Inex One invites investment analysts to share their best practices on primary research and expert calls. First out is Christian from McKinsey & Company in München, Germany.
I’ve been using expert calls in more than 20 projects now. In one project we did almost 60 calls, because the company we researched was in such a small niche. There was not much secondary data to use: few financials statements and certainly no research reports.
Reaching out to expert networks is one of the first things that I do in a new project, if we think that we will need expert calls.
Here are my five best techniques:
1. Define the most important questions to check with experts. Tell the networks about these questions and make sure that they write whether each expert can answer them or not.
2. Be very transparent with the expert networks. Tell them what you need and by when, but also tell them when experts are bad or irrelevant. It saves me a lot of time. I often tell them that I will check all emails at a certain time. I expect them to send their latest expert list by then, and to not call and chase me about things – I’m busy :).
3. Develop a good notes tool. I take notes in excel and structure the data in two categories per question: the number that I’m after and the rationale for this. Then there’s a big “Other” category for other comments and quotes. I know some people use OneNote to collaborate on note-taking.
4. Ask the top questions first in the interview. Just hang up if you feel that the expert doesn’t have the right knowledge. It saves time for both you and for them.
5. Help the expert put words on their knowledge. If an expert can’t answer straight questions like “what is the market growth rate?”, I ask with examples: “Is the market decreasing, growing 3-5%, or more like 5-10%?”. From there, it is easier to drill down to more exact numbers.