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Asset managers are making greater use of “alternative” data sources, ranging from social media sentiment to crowd-sourced data, according to research from Greenwich Associates.

In a new report commissioned by IHS Markit, Greenwich said that half of the investment managers it surveyed are currently using some form of alternative data, and another 25% are planning to start using it in the next 12 months.

The most common types of alternative data that managers are using includes web-scraped data, search trends and social media sentiment, Greenwich noted.

Additionally, 74% of firms say that alternative data is starting to have a big impact on institutional investing, and 71% believe it can give them an investing edge over their competition.

Moreover, almost 30% of quantitative funds believe that at least 20% of their alpha can be attributed to their use of alternative data, the study found.

The study also noted that 42% believe the advantage of using alternative data lasts for at least four years.

“Even more revealing than the high level of value asset managers attribute to alternative data, is that they also believe using it helps them achieve long lasting competitive advantage,” Adam Kansler, president of financial services at IHS Markit, said in a statement.

“The high degree of industry confidence in alternative data confirms that we are in the early stages of a profound shift toward incorporating more and more diverse datasets into the investment process,” he added.

The report predicted that, as more firms adopt alternative data, the investing advantage will diminish — leading firms to look for new, less-popular sources of data.

“Despite the rapid growth in the market recently, we believe we are still in the early innings when it comes to alternative data adoption,” the report said.

“We expect budgets to continue to increase significantly over the coming years, as more firms come into the market and usage among current users increases. By the time we reach the final innings, alternative data won’t be alternative any more … it will just be data,” it concluded.