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f-                                                                                                                                        

 

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

 

FORM 10-K

 

(Mark One)

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d)

OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2021

 

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d)

OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the transition period from ___________ to ___________

Commission file number 001-33812

 

MSCI INC.

(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in Its Charter)

 

 

Delaware

 

13-4038723

(State or Other Jurisdiction of

Incorporation or Organization)

 

(I.R.S. Employer

Identification Number)

 

7 World Trade Center

250 Greenwich Street, 49th Floor

New York, New York 10007

(Address of Principal Executive Offices, zip code)

(212) 804-3900

(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of each class

 

Trading Symbol(s)

 

Name of each exchange on which registered

Common stock, par value $0.01 per share

 

MSCI

 

New York Stock Exchange

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    Yes       NO  

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.    YES       No  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    Yes       NO  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).    Yes       NO  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

Large accelerated filer

 

  

Accelerated filer

 

 

 

 

 

Non-accelerated filer

 

  

  

Smaller Reporting Company

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emerging growth company

 

 

If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on and attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.  

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act).     YES       NO  

The aggregate market value of Common Stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant as of the last business day of the registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter (based on the closing price of these securities as reported by The New York Stock Exchange on June 30, 2021) was $43,427,568,686. Shares of Common Stock held by executive officers and directors of the registrant are not included in the computation. However, the registrant has made no determination that such individuals are “affiliates” within the meaning of Rule 405 under the Securities Act of 1933.

As of February 4, 2022, there were 81,268,195 shares of the registrant’s Common Stock, par value $0.01 per share, outstanding.

Documents incorporated by reference: Portions of the registrant’s proxy statement for its annual meeting of stockholders, to be held on April 26, 2022, are incorporated herein by reference into Part III of this Form 10-K.

 

 

 


 

 

MSCI INC.

FORM 10-K

FOR THE YEAR ENDED DECEMBER 31, 2021

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

PART I

 

 

Item 1.

 

Business

 

2

Item 1A.

 

Risk Factors

 

16

Item 1B.

 

Unresolved Staff Comments

 

32

Item 2.

 

Properties

 

32

Item 3.

 

Legal Proceedings

 

32

Item 4.

 

Mine Safety Disclosures

 

32

 

 

 

 

 

PART II

 

 

Item 5.

 

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

 

33

Item 6.

 

Selected Financial Data

 

35

Item 7.

 

Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

 

36

Item 7A.

 

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

 

60

Item 8.

 

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

 

62

Item 9.

 

Changes in and Disagreements With Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

 

97

Item 9A.

 

Controls and Procedures

 

97

Item 9B.

 

Other Information

 

98

Item 9C.

 

Disclosure Regarding Foreign Jurisdiction that Prevent Inspections

 

98

 

 

 

 

 

PART III

 

 

Item 10.

 

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

 

99

Item 11.

 

Executive Compensation

 

99

Item 12.

 

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters

 

99

Item 13.

 

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

 

100

Item 14.

 

Principal Accountant Fees and Services

 

100

 

 

 

 

 

PART IV

 

 

Item 15.

 

Exhibit and Financial Statement Schedules

 

101

Item 16.

 

Form 10-K Summary

 

117

 

Except as the context otherwise indicates, the terms “MSCI,” the “Company,” “we,” “our” and “us” refer to MSCI Inc. together with its subsidiaries.

 

This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains trademarks, service marks and trade names owned by us, as well as those owned by others. MSCI, Barra, RiskMetrics, IPD, Real Capital Analytics, Datscha and other MSCI brands and product names are the trademarks, service marks or registered trademarks of MSCI, its subsidiaries or licensors in the United States and other jurisdictions.

 


 

 

FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

We have included in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, and from time to time may make in our public filings, press releases or other public statements, certain statements that constitute forward-looking statements. In addition, our management may make forward-looking statements to analysts, investors, representatives of the media and others. These forward-looking statements are not historical facts and represent only MSCI’s beliefs regarding future events, many of which, by their nature, are inherently uncertain and beyond our control.

In some cases, you can identify forward-looking statements by the use of words such as “may,” “could,” “expect,” “intend,” “plan,” “seek,” “anticipate,” “believe,” “estimate,” “predict,” “potential” or “continue,” or the negative of these terms or other comparable terminology.  Statements concerning our financial position, business strategy and plans or objectives for future operations are forward-looking statements. You should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements because they involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that are, in some cases, beyond our control and that could materially affect our actual results, levels of activity, performance or achievements. Such risks and uncertainties include those set forth under “Risk Factors” in Part I, Item 1A of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The forward-looking statements in this report speak only as of the time they are made and do not necessarily reflect our outlook at any other point in time. We undertake no obligation to update publicly any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or for any other reason. Therefore, readers should carefully review the risk factors set forth in other reports or documents we file from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”).

 

 

1


 

 

PART I

 

Item 1.

Business

 

Mission

 

MSCI’s mission is to enable investors to build better portfolios for a better world.

 

Overview

 

We are a leading provider of critical decision support tools and solutions for the global investment community. Our mission-critical offerings help investors address the challenges of a transforming investment landscape and power better investment decisions. Leveraging our knowledge of the global investment process and our expertise in research, data and technology, we enable our clients to understand and analyze key drivers of risk and return and confidently and efficiently build more effective portfolios.

 

Investors all over the world use our research-driven and technology-enabled tools and solutions to gain insights and improve transparency throughout their investment processes. Our tools and solutions help investors define their investment universe; inform and analyze their asset allocation and portfolio construction decisions; measure and manage portfolio performance and risk; implement sustainable, climate-focused and other investment strategies; conduct performance attribution; construct and manage exchange traded funds (“ETFs”) and other indexed financial products; and facilitate reporting to stakeholders.  

 

Our products and services include indexes; portfolio construction and risk management tools; environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) and climate solutions; and real estate market and transaction data and analysis. We are increasingly focused on open and flexible technology, and our content and capabilities can be accessed by our clients through multiple channels and platforms.  

 

We aim to anticipate the needs of the investment industry with our client-centric focus and our deep understanding of our clients’ workflows, challenges and goals. We are focused on product innovation and data collection to address the evolving needs of an increasingly complex industry. In order to most effectively serve our clients, we are committed to advancing an integrated approach to our offerings, achieving service excellence, enhancing our differentiated research and content, and delivering flexible, cutting-edge technology.  

 

Clients

 

Our clients comprise a wide spectrum of the global investment industry and include the following key client types:

 

 

Asset owners (including pension funds, endowments, foundations, central banks, sovereign wealth funds, family offices and insurance companies)

 

Asset managers (including managers of institutional funds and accounts, mutual funds, hedge funds, ETFs, insurance products, private banking products and real estate investment trusts)

 

Financial intermediaries (including banks, broker-dealers, exchanges, custodians, trust companies, fund administrators and investment consultants)

 

Wealth managers (including robo-advisors and self-directed brokerages)

 

Real Estate Professionals (including real estate brokers, agents, developers, lenders and appraisers)

 

Corporates (including public and private companies and their advisors)

 

As of December 31, 2021, we served over 6,300 clients1 in more than 95 countries. For the year ended December 31, 2021, our largest client organization by revenue, BlackRock, accounted for 12.7% of our total revenues, with 93.6% of the revenue from BlackRock coming from fees based on the assets in BlackRock’s ETFs that are based on our indexes.

 

1 

Represents the aggregate of all related clients under their respective parent entity. As of December 31, 2021, we served over 1,600 clients which were related to RCA (as defined below).

2


 

 

 

Industry Trends and Competitive Advantages

 

We believe we are uniquely positioned to benefit from emerging trends and to help our clients adapt to a large and rapidly expanding and evolving investment industry. Investing has grown in complexity, with more choices across asset classes, security types and geographies, and more consideration of a wider array of risks, including those related to ESG and climate. In addition, the construction and management of investment portfolios are becoming increasingly outcome-oriented, rules-based and technology-driven. As a result, the investment process is transforming, reflected in several trends we have observed, including:

 

 

Changing client operating models and business strategies, driven in part by fee compression, changing demographics, the regulatory environment and shifting economic outlooks;

 

Increasing use of global, multi-asset-class and other complex investment strategies, including strategies incorporating private asset investments and factor objectives, as investors seek specific and unique outcomes;

 

Accelerating integration of ESG and climate considerations into investment processes, reporting and products, as sustainable investing becomes more prominent and investors increasingly focus on companies with strong sustainability practices as an indicator of long-term resilience, as seen in the current investment focus on considerations such as the COVID-19 pandemic, extreme weather events and diversity and inclusion initiatives;

 

Continuing growth of indexed investing through indexed investment products such as ETFs, mutual/UCITS funds and annuities, as well as indexed derivatives such as futures, options, structured products and over-the-counter swaps, and other vehicles that seek to track an index as investors increasingly seek lower-cost investment strategies;

 

Increasing allocation of capital to real estate and other private assets and desire for greater transparency into the performance of private assets, with an increased focus on climate and income risk;

 

Increasing demand for data and tools that clients can integrate to support their unique portfolio construction needs and to provide transparency into their investment objectives; and

 

Growing use of advanced technologies to enhance investment analytics, streamline operations, create efficiencies and gain competitive advantages.

 

We believe the following competitive advantages position us well to meet client demands in light of these trends:

 

 

Differentiated research-enhanced content provides our clients with insights to better understand and adapt to a complex and fast-changing marketplace. We are continually developing a wide range of differentiated content and have amassed an extensive database of historical global market data, proprietary equity index data, ESG and climate data, factor models, private assets benchmark data and risk algorithms, all of which can be critical components of our clients’ investment processes. This content is grounded in our deep knowledge of the global investment process and fueled by experienced research and product development and data management teams.

 

Client-centricity allows us to build strong client relationships globally and better understand and service our clients’ unique needs in the markets in which they operate. Our client coverage team develops and maintains strong and trusted relationships with senior executives and investment professionals, and we regularly consult with clients and other market participants to discuss their needs, investment trends and implications for our research, product development and client servicing goals.

 

Strong product innovation, supported by flexible, scalable, cutting-edge technology developed by our global team of sophisticated technology and data professionals, enables clients to use MSCI, third-party and their proprietary content efficiently and cost-effectively. Our commitment to open and flexible technology allows us to continually improve our overall products and services by more efficiently processing data for distribution and ensuring advanced platform flexibility that provides for easy integration into our clients’ workflows.

3


 

Strategy

We provide critical tools and solutions that enable investors to manage the transformations taking place in the investment industry, better understand performance and risk, and build portfolios more effectively and efficiently to achieve their investment objectives. We are focused on the following key initiatives to deliver actionable and integrated client solutions:

 

 

Extend leadership in research-enhanced content across asset classes. We continue to develop and deliver innovative solutions that incorporate proprietary and highly differentiated content based on rich insights from our research and product development teams. In addition to continuing to enhance our position as a leader with respect to tools and solutions for equity investors globally, our strategic priorities also include content for ESG and climate, thematics, factors, fixed income, liquidity and private assets, all of which we believe represent significant growth opportunities. For example, in September 2021, we completed our acquisition of Real Capital Analytics, Inc. (“RCA”), a provider of data and analytics for the properties and transactions that drive the global commercial real estate capital markets. This transaction significantly expanded our data capabilities with respect to private assets.

 

 

Lead the enablement of ESG and climate investment integration by delivering the data, information and applications necessary to identify, assess and incorporate material ESG and climate risks and opportunities. The global adoption of ESG and climate-focused investment considerations is rapidly accelerating. As demand from our clients for ESG and climate solutions increases, MSCI’s research, tools and solutions will aim to provide the transparency our clients need to better integrate ESG and climate risks and opportunities into their investment processes. Our ESG ratings and climate data and research are also utilized in our index, analytics and private asset tools and solutions – from ESG and climate indexes to incorporation of ESG and climate data in risk analysis to climate and emissions assessments specific to real estate assets and private equity portfolios. We are focused on being an influential thought leader on these climate-related considerations for the investment industry.

 

 

Enhance distribution and content-enabling technology. We are deploying and developing advanced technology to drive integration and efficiencies, accelerate the pace of innovation and enhance distribution and the client experience. We increasingly utilize proprietary and third-party technologies, including artificial intelligence, machine learning and natural language processing tools, to enhance our ability to gather and analyze data, create content and automate and enhance the efficiency of many of our data processes. In 2021, in response to evolving client needs and the changing technology landscape, we launched our new open-architecture Investment Solutions as a Service (“ISaaS”) offerings. These offerings include Climate Lab Enterprise, a first-in-kind visualization dashboard that combines our climate data with our analytical risk and portfolio management capabilities.

 

Expand solutions that empower client customization. We will further enhance how we support our clients’ investment objectives by embedding our highly differentiated research into solutions that allow clients to incorporate their custom preferences. For example, we will leverage existing capabilities and applications to deliver solutions that will allow clients to reflect their unique risk and return, ESG and climate and thematic preferences, as well as tax optimization strategies in a scalable way.

 

 

Strengthen client relationships and grow into strategic partnerships with clients. We aim to serve as a strategic partner to members of the investment community by anticipating their needs, by promoting the full breadth of our tools and solutions and by building a seamless experience across our offerings. The depth of knowledge of our client coverage teams, including dedicated account managers, ensures that we are engaging with our clients in a holistic and integrated manner. In particular, we are leveraging our existing offerings to serve new and developing client use cases. Through constant innovation, we enhance the efficiency and ease of use of our products as we further demonstrate the value of our content, applications and services.

 

 

Execute strategic relationships and acquisitions with complementary content and technology companies.  We regularly evaluate and selectively pursue strategic relationships with, and acquisitions of, providers of unique and differentiated content, products and technologies that we believe have the potential to complement, enhance or expand our offerings and client base. In order to drive value, we target acquisitions and strategic relationships that can be efficiently integrated into our existing operational structure and global sales network. For example, through our acquisition of RCA, we expanded MSCI’s robust suite of real estate solutions, by allowing us to provide real estate industry professionals with more data, analytics and support tools to manage investments and understand performance and risk, including climate risks, within their portfolios.

4


 

 

Financial Model

 

We have an attractive financial model due to our recurring revenue and strong cash generation. Clients purchase our products and services primarily through recurring fixed and variable fee arrangements, a business model which has historically delivered stable revenue and predictable cash flows. Finally, our disciplined capital-allocation policy provides us with flexibility to balance internal resources and investment needs, acquisitions and shareholder returns through dividends and opportunistic share repurchases.

 

See Part II, Item 7. “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Overview” and Note 1, “Introduction and Basis of Presentation—Significant Accounting PoliciesRevenue Recognition,” of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements included herein for information on how we generate revenue and our revenue recognition policy.

 

Segments

 

For the year ended December 31, 2021, we had the following five operating segments: Index, Analytics, ESG and Climate, Real Estate and The Burgiss Group, LLC (“Burgiss”), which are presented as the following four reportable segments: Index, Analytics, ESG and Climate, and All Other – Private Assets. For reporting purposes, the Real Estate and Burgiss operating segments are combined and presented as All Other – Private Assets, as they did not meet the thresholds for separate presentation. The Burgiss operating segment represents the Company’s equity method investment in Burgiss. Financial results related to MSCI’s acquisition of RCA have been included prospectively as a component of the Real Estate operating segment and presented as a component of the All Other – Private Assets reportable segment, commencing as of September 13, 2021 (the date we completed the acquisition).

 

Index

 

Clients use our indexes in many areas of the investment process, including for indexed product creation (e.g., ETFs, mutual funds, annuities, futures, options, structured products, over-the-counter derivatives), performance benchmarking, portfolio construction and rebalancing, and asset allocation. We currently calculate more than 267,0002 end-of-day indexes daily and more than 15,000 indexes in real time. Clients receive index data directly from us or from third-party vendors worldwide.

 

Our index product offerings include:

 

 

MSCI Global Equity Indexes. MSCI Global Equity Indexes are designed to measure returns across a wide variety of equity markets, size segments, sectors and industries.  As of December 31, 2021, we calculated indexes that covered more than 80 developed, emerging, frontier and standalone equity markets, as well as various regional indexes built from the component indexes.

 

ESG and Climate Indexes. ESG and Climate Indexes are constructed using data from our ESG and Climate segment to meet the growing demand for indexes that integrate ESG and climate criteria to facilitate sustainable investing strategies.

 

Factor Indexes. Factor Indexes seek to reflect the performance characteristics of a range of investment styles and strategies, such as momentum or value. These indexes include stocks that demonstrate high exposure to the target factor. In addition to single factor indexes, we offer multiple-factor indexes, which aim to support investors with diversified multi-factor strategies.

 

Thematic Indexes. Thematic Indexes are designed to measure the performance of companies affected by shifts in macroeconomic, geopolitical and technological trends. These indexes can target areas of interest under megatrend categories such as the environment, healthcare and lifestyle.  Examples of our Thematic Indexes include digital economy, efficient energy, genomic innovation and smart cities.

 

Custom Indexes. Custom Indexes are calculated by applying a client’s criteria such as stock exclusion lists, currency hedging rules, tax rates or special weighting to an existing MSCI index. Investors with unique index requirements can build an index to meet their specific needs.

 

2 

The number of indexes includes different return versions (e.g., price, net and gross returns) but does not include different currency versions.

5


 

 

 

Fixed Income Indexes. Fixed Income Indexes include both investment grade and high-yield securities across a number of currencies that reflect the performance of credit markets generally, or specific investment strategies, including climate-focused or factor strategies.

 

Real Estate Indexes. Real Estate Indexes provide transparency and insight to private real estate investment strategies.

 

In 2021, we launched a number of new indexes, including the following:

 

MSCI China A 50 Connect Index. The MSCI China A 50 Connect Index is designed to reflect the performance of the 50 largest China A securities across all 11 Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS) sectors, with at least two securities included for each sector.

 

MSCI Circular Economy Indexes. The new suite of MSCI Circular Economy Indexes aims to reflect the performance of companies associated with facilitating a circular economy to tackle global resource challenges, including across renewables and energy efficiency, the sharing economy, sustainable water transition, natural resource stewardship and plastics transition.

 

MSCI Space Exploration Index. The MSCI Space Exploration Index aims to measure the performance of a set of companies associated with the development of new products and services such as orbital and sub-orbital spaceflights, satellite communications and urban air mobility.

 

Our Index segment also includes revenues from licenses of GICS and GICS Direct, the global industry classification standard jointly developed and maintained by MSCI and Standard & Poor’s Financial Services, LLC, a subsidiary of S&P Global Inc.  This classification system was developed in response to investors’ need for a comprehensive and consistent framework for classifying companies into industries. GICS is widely accepted as an industry analysis framework for investment research, portfolio management and asset allocation. GICS Direct is a dataset comprised of active companies and securities classified by sector, industry group, industry and sub-industry in accordance with the proprietary GICS methodology. The MSCI Sector Indexes are comprised of GICS sector, industry group, and industry indexes across countries and regions in Developed, Emerging and select Frontier markets.

 

For the year ended December 31, 2021, 61.3% of our revenues were attributable to our Index segment. A majority of those revenues were attributable to annual, recurring subscriptions. A portion of our revenues comes from clients who use our indexes as the basis for indexed investment products. Such fees are primarily based on a client’s assets under management (“AUM”) or trading volumes and are referred to herein as asset-based fees. Since market movement and investment trends impact our asset-based fees, our revenues from asset-based fees are subject to volatility. For the year ended December 31, 2021, asset-based fees accounted for 44.3% of the total revenues for our Index segment.

 

Analytics

 

Our Analytics segment offers risk management, performance attribution and portfolio management content, applications and services that provide clients with an integrated view of risk and return and tools for analyzing market, credit, liquidity, counterparty and climate risk across all major asset classes, spanning short-, medium- and long-term time horizons. Our offerings also support clients’ various regulatory reporting needs.

 

Our Analytics tools and capabilities include the following: models to support factor-based analytics (e.g., Barra equity models and fixed income and multi-asset class (“MAC”) models), pricing models and single security analytics, time series-based analytics, stress testing, performance attribution, portfolio optimization and liquidity risk analytics, as well as underlying inputs such as interest rate and credit curves. We continue to develop new and improved tools and capabilities in response to the evolving needs of our clients. In addition, our analytics capabilities are helping to fuel growth in key areas across our business, such as our factor indexes and many of our climate risk and reporting offerings.

 

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Our clients access our Analytics tools and content through our proprietary applications and application programming interfaces (“APIs”), third-party applications or directly through their own platforms. Our Analytics solutions provide clients with tools to construct and manage portfolios, including integrated market data from multiple third parties as well as content from MSCI’s other segments, which significantly reduces the operational burden on clients to independently source this information and populate it in our Analytics products. Our key Analytics products include:

 

 

RiskMetrics RiskManager. RiskMetrics RiskManager provides risk analytics across a broad range of publicly traded instruments and private assets. Clients use RiskManager for daily analysis, including: Value-at-Risk (“VaR”) simulation; measuring and monitoring market and liquidity risk at position, fund and firm levels; sensitivity analysis and stress testing; interactive what-if analysis; counterparty credit exposure; and regulatory risk reporting.  

 

 

BarraOne. Powered by our MAC Barra factor model, BarraOne provides clients with MAC risk and performance analytics. BarraOne allows clients to build equity, fixed income, and MAC portfolios with specific risk, ESG and climate exposures.

 

 

Barra Portfolio Manager. Barra Portfolio Manager is an integrated risk, performance and portfolio-construction interactive platform with a flexible user interface that enables our clients to design investment strategies and build portfolios, and to share analytics and reports across their organizations. It is used by equity fund managers and their teams to gain additional portfolio insight and manage their investment processes more systematically.

 

 

RiskMetrics WealthBench and RiskMetrics CreditManager. RiskMetrics WealthBench is a web-based platform used by private banks, financial advisers, brokerages and trust companies to help wealth managers assess portfolio risk, construct asset allocation policies and create comprehensive client proposals. RiskMetrics CreditManager is a portfolio credit risk management system used primarily by banks to quantify portfolio credit risk by capturing market exposure, rating changes and default risk.

 

 

Climate Lab Enterprise. Powered by MSCI’s climate data integrated with MSCI’s enterprise analytics infrastructure, Climate Lab Enterprise enables our clients to measure, manage and monitor net-zero commitments and climate exposure and risks. Climate Lab Enterprise is able to aggregate climate data across multiple portfolios and asset classes, providing clients the ability to understand alignment with their climate goals from the enterprise level down through portfolios to individual positions and issuers.  

 

 

Our Analytics segment also provides various managed services to help clients operate more efficiently, including consolidation of client portfolio data from various sources, review and reconciliation of input data and results, and customized reporting. In addition, our RiskMetrics HedgePlatform service allows clients such as funds of funds, pension funds and endowments who invest in hedge funds to measure, evaluate and monitor the risk of their hedge fund investments across multiple hedge fund strategies.

 

For the year ended December 31, 2021, 26.6% of our revenues were attributable to our Analytics segment.

ESG and Climate

 

The ESG and Climate segment3 offers products and services that help institutional investors understand how ESG and climate considerations can impact the long-term risk and return of their portfolio and individual security-level investments. We provide data, ratings, research and tools to help investors navigate increasing regulation, meet new client demands and better integrate ESG and climate elements into their investment processes.

 

 

3 

Products and services in our ESG and Climate segment are provided by MSCI ESG Research LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of MSCI Inc. that is registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as an Investment Adviser under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. MSCI ESG Ratings are used as an input in the construction and calculation of MSCI ESG indexes, which are not subject to our SEC registration. MSCI indexes are products of MSCI Inc., and MSCI Limited is the benchmark administrator.

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Our ESG and Climate research team analyzes over 9,8004 entities worldwide, and we will continue to expand and deepen our coverage to help investors and others in their asset allocation, portfolio construction and risk management processes. Clients include global asset managers, leading asset owners, consultants, advisers, corporates and academics.

 

Our ESG and Climate offerings include:

 

 

MSCI ESG Ratings. Our ESG ratings aim to measure a company’s resilience to long-term ESG risks. Companies are scored on an industry-relative scale across the most relevant key ESG issues based on a company's business model.  MSCI ESG ratings include ratings of equity issuers and fixed income securities. The MSCI ESG Industry Materiality Map is a public tool that explores the key ESG issues by GICS sub-industry or sector and their contribution to companies’ overall ESG ratings. Ratings are designed to identify and analyze ESG issues, including exposures (e.g., business segment and geographic risk), management and industry-specific measures that may include the intersection of a company’s major social and environmental impacts with its core business operations, thereby identifying potential risks and opportunities for the company and its investors.  

 

 

MSCI ESG Business Involvement Screening Research. MSCI ESG Business Involvement Screening Research is a screening service that enables institutional investors to manage ESG standards and restrictions reliably and efficiently. Asset managers, investment advisers and asset owners can access screening research through the online MSCI ESG Manager platform or a data feed to support alignment with their investment guidelines, implement client mandates or manage potential ESG portfolio risks.

 

 

MSCI Climate Solutions. With MSCI’s Climate Solutions, investors and issuers utilize our climate data and tools to support their investment decision making. These activities can include measuring and reporting on climate risk exposure, implementing low carbon fossil-fuel-free strategies, factoring climate change research into risk management processes and engaging companies and external stakeholders. In 2021, we launched our Climate Lab Enterprise analytics product, which provides a comprehensive view of climate risk across enterprises, strategies, portfolios and companies (see “—Analytics” above).

 

MSCI ESG ratings and certain other ESG and climate data provided to our clients are also made available to, and used in, our other operating segments, such as in the construction of MSCI ESG and climate equity and fixed income indexes. These Index products are designed to help institutional investors more effectively benchmark ESG investment performance, issue indexed investment products, as well as manage, measure and report on ESG mandates.  

 

For a description of regulation applicable to MSCI ESG Research LLC, see “—Government Regulation” below.

 

For the year ended December 31, 2021, 8.1% of our revenues were attributable to our ESG and Climate segment.

All Other – Private Assets

 

For reporting purposes, our Real Estate and Burgiss operating segments are combined and presented as All Other – Private Assets.

 

Our Real Estate offerings include real estate market and transaction data, benchmarks, return-analytics, climate assessments and market insights for funds, investors, managers and other real estate market participants. In September 2021, we completed our acquisition of RCA to meaningfully accelerate our Private Asset strategy. RCA’s rich transaction and pricing data enhances our offering to clients and allows us to integrate this information in other MSCI products including indexes, climate risk models and other MSCI solutions.

 

Our Real Estate performance and risk analytics range from enterprise-wide to property-specific analytics. We also provide business intelligence products to real estate owners, managers, developers and brokers worldwide. Some of the risk analytics generated as part of our Real Estate offerings are also used in the products offered by our other operating segments.

 

 

4 

Does not include subsidiary-level companies.

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Our Real Estate offerings include:

 

 

 

MSCI Global Intel. Our Global Intel offering is an industry-leading private real estate database that is used by institutional investors, asset managers, banks, custodians and investment consultants to drive allocation decisions, research and strategy developments, and portfolio and risk management. This tool comprises a consolidated set of global, regional, national, city and submarket indexes with segmentation by property type.    

 

 

MSCI Real Estate Enterprise Analytics. Our Real Estate Enterprise Analytics application offers an interactive, integrated view to private real estate investors and managers, providing them with the ability to evaluate and analyze the drivers of portfolio performance across an organization’s investments, as well as review exposures and concentrations across markets, asset types and increasingly diverse portfolios.

 

 

MSCI Real Estate Climate Value-at-Risk (“RE Climate VaR”). Our RE Climate VaR solution provides forward-looking and return-based valuation assessments to measure climate-related risks for real estate assets in an investment portfolio. By calculating transition risk from changing legislation, regulation and sustainability strategies as well as physical risk from extreme weather impacts, RE Climate VaR offers a framework for investors to improve portfolio performance, risk management, regulatory reporting and progress towards broader sustainability goals.

 

 

Real Capital Analytics. RCA aggregates timely and reliable transaction data and provides valuable intelligence on market pricing, capital flows and investment trends in more than 170 countries. Our clients use this unique insight to formulate strategies, source new opportunities and execute deals.

 

 

Datscha. Datscha provides web-based services for the analysis of commercial real estate and offers comprehensive information on real estate, rental levels, property holdings, transactions, ownership, occupiers, footfall, lease data and the ability to simulate market values.

 

For the year ended December 31, 2021, 4.0% of our revenues were attributable to our Real Estate offerings.

 

Research and Product Development

 

We apply an integrated team approach to developing content across our operating segments. Our product management, research and product development, data operations and technology, and application development departments are at the center of this process. Our content is developed by a research and product development team comprised of mathematicians, economists, statisticians, financial engineers and investment industry experts.  Content created in one segment can often be used for the creation of products in another segment. For example, the MAC models created in our Analytics segment offer a view of risk across market and asset classes, including private real estate, by incorporating content generated in the Real Estate segment, and MSCI ESG indexes and our new Climate Lab Enterprise analytics product are constructed using data from our ESG and Climate segment.

 

Through our relationships with the world’s largest investment institutions, we monitor investment trends and their drivers globally and support instrument valuation, risk modeling, portfolio construction, portfolio attribution, asset allocation and VaR simulation. An important way we monitor global investment trends and their implications for our business is through direct public consultations and client advisory panels and through the forum provided by our Advisory Council. Our Advisory Council typically meets twice during the year to discuss current and emerging investment industry trends and is comprised of senior investment professionals from around the world and senior members of our research and product development team.

 

Technology

 

Technology plays a pivotal role in our operations and our ability to innovate and launch products and services. Current areas of focus include:

 

 

Migrating products, data and services onto a cloud platform to accelerate the delivery of new capabilities that will help investors more swiftly and efficiently manage data and understand the drivers of risk and performance, drive automation across our corporate processes and minimize data center risks.

 

 

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Improving the client experience by enhancing the way clients access, interact with and use our data, applications and other tools, including by developing and launching our new open-architecture ISaaS services, many of which can integrate with our clients’ existing ecosystems via APIs.

 

 

Enhancing data processing by expanding our use of data science and machine learning in our data collection processes to enable us to more efficiently build scale and facilitate faster product enhancements and releases while also maintaining the highest quality standards.

 

 

Modernizing our workplace to better support a remote and hybrid workforce that can collaborate and productively work from anywhere.

 

Enhancing information security by further strengthening our technology infrastructure and software security processes. We implement changes and upgrades to technology regularly and maintain processes to minimize risk on an ongoing basis, and we seek to improve employee awareness of cyber and information security issues through training.

Competition

 

Index. Many industry participants compete with us by offering one or more indexes in similar categories. Such indexes vary widely in scope, including by geographic region, business sector and weighting methodology, and may be used by clients in a variety of ways in many different markets around the world.  Among our Index competitors are S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC (a joint venture of S&P Global Inc. and CME Group Inc.); FTSE Russell, a subsidiary of the London Stock Exchange Group PLC; and Solactive AG.

 

Competition also exists from industry participants, including asset managers and investment banks, that create their own indexes, often in cooperation with index providers, which may, among other things, provide some form of calculation agent service. Some asset managers also manage funds, including ETFs, based on their proprietary indexes, and some investment banks launch structured products or create over-the-counter derivatives based on their proprietary indexes. This is often referred to as self-indexing.

 

Analytics. Our Analytics offerings compete with those from a range of competitors, including Qontigo (formerly Axioma Inc.), BlackRock Solutions, Bloomberg Finance L.P., and FactSet Research Systems Inc. Additionally, some of the larger broker-dealers have developed proprietary analytics tools for their clients. Similarly, some of the large global investment organizations, such as custodians, have developed internal risk management and performance analytics tools that they offer to their clients.

 

ESG and Climate. Our ESG and Climate offerings compete with a growing number of companies that issue ESG data, ratings or research. For example, our ESG and Climate offerings compete with those from a range of competitors, including Sustainalytics Holding B.V. (a part of Morningstar, Inc.), Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. (majority owned by Deutsche Börse AG), Trucost (an S&P Global Inc. business) and Refinitiv (a London Stock Exchange Group business).

 

All Other – Private Assets.  We also have a variety of competitors for our other offerings that comprise a smaller portion of our revenues, including a growing number of companies that provide data, market intelligence, indexes, and performance and risk attribution services relating to real estate and other private assets.

 

Intellectual Property, Other Proprietary Rights and Sources of Data

 

We consider many aspects of our offerings, processes and services to be proprietary. We have registered “MSCI” and other marks as trademarks or service marks in the United States and in certain other countries. We will continue to evaluate the registration of additional trademarks and service marks as appropriate. From time to time, we have also filed patent applications to protect our proprietary rights. Additionally, many of our offerings, processes and services require the use of intellectual property that we license for use from third parties. It may be necessary in the future to seek or renew licenses relating to various aspects of our offerings and services. Our ownership and protection of intellectual property and other proprietary rights and our ability to obtain the rights to use third-party intellectual property are important to our business and contribute in part to our overall success.

 

In addition to our intellectual property, we rely on third-party data to create and deliver our products and services. For example, we require certain stock exchange data to construct equity indexes. Termination of or

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disputes regarding our rights to receive or use such data could limit the information available for us to use or distribute in connection with our products and services.  

 

Corporate Responsibility

 

As a leader in providing ESG and climate solutions to investors, we also aim to demonstrate leading corporate responsibility practices and policies that are meaningful to our various stakeholders, including our clients, employees, shareholders and local communities. The Governance and Corporate Responsibility Committee of our Board of Directors provides oversight of our corporate responsibility strategy and activities.

 

Recently we have implemented initiatives to reduce our impact on the environment and promote sustainability. We are committed to continuing to develop and enhance our climate-focused strategies. As part of our corporate responsibility efforts, in 2021 we published our first United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) report and our first Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulations (SFDR) report. We have also published a Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) report, a Sustainability Accounting Standard Board (SASB) report and a Climate Disclosure Project (CDP) report.

 

Additional information on our corporate responsibility efforts, including our net-zero commitment and carbon-reduction initiatives, can be found on our website at https://www.msci.com/who-we-are/corporate-responsibility. Information contained on our website is not deemed part of or incorporated by reference into this Annual Report on Form 10-K or any other report filed with the SEC.

 

Human Capital Management

MSCI is committed to creating a performance culture with high employee engagement. Our talent and leadership development programs are designed to ensure we have the people and skills in place to deliver on MSCI’s strategy, including a workplace that values and promotes diversity, equity and inclusion.

The Compensation, Talent and Culture Committee of our Board of Directors has oversight over talent management matters, including efforts relating to our corporate culture, progression planning, career progression and retention strategies, and learning and leadership development programs. In addition, our Chief Human Resources Officer and our Chief Diversity Officer report to our Board on our initiatives on diversity, equity and inclusion. We also engage with our shareholders around our talent initiatives, including our efforts to strengthen and promote a culture of inclusion and diversity.

The Board periodically reviews our executive talent including our leadership bench and succession planning. Our CEO and President also meet regularly with our functions to review talent plans with an aim to identify top talent who have the most potential to progress to the senior-most roles at MSCI.

In January 2022, following an extensive organizational design assessment conducted in 2021, we announced a number of organization and senior leadership changes, as well as expanded our Executive Committee to reflect MSCI’s ambition to serve as an indispensable partner to clients and the investment community. This expansion brings together and elevates more of the senior leaders who drive MSCI’s strategy and operations into MSCI’s primary leadership committee. The new members of the Executive Committee increase the representation from operating functions, in particular, Research, Technology and Data, and Private Assets. Additional information on our Executive Committee can be found be found at https://www.msci.com/who-we-are/our-leadership. Information contained on our website is not deemed part of or incorporated by reference into this Annual Report on Form 10-K or any other report filed with the SEC.

 

MSCI is a global company with a highly diverse footprint. As of December 31, 2021, we employed 4,303 people, of which 47.4% of MSCI employees were located in the Asia Pacific region, 23.3% in Europe, Middle East and Africa, 20.6% in the U.S. and Canada, and 8.7% in Mexico and Brazil.  For the one-year period ended December 31, 2021, voluntary turnover was 12.5% and involuntary turnover was 2.3%.

 

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

At MSCI, diversity, equity and inclusion are core values of our culture. We strive to empower our people to maximize their potential in an environment where all individuals are respected and encouraged to bring their authentic selves to work. This culture embraces diverse experiences and perspectives, which we believe foster creativity and innovation. As of December 31, 2021, women represented 35.2% of our global employees, and people of color (defined as those who identify as Asian, Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian

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or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander or two or more races) represented 46.1% of our U.S. employees and 41.6% of our U.S. employees in management roles5. The U.S. represents 19.9% of our global workforce.

 

In 2021, we appointed our first Chief Diversity Officer, who is responsible for operating across MSCI to align our diversity, equity and inclusion goals with business outcomes. Our Executive Diversity Council (the “EDC”) champions a diverse and inclusive culture by advising on corporate initiatives and facilitating collaboration across MSCI. Members of the EDC partner with our employee resource groups (the Women’s Leadership Forum, Women in Tech, MSCI Pride, the Black Leadership Network, Asian Support Network (formed in 2021), All Abilities Network (formed in 2021) and Hola! MSCI (formed in 2021)) to raise awareness, conduct events around the globe and serve as sponsors in their respective locations.

 

Our Employer Brand Council and the Diversity Engagement and Sourcing team focus on:

 

 

building and communicating the MSCI employer brand with the aim of bringing to life and showcasing our culture;

 

attracting and developing diverse talent for current and future roles;

 

building early career and internal pipeline programs that focus on diversity and inclusion across a range of factors, including gender, race, ethnicity, LGBTQ+ and socio-economic considerations;

 

forging relationships at institutions worldwide that promote diversity; and

 

building relationships with external partners and increasing our visibility (including through the use of social media) to better position MSCI’s programs and opportunities with new networks.

The team not only aims to create a pipeline of diverse talent for MSCI but also works to position MSCI more broadly as a leading organization that puts diversity, equity and inclusion at the center of its strategy. We believe that a diverse team is a stronger team and an important part of our success.

 

Additional information on our diversity metrics and programs can be found on our website at https://www.msci.com/who-we-are/corporate-responsibility/social-responsibility/diversity-equity-and-inclusion. Information contained on our website is not deemed part of or incorporated by reference into this Annual Report on Form 10-K or any other report filed with the SEC.

 

Compensation, Benefits and Well-being

We offer a broad range of highly competitive compensation and benefits programs to our employees and their families, including same-sex domestic partners. These programs include health and welfare benefits, including an Employee Assistance Program; enhanced maternity and paternity leave policies, including a Global Minimum Standard applicable to all offices worldwide; contributions to defined contribution and defined benefit pensions plans globally and Health Savings Accounts in the U.S.; life insurance; a global wellness initiative that can help employees improve their health and well-being; presentations on well-being topics, including retirement planning, parenting, meditation, stress management and nutrition; ergonomic equipment and desk assessments; and wellness rooms in all MSCI office locations.

 

Compensation at MSCI supports a culture of high performance and accountability. Our goal is to provide competitive compensation in the markets where we compete for talent. We believe in linking all employee compensation to Company, Product/Function and individual performance by making 100% of our employees eligible for annual cash bonuses. We strongly differentiate cash bonus payouts based on actual results against goals and for managers, how effectively they demonstrate behaviors consistent with our values and culture.

 

Senior employees of the Company and select other employees are eligible to participate in the MSCI Long-Term Incentive Program with awards of MSCI stock that vest over a multi-year period. The goal of the Long-Term Incentive Program is to: (i) align the interests of eligible employees with those of our shareholders, (ii) enhance our “owner-operator” philosophy, (iii) recognize and reward potential long-term contributions, (iv) retain key leaders and top performers.

 

In June 2020, MSCI announced an innovation initiative called the Future of Work at MSCI, and we began implementing this initiative in January 2022. For most of our employees, the Future of Work introduced a hybrid work environment allowing employees to work at times at the office and other times remotely, depending on the requirements of a specific role. As we continue to adapt and iterate how we work, employee feedback will remain central to this initiative.

 

Cultivating Talent and Employee Engagement

MSCI is committed to investing in employee learning and development. Throughout the year, we offer tools and workshops to help employees better understand how their work aligns with MSCI’s overall strategy, seek and receive real-time and transparent feedback and coaching, successfully deliver on their goals, and more effectively plan and develop their careers.

 

MSCI conducts an employee engagement survey at least annually that measures whether our approaches to performance, growth and career development are driving employee engagement. Managers receive anonymous feedback and are accountable for improving and enhancing the work environment to drive higher engagement. In our December 2021 employee engagement survey, we achieved a 79% response rate and the percentage of respondents characterized as fully engaged equaled the highest since we implemented the engagement survey (not including employees from RCA, a newly acquired business).

 

Additional information on our training programs and engagement metrics can be found on our website at https://www.msci.com/who-we-are/corporate-responsibility/social-responsibility/cultivating-talent. Information contained on our website is not deemed part of or incorporated by reference into this Annual Report on Form 10-K or any other report filed with the SEC.

 

Supporting our Employees Through COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored for us the importance of keeping our employees safe and healthy. In response to the pandemic, we immediately implemented an employee communication strategy that was direct, transparent and inclusive. Through townhalls, firmwide e-mail communications and broad cross-functional meetings, management delivered key messages around employee safety and well-being, leadership, remaining productive, engaging with clients, promoting community and having empathy for others. We also increased communications around employee assistance programs that provide mental health and emotional well-being support, and resources to help manage stress and care for individuals and their families. Finally, we paid for or reimbursed employees for the cost of COVID-19 testing and enhanced our sick leave policies.

At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic our technology infrastructure allowed us to seamlessly transition to a remote work environment. We increased technology effectiveness to allow our employees to remain fully engaged, productive and well. We also provided individualized support and equipment to our employees as needed to facilitate productivity. We continue to closely monitor and manage the situation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and follow the recommended practices and guidelines from the World Health Organization as well as local requirements where our offices are located globally.

As noted above, in January 2022, we transitioned to our Future of Work at MSCI, which introduced increased flexibility to how and where employees work, reimagined our use of our offices and modernized technology to enhance MSCI’s interactions with clients and employees. For most of our employees, the Future of Work introduced a hybrid work environment allowing employees to work flexibly, sometimes at the office and other times remotely, based on the requirements of their specific roles. The Future of Work at MSCI unites our inclusive culture with modern ways of working to give employees the accountability, responsibility and empowerment to perform at their very best, while keeping our clients at the center of all we do. We believe these efforts will be iterative and adaptable, and feedback from our employees will be critical to ensure this initiative remains relevant and positions MSCI and its employees for success.

 


 

5 

Management roles are employees in Managing Director, Executive Director or Vice President roles.

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Government Regulation

 

The Company is subject to reporting, disclosure and recordkeeping obligations pursuant to SEC requirements applicable to U.S. public companies.

 

Pursuant to the European Union’s benchmark regulation, the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority (“UK FCA”) authorized MSCI Limited (a subsidiary of MSCI Inc.) to be the benchmark administrator for applicable MSCI indexes. Information about index regulation is periodically updated on our website at https://www.msci.com/index-regulation. The contents of our website, including this webpage, are not, however, a part of or incorporated by reference in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

MSCI ESG Research LLC is a registered investment adviser and must comply with the requirements of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (the “Advisers Act”) and related SEC regulations. Such requirements relate to, among other things, disclosure obligations, recordkeeping and reporting requirements, marketing restrictions and general anti-fraud prohibitions. It is possible that in addition to MSCI ESG Research LLC, other entities in our corporate family may be required to register as an investment adviser under the Advisers Act or comply with similar laws or requirements in states or foreign jurisdictions.

 

A subsidiary of the Company is registered with the State Council Information Office of the Ministry of Commerce and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce in China as a foreign institution supplying financial information services in China. This license is currently administered by the Cyberspace Administration of China.

Information About Our Executive Officers

 

Name

  

Age

  

Position

Henry A. Fernandez

  

63

  

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

C.D. Baer Pettit

  

57

  

President and Chief Operating Officer

Andrew C. Wiechmann

  

42

  

Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Robert J. Gutowski

  

54

  

General Counsel

Scott A. Crum

  

65

  

Chief Human Resources Officer

 

There are no family relationships between any of our executive officers and any director or other executive officer of the Company.

Henry A. Fernandez

Mr. Fernandez has served as Chairman since October 2007 and as Chief Executive Officer and a director since 1998. He also served as head of the MSCI business from 1996 to 1998 and as President from 1998 to October 2017. Before leading MSCI’s transition to becoming a fully independent, standalone public company in 2007, he was a Managing Director at Morgan Stanley, where he worked in emerging markets business strategy, equity derivatives sales and trading, mergers and acquisitions, and corporate and mortgage finance. Mr. Fernandez worked for Morgan Stanley from 1983 to 1991 and from 1994 to 2007. Mr. Fernandez also serves on boards of directors/trustees at Royalty Pharma plc, Stanford University, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and its affiliate, KIMC, the Hoover Institution, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the Foreign Policy Association, and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York. Mr. Fernandez previously served on the boards of trustees at Georgetown University, the Trinity School, The Browning School and MexDer (Mexican Derivatives Exchange) and was the Chair of the Advisory Council at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in economics from Georgetown University, an M.B.A. from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business and pursued doctoral studies in economics at Princeton University.

C.D. Baer Pettit

Mr. Pettit has served as the Company's President since October 2017 and the Company’s Chief Operating Officer since January 2020. As President and Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Pettit oversees the Company's business functions, including client coverage, marketing, product management, research and product development, technology and operations. He previously served as Chief Operating Officer from 2015 to 2017, Head of the Product Group from February 2015 to September 2015, Head of Index Products from 2011 to 2015, Head of Marketing from 2005 to 2012 and Head of Client Coverage from 2001 to 2012. Prior to joining the Company, Mr. Pettit worked for

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Bloomberg L.P. from 1992 to 1999. Mr. Pettit holds a Master of Arts degree in history from Cambridge University and a Master of Science degree from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

Andrew C. Wiechmann

Mr. Wiechmann has served as the Company’s Chief Financial Officer since September 2020 and our Treasurer since November 2021. Mr. Wiechmann previously served as Chief Strategy Officer from May 2019 to September 2020, Interim Chief Financial Officer from March 2019 to May 2019, Head of Strategy and Corporate Development from July 2012 to March 2019, Head of Investor Relations from December 2017 to March 2019 and Head of Financial Planning & Analysis from July 2015 to December 2017. Prior to joining MSCI in 2012, Mr. Wiechmann was an investment banker at Morgan Stanley where he executed M&A and capital markets transactions for financial technology and specialty finance companies, including advising MSCI on its IPO and various acquisitions. Mr. Wiechmann holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in Physics and Economics from Hamilton College.

Robert J. Gutowski

Mr. Gutowski has served as the Company’s General Counsel since January 2020. Mr. Gutowski previously served as the Company’s Deputy General Counsel and the Head of Compliance from 2010 to 2019 and the Head of Internal Audit from 2012 to 2019. He joined MSCI in 2002. Prior to joining MSCI, he was an attorney in private practice at Rogers & Wells LLP and Clifford Chance LLP. He received his B.A. from Georgetown University and his J.D. from the State University of New York at Buffalo Law School.

Scott A. Crum

Mr. Crum has served as the Company’s Chief Human Resources Officer since April 2014. Prior to joining MSCI, Mr. Crum served as global head of human resources for four publicly traded companies. Mr. Crum worked for Avon Products, Inc. as Senior Vice President of Human Resources and Chief People Officer from 2012 to 2013. From 2010 to 2012, Mr. Crum served as Senior Vice President and Chief People Officer of Motorola Mobility Holdings, Inc., one of two publicly traded companies formally created when Motorola Inc. split in January 2011 until it was acquired by Google. Prior to that, he served as the Senior Vice President and Director of Human Resources of ITT Corporation from 2002 to 2010 and Senior Vice President of Administration and Employee Resources at General Instruments Corp. from 1997 to 2000. Mr. Crum holds a Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in industrial relations from Southern Methodist University.

Available Information

Our corporate headquarters is located at 7 World Trade Center, 250 Greenwich Street, 49th Floor, New York, New York, 10007, and our telephone number is (212) 804-3900. We maintain a website on the internet at www.msci.com. The contents of our website are not a part of or incorporated by reference in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

We file annual, quarterly and current reports, proxy statements and other information with the SEC. The SEC maintains a website that contains reports, proxy and information statements and other information that we file electronically with the SEC at www.sec.gov. We also make available free of charge, on or through our website, these reports, proxy statements and other information as soon as reasonably practicable following the time they are electronically filed with or furnished to the SEC. To access these, click on the “SEC Filings” link under the “Financial Information” tab found on our Investor Relations homepage (http://ir.msci.com).

We also use our Investor Relations homepage, Corporate Responsibility homepage and corporate Twitter account (@MSCI_Inc) as channels of distribution of Company information. The information we post through these channels may be deemed material.

Accordingly, investors should monitor these channels, in addition to following our press releases, SEC filings and public conference calls and webcasts. In addition, you may automatically receive email alerts and other information about us when you enroll your email address by visiting the “Email Alert Subscription” section of our Investor Relations homepage at http://ir.msci.com/alerts.cfm. The contents of our website, including our Investor Relations homepage, Corporate Responsibility homepage and social media channels are not, however, a part of or incorporated by reference in this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

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Item 1A.

Risk Factors

You should carefully consider the following risks and all of the other information set forth in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. If any of the following risks actually occurs, our business, financial condition or results of operations could be materially and adversely affected. You should read the section titled “Forward-Looking Statements” on page 1 for a description of the types of statements that are considered forward-looking statements, as well as the significance of such statements in the context of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. This information should be read in conjunction with "Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Result of Operations" and the consolidated financial statements and related notes. These factors could cause our future results to differ materially from our historical results and from expectations reflected in forward-looking statements.

Summary of Risk Factors

 

Our business is subject to numerous risks and uncertainties, discussed in more detail in the following section. These risks include, among others, the following key risks:

 

 

Our dependence on third parties to supply data, applications and services for our products and services and on certain vendors to distribute our products;

 

Undetected errors, defects, malfunctions or similar problems in our products leading to increased costs or liability;

 

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic or other widespread health crises;

 

Our exposure to potential reputational and credibility concerns;

 

The possibility that our clients seek to negotiate lower asset-based fees or cease using our indexes as the basis for indexed investment products;

 

Cancellations or reductions by any of our largest clients and/or reduced demand for our products or services;

 

The impact of failures, disruptions, instability or vulnerabilities in our information technology systems or applications;

 

Our inability to ensure and protect the confidentiality of data;

 

Our exposure to cyber-attacks or failures of our cyber-security plans, systems or procedures;

 

Unanticipated failures, interruptions or delays in the performance or delivery of our products as a result of the adoption of new technologies;

 

Security vulnerabilities resulting from our use of open source code;

 

The impact of changes in the global capital markets;

 

The effects on us from competition and financial and budgetary pressures affecting our clients;

 

Our need to successfully develop new and enhanced products and services in order to remain competitive;

 

The impact of our global operations and any future expansion on management and our exposure to additional issues from our increased global footprint;

 

New regulations or changes to current regulations;

 

Our inability to protect our intellectual property rights;

 

The impact of foreign currency exchange rate fluctuation;

 

The impact of our indebtedness on our financial flexibility;

 

The impact of changes in our credit ratings; and

 

Our exposure to tax liabilities in various jurisdictions.

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Operational Risks

We are dependent on third parties to supply data, applications and services for our products and services and are dependent on certain vendors to distribute our products. A refusal or failure by a key vendor to distribute our products or any loss of key outside suppliers of data, applications or services or a reduction in the accuracy or quality of such data, applications or services or any failure by us to comply with our suppliers’ or distributors’ licensing requirements could impair our ability to provide our clients with our products and services, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

We rely on third-party suppliers of data, applications and services, including data from stock exchanges (“Vendor Products”), and depend on the accuracy and quality of Vendor Products and the ability and willingness of such suppliers to deliver, support, enhance and develop new Vendor Products on a timely and cost-effective basis, and respond to emerging industry needs and other changes in order to produce, deliver and develop our products and services. Additionally, we depend on clients to supply certain data in order to provide our services to them. Any failure to supply, errors or reduction in the amount, accuracy or quality of such data supplied from clients impairs our ability to provide them with our products and services.

If Vendor Products include errors, design defects, are delayed, become incompatible with future versions of our products, are unavailable on acceptable terms or are not available at all, we may not be able to deliver our products and services. In addition, in the ordinary course suppliers of Vendor Products are subject to various forms of cyber-attacks. Breaches of our suppliers’ systems and networks may cause material interruptions or malfunctions in our or such suppliers’ websites, applications or data processing, or may compromise the confidentiality and integrity of affected information.

Some of our agreements with third-party suppliers allow them to cancel on short notice and from time to time we receive notices from third-party suppliers threatening to terminate the provision of their products or services to us, and some data suppliers have terminated the provision of their data to us. Termination of the provision of Vendor Products by one or more of our significant suppliers or exclusion from, or restricted use of, or litigation in connection with Vendor Products could decrease the data and materials available for us to use and deliver to our clients. In addition, some of our competitors could enter into exclusive contracts with our data suppliers, including with certain stock exchanges. If our competitors enter into such exclusive contracts, we may be precluded from receiving certain data or other materials from these suppliers or restricted in our use of such data or other materials, which would give our competitors a competitive advantage. Such exclusive contracts could hinder our ability to create our products and services or to provide our clients with the data or other products or services they prefer, which could lead to a decrease in our client base.

Despite our efforts to comply with the licensing requirements of Vendor Products, our use of certain Vendor Products has been challenged in the past and there can be no assurance that third parties may not challenge our use in the future, resulting in increased acquisition or licensing costs, loss of rights and/or costly legal actions. Our business could be materially adversely affected if we are unable to timely or effectively replace the data or functionality provided by Vendor Products that become unavailable or fail to operate effectively for any reason. Our operating costs could increase if additional license fees are imposed or current license fees increase or the efforts to incorporate enhancements to Vendor Products are substantial and we are unable to negotiate acceptable licensing arrangements with these suppliers or find alternative sources of equivalent products or services. If any of these risks materialize, they could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

We also rely on certain third-party vendors to distribute our data to clients. While some of our vendors generate revenue in connection with distributing our data, others do not derive a direct financial benefit. Should any of our key vendors refuse to distribute our data for any reason or require that we pay them new or additional fees in connection with the distribution of our data, we would need to find alternative ways to distribute our data or lose revenue or profitability for certain products, which may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

If our products contain undetected errors or fail to perform properly due to defects, malfunctions or similar problems, we may, among other things, become subject to increased costs or liability based on the use of our products or services to support our clients’ investment processes, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Our products and services support the investment processes of our clients, which relate to, in the aggregate, trillions of dollars in assets. Products or services we develop or license may contain undetected errors or defects despite testing or other quality assurance practices. Use of our products or services as part of the investment process

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creates the risk that our clients, the parties whose assets are managed by our clients, investors in investment products linked to our indexes, the companies that we rate or assess in our ESG solutions or the shareholders of those companies, may pursue claims against us based on even a small error in our data, calculations, methodologies or analysis or a malfunction or failure in our systems, products or services.

Errors or defects can exist at any point in a product’s lifecycle, but are frequently found after introduction of new products or services or enhancements to existing products. We continually introduce new methodologies and products, and new versions of and updates to our existing products or services. Despite internal testing and in some cases testing or use by clients, our products or services may contain errors in our data, calculations, methodologies or analysis, including serious defects or malfunctions. If we detect any errors before we release or deliver a product or service or publish a methodology or analysis, we might have to suspend or delay the product or service release or delivery for an extended period of time while we address the problem. We may not discover errors that affect our products or services or enhancements until after they are deployed, and we may need to provide enhancements or corrections to address such errors, and in certain cases it may be impracticable to do so. If undetected errors exist in our products or services, or if our products or services fail to perform properly due to defects, malfunctions or similar problems, it could result in harm to our brand or reputation, significantly increased costs, lost sales, delays in commercial release, third-party claims, contractual disputes, negative publicity, delays in or loss of market acceptance of our products or services, license terminations or renegotiations and/or unexpected expenses and diversion of resources to remedy or mitigate such errors, defects or malfunctions. The realization of any of these events could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

While we have provisions in our client contracts that are designed to limit our liability from claims brought by our clients or third parties relating to our products or services, these provisions could be invalidated or fail to adequately limit our liability. In addition, clients also increasingly require us to provide contractual assurances regarding our risk management and security practices or policies, and many of our clients in the financial services sector are subject to regulations and requirements to adopt risk management processes to oversee their third-party relationships. Contractual disputes could result in the provision of credits, adverse monetary judgments and other penalties and damages. Any such claims brought against us, even if the outcome were to be ultimately favorable to us, would require attention of our management, personnel, financial and other resources and could have a negative impact on our reputation or pose a significant disruption to our normal business operations. In addition, the duration or outcome of such claims and lawsuits is difficult to predict, which could further exacerbate the adverse effect they may have on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

The COVID-19 pandemic, or other widespread health crises, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant economic disruption, including volatility in the global equity markets. Our operations have been affected by a range of external factors related to the COVID-19 pandemic that are not within our control, including the imposition in many jurisdictions of a wide range of restrictions on the physical movement of our employees and vendors to limit the spread of COVID-19. Even though some initial measures have been relaxed, certain restrictions have been reinstated as new variants of COVID-19 have emerged, and other measures may be put back into place or increased if the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic continues or increases in the future. While we were not materially impacted in 2021, due to ongoing uncertainty related to the duration, magnitude and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the volatile regional and global economic conditions stemming from the pandemic, its potential effects on our business are uncertain and difficult to predict, but may include:

 

significant failures, errors, delays, disruptions or instability affecting our key products or services, vendors, suppliers, distributors, information technology platforms, data centers, production and delivery systems, applications or processes, including those that negatively affect our ability to calculate, process or distribute our products or service our clients effectively;

 

adverse equity market conditions, volatility in the financial markets and unforeseen investment trends resulting in a reduction in our asset-based fees, increased cancellations and reduced demand for our products and services;

 

prolonged selling cycles and increased pressures to reduce our fees on account of heightened financial and budgetary pressures affecting our clients (for example, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we selectively gave clients access to services licensed under a subscription agreement prior to the beginning of the fee period at no cost to help drive business in key areas);

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an inability to sustain revenue growth through obtaining new clients and achieving and maintaining a high level of renewal rates with respect to our existing clients;

 

delays in our ability to collect on our accounts receivables;

 

increasing tax costs as the jurisdictions in which we do business globally may seek to generate additional revenues to offset revenue shortfalls created by the challenging operating environment and stimulus packages;  

 

a deterioration of worldwide credit and financial markets that could limit our ability to obtain necessary external financing to fund our operations and capital expenditures; and

 

increased strain on our workforce, management and other resources, including employee absenteeism, complications from working remotely and illness of key personnel.

These effects, alone or taken together, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations. If the COVID-19 pandemic is sustained or prolonged, these effects could be exacerbated. Additionally, many of the other risk factors described in this Item may be exacerbated or the likelihood of such risks materializing may be increased by global widespread health crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the volatile regional and global economic conditions stemming from the pandemic and responses to the pandemic.

We cannot assure you that we will be successful in our attempts to mitigate any negative effects of this global pandemic on our business, including implementing our business continuity plans and processes, transitioning to remote and flexible-work models globally, proactively reducing costs intended to allow us to protect against further downside revenue risk, and investing in additional initiatives to support our long-term growth, while also focusing on maintaining liquidity and capital structure flexibility.

We closely monitor the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and continually assess its potential effects on our business and take appropriate actions in accordance with the recommendations and requirements of relevant authorities. The extent to which the COVID-19 pandemic may impact our operational and financial performance remains uncertain and will depend on many factors outside of our control, including the timing, extent, trajectory and duration of the pandemic; the emergence, spread and severity of new variants of COVID-19; the development, availability, distribution and effectiveness of vaccines and treatments; the imposition of protective public safety measures, including vaccine and testing mandates; and the impact of the pandemic on the global economy, including financial markets.

This situation is changing rapidly, and additional effects may arise that we are not presently aware of or that we currently do not consider significant risks to our operations. If we are not able to respond to and manage the impact of such events effectively, our business, financial condition or results of operations may be negatively impacted.

 

MSCI is exposed to potential reputational and credibility concerns.

 

To the extent that any of MSCI’s operating segments or product lines or MSCI as a whole suffers a reputational or other loss in credibility, it could have a material adverse impact on MSCI’s business. Real or perceived factors that may have already affected credibility, or which could potentially have an impact in this regard, include: the appearance of a conflict of interest; the editorial independence of our index composition and ESG rating and assessment processes and decisions; the influence of third parties, including governments and large investors or asset owners, on our editorial decisions; the performance of companies relative to their ESG ratings, index inclusion, risk characteristics or other MSCI content or analytics; the timing and nature of changes to our indexes or ESG ratings and assessments; disagreement with our methodologies or models, including for calculating indexes, value-at-risk and other risk measures, ESG ratings and assessments, data, information and analysis; the accuracy and completeness of our data; views expressed by the media, politicians, other government officials or representatives, regulators or other third parties regarding our company or our industry or our role in the investment process; our own sustainability and corporate responsibility policies or practices, including as a result of (i) failure to meet publicly disclosed ESG and climate-related targets or goals, or (ii) misalignment with evolving market standards or the methodologies and standards used in our products and ESG ratings; and the impact of political tensions relating to countries, industries, companies or issues relevant to our products and services, such as the inclusion of certain Chinese companies in our indexes or the focus on sustainable investing and climate considerations in our offerings. In some cases, our ESG and Climate offerings, such as our company ESG ratings and our Net-Zero Tracker, may insert MSCI into a public spotlight or debate regarding the environment, social concerns or corporate responsibility. In addition, our position as a leading source of ESG research, ratings, data and

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assessments may at times become contentious or controversial and lead to disputes with companies or investors or other interested stakeholders and create negative media or regulatory attention. Errors and other actions by MSCI competitors could also damage the reputation of the industries that we operate in and, therefore, harm the reputation of the Company or certain of our products. In addition, we believe that MSCI’s corporate culture and reputation contribute to our ability to attract and retain talent, and reputational damage could negatively affect both our hiring and employee retention. Damage to our reputation, brand or credibility could have a material adverse impact on MSCI’s business, financial condition or results of operations.

Client Risks

Our clients that pay us a fee based on the assets under management or total expense ratio of an indexed investment product may seek to negotiate a lower asset-based fee percentage or lower the total expense ratio of such products or may cease using our indexes, which could limit the growth of or decrease our revenues from asset-based fees.

A portion of our revenues are from asset-based fees and these revenue streams are concentrated in some of our largest clients, including BlackRock, and in our largest market, the U.S. Our clients, including our largest clients, may seek for a variety of reasons to negotiate to pay us lower asset-based fee percentages, which are sometimes calculated as a percentage of the relevant product’s total expense ratio (“TER”). Additionally, competition is intense among our clients that offer or manage indexed investment products, including ETFs, and low fees are one of the competitive differentiators. Where an investment product’s TER determines our fees, a reduction in the TER may negatively impact our revenues. Additionally, our clients, including our largest clients, may seek to renegotiate existing asset-based fee models with the objective of achieving lower fees, either on a rate basis or in aggregate, which may have a negative impact on our operating revenues.

Moreover, clients that have licensed our indexes to serve as the basis of indexed investment products are generally not required to continue to use our indexes and could elect at any time to cease offering the investment product or switch to using a non-MSCI index. Clients that license our indexes to serve as the basis for listed futures and options contracts might also discontinue such contracts. Additionally, we have a differentiated licensing strategy for our indexes and from time to time experience faster growth from lower fee products, resulting in a lower average asset-based fee percentage from indexed investment products. While we aim to maximize the price and volume trade-off over the long-term, there can be no assurance that we will be able to do so. Results for any given quarter could be materially adversely affected by stronger growth in assets in indexed investment products with lower-than-average fees not sufficiently offset by growth in assets in indexed investment products with higher-than-average fees. Our asset-based fees could dramatically decrease, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations. Finally, to the extent that multiple investment products are based on the same index, (i) assets under management in one product could shift to products that pay MSCI lower fee levels, (ii) the products could compete for the same assets such that none of the products becomes large enough to be successful or sustained, or (iii) the failure or discontinuance of one product (e.g., derivatives used for hedging) could have a detrimental effect on the use of the other products (e.g., ETFs).

Cancellations or reductions by any of our largest clients could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

A material portion of our revenues is concentrated in some of our largest customers. For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2021, our largest client organization by revenue, BlackRock, accounted for 12.7% of our total revenues. For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020, BlackRock accounted for 11.0% of our total revenues. Our revenue growth depends on our ability to obtain new clients, sell additional services to existing clients and achieve and sustain a high level of renewal rates with respect to our existing licenses. Failure to achieve one or more of these objectives could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. If one or more of our largest clients cancels or reduces its licenses and we are unsuccessful in replacing those licenses, our business, financial condition or results of operations could be materially adversely affected.

 

Our clients may become more self-sufficient, which may reduce demand for our products or services and materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Our clients may internally develop certain functionality contained in the products or services they currently license from us. For example, a number of our clients have obtained regulatory clearance to create indexes for use as the basis of ETFs that they manage and others have invested in direct indexing strategies, allowing investors to purchase individual stocks making up an index rather than investing in a fund or ETF. Similarly, some of our clients who currently license our risk or ESG and climate data to analyze their portfolio risk may develop their own tools to collect data and assess risk or embed ESG and climate considerations into their investment processes, making our products or services unnecessary for them. A growing number of asset managers and investment banks, in partnership with index providers that offer calculation agent services, or acting together with an industry group or

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association, have created or may create their own range of proprietary indexes, which they use to manage funds or as the basis of ETFs, structured products or over-the-counter derivatives. To the extent that our clients become more self-sufficient, demand for our products or services may be reduced, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Technology Risks

Any failures, disruptions, instability or vulnerabilities in our information technology architecture, platforms, vendors and service providers, production and delivery systems, software, code, internal network, the Internet or other systems or applications may disrupt our operations, cause our products to be unavailable or fail and impose delays or additional costs in deploying our products, or impose conditions or restrictions on our ability to commercialize our products or keep them confidential and result in reputational and other harm and have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

We depend heavily on the capacity, reliability and security of our information technology systems and platforms and their components, including our data centers, cloud providers and other vendors and service providers, production and delivery systems as well the Internet, to create and deliver our products and service our clients. Our employees also depend on these systems, platforms and providers for internal use. Heavy use of our electronic delivery systems and other factors such as loss of service from third parties, operational failures, human error, terrorist or other attacks affecting systems or sites where we are located, climate or weather related events (e.g., hurricanes, floods or other natural disasters), another outbreak of pandemic or contagious disease, power loss, telecommunications failures, technical breakdowns, Internet failures or malicious software could impair our systems’ operations or interrupt their availability for extended periods of time or impact the availability of personnel. Our ability to effectively use the Internet, including our remote work force’s ability to access the Internet, may also be impaired due to infrastructure failures, service outages at third-party Internet providers or increased government regulation.

Disruptions, failures or slowdowns that could occur with respect to our operations, including to our information technology systems and platforms, our electronic delivery systems or the Internet, could damage our brand and reputation, result in litigation and negatively affect our ability to distribute our products effectively and to service our clients, including delivering managed services or delivering real-time index data. To the extent we grow through acquisitions, newly acquired businesses may not have invested in technological infrastructure and disaster recovery to the same extent as we have. As their systems are integrated into ours, a vulnerability could be introduced, which could impact our platforms across the Company.

There is no assurance that we will be able to successfully defend against such disruptions or that our disaster recovery or business continuity plans, or those of our third-party service providers (including cloud providers), will be effective in mitigating the risks and associated costs, which could be exacerbated by our shift to an increasingly remote working environment, and which could have a material impact on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Any failure to ensure and protect the confidentiality of data could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Many of our products, as well as our internal systems and processes, involve the collection, retrieval, processing, storage and transmission of proprietary, third party and client confidential information. We also handle personal information of our employees in connection with their employment. We rely on a complex system of internal processes and IT controls along with policies, procedures and training to protect this information, including sensitive client data such as material non-public information and client portfolio data that may be provided to us or hosted on our systems, against unauthorized access or disclosure. In addition, we believe that when we change the composition of our indexes, in some cases the changes can have an indirect effect on the prices of constituent securities and on certain indexed investment products as a result of trading activity related to tracking our indexes. As the usage and types of uses of our ESG ratings increase, the ratings and changes to the ratings in some cases could also potentially have an impact on the companies that we rate, the price of their securities and the price of other securities that reference their securities.

If our internal processes, confidentiality policies, conflict of interest policies or information barrier procedures fail or are insufficient, including as a result of human error or manual processes, system error or other failure, or if an employee purposely circumvents or violates our internal controls, policies or procedures, then unauthorized access to, or disclosure or misappropriation of, data, including material non-public or other confidential information (e.g., certain index composition data or ESG rating data), our brand and reputation may suffer and we may become subject to litigation, regulatory actions, sanctions or other penalties, leading to a loss of client confidence, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

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Successful cyber-attacks and the failure of cyber-security plans, systems and procedures could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

The Company’s operations rely on the secure processing, storage and transmission of confidential, sensitive, proprietary and other types of data and information, and on those of our third-party vendors. We and our vendors are subject to cyber risks, including cyber-attacks, such as phishing scams, hacking, tampering, intrusions, viruses, ransomware, malware and denial-of-service attacks. In some cases, these risks are heightened when employees are working remotely. Our and our vendors’ use of mobile and cloud technologies may also increase our risk for such threats. The Company may be exposed to more targeted and more sophisticated cyber-attacks aimed at accessing certain information on our systems because of our role or prominence in the global marketplace, including client portfolio data, the composition of our indexes and MSCI ESG Research ratings of corporate issuers. Any such threats may cause material interruptions or malfunctions in our or our vendors’ products or services, networks, systems, websites, applications, data or data processing, or may otherwise compromise the availability, confidentiality or integrity of data or information in our possession. While the Company has not experienced cyber incidents that are individually, or in the aggregate, material, the Company has experienced cyber-attacks of varying degrees in the past, including denial-of-service attacks, and there can be no assurance that there will not be a material adverse effect in the future.

Our security measures or those of our third-party providers, including any cloud-based technologies, may prove insufficient depending upon the attack or threat posed. Cyber-attacks, security breaches or third-party reports of perceived security vulnerability to the Company’s systems, even if no breach has occurred, could damage our brand and reputation, result in litigation, regulatory actions, sanctions or other penalties, lead to loss of client confidence, which would harm our ability to retain clients and gain new ones, and lead to financial losses. Any of the foregoing could lead to unexpected or higher than estimated costs. We may also incur additional costs as a result of increasing and refining our internal processes and IT controls and policies and procedures related to security, processing integrity and confidentiality or privacy.

Migration of our applications, systems, processes and infrastructure to new technologies, cloud providers, data centers, processes, platforms or applications could result in unanticipated failures, interruptions or delays in the performance and delivery of our products, services and client support.  Such incidents could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

In the past, we have experienced unanticipated interruption and delay in the performance and delivery of certain products after we migrated applications and infrastructure to new data centers. While we have taken steps to mitigate such interruptions and delays, we cannot provide assurance that they will not occur again in the future as part of migration efforts to new technologies, applications or processes (e.g., cloud migration), even after extensive testing of new systems, processes, applications and hardware, or if we experience significant growth of our customer base or increases in the number of products or services or in the speed at which we are required to provide products and services. Such disruptions may result in cancellations and reduced demand for our products and services, resulting in decreased revenues, or in cost increases relating to our use of power and data storage. After adopting new technologies, applications and processes, such as cloud computing, virtualization and agile software development, we may experience unanticipated interruption and delay in the performance and delivery of certain of our products, services and client support. We may also incur increased operating expenses to recover data, repair, replace or remediate systems, equipment or facilities, and to protect ourselves from such disruptions. Accordingly, any significant failures, disruptions or instability affecting our information technology platform, cloud providers, data centers, production and delivery systems, applications, processes or the Internet could negatively affect our ability to distribute our products effectively and to service our clients, damage our brand and reputation and result in litigation, which may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Our use of open source code could introduce security vulnerabilities, impose unanticipated delays or costs in deploying our products or services, or impose conditions or restrictions on our ability to commercialize our products or services or keep them confidential.

We rely on open source code to develop software and to incorporate it in our products and internal systems. The use of open source code may entail greater risks than the use of third-party commercial software, as open source licensors generally do not provide warranties or other contractual protections regarding infringement claims, the quality of the code or the security of the code. Some open source licenses provide that if we combine our proprietary code with open source code and distribute it in a certain manner, we could be required to release the source code of our proprietary applications to the public. This would allow our competitors to create similar products with less development effort and time and ultimately put us at a competitive disadvantage. Additionally, the terms of many open source code licenses are ambiguous and have not been interpreted by U.S. courts. Therefore, we could be required to seek licenses from third parties on terms that are not commercially feasible, to make generally available portions of our proprietary code, to re-engineer our products or systems, to discontinue the licensing of our products if re-engineering could not be accomplished on a timely or cost-effective basis, or to take other remedial action that

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could divert resources away from our development efforts. Any of these requirements could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

 

Strategy and Growth Risks

Our business may be affected by changes in the global capital markets, including adverse equity market conditions, volatility in the financial markets and evolving investment trends. Such changes could decrease the use of our products and services which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Our business is impacted by economic conditions and volatility in the global capital markets. Our clients use our products for a variety of purposes, including benchmarking, performance attribution, portfolio construction and risk management, and to support investment strategies including ESG, climate, factor, thematic, private asset and MAC investing. Volatile capital markets may impact whether, how, where and when investors choose to invest, for example between developed or emerging markets, U.S. or non-U.S. markets, as well as whether to adopt different investment strategies.

A portion of our revenues comes from clients who use our indexes as the basis for indexed investment products. These fees are primarily based on a client’s assets under management or trading volumes. The value of an investment product’s assets may increase or decrease in response to changes in market performance and cash inflows and outflows, which could impact our revenues.

Additionally, an increasing portion of our revenues comes from products and services that relate to certain investment trends, such as ESG and climate, factor, thematic, private asset and MAC investing. A decline in the equity markets or movement away from such investment trends could decrease demand for our related products and services, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Competition and financial and budgetary pressures affecting clients in our industry may cause price reductions or loss of market share, which may materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Competition exists across all markets for our products and services. Our competitors range in size from large companies with substantial resources to small, single-product businesses that are highly specialized. Our larger competitors may have access to more resources and may be able to achieve greater economies of scale, and our specialized competitors may be more effective in devoting technical, marketing and financial resources to compete with us with respect to a particular product or service. Some competitors may offer price incentives or different pricing structures that are more attractive to clients. The competitive landscape may also experience consolidation in the form of mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures or strategic partnerships, which result in a narrower pool of competitors that are better capitalized or that are able to gain a competitive advantage through synergies.

Barriers to entry may be low or declining in many of the markets for our products and services, including for single-purpose product companies, which could lead to the emergence of new competitors. For example, more broker-dealers, data suppliers, credit rating agencies or other market participants or vendors could begin developing their own content such as proprietary risk analytics, ESG and climate data or indexes. Recent developments, including increases in the availability of free or relatively inexpensive information through Internet sources or other low-cost delivery systems, advances in cloud computing, increased use of open source code, the ability of machine learning and other artificial intelligence systems to process and organize large data sets, as well as client development of proprietary applications in specific areas, have further reduced barriers to entry in some cases.

We may experience pressures to reduce our fees on account of financial and budgetary pressures affecting our clients, including those resulting from weak or volatile economic or market conditions, including uncertainty regarding the duration and long-term economic and societal consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, which may lead certain clients to reduce their overall spending on our products or services, including by seeking similar products or services at a lower cost than what we are able to provide, by consolidating their spending with fewer providers, by consolidating with other clients or by self-sourcing certain of their information and analytical needs. Accordingly, competitive and market pressures may result in fewer clients or reduced sales, including as a result of client closures and consolidations, price reductions, prolonged selling and renewal cycles and increased operating costs, such as for marketing and product development, which could, individually or in the aggregate, result in a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

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To remain competitive, we must successfully develop new and enhanced products and services and effectively manage product transitions and integrations.

To remain competitive, we must continually introduce new products and services, enhance existing products and services, including through integration of products and services within MSCI and with third-party platforms, and effectively generate customer demand for new and enhanced products and services. We may not be successful in developing, introducing, implementing, marketing, pricing, launching or licensing new products or enhancements on a timely or cost-effective basis or without impacting the stability and efficiency of existing products and systems. Any new products and enhancements may not adequately meet the requirements of the marketplace or industry standards or achieve market acceptance.

The process of developing and enhancing our products and services is complex and may become increasingly complex and expensive in the future due to the introduction of new platforms, operating systems, technologies and customer expectations. In addition, our reputation could be harmed if we are perceived as not innovating rapidly enough to meet the changing needs of investors or their advisors. We must make long-term investments and commit significant resources before knowing whether these investments will eventually result in new or enhanced products and services that satisfy our clients’ needs and generate adequate revenues. From time to time, we also incur costs to integrate existing products and services and transition clients to enhanced products and services, which also present execution risks and challenges and could lead to price reductions or other concessions. If we are unable to effectively manage the development of new or enhanced products and services, we may not be able to remain competitive and our business, financial condition or results of operations could be materially adversely affected.

Our global operations and any future expansions may continue to place significant strain on our management and other resources, as well as subject us to additional, and in some cases unanticipated, risks and costs in connection with political, economic, legal, operational and other issues resulting from our increased global footprint, which could materially adversely impact our businesses.  

Our global operations and any future expansion are expected to continue to place significant demands on our personnel, management and other resources. Whether we expand organically or by way of acquisition, there can be no assurance that we will effectively attract, engage and retain additional qualified personnel, including additional managers or key employees, develop effective leadership in all our locations; expand our physical facilities and information technology, legal and compliance infrastructure; integrate acquired businesses; or otherwise adequately manage expansion. Additionally, new hires require significant training and may, in some cases, take a significant amount of time before becoming fully productive.

Our global operations also expose us to political, economic, legal, operational, franchise and other risks that are inherent in operating in many countries, including risks of possible capital controls, exchange controls, customs duties, sanctions compliance, tax penalties, levies or assessments, legal uncertainty, broad regulatory discretion and other restrictive governmental actions, as well as the outbreak of hostilities or political and governmental instability in certain of the countries or regions in which we conduct operations. The majority of our employees are located in offices outside of the U.S. and a number of those employees are located in emerging market locations. The cost of establishing and maintaining these offices, including costs related to information technology infrastructure, as well as the costs of attracting, training and retaining employees in these locations may be higher, or may increase at a faster rate, than we anticipate. Additionally, public health epidemics impacting the global economy and our employees, such as the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

The laws and regulations in many countries applicable to our business are uncertain and evolving, and it may be difficult or costly for us to determine and remain compliant with the exact requirements of local laws in every market. Our inability to maintain consistent internal policies and procedures across our offices and remain in compliance with local laws in a particular market could have a significant and negative effect not only on our businesses in that market but also on our reputation generally.

Demand for our products and services is still nascent in many parts of the world, particularly in emerging market locations where risk management and ESG and climate integration practices are often not fully developed.  In addition, the data required to model local securities in some emerging markets might be difficult to source and local investment product nuances may be difficult or costly to model. If we do not appropriately tailor our products and services to fit the needs of the local market, we may be unable to effectively grow sales of our products and

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services in some locations outside of the U.S. There can be no assurances that demand for our products and services will develop in these countries.

Any failure to effectively manage expansion or to effectively manage the business globally could damage our brand and reputation, result in increased costs and litigation and have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

Legal and Regulatory Risks

Failure to comply with regulations, or the introduction of new regulations or changes to existing regulations could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.  

Failure to comply with any applicable laws, rules, orders, regulations or other requirements could subject us to litigation, regulatory actions, sanctions, fines or other penalties, as well as damage our brand and reputation. The financial services industry, within which we and many of our clients operate, is subject to extensive laws, rules and regulations at the federal and state levels, as well as by foreign governments, with some jurisdictions regulating indexes directly. These laws, rules and regulations are complex, evolve frequently and sometimes quickly and unexpectedly, and are subject to administrative interpretation and judicial construction in ways that are difficult to predict, and could materially adversely affect our business and our clients’ businesses. Uncertainty caused by political change globally heightens regulatory uncertainty. Additionally, we may be required to comply with multiple and potentially conflicting laws, rules or regulations in various jurisdictions, which could, individually or in the aggregate, result in materially higher compliance costs to us. It is possible that laws, rules or regulations could cause us to restrict or change the way we license and price our products and services or could impose additional costs on us. Changes to the laws, rules and regulations applicable to our clients could limit our clients’ ability to use our products and services or could otherwise impact our clients’ demand for our products and services. As such, to the extent that our clients become subject to certain laws, rules or regulations, we may incur higher costs in connection with modifying our products or services. To the extent that we rely on our clients and vendors to provide data for our products and services and certain laws, rules or regulations impact our clients’ and vendors’ ability or willingness to provide that data to us or regulate the fees for which such data can be provided, our ability to continue to produce our products and services or the related costs could be negatively impacted. The regulations and regulatory developments that most significantly impact us are described below:

 

Brexit. The United Kingdom (“UK”) exited the European Union (“EU”) on January 31, 2020 (commonly referred to as “Brexit”) and the UK’s membership in the EU single market ended on December 31, 2020. On December 24, 2020, the UK and the EU announced that they had struck a new bilateral trade and cooperation deal governing the future relationship between the UK and the EU (the “EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement”) which was formally approved by the 27 member states of the EU on December 29, 2020. In March 2021, the UK and EU agreed on a framework for voluntary regulatory cooperation and dialogue on financial services issues between them in a Memorandum of Understanding (the “MOU”), which is expected to be signed after formal steps are completed, although this has not yet occurred.

The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement and the MOU provide some clarity regarding the future relationship between the UK and the EU including some detailed matters of trade and cooperation, but there remain uncertainties related to Brexit and the new relationship between the UK and EU that will continue to be developed and defined, as well as uncertainties related to the wider trading, legal, regulatory, tax and labor environments, and the resulting impact on our business and that of our clients. Because we have significant operations in the EU and certain members of our senior management team are based in the UK, any of these uncertainties could increase our costs of doing business, or in some cases, affect our ability to do business, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

 

Regulation Affecting Benchmarks. Compliance efforts associated with regulations affecting benchmarks or their uses and any related technical standards and guidance could have a negative impact on our business and results of operations. In particular, compliance requirements could lead to a change in our business practices, product offerings and/or our ability to offer indexes in certain jurisdictions, including the EU, including without limitation, by increasing our costs of doing business, including direct costs paid to regulators, diminishing our intellectual property rights, impacting the fees we can charge for our indexes, imposing constraints on our ability to meet contractual commitments to our data providers, imposing constraints on how we offer our products or causing our data providers to refuse to provide data to us, any of which could have a material adverse effect on our index products.

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For example, the benchmark industry is subject to regulations in the EU, such as Regulation (EU) 2016/1011 (as amended), which is also applicable in the UK as it forms part of UK domestic law by virtue of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (as amended), as well as increased scrutiny and potential new or increased regulation in various other jurisdictions. Additionally, the European Securities and Markets Authority (“ESMA”) issues guidance from time to time regarding interpretations of the EU benchmark regulation (such as Regulation (EU) 2016/1011 (as amended) and Regulation (EU) No 600/2014). The ESMA Guidelines on ETFs and other UCITS Issues limit the types of indexes that can be used as the basis of Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities (“UCITS”) funds and require, among other things, index constituents, together with their respective weightings, to be made easily accessible free of charge, such as via the internet, to investors and prospective investors on a delayed and periodic basis. The International Organization of Securities Commissions (“IOSCO”) recommends that benchmark administrators, on a voluntary basis, publicly disclose whether they comply with the principles for financial benchmarks published by IOSCO. Other jurisdictions have also indicated they may consider potential benchmark regulation or conduct reviews of the benchmark industry. For instance, the UK FCA has announced that it will conduct a market study into how competition is working in the markets for benchmarks and indices. The heightened attention and scrutiny on benchmarks and index providers by regulators, policymakers and the media in the EU, the U.S. and other jurisdictions around the world could result in negative publicity or comments about the role or influence of our company or the index industry generally, which could harm our reputation and credibility.

Further, laws, rules, regulations and orders affecting users of our indexes can have an indirect impact on our indexes, including their construction and composition, such as sanctions that prohibit users of our indexes from investing or transacting in securities included in our indexes.

 

Data Privacy Legislation. Changes in laws, rules or regulations, or consumer environments relating to privacy or information collection and use may affect our ability to collect, manage, aggregate, store, transfer and use personal data. There could be a material adverse impact on our direct marketing due to the enactment of legislation or industry regulations, or simply a change in practices, arising from public concern over privacy issues. Restrictions or bans could be placed upon the collection, management, aggregation, storage, transfer and use of information that is currently legally available, in which case our costs related to handling information could increase materially. For example, California passed the California Consumer Privacy Act (“CCPA”), which took effect on January 1, 2020, and the California Privacy Rights Act (“CPRA”), which will take effect on January 1, 2023 and significantly amends and expands the CCPA. The CCPA and CPRA regulate the processing of personal data of all Californians and imposes significant penalties for non-compliance. The European General Data Protection Regulation imposes enhanced operational requirements for companies that receive or process personal data of residents of the EU and includes significant penalties for non-compliance. In Japan, the Act on the Protection of Personal Information regulates the use of personal information and personal data of “data subjects” for business purposes without regard to whether such use is within Japan. In addition, other jurisdictions, including China and India, are considering imposing or have already imposed additional restrictions.

 

Investment Advisers Act. Except with respect to certain products provided by MSCI ESG Research LLC and certain of its designated foreign affiliates, we believe that our products and services do not constitute or provide investment advice as contemplated by the Advisers Act. See Part I, Item 1. “Business—Government Regulation” above. The Advisers Act imposes fiduciary duties, recordkeeping and reporting requirements, disclosure requirements, limitations on agency and principal transactions between an adviser and advisory clients, as well as general anti-fraud prohibitions. Future developments in our product lines or changes to current laws, rules, regulations or interpretations could cause this status to change, requiring other entities in our corporate family to register as investment advisers under the Advisers Act or comply with similar laws or requirements in states or foreign jurisdictions. In the U.S., the SEC has indicated that it may seek public comment on the role of certain third-party service providers to the asset management industry, including index providers and model providers, which could lead to regulation pursuant to the Advisers Act or other framework.

 

In some instances, in connection with the provision of data and services, we have incurred additional costs to implement processes and systems at the request of our clients to ensure that the products and services that they in turn provide to their clients using our data are compliant with the financial regulations to which our clients may be subject. For example, a U.S. Executive Order prohibiting many of our clients from transacting in the securities of certain Chinese companies resulted in our decision to remove these companies from relevant indexes in order to support our clients’ needs that our indexes meet their objective to be replicable in investment portfolios. To the

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extent that our clients are subject to increased regulation, we may be indirectly impacted and could incur increased costs that could have a negative impact on the profitability of certain products.

Additionally, there has been increased attention on and scrutiny of index and ESG rating providers by politicians, regulators, policymakers and the media, which could create negative publicity that could harm our reputation or credibility as well as result in new or additional regulation that could increase our costs and have a negative impact on our business, financial condition or results of operations. For example, IOSCO has asked regulators to consider focusing more attention on the use of ESG ratings and data products and ESG ratings and data products providers that may be subject to their jurisdiction, and ESMA has called for entities issuing ESG ratings and assessments to be registered and supervised. These or similar regulatory regimes could impose significant compliance burdens and costs on our ESG and Climate products and services. Furthermore, regulation in multiple jurisdictions may be inconsistent, which could create implementation challenges and result in inadvertent noncompliance.

Legal protections for our intellectual property rights and other rights may not be sufficient or available to protect our competitive advantages. Third parties may infringe on our intellectual property rights or we may infringe upon their intellectual property rights, which, in each case, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

We consider many aspects of our products and services to be proprietary. We rely primarily on a combination of trade secrets, patents, copyrights and trademark rights, laws regarding unfair competition and the misappropriation of intellectual property, as well as technical measures and contractual protections, such as non-disclosure obligations, to protect our products and services. Despite our best efforts, we cannot be certain that the steps we have taken to protect our intellectual property rights, and the rights of those from whom we license intellectual property, are adequate to prevent unauthorized use, misappropriation, distribution or theft of our intellectual property.

Intellectual property laws in various jurisdictions in which we operate are subject to change or varying interpretations at any time and could further restrict our ability to protect our intellectual property rights. The enforceability of intellectual property rights and obligations under our agreements, as well as the availability of remedies in the event of a breach, may vary due to the different jurisdictions in which our clients and employees are located. Failure to protect our intellectual property adequately could harm us, our brand or reputation and affect our ability to compete effectively.

There is no guarantee that any intellectual property rights that we may obtain will protect our competitive advantages, nor is there any assurance that our competitors will not infringe upon our rights. Furthermore, our competitors may independently develop and protect products and services that are the same or similar to ours. We may be unable to detect the unauthorized use or disclosure of our intellectual property or confidential information, or to take the necessary steps to enforce our rights. In addition, our products and services, or third-party products that we provide to our clients, could infringe upon the intellectual property rights of others.

Pursuing intellectual property claims to preserve our intellectual property rights or responding to intellectual property claims, regardless of merit, can consume valuable time, and result in costly litigation or delays, and there is no guarantee that we will be successful. From time to time, we receive claims or notices from third parties alleging infringement or potential infringement of their intellectual property rights; and the number of these claims may grow. These intellectual property claims would likely be costly to defend and could require us to pay damages, limit our future use of certain technologies, harm our brand and reputation, significantly increase our costs and prevent us from offering some services or products. We may need to settle such claims on unfavorable terms, pay damages, stop providing or using the affected products or services or enter into royalty or licensing agreements, which may include terms that are not commercially acceptable to us. From time to time, we receive notices calling upon us to defend partners, clients, suppliers or distributors against third-party claims under indemnification clauses in our contracts. If any of these risks materialize, they could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.  

There have been a number of lawsuits in multiple jurisdictions, including in the U.S. and Germany, regarding whether issuers of indexed investment products are required to obtain a license from the index owner or whether issuers may issue investment products based on publicly available index-level data without obtaining permission from (or making payment to) the index owner. The outcome of these cases depends on a number of factors, including the governing law, the amount of information about the index available without a license and the other

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particular facts and circumstances of the cases. In some instances, the results have been unfavorable to the index owner. If courts or regulators or other governmental bodies in relevant jurisdictions determine that a license is not required to issue investment products linked to indexes, this could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations. It might also lead to changes in current industry practices such that we would no longer make our index level data publicly available, such as via our website or news media, on a timely basis.

Some of our products and services help our clients to meet their regulatory requirements. Changes to regulatory requirements may obviate the need for these products or services or may cause us to invest in enhancing the products or services to help our clients meet the new regulatory requirements.

Financial Risks

Our revenues, expenses, assets and liabilities are subject to foreign currency exchange rate fluctuation risk.

We are subject to foreign currency exchange rate fluctuation risk. Exchange rate movements can impact the U.S. dollar reported value of our revenues, expenses, assets and liabilities denominated in non-U.S. dollar currencies or where the currency of such items is different than the functional currency of the entity where these items were recorded. Additionally, the value of assets in indexed investment products can fluctuate significantly over short periods of time and such volatility may be further impacted by fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates. 

We manage certain portions of our foreign currency exchange rate risk, in part, through the use of derivative financial instruments comprised principally of forward contracts on foreign currency which are not designated as hedging instruments for accounting purposes. Any derivative financial instruments that we are currently party to or may enter into in the future may not be successful, resulting in an adverse impact on our results of operations.

In addition, Brexit has caused, and may continue to cause, significant volatility in currency exchange rates, especially between the U.S. dollar and the British pound sterling. To the extent that our international activities recorded in local currencies increase or decrease in the future, our exposure to fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates may correspondingly increase or decrease and could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations. 

Our indebtedness could materially adversely affect our cash flows and financial flexibility.

For an overview of our current outstanding indebtedness and history of our debt offerings, see “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” below. Although we believe that our cash flows will be sufficient to service our outstanding indebtedness, we cannot provide assurance that we will generate and maintain cash flows sufficient to permit us to pay the principal, premium, if any, and interest on our indebtedness. Our ability to make payments on indebtedness and to fund planned capital expenditures depends on our ability to generate and access cash in the future, which, in turn, is subject to general economic, financial, competitive, regulatory and other factors, many of which are beyond our control. If we are unable to pay our obligations as they mature, we may need to refinance all or a portion of our indebtedness on or before maturity. If we are unable to secure additional financing on terms favorable or acceptable to us or at all, we could also be forced to sell assets to make up for any shortfall in our payment obligations. The restrictive covenants in our debt agreements, however, limit our and our subsidiaries’ ability to sell assets and also restrict the use of proceeds from such a sale. If we cannot refinance or otherwise pay our obligations as they mature and fund our liquidity needs, our business, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows, liquidity, ability to obtain financing and ability to compete in our industry could be materially adversely affected.

We may need or want to refinance our existing debt or incur additional debt from time to time to finance working capital, capital expenditures, investments or acquisitions, or for other purposes. If we do so, we may be subject to less favorable terms. The risks related to our level of indebtedness could also intensify, including by making it difficult for us to optimally capitalize and manage the cash flow for our business or placing us at a competitive disadvantage compared to our competitors that have less indebtedness.

Furthermore, the terms of our debt agreements include restrictive covenants that limit, among other things, our and our existing and future subsidiaries’ financial flexibility. If we are unable to comply with the restrictions and covenants in our debt agreements, there could be a default that, in some cases, if continuing, could result in the accelerated payment of our debt obligations or the termination of borrowing commitments on the part of the lenders under the Credit Agreement, dated as of November 20, 2014, by and among the Company, the guarantors party

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thereto, JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., as administrative agent and the lenders from time to time party thereto, as amended, supplemented, modified or amended and restated from time to time (as amended, the “Revolving Credit Facility”).

In 2017, the UK Financial Conduct Authority (the “FCA”), which regulates London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”), announced that the FCA will no longer persuade or compel banks to submit rates for the calculation of the LIBOR benchmark after 2021. The administrator for LIBOR announced on March 5, 2021 that it will permanently cease to publish most LIBOR settings beginning on January 1, 2022 and cease to publish the overnight, one-month, three-month, six-month and 12-month USD LIBOR settings on July 1, 2023. Accordingly, the FCA has stated that is does not intend to persuade or compel banks to submit to LIBOR after such respective dates. Until such time, however, FCA panel banks have agreed to continue to support LIBOR. The U.S. Federal Reserve, in conjunction with the Alternative Reference Rates Committee, a steering committee comprised of large U.S. financial institutions, is recommending replacing USD LIBOR with the Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”), a new index calculated by short-term repurchase agreements, backed by Treasury securities. It is unknown whether SOFR will attain market acceptance as replacement for LIBOR and, because SOFR differs fundamentally from LIBOR, there is no assurance that SOFR will perform in the same way as LIBOR would have performed at any time, and there is no guarantee that it is a comparable substitute for LIBOR. At this time, it is not possible to predict the effect that these developments may have on any floating rate debt instruments, including borrowings under our Revolving Credit Facility. As of December 31, 2021, there were no amounts outstanding under our Revolving Credit Facility. Pursuant to the Credit Agreement Amendment that became effective on March 29, 2021, we updated the LIBOR succession provisions in our Revolving Credit Facility to contemplate a mechanism for replacing LIBOR with a new benchmark rate without an amendment to the terms of the Credit Agreement governing the Revolving Credit Facility. Since the conditions for the implementation of this mechanism have not yet been triggered, we cannot determine with certainty what such replacement rate would be. As a result, we cannot reasonably predict the potential effect of a discontinuation or replacement of LIBOR, other reforms or the establishment of alternative reference rates on our business, financial condition or results of operations. In addition, if we were to incur any variable rate indebtedness under our Revolving Credit Facility, we would be subject to interest rate risk generally, which could cause our debt service obligations to increase significantly.

A change in our credit ratings could materially adversely affect our financial condition.

Our credit ratings are not recommendations to buy, sell or hold any of our common stock or outstanding debt. Our outstanding debt under the Senior Notes currently has non-investment grade ratings. Any rating assigned to such debt is subject to ongoing evaluation by the credit rating agencies and could be lowered or withdrawn entirely at any time by any of the agencies if, in the agency’s judgment, future circumstances relating to the basis of the rating so warrant. Such future circumstances include, but are not limited to, adverse changes to our results of operations, financial condition or cash flows, or revisions to our corporate strategy pertaining to capitalization or leverage. Any such downgrade or withdrawal could adversely affect the amount of capital we can access, as well as the terms of any financing we obtain.

In addition, our debt covenants contain certain obligations that are triggered by a change in our credit rating, including obligations to make repurchase offers to the noteholders of our Senior Notes if we experience one of the specified kinds of changes in control and related lowering of our credit ratings, as detailed in the indentures governing our Senior Notes.

Any adverse change in our credit rating could have a negative effect on our liquidity and future growth through transactions in which we rely on the ability to receive debt capital at an advantageous cost and on favorable terms. Accordingly, actual or anticipated changes or downgrades to or withdrawal of our credit ratings, including any announcement that our ratings are under review or have been assigned a negative outlook, could result in damage to our brand and reputation and have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows and on the market value of our common stock and outstanding debt.

We may have exposure to tax liabilities in various jurisdictions. Future changes in tax law could materially affect our tax obligations and effective tax rate. 

We are subject to income taxes, as well as non-income or indirect taxes, in the U.S. and various foreign jurisdictions. Significant judgment is required in determining our global provision for income taxes and other tax liabilities. In the ordinary course of a global business, there are many intercompany transactions and calculations

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where the ultimate tax determination is uncertain. Changes in domestic and international tax laws could negatively impact our overall effective tax rate.

We are regularly under audit by tax authorities. We may be subject to additional tax liabilities as the jurisdictions in which we do business globally are increasingly focused on digital taxes and the treatment of remote workforces. Although we believe that our tax provisions are reasonable, there can be no assurance that the final determination of tax audits or tax disputes will not be different from what is reflected in our historical income tax provisions and accruals. To the extent we are required to pay amounts in excess of our reserves, such differences could have a material adverse effect on our Consolidated Statement of Income for a particular future period. In addition, an unfavorable tax settlement could require use of our cash and result in an increase in our effective tax rate in the period in which such resolution occurs.

General Risks

Our business performance might not be sufficient for us to meet the full-year financial guidance or long-term targets that we provide publicly.

We provide certain full-year financial guidance and long-term targets to the public based upon our assumptions regarding our expected financial performance that may not always prove to be accurate and may vary from actual results. If we fail to meet the full-year financial guidance or achieve the long-term targets that we provide, or if we find it necessary to revise such guidance or targets, the market value of our common stock or other securities could be adversely affected.

Our growth and profitability may not continue at the same rate as we have experienced in the past for several reasons, including if our operating costs are higher than expected, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

We have experienced significant revenue and earnings growth since we began operations. There can be no assurance that we will be able to maintain the levels of growth and profitability that we have experienced in the past. If we experience higher than expected operating costs, including increased compensation costs, regulatory compliance costs, occupancy costs, selling and marketing costs, investments in geographic expansion, market data costs, software license costs, communication costs, travel costs, application development costs, professional fees, costs related to information technology infrastructure, cloud usage and other IT costs, and we cannot adjust to these costs, our operating results may fluctuate significantly or our anticipated profitability may be reduced and our anticipated results of operations and financial position may be materially adversely affected. Additionally, there can be no assurance that we will be as successful in our product development, selling and marketing efforts, or capital return or allocation strategies as we have been in the past, or that such efforts will result in growth or profit margins comparable to those we have experienced in the past.

We may be exposed to liabilities as a result of failure to comply with laws and regulations relating to our global operations, including anti-corruption laws, and any determination that we violated these laws could have a material adverse effect on our business.

We are subject to complex laws and regulations that are applicable to our global operations, such as laws and regulations governing economic and trade sanctions, tariffs, embargoes, anti-boycott restrictions and anti-corruption and other similar laws and regulations. Any determination that we have violated these laws or regulations could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

In particular, we are subject to various anti-corruption laws that prohibit improper payments or benefits or offers of payments or benefits to foreign governments and their officials and, in some cases, to employees of a business for the purpose of directing, obtaining or retaining business. We conduct business in countries and regions that are less developed than the U.S. and in some cases are generally recognized as potentially more corrupt business environments. Our activities in these countries create the risk of unauthorized payments or offers of payments by one of our employees or agents that could be in violation of various anti-corruption laws including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, as amended (the “FCPA”) and the UK Bribery Act 2010.

We have implemented safeguards and policies to discourage these types of practices by our employees and agents. However, our existing safeguards and any future improvements may prove to be less than fully effective, and

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our employees or agents may engage in conduct for which we might be held responsible. If employees violate our policies or we fail to maintain adequate record-keeping and internal accounting practices to accurately record our transactions we may be subject to regulatory fines, sanctions, damages or other penalties or costs. Violations of any of these laws, including the FCPA or other anti-corruption laws, may result in severe criminal or civil sanctions and penalties, damage our brand and reputation and subject us to other liabilities which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.

If we are unable to successfully identify, execute and realize expected returns and synergies from acquisitions or strategic partnerships or investments, or if we experience integration, financing, or other risks resulting from our acquisitions or strategic partnerships or investments, our financial results may be materially adversely affected.

An element of our growth strategy is growth through acquisitions, strategic partnerships and investments. Despite our best efforts to continue pursuing such transactions, there can be no assurance that we will be able to identify suitable strategic partners, investment opportunities or attractive acquisition candidates at acceptable terms. In addition, we may require additional debt or equity financing for future acquisitions and doing so may be made more difficult by the terms of our existing indebtedness.

Our ability to achieve the expected returns and synergies from our past and future acquisitions, including our recent acquisition of RCA, strategic partnerships and investments depends, in part, upon our ability to effectively leverage or integrate the offerings, technology, sales, administrative functions and personnel of these businesses. We cannot provide assurance that we will be successful in integrating acquired businesses, that our acquired businesses will perform at the levels we anticipate or that our strategic partnerships and investments will advance the long-term growth strategy of our company. Our past and future acquisitions, strategic partnerships and investments may subject us to unanticipated risks or liabilities, including the potential to disrupt our operations. Additionally, strategic partnerships may increase our reliance on third parties, which may result in future disruptions if those partnerships are unsuccessful or discontinued or the content or level of support provided by strategic partners is diminished.

If we experience a high level of acquisition, strategic partnership or investment-related activity within a limited period of time, the probability that certain of these risks would occur would likely increase. In addition, if we are unsuccessful in completing acquisitions of other businesses or assets, executing strategic partnerships or investments, or if such opportunities for expansion do not arise, our brand or reputation could suffer, and our future growth, business, financial condition or results of operations could be materially adversely affected.

Our goodwill and other intangible assets resulting from our acquisitions could be impaired as a result of future business conditions, requiring us to record substantial write-downs that would reduce our operating income.

We evaluate the recoverability of recorded goodwill amounts annually or when evidence of potential impairment exists. Intangible assets are reviewed for impairment whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying value of the asset may not be recoverable. These impairment tests are based on several factors requiring management’s judgment. Changes in fair market valuations and our operating performance or business conditions, in general, could result in future impairments of goodwill or intangible assets which could materially adversely affect our results of operations. In addition, if we are not successful in achieving anticipated operating efficiencies associated with acquisitions, our goodwill and intangible assets may become impaired.

If we fail to attract or retain the necessary qualified personnel, including through our compensation programs, our business, financial condition or results of operations could be materially adversely affected.

The development, maintenance and support of our products and services are dependent upon the knowledge, skills, experience and abilities of our employees. Accordingly, we believe the success of our business depends to a significant extent upon the continued service of our executives and other key employees. Although we do not believe that we are overly dependent upon any individual employee, our management and other employees may terminate employment at any time, and the loss of any of our key employees and our inability to replace them with suitable candidates quickly or at all, as well as any negative market perception resulting from such loss, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations. We compete for key employees not only with other companies in our industry but also with companies in other industries, such as software services, engineering services and financial services companies, and there is a limited pool of employees who have the skills and training needed to do our work. If our compensation programs do not adequately engage our key employees or are not competitive, or if we fail to attract, engage and retain the necessary qualified personnel, the quality of our

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products and services as well as our ability to support and retain our clients and achieve business objectives may suffer.

We cannot provide any guaranty that we will continue to repurchase shares of our common stock pursuant to our share repurchase program.

The timing, price and volume of repurchases of shares of our common stock will be based on market conditions, relevant securities laws and other factors. The stock repurchases may be made from time to time, through one or more open market repurchases or privately negotiated transactions, including, without limitation, accelerated share repurchase transactions, trading plans or derivative transactions, or otherwise.

Share repurchases under our share repurchase program constitute components of our capital return strategy, which we fund with free operating cash flow and borrowings. However, we are not required to make any share repurchases under our share repurchase program. The share repurchase program does not obligate us to repurchase any set dollar amount or number of shares and may be modified, suspended, or terminated at any time without prior notice. The reduction or elimination of our share repurchase program could adversely affect the market price of our common stock. Additionally, the existence of a share repurchase program could cause the market price of our common stock to be higher than it would be in the absence of such a program and could potentially reduce the market liquidity for our shares. As a result, any repurchase program may not ultimately result in enhanced value to our shareholders and may not prove to be the best use of our cash resources.

 

 

Item 1B.

Unresolved Staff Comments

Nothing required to be disclosed.

 

 

Item 2.

Properties

As of December 31, 2021, our principal offices consisted of the following leased properties:

 

Location

 

Square Feet

 

Expiration Date

Mumbai, India

 

126,286

 

August 31, 2023

New York, New York

 

125,811

(1)

February 28, 2033

Budapest, Hungary

 

70,833

 

February 28, 2029

Monterrey, Mexico

 

56,213

 

October 31, 2028

Manila, Philippines

 

31,544

 

February 28, 2027

London, England

 

30,519

 

December 25, 2026

Pune, India

 

24,434

 

January 19, 2026

Berkeley, California

 

19,808

 

February 28, 2030

 

(1)  

As of December 31, 2021, 20,325 square feet of this location have been subleased, which will increase to 41,759 square feet in May 2022.

 

As of December 31, 2021, we had more than 30 leased and occupied locations of which the principal offices are listed above. We believe that our properties are in good operating condition and adequately serve our current business operations. We also anticipate that suitable additional or alternative space, including those under lease options, will be available at commercially reasonable terms for future expansion.

Item 3.

Various lawsuits, claims and proceedings have been or may be instituted or asserted against the Company in the ordinary course of business. While the amounts claimed could be substantial, the ultimate liability cannot now be determined because of the considerable uncertainties that exist. Therefore, it is possible that MSCI’s business, operating results, financial condition or cash flows in a particular period could be materially affected by certain contingencies. However, based on facts currently available, management believes that the disposition of matters that are currently pending or asserted will not, individually or in the aggregate, have a material effect on MSCI’s business, operating results, financial condition or cash flows.

 

 

Item 4.

Mine Safety Disclosures

Not applicable.

31


 

PART II

 

 

Item 5.

Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

Stock Price and Dividends

Our common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “MSCI.” As of February 4, 2022, there were 112 shareholders of record of our common stock.

Dividend Policy

The payment amounts of future dividends will be determined by the Board of Directors in light of conditions then existing, including our earnings, financial condition and capital requirements, business conditions, corporate law requirements and other factors. See Part II, Item 7. “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Liquidity and Capital Resources” for additional information on our dividend policy.

Stock Repurchases

Our Board of Directors has approved a stock repurchase program for the purchase of the Company’s common stock in the open market. See Note 11, “Shareholders’ Equity (Deficit),” of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included herein for additional information on our stock repurchase program.

The following table provides information with respect to purchases made by or on behalf of the Company of its shares of common stock during the quarter ended December 31, 2021.

 

Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

 

Period

 

Total

Number of

Shares

Purchased (1)

 

 

Average

Price

Paid Per

Share

 

 

Total

Number

of Shares

Purchased

As Part of

Publicly

Announced

Plans or

Programs

 

 

Approximate

Dollar

Value of Shares

that May Yet Be

Purchased Under

the Plans or

Programs (2)

 

October 1, 2021-October 31, 2021

 

 

-

 

 

$

-

 

 

 

-

 

 

$

1,594,416,000

 

November 1, 2021-November 30, 2021

 

 

-

 

 

$

-

 

 

 

-

 

 

$

1,594,416,000

 

December 1, 2021-December 31, 2021

 

 

9,181

 

 

$

578.77

 

 

 

9,069

 

 

$

1,589,177,000

 

Total

 

 

9,181

 

 

$

578.77

 

 

 

9,069

 

 

$

1,589,177,000

 

 

 

(1)  

Includes (i) shares purchased by the Company on the open market under the stock repurchase program; (ii) shares withheld to satisfy tax withholding obligations on behalf of employees that occur upon vesting and delivery of outstanding shares underlying restricted stock units; and (iii) shares held in treasury under the MSCI Inc. Non-Employee Directors Deferral Plan. The value of shares withheld to satisfy tax withholding obligations was determined using the fair market value of the Company’s common stock on the date of withholding, using a valuation methodology established by the Company.

(2)  

See Note 11, “Shareholders’ Equity (Deficit),” of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements included herein for further information regarding our stock repurchase program.

Recent Sales of Unregistered Securities

There were no unregistered sales of equity securities in the year ended December 31, 2021.

Use of Proceeds from Sale of Registered Securities

None.

32


 

FIVE-YEAR STOCK PERFORMANCE GRAPH

The following graph compares the cumulative total shareholders’ return on our common stock, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Stock Index and the NYSE Composite Index since December 31, 2016 assuming an investment of $100 at the closing price on December 31, 2016. In calculating total annual shareholders’ return, reinvestment of dividends, if any, is assumed. The indexes are included for comparative purposes only. They do not necessarily reflect management’s opinion that such indexes are an appropriate measure of the relative performance of the common stock. This graph is not “soliciting material,” is not to be deemed filed with the SEC and is not to be incorporated by reference in any of our filings under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”) or the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, whether made before or after the date hereof and irrespective of any general incorporation language in any such filing.

 

Total Investment Value

 

 

 

Years Ended

 

 

 

December 31,

 

 

December 31,

 

 

December 31,

 

 

December 31,

 

 

December 31,

 

 

December 31,

 

 

 

2016

 

 

2017

 

 

2018

 

 

2019

 

 

2020

 

 

2021

 

MSCI Inc.

 

$

100

 

 

$

163

 

 

$

192

 

 

$

340

 

 

$

593

 

 

$

819

 

S&P 500

 

$

100

 

 

$

122

 

 

$

116

 

 

$

153

 

 

$

181

 

 

$

233

 

NYSE Composite Index

 

$

100

 

 

$

119

 

 

$

108

 

 

$

136

 

 

$

145

 

 

$

175

 

 

Source: S&P Global

33


 

Item 6.

Selected Financial Data

Our selected consolidated financial data for the periods presented should be read in conjunction with “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and the consolidated financial statements and notes thereto provided under Part II, Item 8. “Financial Statements and Supplementary Data” of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.

 

 

 

For the Years Ended

 

 

 

 

December 31,

 

 

December 31,

 

 

December 31,

 

 

December 31,

 

 

December 31,

 

 

 

 

 

2021

 

 

 

2020

 

 

 

2019

 

 

2018 (1)

 

 

 

2017

 

 

 

 

(in thousands, except operating margin and per share data)

Operating revenues

 

$

2,043,544

 

 

$

1,695,390

 

 

$

1,557,796

 

 

$

1,433,984

 

 

$

1,274,172

 

 

Total operating expenses

 

 

970,819

 

 

 

810,626

 

 

 

802,095

 

 

 

747,086

 

 

 

694,402

 

 

Operating income

 

 

1,072,725

 

 

 

884,764

 

 

 

755,701

 

 

 

686,898

 

 

 

579,770

 

 

Other expense (income), net

 

 

214,589

 

 

 

198,539

 

 

 

152,383

 

 

 

57,002

 

 

 

112,871

 

 

Provision for income taxes

 

 

132,153

 

 

 

84,403

 

 

 

39,670

 

 

 

122,011

 

 

 

162,927

 

 

Net income

 

$

725,983

 

 

$

601,822

 

 

$

563,648

 

 

$

507,885

 

 

$

303,972

 

 

Operating margin

 

 

52.5

%

 

 

52.2

%

 

 

48.5

%

 

 

47.9

%

 

 

45.5

%

 

Earnings per basic common share

 

$

8.80

 

 

$

7.19

 

 

$

6.66

 

 

$

5.83

 

 

$

3.36

 

 

Earnings per diluted common share

 

$

8.70

 

 

$

7.12

 

 

$

6.59

 

 

$

5.66

 

 

$

3.31

 

 

Weighted average shares outstanding:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic

 

 

82,508

 

 

 

83,716

 

 

 

84,644

 

 

 

87,179

 

 

 

90,336

 

 

Diluted

 

 

83,479

 

 

 

84,517

 

 

 

85,536

 

 

 

89,701

 

 

 

91,914

 

 

Dividends declared per common share

 

$

3.64

 

 

$

2.92

 

 

$

2.52

 

 

$

1.92

 

 

$

1.32

 

 

 

 

 

As of

 

 

 

 

December 31,

 

 

December 31,

 

 

December 31,

 

 

December 31,

 

 

December 31,

 

 

 

 

2021 (3)

 

 

 

2020

 

 

2019 (2)

 

 

2018 (1)

 

 

 

2017

 

 

 

 

(in thousands)

Cash and cash equivalents

 

$

1,421,449

 

 

$

1,300,521

 

 

$

1,506,567

 

 

$

904,176

 

 

$

889,502

 

 

Accounts receivable, net of allowances

 

$

664,511

 

 

$

558,569

 

 

$

499,268

 

 

$

473,433

 

 

$

327,597

 

 

Goodwill and intangibles, net of

   accumulated amortization

 

$

2,829,727

 

 

$

1,800,770

 

 

$

1,824,355

 

 

$

1,826,564

 

 

$

1,882,457

 

 

Total assets

 

$

5,506,703

 

 

$

4,198,647

 

 

$

4,204,439

 

 

$

3,387,952

 

 

$

3,275,668

 

 

Deferred revenue

 

$

824,912

 

 

$

675,870

 

 

$

574,656

 

 

$

537,977

 

 

$

374,365

 

 

Long-term debt, net of current maturities

 

$

4,161,422

 

 

$

3,366,777

 

 

$

3,071,926

 

 

$

2,575,502

 

 

$

2,078,093

 

 

Total shareholders' equity (deficit)

 

$

(163,467

)

 

$

(443,234

)

 

$

(76,714

)

 

$

(166,494

)

 

$

401,012

 

 

 

(1)

Includes the impact of the Financial Engineering Associates, Inc. and Investor Force Holdings, Inc. divestitures.

(2)

Reflects the impact of the adoption on January 1, 2019 of Accounting Standards Update 2016-02, "Lease (Topic 842)," the impact of which was the inclusion of $166.4 million of right of use assets on the Company's Consolidated Statement of Financial Condition as of December 31, 2019.

(3)