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Earning the 'write to speak': sell-side analysts and their struggle to be heard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Crawford William Spence, Yuval Millo, Mark Aleksanyan, Shahed Imam, Subhash Abhayawansa

Original languageEnglish
JournalContemporary Accounting Research
Accepted/In press5 Dec 2018


  • Write to Speak FINAL VERSION

    Write_to_Speak_FINAL_VERSION.pdf, 489 KB, application/pdf

    Uploaded date:06 Dec 2018

    Version:Accepted author manuscript

King's Authors


This paper explores the ways in which sell-side financial analysts seek to position themselves advantageously within the wider field of investment advice in spite of widespread skepticism over the value that their forecasts and recommendations add to investment decisions. The field of investment advice has been characterized in recent years by a number of regulatory and technological changes that have forced sell-side analysts to reconstitute the ways in which they influence the investment decisions of buy-side actors. Faced with existential threats, sell-side analysts have responded to the disruptive impact of technology and regulation by struggling hard to ensure that their services are still valued by fund managers. Key to this ongoing process is the recalibration of professional expertise, which previous research has alluded to but not explored in detail. Central to the persistence of sell-side analysts in processes of investment decision-making are activities revolving around the production and use of analyst reports which, our findings indicate, are less valuable for their informational content than their role as ‘relational devices’, ascribing legitimacy to sell-side analysts and earning them an entry ticket to more substantive, value-adding interactions with companies and buy-side actors. We also show that economic considerations in the area of investment advice are influenced by social ties, the motivations of various actors in the field and their relative position vis-à-vis other actors. More generally, we contribute to literature on professional projects by showing how professional groups are constantly engaged in attempts to reposition themselves in the social space, but that field-level changes can restrict the outcomes of these strategies to mitigation rather than advancement for the professionals concerned.

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