Not Guilty: Our surveys suggest HFS is wrong to roast independents

A recent post on the HFS Research blog focusses on some independent analysts as “pay to play”.  It’s a useful post, but that key point doesn’t fit with our annual Analyst Value Survey, which suggests only a slight correlation between firm size and independence.

In the survey, the largest 26 firms got an average score of 58.2%, the second 26 for a score of 52.8%, and the long tail of other firms averaged 52.6%. HFS Research itself was in the top tier of the survey, scoring 73% (See more granular data, and how these percentages are calculated, on this post).

HFS Research have written a very useful post, and it’s great as a tool to help people on both sides of the industry to recognise, and push back against, pay to play and other ethical issues. But its perception that the issue is centred on the smallest analyst firms does not fit with the views of participants in the analyst value survey. These are issues that run across the spectrum, and if we think it’s only a problem with small firms then we misunderstand the source, and cure, of the problem.

Duncan Chapple

Duncan Chapple is the preeminent consultant on optimising international analyst relations and the value created by analyst firms. As the head of CCgroup's analyst relations team, Chapple directs programs that increase the value of relationships with industry analysts and sourcing advisors.

There are 3 comments on this post
  1. February 25, 2014, 1:56 pm

    @Duncan – am a big admirer of your work and your surveys, which am sure you know. I think you’re mixing up “independents” with small analyst firms. When I talk about “independents”, I am largely referring to individual analysts, but there are a few very small firms there, which really are one analyst and her/his entourage (some of whom perform pretty poorly in your independence chart).

    I also include the growing band of “blogalysts” who forge a living blogging opinion and taking sponsor money for exposure on their websites and favorable blogs. Some even allow vendors to post their own blogs on their sites for money, which I guess is OK if openly transparent, but hardly the behaviour of an independent thought leader striving for unbiased impartiality!

    Hope this clarifies,


  2. February 25, 2014, 8:19 pm

    Phil, I don’t understand why you are focussing on small analyst firms. Absolutely, there are small and solo outfits that are terrible – but there are also large ones in the pay to play segment. Frost and Sullivan has 1,800 employees and its market leadership awards are infamous.

  3. February 26, 2014, 1:59 pm

    It’s not that much a question of size, but rather disclosure and top accounts.
    For instance, Redmonk is very open about patronage but no firm I think is about how much of its revenues come from it top (or top 5) client(s).

    Phil, it would be great to have HfS showing the way when it comes to transparency!