An Influential Figure in M&A
Lisa Wright has worked in the information industry for 25 years and is an influential figure in M&A through her role at Bureau van Dijk, a Moody’s Analytics company. Recently, we caught up with Lisa who revealed more about the firm, especially following her recent success as the Female Leader of the Year 2018 – M&A Research in AI’s 2018 Leadership Elite Awards.
Firstly, please can you tell me about your firm, the work you do and the types of customers with whom you work.
Here at Bureau van Dijk, a Moody’s Analytics company, our Orbis database is the world’s most powerful data resource on private companies. With information on 300 million companies in all countries, Orbis is the resource for private company data.
For the M&A data element, we research and compile data in more than 45 languages and from more than 130,000 global news sources, stock exchanges, regulatory bodies, company websites and corporate filings. In addition to this, we also receive information directly from investment banks, law firms, accountancy firms, corporate finance professionals, M&A advisory firms and private equity investors on the deals that they advise on or invest in.
We collect data for multiple datasets, and our research complements the data we source from an extensive network of information providers.
By combining the largest source of company and deal data together in one platform, customers can identify acquisition targets or acquirers and find comparable deals and deal values effectively and efficiently. Detailed shareholder and subsidiary data, including information on global ultimate owners and beneficial owners, provides additional insight on acquirers and acquisition targets.
What is your approach when undertaking a new customer or project? How do you meet the needs of everyone involved?
At Bureau van Dijk, our customers are at the heart of what we do.
Having focused primarily on mergers and acquisitions data in the past, our research teams have since expanded to collect more data types to meet our evolving customers’ needs. We use the same data research methodologies and quality-control procedures that have played an integral role in the way we have collected, treated and delivered M&A deals to our users.
Our customers have access to clear and easy-tointerpret reports created specifically for M&A research. These reports combine information on companies, comparable deals and valuations alongside an interface to help them identify targets, or acquirers, and value companies. We link our company and deal data in a single platform to help our customers streamline their research.
Our solutions help customers navigate deal data quickly and easily, whether they are new to deal information or an expert researcher. We help users:
• search by hundreds of criteria, including multiples
• do a detailed analysis on a set of deals
• monitor deals using our alert system
• see their portfolio in tailored dashboards
• identify acquisition targets, acquirers and potential companies of interest
Tell me about your business and your ongoing strategy. What techniques do you employ to help you achieve this?
We have established a culture of continual improvement in the way we develop our data sources, data processes and how our employees work together. All team members, no matter what their individual roles are, are encouraged to bring ideas, suggestions and feedback to their managers. As a result, the business can explore improvements in processes and increase efficiency at all levels to create better data sets for private company information as well as M&A deals.
What are your thoughts on the state of your industry currently? Are there any issues / changes that are affecting it?
One of the major issues faced by data users is that the information that exists on the internet is growing at an increasing rate and that large amounts of this data is unstructured. In order to maximize the value of data, we provide structure within our information products and tools that makes the information more comparable, efficient to access and easier to use.
Within our industry, data researchers have traditionally analyzed and treated unstructured data by applying relevant data tags via an intensive manual process. However, technology has the potential to make these processes more efficient. Robotic process automation and machine learning, for example, are more advanced and efficient ways for companies such as ours to cope with large amounts of unstructured data to remove the need for manual intervention in low value tasks.
What attributes do you believe are essential to achieving success in your industry or sector?
There are several factors that can contribute to the success of businesses that specialize in researching, collecting and treating data. Firstly, the data must be fit for purpose and support the customers’ needs, whether they be compliance, data management, M&A research or another specific task. Therefore, information service providers should have a robust understanding of the subject matter and a willingness to continue to evolve expertise, as the industry or subject will continue to evolve.
Secondly, we should be willing to review processes, whether for data sourcing or in creating the database itself. Again, the information industry is rapidly evolving both in terms of the amount of data available and in terms of technological advances that are making data easier to process, and to be more robust. Continual improvement is an important aspect of the work we do and is reflected in the way we update both our datasets and the products that help deliver them.
What challenges and opportunities have you faced and how have they affected your role?
Bureau van Dijk has experienced continuous growth for as many years as I can remember. Growth brings both challenge and great opportunity. For me, it continues to be an incredibly positive experience for the business and its employees.
My team can work across multiple datasets, such as M&A, ownership, foreign direct investment, IP transactions and AML documents. Opportunities to add new skills and knowledge are never far away.
How do you manage your staff and how do you cultivate an atmosphere that is conducive to a productive working environment?
Establishing a culture where employees can thrive, and grow is fundamental to any business’s success. This is truer than ever when a workforce consists primarily of millennials, and in our case, employees from Generation Z. It is very important that all of our team members are recognized for their contribution to the business, and that their voice is listened to by management.
Being transparent as to the direction in which the business is moving and empowering all employees
to contribute towards our shared strategic goal, is something I have always considered important. Our employees see first-hand the emergence of new trends within their geographies or the industries that they track. We actively encourage them to bring any new developments to the attention of their managers.
This upward and downward flow of communication within our business helps us to be aware of market changes that are either identified by the business from external sources, such as our customers, or via our internal teams’ direct observation of markets and industries.
Looking ahead, what are your future aspirations regarding your business? Do you have any future plans/projects that you would like to share with us?
Bureau van Dijk is committed to empowering customers to make better, faster decisions, by providing the most reliable private company information in the market. To achieve this, we must also be committed to constant enhancement, whether that be developing our employees, reviewing our processes, generating content, or using technology to work smarter and more efficiently.
We continually review and revise our internal processes to reflect the evolution of both the industry and our business. By embracing technology, we can reduce the amount of low-value, manual tasks required of our employees meaning they can increasingly focus on value-add tasks. This also means employees can further develop their skills and knowledge, increase their happiness, their value to the organization and our value to them.