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Choosing an Institutional Investor Database: How Marketplace Compares

By: Gui Costin, Founder, CEO

If your firm is considering an investment in a database, it’s probably a fair assumption that you want to give your sales team their best shot at success. This means that you’re willing to spend money to give them a list of the accounts and contacts to call on to sell to. It’s a great way to empower your team and drive sales, right? 

Well, sometimes

When it comes down to it, not all databases are created equal. Some are designed with specific asset classes in mind, some are full of hundreds of thousands of accounts and contacts, but not regularly updated, and some are out of date almost as soon as you subscribe to them. So, how do you cut through the noise and make sure the database you choose really is giving your sales team the information they need to make calls and set up meetings that matter? It comes down to the quality of the data within the database.

At Dakota, we’ve been selling investments to institutional allocators since 2006. We know what it means to grind away at a list of thousands of accounts, hoping to find exactly the right person to call. It’s exhausting, but more than that, it’s time consuming. Sales people spend far too much time on administrative work when instead they should be selling. So, we created Dakota Marketplace, a “shared CRM database” that is designed and updated by our team. And because we know those industry pain points so well, we knew exactly the kind of database that would work best for other salespeople in our industry. 

In this article, we're outlining some of the primary players in the investment database space, and how they compare to not only each other, but our own Marketplace. This way, you’re best equipped with the data needed to enable your own sales team. 

What are your options?

Finding out the databases available to you is the first step to empowering your sales team, and there are a lot to choose from. Many have been in the industry for a long time, and have become reputable for their ability to provide large quantities of accounts and contacts, while others operate in more niche markets, and are appealing for that reason. Some of the key players include:

Discovery Data

Focuses on 2 main verticals which they call professionals/financial advisors and insurance agents. The user is able to search for hundreds of thousands of individuals, groups of people and companies. It is particularly useful for those selling to individual financial advisors as they have a robust amount of FA data. For a salesperson selling investment strategies, Discovery can be helpful in providing a giant list of people and firms to call on. The downside to the breadth of this list is that the salesperson has to work through all of these firms to try and determine which ones allocate to outside managers. Discovery has been in the market since 2002 and has been a go to database for many.

RIA Database

Similar value proposition to Discovery Data. RIA database was created in 2006. They offer 4 subscriptions spanning across RIAs (38,000+ Firms), Registered Reps (500,000+ advisors), Bank/Trust (8,500+ firms) and Family Offices. If you are selling to RIAs or any of the above firms with less of a concern if they allocate to your strategy, this is a comprehensive prospect list for you. Contact data can sometimes be outdated as web scrapers have a difficult time keeping up with industry turnover. 


An established database on the alternative side, Preqin is a global database that was created in 2003. Preqin seeks to help alternative investment managers with contact data on institutions primarily. Unlike most databases, Preqin has research analysts around the globe that try to uncover information on allocators and potential searches. Preqin has been looked at as the go to database for alternative managers. The Institutional data tends to be much stronger than at the RIA, Multi-Family Office and Bank Trust data. 

marketplace free trial


A global database that focuses on the institutional sales side (endowments, public pensions, foundations, consultants etc). Firms value MMD because they can sometimes include information about managers that Public Pensions are invested in. Prospects value this insight so that they can better position themselves against those managers. The institutional data, similar to Preqin, is much stronger than the RIA, Multi-Family Office, Bank Trust and National Accounts data. Contact data can tend to be outdated but sales professionals value the ability to see what institutions are invested in. 


Delivers searches from public pension funds and returns searches across a variety of asset classes. They have the technology available to scrape data for public pension searches specifically. Many sales professionals will complement Finsearches with another database that helps them with more data in other channels.


Solely focused on single family offices, which is a niche space that a lot of databases do not focus on. 

Broad Ridge Opportunity Hunter

Identifies and tells you about asset classes and more specifically strategies that RIAs and multi-family offices are invested in. Users like this because it lets them know if firms are invested in their competitors so that they can position themselves against them. 

What do they have in common?

To put it simply, all of the options listed above have one thing in common: they’re giving people a database of prospects to call on. 

Unfortunately, one of the hardest things to provide as a database is consistently updated and accurate contact information on the people that you actually want to be calling on. The reason this is so hard is because web scrapers have a difficult time understanding the makeup of a research team and whether the firm actually allocates to outside managers. This forces the salesperson to not only spend time looking for the right people but also trying to understand whether the firm can even buy their investment strategy. 

The value proposition of databases has always been to try and provide salespeople with the biggest list possible. But then the question is: how do you narrow that list down? Relying on web scrapers alone will either require salespeople to do a lot of administrative work to cull the list down to feasible prospects, or, it will require an investment in additional software to whittle the list down further. 

Finally, the majority of these databases have a similar price point, which can be a deciding factor for many. Databases operate on a twelve-month subscription plan, and many, including Marketplace, fall into the $11,500 range for a yearly subscription. If you’re making an investment of that size, the data should be clean, clear, and allow your sales team to do what they do best. However, if you’re investing that much for a large but outdated database, you might just be adding more administrative work for your sales team to deal with later. 

Is Marketplace just another database?

The short answer? No. The most accurate description of Marketplace was coined by one of our subscribers: “A shared CRM”. That unequivocally sums up Marketplace. It’s the database the sales team at Dakota Investments uses daily and we have other investment firms that use the same information. We update daily.

Dakota Marketplace is different in that it helps equip you with the knowledge necessary to call on exactly the right people: the people who buy what you sell. 

What’s unique about the Marketplace team is that we raise capital for a living ourselves. We are our own best customer because we use the database every day, and understand the pain points that salespeople experience. We’re able to use that knowledge to consistently make the product better. This comes across in the simple Marketplace interface, as well as in the quality of the data, where other databases across the board often fall short.

Many databases lack the institutional knowledge to understand what a salesperson has to do to qualify a prospect. Competitors can often offer a huge database of prospects, but that database might not contain the right prospects. Databases tend to get a bad reputation for this very reason. With Marketplace, we believe that less is more, because we know there's no use having a ton of prospects if they don’t need what you’re offering. 

Marketplace is curated so that when people login, they know that every person within it is a qualified prospect. 

We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: when it comes to data, it’s a matter of quality rather than quantity. If your sales team has thousands of contacts that they need to sift through, it won’t make their jobs any easier; in fact, it might just make their jobs harder. By offering them a curated list of contacts that is constantly updated by salespeople just like them, it all but guarantees that they have an audience who wants to hear from them. 

To see if Marketplace is a good fit for you and your firm we'd love to offer you a free trial.

marketplace free trial

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