2-Year Anniversary Letter: Out Of The Broom Closet

New York, January 5, 2018

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Anniversaries are a good a time for reflection, as well as planning ahead — to map out where we have come from and where we are headed. On our 2-year anniversary, I would like to share some of those thoughts.

Since what we do at Exante Data can be a little abstract at times, let me start with something very concrete: our physical office.

Exante’s first office had room for three people, had no windows. And since we knew it was temporary, it only had desks, chairs and computers. It was very much like a broom closet. But we did get some good work done there, including setting up our IT infrastructure.

Since then, we have moved 3 times, as we have expanded the team. Two years after our launch, we now have comfortable space for ten people in our main office in Flatiron district, Manhattan. We have windows and office plants and even a company logo on the wall (one client remarked recently: ‘too corporate’). Furthermore, we are seriously considering opening an office in Europe in 2018.

Most of our growth is hard to see physically, however. Our main growth is happening in the cloud. This is where all our data infrastructure and analytics live, and along that dimension we are growing exponentially.

Exante Data’s vision from the beginning was to build a bridge between new technology that allows extraction of information from a myriad of new data sources and macro strategy.

Our business strategy has been to dig deep in certain areas to get a true edge, rather than spreading our resources thin. There is no way we can be superior in all aspects of market analysis. Hence, we have to be humble about that, and stay very focused.

Initially, we were extremely focused on Chinese capital flows, and we continue to have some unique data and analysis relating to China. In 2017, we have built infrastructure to cover flow dynamics in (minute!) detail for more than 30 countries.

But importantly, Exante Data is more than a data company. We use our proprietary data and analytics to generate trading / investment signals. And because our approach is unique we often generate signals that are orthogonal to the ‘consensus narrative’. We call the overall platform Global Flow Analytics (and it is described here), and we are excited that some of the world’s top asset managers have started using it intensively during H2 2017.

Another area of focus for us has been factor modeling, which can be used both to decompose and understand ongoing market dynamics, and for forecasting. We are not the first to go down this route. But we believe there is value to be added using some new tricks. Factor models can be a very powerful analytical tool when combined with other sources of proprietary analysis (such as in flow space). Moreover, given that more and more asset managers have a quantitative angle to their process, we use of such quant tools will become increasingly important.

Looking ahead, we will also pay more and more attention to distribution and packaging. Until now, we have been very focused on building world-class analytics and thematic analysis with a true edge; and less focused on how to get it in front of end-users (unusually, most of our clients have reached out to us, rather than the other way around). If you have any feedback on best practises with respect to research design, visualization and delivery, do let us know.

This was a very quick overview of where we are at Exante after two years. We have grown faster than expected, and we are certainly out of the broom closet. In fact, we are very proud of the quality of names on our current client list. And we would like to use this opportunity to thank everybody who supported us early on. We are excited to see what the next two years will bring. The revolution in the financial industry will only accelerate, and the key to survival is being ahead (ex ante beats ex post, so to say).

Jens Nordvig
Founder & CEO
Exante Data LLC

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