This article represents one researcher’s experience using a brand new platform with limited training. We will update it if we learn of any changes or additions, and we welcome you to share your own perspective on using Kaleidoscope via our contact us page.
Depending on your age, the word “kaleidoscope” may take you back to a childhood toy—a tube with a rotating function that produced colorful, changing patterns you could view through an eyehole.
The word is derived from the Greek “kalos” meaning good or beautiful and “eidos” meaning form, which is the reasoning behind the choice of Kaleidoscope as the name for a new company and tool for securities and 10k research.
New securities research tool Kaleidoscope
Kaleidoscope is the creation of the key developers of 10-K Wizard, once acknowledged as the “gold standard” in SEC research tools. 10-K Wizard became part of global financial services company Morningstar and Morningstar Document Service. The service was ended in 2015, and Morningstar encouraged its customers to migrate to Intelligize, which was the chief competitor at the time, acquired a year later by LexisNexis and now marketed as a compliance management solution.
The company describes itself as follows:
Through Kaleidoscope’s prism researchers slice through the roiling sea of business and industry news, stock data, social media, blogs and authoritative international financial filings to focus on what matters.
In this article, I’ll introduce you to some of Kaleidoscope’s features and capabilities, along with pricing, which will be a key advantage for price-sensitive buyers.
I believe Kaleidoscope sees themselves as a competitor to offerings from LexisNexis, Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg, which we’ll touch on later. The platform offers graphical features the others do not, yet it’s missing some other features that existing systems have. We acknowledge that Kaleidoscope is still in the early phases of development and the representative I worked with said they welcome feedback from early users, and they readily tout features that are coming soon.
What is Kaleidoscope?
Kaleidoscope is a visual tool, and while it lacks the depth of content of its competitors, the system’s analytical capabilities and graphical representation of that analysis surpasses its competitors.
The draw of Kaleidoscope lies in the way data is represented on the screen visually, not only giving the user an instant impression of the analysis but the ability to manipulate the graphics on screen in real time, and providing ready access to the source material and data behind the analysis as well. Picture the graphics from Monitor Suite or Bloomberg Law’s Judicial Analytics tool, but for securities filings, and with sliders on the screen to adjust the analysis.
Key features of Kaleidoscope
This new platform delivers a variety of features, including the following:
1. Data Visualization to enable researchers to quickly identify and access events, filters and filings in a matter of seconds.
- Charts and graphs act as intelligent filters—as you dive deeper, the charts will change with each modification.
- Statistics of results via intelligent data visualization tools.
2. XBRL and unique features that facilitate sharing and collaboration. The XBRL view is interactive and contextual, popping up to show what numbers mean, the source, more detailed information—it basically links notes to the chart in the filings. And “Word Trends” features a word in an array that shows what words appear most frequently with other words.
- Shared searches help others and allow you to save the best results.
- “Live” reports keep team members up to date with auto-updated online reports on topics, language use and companies.
- CopyLink serves as a reference link to the document.
- XLS Snapshot allows you to export hits in context as a list with a link to the filing.
- Peer Group invites custom creation of peer groups, focused search, filtered results and EOD stock price comparisons.
Note: For anyone unfamiliar with XBRL, it’s an open international standard for business, financial and compliance reporting in digital format.
3. Alerts can be set up under many parameters such as entities, industries, form types and experts. You click the three dots on the top right and then click “Alerts”—not necessarily intuitive, but easy once you know what to do.
4. Reporting options are available and graphics can be added as widgets, though I think it would require its own training session to understand how to use it well. Reports with graphic analysis can be created and shared for viewing or downloading via HTML, Word, PDF, XLS and XBRL.
5. Peer Groups are a self-created option that allows you to add companies individually and it is fairly easy to do. Separate from alerts, Peer Groups can appear as part of the on-screen analytics if you want to compare a selected group of companies side-by-side.
The intention of Kaleidoscope is not only to show search results, but also provide a visual representation of those results. All are interactive—you can hover over graphics to see details and zoom in and out of an area of a chart or graph. For example, you can view a graphic representation of all the filings or all under a category, narrowed by time frame. You can also manipulate by dragging within the graphic, for example, to narrow by the industry sector of companies in agreements.
For the home screen, the default view is “Summary view” which can answer questions and provide graphics on Top 10 Filers.
A tab for “Geo Map” shows where the filers come from on a map of the world.
The typical securities research starting points (10-K filings, SEC filings, Agreements, Exhibits) can be narrowed by criteria like single entities, date or industry to create a subset that the user or requester wants to analyze. For example, SEC filings can be narrowed by entity, date, industry, locations, forms, keywords and experts. Experts allows you to look at law firms, accounting firms and individuals who were involved, extracting them from sections of filings where that information is typically cited.
You can also combine characteristics, such as entities from a particular industry and a specific geographical region that filed “Y” forms during a two-year period.
When you look up a particular entity, you can view:
- Company profiles
- Insider information
Kaleidoscope content sources
- SEC EDGAR Filings from 1994 to present
- End of Day Stock Pricing provided by Alpha Vantage
- Fundamental Financials (10-year comparisons) provided by Quotemedia, Inc.
- News – Online industry news and investing news publishers
- Press Releases derived from SEC EDGAR Exhibit 99.x
Nothing is available for private placements unless they are part of a public filing from Form D, Form C or part of the offering circular.
Comparison to other vendor platforms
While Kaleidoscope is strong for a first version, when I compare it to existing value-added securities research sources, I find the following shortcomings:
- It lacks the robust search capability of other established resources like Intelligize and Westlaw’s Business Law Center. While it provides simple Boolean searching, such as (a OR b Or c) near/15 (c d e OR f) with only two parentheticals with simple OR commands and only one proximity command, a complex Boolean search string led to errors; the system could not parse complex search strings.
- You cannot search particular sections of filings (e.g., management discussion, risk factors, legal proceedings) which you can do in other systems, particularly West.
- Perhaps the biggest hurdle Kaleidoscope faces is its lack of connection to other sources. The West and Lexis securities research tools have become integrated into their bigger systems. One log-in works for all tools within those systems and the user can link out to laws, regulations, company profiles, news and administrative materials. To a smaller extent, Bloomberg Law can do the same. Kaleidoscope only has filings content and links out to some news content.
Following are some noteworthy comparisons to the big providers:
- Graphical representation of analytics only available under Transactions, Comment Letters and No-Action Letters.
- Section Analysis and Trends allows you to pull up filings, filter to sectors or factors like risk, but no graphics.
- Intelligize has dedicated, experienced and knowledgeable customer support staff.
- Has pre-existing analytics that can be filtered by drilling down through Practice Center, Corporate, Practice Tools and under Market Data and Trackers. You can click the tab for Outcome Analytics, like SEC Admin Enforcement.
ThomsonReuters Westlaw’s Business Law Center
- Westlaw’s Business Law Center’s analytics is limited to putting together parameters and producing a spreadsheet with editable columns containing data on entities and filings that fit those parameters, with no graphics.
- Redlining feature for comparing older and newer versions of business documents is unique to this resource.
Regarding the Westlaw product, LAC Group VP Robyn Rebollo, head of our spend management group and expert on electronic information resources, shares her view:
“From my experience, clients feel TR’s Business Law Center is sufficient for standard SEC filings research, but it doesn’t yet provide all the deep analytical insights or analysis tools more efficiently than Intelligize does. Maybe that will change with Edge developments.”
I also checked in with Robyn for Kaleidoscope pricing information. She confirms standard per-seat pricing of $99 per month, or $67 per month if committing to an annual subscription.
Discounted rates are available for large groups and enterprise accounts and Kaleidoscope is open to allowing users to trial the service for a limited duration. Additionally, there is tiered pricing if subscribers need more than 10 seats, but do not need full enterprise licensing. The breakdown is as follows:
Flat pricing arrangements can be negotiated for long term commitments; however, a long term lock-in for a new service is not recommended unless the subscriber is confident in the uptake of the service or an opt-out is included in the contract.
According to Robyn,
“Both the month-to-month and annual commitments are priced competitively in the market place when compared to the other known players in the securities research and analytics space.”
Additionally, special academic pricing is available at $9,500 per year, which includes access for all faculty and students, and there are no additional charges for alerts or personalization options.
Kaleidoscope’s place in research landscape
I believe that Kaleidoscope could be a valuable tool for law firms and corporations beyond securities research—for competitive intelligence purposes:
- The platform’s “Experts” search is a unique feature giving insights into competing firms that were involved in transactions and agreements, and at what level. This enables a comparative view within an industry or geographic region or whatever parameters the user chooses.
- The “Peer Group” feature and alerts allow you to track the activity of current or potential clients or groups of clients. This can also be used to identify trends, for example, a sudden increase in certain filings can indicate some kind of activity at a company or within an industry.
- Graphics could be used in CI reports on clients or potential clients, to show areas of opportunity or risk and also add color and visual interest to reports.
As for securities and SEC filings research, behind all of the graphics and analytics, there is access to the filings and documents from which the analytics derive. While direct access through robust search capability is not at the level of some of Kaleidoscope’s competitors, the user can still get to the same source documents using a combination of fields (forms, company names, dates, industries) and keywords. Kaleidoscope is not a source to choose for SEC document retrieval purposes, but it does give access to the filings.
Finally, I’m intrigued by the collaborative capabilities of Kaleidoscope. While I have no firsthand experience to give concrete examples, I imagine that shared peer groups and reports could be valuable for a securities law group or marketing and business development teams.
Since Kaleidoscope is a brand new product, this assessment was based on trial use and a brief orientation that a representative gave me. The company offers a free 14-day trial on its website, which I would recommend for anyone truly interested in taking a look.
As a member of LAC Group’s virtual research team, we use the platforms of the client, and we also strive to stay abreast of new tools like Kaleidoscope. You may navigate to our contact page if you have any further questions—our webmaster will ensure your query gets to the right person.