A Wall Street bank questioned the dominance of Bloomberg, and the response shows just how entrenched it is

Margin Call

Morgan Stanley asked clients last week: “Would you give up your Bloomberg Terminal?”

It turns out the answer is: not without a fight.

The question was asked at least in part because financial information is expensive, and Wall Street has fallen on hard times.

Morgan Stanley wanted to know how that might impact FactSet Research and Thomson Reuters, and wondered whether there might be a fragmentation of the terminal industry.

The bank’s analysts imagined a world where firms build their own terminal-type systems from a variety of cheaper providers. You can read more from Business Insider’s Myles Udland here.

The feedback confirms some of Morgan Stanley’s ideas, and challenges others.

Yes, there are cost pressures. No, the terminal business isn’t likely to see much growth any time soon.

Yes, there may be some trading down that takes place. Yes, Symphony, a new Goldman Sachs-backed messaging platform, might gain some ground. Yes, there are deflationary pressures.

But there a bunch of reasons why the likes of Bloomberg, which basically offers a trader or investor pretty much everything they need and a fair bit more for $24,000 a year, are also pretty secure from outright disruption. That includes news, which makes Bloomberg a competitor of Business Insider.

For example, Morgan Stanley’s clients disputed the notion that unbundling might become a thing. The note said:

Pushback: customers are consolidating vendors, not unbundling: Yes, we agree that firms find it preferable to have one vendor instead of five or more (one party to deal with, could minimize risk, etc), but we don’t believe that this disputes our deflationary thesis.

The note then runs through a bunch of things ranging from pricing power (the incumbents could, and in some cases already do, provide tiered access at different price points), size (they could buy up disruptive rivals) and access to data (some markets are easier to break in to than others).

But the most powerful thing in favor of the incumbents is the network effect they enjoy. Basically, everyone is already on there. This is the number one thing for every Bloomberg user I have ever spoken to about this issue.

That is not to say it is impossible for others to get there. Symphony is expected to have 150k users by year-end, according to the note, which is a pretty impressive for something that hasn’t been around all that long.

But old habits die hard.

Here is the kicker from Morgan Stanley:

“People pay $24,000 per year for chat?” Yes, and they can’t imagine any other way.