intelligence tools offer real-time visibility into member and provider activities so our clients can apply the most cost-effective and appropriate interventions for closing gaps in documentation, coding, and quality. For more company information, please contact Scott Filiault at (732) 570-9095, visit us at http://www.Pulse8.com, or follow us on Twitter @Pulse8News. About Healthcare Education Associates Healthcare Education Associates (HEA) is a division of Financial Research Associates, LLC. HEA is a resource for the healthcare and pharmaceutical communities to improve their businesses by providing access to timely and focused business information and networking opportunities in topical areas. Offering highly targeted conferences, Healthcare Education Associates positions itself as a preferred resource for executives and managers seeking cutting-edge information on the next wave of business opportunities. Backed with over 26 years of combined conference industry experience, the producers of HEA conferences assist healthcare professionals, actuaries, attorneys, consultants, researchers and government representatives in their professional endeavors. For more information on upcoming events, visit us online: http://www.healthcare-conferences.com About Resource Initiative and Society for Education RISE is the first national association totally dedicated to enabling healthcare professionals working in organizations and aspiring to meet the challenges of the emerging landscape of accountable care and health care reform. We strive to serve our members on four fronts: Education, Industry Intelligence, Networking and Career Development. To learn more about RISE and to join, visit us online: http://www.rasociety.org
News Article | February 23, 2017
Cold Spring Harbor, NY - Researchers have moved an important step closer to understanding why pancreatic cancer is so hard to treat. With a median survival of only 6 months and a 5-year survival rate of about 8%, patients tend to be diagnosed when the disease has already spread to other parts of the body - this is one part of the problem. Another is that when treated with existing chemotherapy drugs, patients tend to benefit only slightly or not at all. Why are pancreatic tumors so resistant to treatment? One reason is that the "wound"-like tissue that surrounds the tumors, called stroma, is much more dense than stromal tissue surrounding other, more treatable tumor types. Stromal tissue is believed to contain factors that aid tumor survival and growth. Importantly, in pancreatic cancer, its density is thought to be a factor in preventing cancer-killing drugs from reaching the tumor. "You can think of a pancreas tumor as a big raisin oatmeal cookie, with the raisins representing the cancer cells and oatmeal portion representing the dense stroma that makes up over 90% of the tumor," says David Tuveson, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Cancer Center at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL). Tuveson leads the Lustgarten Foundation Designated Lab in Pancreatic Cancer Research at CSHL, and his team today reports an important discovery about stromal tissue in the major form of pancreatic cancer, called pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, or PDA. Tuveson, who is also Director of Research for the Lustgarten Foundation, wants to know more about stromal tissue in PDA. "We were interested to read the results obtained by researchers in other labs, who targeted the stroma in various ways, sometimes with encouraging results, but sometimes causing tumors to grow even faster" he explains. "These conflicting results suggested to us that we still did not know enough about the stroma," says Daniel Öhlund, M.D., Ph.D., co-first author with graduate student Abram Handly-Santana, postdoc Giulia Biffi Ph.D., and postdoc Ela Elyada Ph.D., of the team's paper, published online today in the Journal of Experimental Medicine. Stroma in PDA becomes what scientists call "desmoplastic." Its dense, fibrous texture which presents a formidable barrier surrounding a tumor consists of structure-providing connective tissue; cells called fibroblasts which produce the main part of this connective tissue; and a plethora of immune cell types drawn to the tumor site as well as cells that form blood vessels, which bring nutrients to the tumor. Tuveson's team capitalized on a technology he and colleagues co-developed with scientists Sylvia Fernandez-Boj and Hans Clevers several years ago: the ability to grow cultures of pancreatic tumors - sampled from people and mice - that develop in a 3-dimensional medium. Called pancreatic organoids, these small spheres mimic the biology of the tumor samples from which they are derived, and thus are a valuable aid for researchers trying to learn more about tumor biology and testing new combinations of treatments on them. In the experiments reported today, organoid technology is taken to a new level, in which organoids derived from tumors are for the first time "co-cultured" with one component of the stroma in which actual tumors grow. The result is a more realistic rendering of what happens in the pancreas of cancer patients - and yet, in a stripped-down, simplified way, such that the effect of adding a single new factor, in this case from stroma, can be clearly parsed. The additional factor added to the organoid culture was a cell-type called CAFs - cancer-associated fibroblasts, which happen to be the targets of past attempts to therapeutically target stroma in PDA. "CAFs are like connective tissue factories in the tumor," says Dr. Öhlund. "They're producing the connective tissue that you see in the stroma of pancreatic cancer, the 'oatmeal' in the cookie. In the past, scientists have proposed that the connective tissue is something you want to get rid of because it's believed to help the cancer cells develop and proliferate." Fibroblasts form part of the stroma and are typically non-cancerous, but contribute to the cancer's development by secreting, among other factors, structure-providing molecules to the stroma. But that is only one of their functions. Experiments led by Öhlund and team in human- and mouse tumor-derived organoids, demonstrated something not previously known: fibroblasts come in at least two varieties in PDA, and possibly more. This discovery of heterogeneity in the fibroblast portion of the stroma in pancreatic cancer opens up the field to a host of new possibilities. One subtype of fibroblast noted by Tuveson's team was distinguished by its production of high levels of a protein called alpha smooth muscle actin, or αSMA. Öhlund discovered that the fibroblasts producing αSMA were immediately adjacent to neoplastic tumor cells in human and mouse tumor tissue. This result was subsequently observed in PDA organoids grown as co-cultures with fibroblasts. Furthermore, the team noticed that this co-culture resulted in the formation of desmoplastic stroma - the dense, material that confounds treatment in human patients today. Handly-Santana discovered that a second fibroblast subtype was distinct from others due to production and secretion of the immune-response modulating factor Interleukin 6 ( IL-6). In contrast to the αSMA-expressing fibroblasts, the IL-6-secreting fibroblasts were found to be more distant from cancer cells in human and mouse PDA tumors, and organoid co-cultures, and did not express elevated amounts of αSMA. IL-6 has also been linked to cancer cell proliferation and the process of cachexia, a muscle wasting syndrome that causes weakness and immune suppression in many pancreatic cancer patients. "The question has always been, what cells make the IL-6," Tuveson notes, "and the subsequent work by Ela Elyada revealed that this subpopulation of fibroblasts was the major IL-6 producer in PDA tumors." "Our findings underscore that stroma is not unitary but rather heterogeneous in PDA," Tuveson says, "and this, in turn, provides our team and others in the field an opportunity to develop therapeutic agents that target specific fibroblast populations." There is much work to be still done, he says, regarding the factors that are responsible for this behavior, "and Giulia and Ela are hot on the trail of these mechanisms." "The traditional view of the tumor stroma as a uniformly pro-tumorigenic niche needs reconsideration since certain fibroblasts subtypes might have pro-tumorigenic properties while others might have anti-tumorigenic properties. Therapeutic development must consider this possibility," Tuveson summarizes. The research described here was supported by the Cold Spring Harbor Cancer Center Support Grant; the National Cancer Institute; The Lustgarten Foundation; Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Association, the NIH (5P30CA45508-26, 5P50CA101955-07, 1U10CA180944-02, 5U01CA168409-5, and 1R01CA190092-03). The investigators are also grateful for support from: Stand Up to Cancer; the STARR foundation (I7-A718); DOD (W81XWH-13-PRCRP-IA); the Pecision Medicine Research Associates; the Swedish Research Council (537-2013-7277), the Kempe Foundations (JCK-1301) and the Swedish Society of Medicine (SLS-326921, SLS-250831, SLS-175991, SLS-591551), federal funds through the county council of Västerbotten (ALFVLL269081, VLL242121,VLL322391, VLL400421, VLL493371, VLL582681); the Cancer Research Foundation in Northern Sweden (AMP15-793, LP11-1927 for D.Ö.); the Human Frontiers Science Program (LT000403/2014; LT000195/2015-L; LT000190/2013); The Weizmann Institute of Science Women in Science award;, EMBO (ALTF 1203-2014); the Italian Ministry of Health (FIRB - RBAP10AHJ); Associazione Italiana Ricerca Cancro (AIRC n. 18718), NIH (R50CA311506-01); NIH awards (CA101955 UAB/UMN SPORE, 5T32CA148056, and F32CA192904), the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation (Shirley Stein fellow, DRG-2165-13), the National Cancer Institute (NCI 1K99CA204725-01A1), and Nancy Gay fellowship. "Distinct populations of inflammatory fibroblasts and myofibroblasts in pancreatic cancer" appears today in Journal of Experimental Medicine. The authors are: Daniel Öhlund, Abram Handly-Santana, Giulia Biffi, Ela Elyada, Ana S. Almeida, Mariano Ponz-Sarvise, Vincenzo Corbo, Tobiloba E. Oni, Stephen A. Hearn, Eun Jung Lee, Iok In Christine Chio, Chang-Il Hwang, Hervé Tiriac, Lindsey A. Baker, Dannielle D. Engle, Mikala Egeblad, Douglas T. Fearon, James M. Crawford, Hans Clevers, Youngkyu Park and David A. Tuveson. The paper can be accessed at: http://jem. Founded in 1890, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has shaped contemporary biomedical research and education with programs in cancer, neuroscience, plant biology and quantitative biology. Home to eight Nobel Prize winners, the private, not-for-profit Laboratory employs 1,100 people including 600 scientists, students and technicians. The Meetings & Courses Program hosts more than 12,000 scientists from around the world each year on its campuses in Long Island and in Suzhou, China. The Laboratory's education arm also includes an academic publishing house, a graduate school and programs for middle and high school students and teachers. For more information, visit http://www.
News Article | February 16, 2017
ARLINGTON, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A new national survey conducted jointly by leading Republican and Democratic researchers reveals that voters across the political spectrum overwhelmingly oppose eliminating federal funding for public television and that more than 7 in 10 see public television as a good or excellent value for their tax dollars, on par with investments in highways, roads and bridges. The telephone survey of 1001 registered voters was conducted in early January by a bipartisan polling team from American Viewpoint (R) and Hart Research Associates (D) on behalf of public television. In a joint memo released today, the pollsters write, “ Our survey finds that while the country may be deeply divided on many issues, the importance of federal funding for public television is not one of them. In fact, with remarkable consistency, majorities of voters of all political stripes support federal funding for public television and do not want to see it eliminated. Voters see public television as a good value proposition for the American taxpayer, and express high levels of concern about the consequences should federal funding for public television be eliminated. “ These results show that Republican and President Trump voters overwhelmingly support public television and strongly oppose eliminating its federal funding,” said Linda DiVall of American Viewpoint. “ The voters that elected the President, including a majority of Republicans, put the taxpayer value delivered by public television on par with building highways, roads and bridges. Both are seen as high-value investments in America and its future.” “ The enormous benefits that public television delivers in terms of public safety and children’s programming are recognized across party lines,” said Geoff Garin of Hart Research Associates. “ In a time of deep division in Washington and around the country, the strong bipartisan support for continued federal funding of public television is remarkable.” Hart Research Associates (D) and American Viewpoint (R) conducted a nationwide telephone survey among a representative cross-section of 1001 registered voters. Interviewing was conducted January 4-8, 2017, and the survey has an overall margin of error of ±3.1%. Charts and analysis of the Hart Research – American Viewpoint survey are available here. A memo on the results by Hart Research – American Viewpoint can be found here. PBS, with nearly 350 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and digital content. Each month, PBS reaches nearly 100 million people through television and nearly 28 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. Decades of research confirms that PBS’ premier children’s media service, PBS KIDS, helps children build critical literacy, math and social-emotional skills, enabling them to find success in school and life. Delivered through member stations, PBS KIDS offers high-quality educational content on TV – including a new 24/7 channel, online at pbskids.org, via an array of mobile apps and in communities across America. More information about PBS is available at www.pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org websites on the internet, or by following PBS on Twitter, Facebook or through our apps for mobile and connected devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at pbs.org/pressroom or by following PBS Pressroom on Twitter.
News Article | March 3, 2017
CHARLOTTE, NC, March 03, 2017-- Bank/Alternative Lender Strategic Partnership Summit (May 10-11 at the Princeton Club in NYC) will be narrowing the event focus to cover in-depth small business lending partnerships between banks and fintech firms for their 2017 program.The growing online lending industry has been re-paving the way for banks to step back into small business loans in a big way. Some banks have already taken that leap, not by themselves but by partnering with fintech companies. Major players like JP Morgan, and Citi have already formed alliances to help with not only extending small business loan offerings online but in some cases to help speed up the loan approval process dramatically.Bringing together a well thought out line-up of industry experts, the Bank/Alternative Lender Strategic Partnership Summit plans to examine the process of partnership from both sides. Banks and alternative finance companies will hear key experts unpack what opportunities exist and where caution should be exercised.Kabbage--a data and technology real-time lending platform as well as a player in the small business lending space will be one of the companies featured at the summit. Kevin Phillips, Kabbage's head of corporate development and conference chair, believes that this year will see an uptick in bank/alternative lender partnerships. Phillips recently stated, "As a result of the work of and good execution by early adopters, 2017 looks to be the year where fintech-bank partnerships move into the mainstream."In one-and-a-half-days, a diverse panel of senior industry executives from the American Banker's Association, Cross River Bank, The Private Bank, along with fintech companies such as Fundation, Kabbage, LendKey, OnDeck, Orchard Platform and SmartBiz will be among key experts holding candid discussions on the opportunities, challenges, and the future of the small business lending industry in an interactive setting.A hard look will be given to topics such as key factors for identifying an ideal partner; how to know when to walk away from a potential partnership; the ways banks and fintech companies are teaming up to improve underwriting and risk management; and, the essential steps for conducting due diligence.More information about the summit can be found at https://goo.gl/c6Kx7b About Financial Research AssociatesFinancial Research Associates (FRA) provides the financial community with access to business information and networking opportunities. Offering highly targeted conferences and events, FRA is a preferred resource for executives and managers seeking cutting-edge information on the next wave of business opportunities. For more information on upcoming conferences and events, visit our website at www.frallc.com
News Article | February 16, 2017
The below market commentary was written by Eric W. Noll, Convergex CEO NEW YORK, Feb. 16, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Summary: MiFID II, an upcoming piece of legislation from European Union regulators, upends the traditional linkage between trading commissions and investment research in ways both the money management and brokerage industries have yet to fully understand. It will force both the explicit pricing of sell-side research and the defense of those expenses to asset owners by money managers. Moreover, while this is an EU directive, we expect many global asset owners to eventually embrace its core principles of explicit pricing and transparency. By virtue of our market leadership in the Commission Sharing Agreement business through Westminster Research, we stand ready to offer solutions and act as a guide to our money management clients as they face these new challenges. "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half." That century-old quote from John Wanamaker, one of America's most famous merchants, is as true today as it was in his time. Every business knows they have to advertise to attract new customers and retain old ones, but even in the Internet Age the advertising game remains – at best – an imprecise science. There is a close analog living on Wall Street: the value of the sell-side equity analyst. Every Director of Research knows that half of their firm's analysts generate most (if not all) of the aggregate profitability of their team. Sometimes that is because the analyst in question has a history of great calls. Other times, it is because they run the best-attended conference in the sector. In still other instances, it is just "right place, right time" - a solid analyst who happens to cover a sector that has gotten hot of late. On the investment management side of the business, Wanamaker's adage has similar relevancy when it comes to the research these asset managers purchase from those brokerage firms. Half – if not more – of the content a portfolio manager/analyst receives from the Street is perceived to have little-to-no value. Sometimes that perception is based on the principle that it is simply not value-added work, and sometimes that the research addresses a company or sector that is currently out of favor. That is an important difference of course, even if it does not change the 50/50 calculus. This is all about to change, and the catalyst comes from the European Union with its Markets in Financial Instrument Directive (commonly called MiFID II). Set to take effect on January 3, 2018, it requires investment managers to rethink how they pay for brokerage firm research. No longer will they be able to bundle commission payments for trading execution and research services. After January 3, 2018, if they want to purchase brokerage firm research, there are just two options: That might all sound innocuous enough, but once you think through the ramifications it becomes clear that big changes are afoot. For example: Take a moment and consider the ramifications of these changes. Here are just a few novel questions and issues they raise: How does the sell-side develop a service menu to help their clients budget their research spends? Over the decades, brokerage firms have refined a dynamic pricing model that enable them to essentially charge different prices to different customers for the same product, all the while looking to capture every bit of potential revenue. Now, clients will want to know exactly how much a report or an analyst visit or a conference will cost. It's like going from a family-style buffet restaurant to a dining establishment with a la carte pricing. While U.S. based asset managers may not necessarily have to comply with MiFID II, it is important to emphasize that we anticipate this directive will ultimately have a global impact as it is now virtually impossible to contain regulation within geographic boundaries. As global managers do business with European asset owners, they may ultimately make a decision to adapt their current procedures to give them the operational capacity to respond to the MiFID II Directives and err on the side of caution. Now, if you want a playbook for how all this looks, we have it. Our Westminster Research Associates business has been around for 20+ years, helping clients with exactly the sort of challenges they will face with MiFID II. For example: In summary, MiFID II may be an EU regulation but it will almost certainly change broker-provided investment research around the world. We see that as a positive development because with greater transparency will come more accountability and, ultimately, a more efficient research marketplace. Clients will get more of what they want – truly differentiated research that helps them perform – while tracking what that resource costs and explicitly evaluating its cost and benefits. Will this be an easy transition? Of course not, but we are focused on making all of the necessary changes to our business model to meet the MiFID II requirements that will enable our clients to respond effectively to the new environment. The quote with which we started this note mentioned that half of all advertising is wasted. It could well be that half of all broker research is unwanted. Only time will tell. But with MiFID II on the horizon, we are on the road to finally determining which half is truly valuable. And that is a journey worth taking, both for brokers and for asset managers.
News Article | February 15, 2017
NEW YORK, Feb. 15, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Convergex, an agency-focused global brokerage and trading related services provider, announced today that it recently hired Robin Strong as Managing Director. Mr. Strong is based out of Convergex's London-based brokerage and will be responsible for expanding the firm's broad range of commission management, research payment and outsourcing services to buy and sell-side investment firms on a global basis. A 25-year financial industry veteran, Mr. Strong's responsibilities include delivering Westminster Research Associate's unbundling and MiFID II compliant solutions to its growing European client-base. Prior to joining Convergex, Mr. Strong founded The Investment Data Utility and previously worked at Linedata, where he was responsible for business development and client adoption strategies across the EMEA region. Mr. Strong started his career at Salomon Brothers in London and has also held senior positions at Fidessa, Charles River Development, Citadel Associates and Asset Control. "Robin is a welcome addition to Convergex's experienced European sales team as his vast background and financial industry experience complements the firm's commitment to expanding its global team with the goal of providing more solutions and opportunities to our client-base," said Philip Gough, CEO of Convergex Limited, Convergex's London-based brokerage. Westminster Research Associates is also preparing for reforms outlined in the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II) which are currently expected to go into effect on January 3, 2018. One of the key delegated directives requires firms to manage payments for research through Research Payment Accounts (RPAs) or to pay for the research directly. Westminster is preparing to work with RPA software providers and to offer a complete RPA solution on a global basis. Mr. Strong will also play an integral role as Westminster expands its platform to allow investment managers to physically aggregate CSA credits within an RPA structure and provide compliant payment solutions to over 7,000 different research providers. "Westminster's structure provides investment managers with the flexibility to seek best execution through a network of over 250 executing broker-dealers while crediting the research portion of their trade to a centralized account, helping money managers streamline their CSA administration and management," said Chris Tiscornia, President and CEO of Westminster Research Associates. Westminster is a FINRA registered broker-dealer specializing in providing investment research and commission management solutions to the institutional investment community. The flexible commission management solution allows investment managers to execute through top-tier institutional execution desks, while consolidating all of the administrative, servicing and reporting functions of their research business with one firm. About Convergex Convergex is an agency-focused global brokerage and trading related services provider that takes on the industry's toughest challenges, from complicated trades to complex businesses. With clients' interests as the top priority, Convergex delivers comprehensive solutions that span global high-touch and electronic trading, options technologies, prime brokerage, clearing, commission management and beyond. Headquartered in New York with a presence in several other locations including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Orlando, San Francisco and London, the company serves nearly 3,000 clients accessing over 100 global market centers. Important Information Convergex is an agency-focused global brokerage and trading related services provider. In the U.S., Convergex offers products and services through Convergex Execution Solutions LLC (member NYSE/FINRA/NFA/SIPC), of which Convergex Prime Services and Options Trading and Technology are divisions; Westminster Research Associates LLC (member FINRA/SIPC); and Convergex Solutions LLC, of which Jaywalk and LDB are divisions. In London, Convergex operates through Convergex Limited, which is incorporated in England and Wales (registered with company number 06262150). Convergex Limited is authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) of the United Kingdom. Westminster Research Associates LLC is regulated in the United States by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Westminster provides services in Australia pursuant to an exemption from the requirement to hold an Australian financial services license under the Corporations Act 2001 (ASIC Class Order [CO 03/1100]). Convergex provides brokerage services primarily on an agency basis, but may operate in a riskless principal and/or net trading capacity, and in connection with certain ETF or ADR transactions, may act as principal or engage in hedging strategies. Convergex does not engage in market making or investment banking activities. The material, data and information (collectively "Convergex Information") that is available from Convergex is intended for institutional investor use only; is for informational purposes only; is subject to change at any time; is not intended to provide tax, legal or investment advice; and does not constitute a solicitation or offer to purchase or sell securities. Convergex Information is believed to be reliable, but Convergex does not warrant its completeness or accuracy and Convergex assumes no duty to update such information. Clients should read their account agreement(s) and documentation with Convergex carefully as those documents contain important information and disclosures about the products or services covered thereby. Convergex is not responsible for third-party information or services, including market data from the exchanges. (Rev. 01/03/17)
News Article | February 27, 2017
Ad hoc Research Associates, LLC is proud to announce that it has received 8(a) certification from the Small Business Administration (SBA).