Before we get into where to find financial data, we’ll first cover how vendors collect it in the first place.
How is financial data collected?
Financial data is mainly sourced from regulatory agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission in the US. This data includes things like quarterly or annual earnings reports, merger/acquisition announcements, or advertisements for a company’s stock (“prospectus”). Of special interest in quarterly or annual reports are the following:
- Balance sheet – This lists and compares a company’s total assets and liabilities.
- Income statement – Also known as a profit and loss statement, this compares a company’s revenues versus its expenses over a given period of time.
- Cash flow statement – A more comprehensive inventory and measurement of all sources of income and expenditure for a company.
- Financial footnotes – Notes explaining accounting methodologies used in financial statements, including any changes made from the previous reporting period, any required disclosures, and any upcoming transactions taken into consideration.
Things aren’t quite as simple when it comes to where to find financial data of companies that aren’t publicly traded. This is because they aren’t required to file financial reports with regulatory bodies like the SEC. However, it still may be possible to find a bit of data from a regulatory agency on a private company if it was public at one point; or if it acquired, was acquired by, or merged with a company that was public.
Beyond that, there are a few other places to find data on the finances of private (and public) companies. The first is a company’s website. Public companies will usually have data in a section titled “Investor Relations” or something similar. Private companies, meanwhile, may link to news stories about their performance in a “News” section. It may also be possible to find some financial information using a sitemap or site-wide search, if available.
Speaking of “news”, full-text news databases are other potential avenues for how to get company financial data. Larger, more well-known companies could be mentioned in national or international news. Smaller companies, meanwhile, may still get mentioned in local news because of their relevance to the nearby economy. Trade publications can also have information on companies in specific industries.
What to look for in a financial data provider
There’s more to being a financial data provider than just knowing where to go to get financial data, and then downloading or digitizing it. The best of the best go the extra mile to make sure they have the data their clients need, when they need it, and how they want it. Some may even work with their clients beyond that to help them mine the insights they’re looking for. Here are some hallmarks of good financial data vendors.
- Trust – Is a provider’s data accurate enough that many other companies have trusted it to support their critical business decisions? The answer should be ‘yes’ before you get too far with them.
- Scope – A provider should have data across enough companies, and at deep enough granularity, to give a relatively thorough picture of the industry or market you want to study. It is also useful if the provider has data from many different countries and geographic regions, as it provides a broader perspective on how a market or industry is performing in various distinct parts of the world.
- Latency – Market conditions can change quickly, so it’s important to pick a provider that updates its data frequently and can deliver the data swiftly. You don’t want to be making erroneous decisions because you’re basing them on stale data.
- Exclusivity – Ask providers if they have unique datasets readily available that others in the financial data providers industry don’t. Other companies may still be able to get this data for you, but it will likely take time or money that your company can’t afford.
- Curation – Some providers may simply collect raw data and join datasets together. The best ones make sure their data is formatted and organized properly so that it’s ready to use right out of the box, without your company needing to do the heavy lifting.
- Customization – Take care to investigate whether a provider is selling the data you want as part of a larger bundle deal. The best financial data services will be able to tailor data packages to your specific purposes, so you only get (and pay for) what you need.
Top 10 reliable financial data providers
So, based on the criteria above, who are the names to turn to when you want reliable financial data? Here’s a short list of some of the top financial data providers; some are well-known names in economics, and others are alternative sources of information that can help you see finance from new angles.
Veraset’s data can be helpful in financial work. Our “Movements” and “Visits” datasets let economists and other financial experts correlate market trends with population mobility patterns and visits to points of interest, respectively. By looking at where people are going and which places are being visited, analysts can model – and even predict – how businesses will fare long before the official data comes out.
Like Veraset, SafeGraph’s data on points of interest, building footprints, and foot traffic patterns can aid with financial analysis in much the same way. Its new “Spend” dataset is especially useful, as it applies a location-based methodology to credit and debit card transaction data to show not only how people spend their money, but also where and when they spend it.
FactSet has over 40 years of experience in distributing and managing financial data. It sells not only basic financial data, but also data on key company attributes, corporate events, economic news, and other forms of alternative data. It also sells platforms for market research, business execution, investment portfolio management, and more.
A long-time authority in business news, Bloomberg offers access to all kinds of enterprise-level financial information through its Enterprise Access Point. It also offers analytics through Bloomberg Tradebook, IT management, data management services, trading tools, and an all-in-one platform in the Bloomberg Terminal.
The Intercontinental Exchange was founded in 2000 as a platform for facilitating commodity and finance transactions, mainly in the energy sector. It has since grown to offer various other services, including its catalog of financial data that was added in 2016. You can find many different types of information from 13 global exchanges, 9 asset classes, 600 third-party sources, and over 35 million financial measurement devices.
Another well-known source for financial information, Morningstar also has a data suite for funds, companies, and markets. Use Morningstar’s platform to research investments, screen mutual funds, build and monitor portfolios, and provide detailed reports to stakeholders.
SIX is a foundational financial exchange company for Switzerland, Spain, and beyond. As part of that, they offer asset information from over 1800 sources worldwide, representing over 30 million data points. SIX also has financial regulatory information, index estimates, ESG data, and more, all customizable to whatever format you need.
Now the owner of SunGard Systems, another notable economic information broker, FIS provides all manner of financial services. That includes vending data from financial research and analytics geared towards numerous business functions. You can get data for credit management, fraud prevention, loyalty programs, credit/debit transactions, taxes/loans, and more.
As one of the largest stock exchanges in the world, it’s small wonder that Nasdaq is a prime source for financial data. Much of this data can be found in the Nasdaq Data Link, a new platform featuring over 250 datasets from Nasdaq and nearly 50 other trusted publishers. It also includes alternative and ESG (environmental, social, and governance) data, and some of its datasets have samples or are totally free with an account.
Now part of the London Stock Exchange Group, Refinitiv has over 200 sets of financial data from hundreds of sources worldwide. Its website also contains economic analysis related to significant world trends and events, including interviews with financial experts, and webinars focusing on business activity in major regions of the globe.