false FY 0001408198 --12-31 1 1 1 true true true true true 0.33 P1Y P1Y P1Y 0.33 P3Y P5Y P3Y P5Y P3Y P1Y P3Y us-gaap:AccountingStandardsUpdate201409Member us-gaap:AccountingStandardsUpdate201409Member us-gaap:AccountingStandardsUpdate201409Member us-gaap:OtherAccruedLiabilitiesCurrent P8Y11M4D P21Y6M P13Y P21Y P3Y P8Y P6Y P13Y P3Y9M18D P3Y8M12D P3Y6M 0001408198 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 xbrli:shares 0001408198 2021-02-05 iso4217:USD 0001408198 2020-06-30 0001408198 2020-12-31 0001408198 2019-12-31 iso4217:USD xbrli:shares 0001408198 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:CommonStockMember 2017-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:TreasuryStockMember 2017-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:AdditionalPaidInCapitalMember 2017-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:RetainedEarningsMember 2017-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:AccumulatedOtherComprehensiveIncomeMember 2017-12-31 0001408198 2017-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:RetainedEarningsMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:RetainedEarningsMember srt:CumulativeEffectPeriodOfAdoptionAdjustmentMember 2017-12-31 0001408198 srt:CumulativeEffectPeriodOfAdoptionAdjustmentMember 2017-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:TreasuryStockMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:AdditionalPaidInCapitalMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:AccumulatedOtherComprehensiveIncomeMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:CommonStockMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:CommonStockMember 2018-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:TreasuryStockMember 2018-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:AdditionalPaidInCapitalMember 2018-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:RetainedEarningsMember 2018-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:AccumulatedOtherComprehensiveIncomeMember 2018-12-31 0001408198 2018-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:RetainedEarningsMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:AdditionalPaidInCapitalMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:AccumulatedOtherComprehensiveIncomeMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:CommonStockMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:TreasuryStockMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:CommonStockMember 2019-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:TreasuryStockMember 2019-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:AdditionalPaidInCapitalMember 2019-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:RetainedEarningsMember 2019-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:AccumulatedOtherComprehensiveIncomeMember 2019-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:RetainedEarningsMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:RetainedEarningsMember srt:CumulativeEffectPeriodOfAdoptionAdjustmentMember 2019-12-31 0001408198 srt:CumulativeEffectPeriodOfAdoptionAdjustmentMember 2019-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:AdditionalPaidInCapitalMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:AccumulatedOtherComprehensiveIncomeMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:CommonStockMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:TreasuryStockMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:CommonStockMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:TreasuryStockMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:AdditionalPaidInCapitalMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:RetainedEarningsMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:AccumulatedOtherComprehensiveIncomeMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:SoftwareAndSoftwareDevelopmentCostsMember srt:MinimumMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:SoftwareAndSoftwareDevelopmentCostsMember srt:MaximumMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 2020-07-01 2020-07-01 msci:Segment 0001408198 us-gaap:AccountingStandardsUpdate201602Member 2019-01-01 msci:Customer 0001408198 us-gaap:CustomerConcentrationRiskMember us-gaap:SalesRevenueProductLineMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:CustomerConcentrationRiskMember us-gaap:SalesRevenueProductLineMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:CustomerConcentrationRiskMember us-gaap:SalesRevenueProductLineMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 xbrli:pure 0001408198 us-gaap:CustomerConcentrationRiskMember us-gaap:SalesRevenueProductLineMember msci:BlackrockIncMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:CustomerConcentrationRiskMember us-gaap:SalesRevenueProductLineMember msci:BlackrockIncMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:CustomerConcentrationRiskMember us-gaap:SalesRevenueProductLineMember msci:BlackrockIncMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:CustomerConcentrationRiskMember us-gaap:SalesRevenueProductLineMember msci:BlackrockIncMember msci:IndexMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:CustomerConcentrationRiskMember us-gaap:SalesRevenueProductLineMember msci:BlackrockIncMember msci:IndexMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:CustomerConcentrationRiskMember us-gaap:SalesRevenueProductLineMember msci:BlackrockIncMember msci:IndexMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:CustomerConcentrationRiskMember us-gaap:SalesRevenueProductLineMember msci:AnalyticsMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:CustomerConcentrationRiskMember us-gaap:SalesRevenueProductLineMember msci:AnalyticsMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:CustomerConcentrationRiskMember us-gaap:SalesRevenueProductLineMember msci:AnalyticsMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:CustomerConcentrationRiskMember us-gaap:SalesRevenueProductLineMember us-gaap:AllOtherSegmentsMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:CustomerConcentrationRiskMember us-gaap:SalesRevenueProductLineMember us-gaap:AllOtherSegmentsMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:CustomerConcentrationRiskMember us-gaap:SalesRevenueProductLineMember us-gaap:AllOtherSegmentsMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:AccountingStandardsUpdate201613Member 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:AccountingStandardsUpdate201704Member 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:RecurringSubscriptionsMember msci:IndexMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:RecurringSubscriptionsMember msci:AnalyticsMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:RecurringSubscriptionsMember us-gaap:AllOtherSegmentsMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:RecurringSubscriptionsMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:AssetBasedFeesMember msci:IndexMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:AssetBasedFeesMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:NonRecurringMember msci:IndexMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:NonRecurringMember msci:AnalyticsMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:NonRecurringMember us-gaap:AllOtherSegmentsMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:NonRecurringMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:IndexMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:AnalyticsMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:AllOtherSegmentsMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:RecurringSubscriptionsMember msci:IndexMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:RecurringSubscriptionsMember msci:AnalyticsMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:RecurringSubscriptionsMember us-gaap:AllOtherSegmentsMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:RecurringSubscriptionsMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:AssetBasedFeesMember msci:IndexMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:AssetBasedFeesMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:NonRecurringMember msci:IndexMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:NonRecurringMember msci:AnalyticsMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:NonRecurringMember us-gaap:AllOtherSegmentsMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:NonRecurringMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:IndexMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:AnalyticsMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:AllOtherSegmentsMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:RecurringSubscriptionsMember msci:IndexMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 msci:RecurringSubscriptionsMember msci:AnalyticsMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 msci:RecurringSubscriptionsMember us-gaap:AllOtherSegmentsMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 msci:RecurringSubscriptionsMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 msci:AssetBasedFeesMember msci:IndexMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 msci:AssetBasedFeesMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 msci:NonRecurringMember msci:IndexMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 msci:NonRecurringMember msci:AnalyticsMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 msci:NonRecurringMember us-gaap:AllOtherSegmentsMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 msci:NonRecurringMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 msci:IndexMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 msci:AnalyticsMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:AllOtherSegmentsMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 2020-01-01 0001408198 2019-01-01 0001408198 2021-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 2022-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 2023-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 2024-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:SeniorUnsecuredNotesMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:FivePointTwoFivePercentSeniorUnsecuredNotesDueTwoThousandTwentyFourMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:FivePointSevenFivePercentSeniorUnsecuredNotesDueTwoThousandTwentyFiveMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:FourPointSevenFivePercentSeniorUnsecuredNotesDueTwoThousandTwentySixMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:FivePointThreeSevenFivePercentSeniorUnsecuredNotesDueTwoThousandTwentySevenMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:FourPointZeroZeroPercentSeniorUnsecuredNotesDueTwoThousandTwentyNineMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:ThreePointSixTwoFivePercentSeniorUnsecuredNotesDueTwoThousandThirtyMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:ThreePointEightSevenFivePercentSeniorUnsecuredNotesDueTwoThousandThirtyOneMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:FourPointSevenFivePercentSeniorUnsecuredNotesDueTwoThousandTwentySixMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:FivePointThreeSevenFivePercentSeniorUnsecuredNotesDueTwoThousandTwentySevenMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:FourPointZeroZeroPercentSeniorUnsecuredNotesDueTwoThousandTwentyNineMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:ThreePointSixTwoFivePercentSeniorUnsecuredNotesDueTwoThousandThirtyMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:ThreePointEightSevenFivePercentSeniorUnsecuredNotesDueTwoThousandThirtyOneMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:FivePointTwoFivePercentSeniorUnsecuredNotesDueTwoThousandTwentyFourMember 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:FivePointSevenFivePercentSeniorUnsecuredNotesDueTwoThousandTwentyFiveMember 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:FourPointSevenFivePercentSeniorUnsecuredNotesDueTwoThousandTwentySixMember 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:FivePointThreeSevenFivePercentSeniorUnsecuredNotesDueTwoThousandTwentySevenMember 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:FourPointZeroZeroPercentSeniorUnsecuredNotesDueTwoThousandTwentyNineMember 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:FivePointTwoFivePercentSeniorUnsecuredNotesDueTwoThousandTwentyFourMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:FivePointSevenFivePercentSeniorUnsecuredNotesDueTwoThousandTwentyFiveMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:FourPointZeroZeroZeroPercentSeniorUnsecuredNotesDueTwoThousandTwentyNineMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:FourPointZeroZeroZeroPercentSeniorUnsecuredNotesDueTwoThousandTwentyNineMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:ThreePointSixTwoFivePercentSeniorUnsecuredNotesDueTwoThousandThirtyMember 2020-03-04 0001408198 msci:FivePointTwoFivePercentSeniorUnsecuredNotesDueTwoThousandTwentyFourMember 2020-03-04 0001408198 msci:FivePointTwoFivePercentSeniorUnsecuredNotesDueTwoThousandTwentyFourMember us-gaap:OtherNonoperatingIncomeExpenseMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:FivePointTwoFivePercentSeniorUnsecuredNotesDueTwoThousandTwentyFourMember us-gaap:OtherNonoperatingIncomeExpenseMember msci:IndentureMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 srt:MaximumMember msci:ThreePointSixTwoFivePercentSeniorUnsecuredNotesDueTwoThousandThirtyMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 srt:MinimumMember msci:ThreePointSixTwoFivePercentSeniorUnsecuredNotesDueTwoThousandThirtyMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:ThreePointEightSevenFivePercentSeniorUnsecuredNotesDueTwoThousandThirtyOneMember 2020-05-26 0001408198 msci:FivePointSevenFivePercentSeniorUnsecuredNotesDueTwoThousandTwentyFiveMember 2020-05-26 0001408198 msci:FivePointSevenFivePercentSeniorUnsecuredNotesDueTwoThousandTwentyFiveMember us-gaap:OtherNonoperatingIncomeExpenseMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:FivePointSevenFivePercentSeniorUnsecuredNotesDueTwoThousandTwentyFiveMember us-gaap:OtherNonoperatingIncomeExpenseMember msci:IndentureMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:ThreePointEightSevenFivePercentSeniorUnsecuredNotesDueTwoThousandThirtyOneMember srt:MaximumMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:RevolvingCreditAgreementMember 2014-11-20 0001408198 msci:RevolvingCreditAgreementMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:RevolvingCreditAgreementMember 2016-08-04 0001408198 msci:RevolvingCreditAgreementMember 2018-05-15 0001408198 msci:RevolvingCreditAgreementMember 2016-08-03 2016-08-04 0001408198 msci:RevolvingCreditAgreementMember 2018-05-14 2018-05-15 0001408198 msci:RevolvingCreditAgreementMember 2019-11-15 0001408198 msci:RevolvingCreditAgreementMember 2019-11-14 2019-11-15 0001408198 msci:SeniorNotesAndRevolvingCreditFacilityMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:LongTermDebtsMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:PrepaidExpensesAndOtherCurrentAssetsMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:OtherNoncurrentAssetsMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 srt:MaximumMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 srt:MaximumMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:ComputerEquipmentMember srt:MinimumMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:ComputerEquipmentMember srt:MaximumMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:FurnitureAndFixturesMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:LeaseholdImprovementsMember srt:MinimumMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:LeaseholdImprovementsMember srt:MaximumMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:IndexMember 2018-12-31 0001408198 msci:AnalyticsMember 2018-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:AllOtherSegmentsMember 2018-12-31 0001408198 msci:IndexMember 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:AnalyticsMember 2019-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:AllOtherSegmentsMember 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:IndexMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:AnalyticsMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:AllOtherSegmentsMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:AcquiredIntangibleAssetsMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:AcquiredIntangibleAssetsMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:AcquiredIntangibleAssetsMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:SoftwareDevelopmentMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:SoftwareDevelopmentMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:SoftwareDevelopmentMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:CustomerRelationshipsMember srt:MinimumMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:CustomerRelationshipsMember srt:MaximumMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:TrademarksAndTradeNamesMember srt:MinimumMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:TrademarksAndTradeNamesMember srt:MaximumMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:TechnologyOrSoftwareMember srt:MinimumMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:TechnologyOrSoftwareMember srt:MaximumMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:ProprietaryDatabasesAndSystemsMember srt:MinimumMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:ProprietaryDatabasesAndSystemsMember srt:MaximumMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:CustomerRelationshipsMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:CustomerRelationshipsMember 2019-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:TrademarksAndTradeNamesMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:TrademarksAndTradeNamesMember 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:TechnologyOrSoftwareMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:TechnologyOrSoftwareMember 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:ProprietaryDatabasesAndSystemsMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:ProprietaryDatabasesAndSystemsMember 2019-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:OtherPostretirementBenefitPlansDefinedBenefitMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:OtherPostretirementBenefitPlansDefinedBenefitMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:OtherPostretirementBenefitPlansDefinedBenefitMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:PensionPlansDefinedBenefitMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:PensionPlansDefinedBenefitMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:PensionPlansDefinedBenefitMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:CostOfSalesMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:CostOfSalesMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:CostOfSalesMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:SellingAndMarketingExpenseMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:SellingAndMarketingExpenseMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:SellingAndMarketingExpenseMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:ResearchAndDevelopmentExpenseMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:ResearchAndDevelopmentExpenseMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:ResearchAndDevelopmentExpenseMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:GeneralAndAdministrativeExpenseMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:GeneralAndAdministrativeExpenseMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:GeneralAndAdministrativeExpenseMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:OtherNonoperatingIncomeExpenseMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:OtherNonoperatingIncomeExpenseMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:OtherNonoperatingIncomeExpenseMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:OtherNoncurrentLiabilitiesMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:OtherNoncurrentLiabilitiesMember 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:SwitzerlandDefinedBenefitPensionPlanMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:SwitzerlandDefinedBenefitPensionPlanMember 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:SwitzerlandDefinedBenefitPensionPlanMember 2018-12-31 0001408198 msci:SwitzerlandDefinedBenefitPensionPlanMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:SwitzerlandDefinedBenefitPensionPlanMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:SwitzerlandDefinedBenefitPensionPlanMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 msci:TwoThousandTwentyRepurchaseProgramMember 2020-10-29 0001408198 msci:TwoThousandNineteenRepurchaseProgramMember 2020-10-29 0001408198 msci:TwoThousandTwentyRepurchaseProgramMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:OpenMarketPurchasesOfCommonStockMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:OpenMarketPurchasesOfCommonStockMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:OpenMarketPurchasesOfCommonStockMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 2020-01-01 2020-03-31 0001408198 2020-04-01 2020-06-30 0001408198 2020-07-01 2020-09-30 0001408198 2020-10-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 2019-01-01 2019-03-31 0001408198 2019-04-01 2019-06-30 0001408198 2019-07-01 2019-09-30 0001408198 2019-10-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 2018-01-01 2018-03-31 0001408198 2018-04-01 2018-06-30 0001408198 2018-07-01 2018-09-30 0001408198 2018-10-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 msci:CommonStockIssuedMember 2017-12-31 0001408198 msci:CommonStockOutstandingMember 2017-12-31 0001408198 msci:CommonStockIssuedMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 msci:CommonStockOutstandingMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 msci:CommonStockIssuedMember 2018-12-31 0001408198 msci:CommonStockOutstandingMember 2018-12-31 0001408198 msci:CommonStockIssuedMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:CommonStockOutstandingMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:CommonStockIssuedMember 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:CommonStockOutstandingMember 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:CommonStockIssuedMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:CommonStockOutstandingMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:CommonStockIssuedMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:CommonStockOutstandingMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:BonusAwardMember us-gaap:SubsequentEventMember 2021-02-01 2021-02-12 0001408198 msci:BonusAwardMember us-gaap:SubsequentEventMember 2021-02-12 0001408198 msci:BonusAwardMember us-gaap:RestrictedStockUnitsRSUMember us-gaap:SubsequentEventMember 2021-02-01 2021-02-12 0001408198 msci:BonusAwardMember us-gaap:RestrictedStockUnitsRSUMember us-gaap:SubsequentEventMember 2021-02-12 0001408198 msci:BonusAwardMember us-gaap:PerformanceSharesMember srt:MinimumMember us-gaap:SubsequentEventMember 2021-02-01 2021-02-12 0001408198 msci:BonusAwardMember us-gaap:PerformanceSharesMember srt:MaximumMember us-gaap:SubsequentEventMember 2021-02-01 2021-02-12 0001408198 msci:BonusAwardMember us-gaap:PerformanceSharesMember us-gaap:SubsequentEventMember 2021-02-01 2021-02-12 0001408198 us-gaap:PerformanceSharesMember srt:MinimumMember us-gaap:SubsequentEventMember 2021-02-01 2021-02-12 0001408198 us-gaap:PerformanceSharesMember us-gaap:SubsequentEventMember 2021-02-01 2021-02-12 0001408198 srt:MinimumMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:UnvestedSharesMember 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:UnvestedSharesMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:UnvestedSharesMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 2017-12-22 2017-12-22 0001408198 us-gaap:DomesticCountryMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:DomesticCountryMember 2019-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:ForeignCountryMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:ForeignCountryMember 2019-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:DomesticCountryMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:ForeignCountryMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:ValuationAllowanceOfDeferredTaxAssetsMember 2018-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:ValuationAllowanceOfDeferredTaxAssetsMember 2017-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:ValuationAllowanceOfDeferredTaxAssetsMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:ValuationAllowanceOfDeferredTaxAssetsMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 msci:FinancialEngineeringAssociatesIncMember 2018-04-08 2018-04-09 0001408198 msci:FinancialEngineeringAssociatesIncMember 2018-04-09 0001408198 msci:FinancialEngineeringAssociatesIncMember us-gaap:OtherOperatingIncomeExpenseMember 2018-04-08 2018-04-09 0001408198 msci:InvestorForceHoldingsIncMember 2018-10-11 2018-10-12 0001408198 msci:InvestorForceHoldingsIncMember 2018-10-12 0001408198 msci:InvestorForceHoldingsIncMember us-gaap:OtherOperatingIncomeExpenseMember 2018-10-11 2018-10-12 0001408198 country:US 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 country:US 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 country:US 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 msci:OtherAmericaCountriesMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:OtherAmericaCountriesMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:OtherAmericaCountriesMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 srt:AmericasMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 srt:AmericasMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 srt:AmericasMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 country:GB 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 country:GB 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 country:GB 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 msci:OtherEuropeMiddleEastAndAfricaCountriesMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:OtherEuropeMiddleEastAndAfricaCountriesMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:OtherEuropeMiddleEastAndAfricaCountriesMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:EMEAMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:EMEAMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:EMEAMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 country:JP 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 country:JP 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 country:JP 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 msci:OtherAsiaAndAustraliaCountriesMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:OtherAsiaAndAustraliaCountriesMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:OtherAsiaAndAustraliaCountriesMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 msci:AsiaAndAustraliaMember 2020-01-01 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:AsiaAndAustraliaMember 2019-01-01 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:AsiaAndAustraliaMember 2018-01-01 2018-12-31 0001408198 country:US 2020-12-31 0001408198 country:US 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:OtherAmericaCountriesMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:OtherAmericaCountriesMember 2019-12-31 0001408198 srt:AmericasMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 srt:AmericasMember 2019-12-31 0001408198 country:GB 2020-12-31 0001408198 country:GB 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:OtherEuropeMiddleEastAndAfricaCountriesMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:OtherEuropeMiddleEastAndAfricaCountriesMember 2019-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:EMEAMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 us-gaap:EMEAMember 2019-12-31 0001408198 country:JP 2020-12-31 0001408198 country:JP 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:OtherAsiaAndAustraliaCountriesMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:OtherAsiaAndAustraliaCountriesMember 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:AsiaAndAustraliaMember 2020-12-31 0001408198 msci:AsiaAndAustraliaMember 2019-12-31 0001408198 msci:BurgissGroupLimitedLiabilityCompanyMember 2020-01-01 2020-01-31 0001408198 msci:BurgissGroupLimitedLiabilityCompanyMember 2020-01-31 0001408198 us-gaap:SubsequentEventMember 2021-01-25 2021-01-25

 

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, 2020

 

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, 2020) was $27,134,141,425. 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 5, 2021, there were 82,574,643 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 27, 2021, are incorporated herein by reference into Part III of this Form 10-K.

 

 

 


 

 

MSCI INC.

FORM 10-K

FOR THE YEAR ENDED DECEMBER 31, 2020

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

PART I

 

 

Item 1.

 

Business

 

1

Item 1A.

 

Risk Factors

 

14

Item 1B.

 

Unresolved Staff Comments

 

29

Item 2.

 

Properties

 

30

Item 3.

 

Legal Proceedings

 

30

Item 4.

 

Mine Safety Disclosures

 

30

 

 

 

 

 

PART II

 

 

Item 5.

 

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

 

31

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

 

56

Item 8.

 

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

 

57

Item 9.

 

Changes in and Disagreements With Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure

 

93

Item 9A.

 

Controls and Procedures

 

93

Item 9B.

 

Other Information

 

94

 

 

 

 

 

PART III

 

 

Item 10.

 

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

 

95

Item 11.

 

Executive Compensation

 

95

Item 12.

 

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

 

95

Item 13.

 

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

 

95

Item 14.

 

Principal Accountant Fees and Services

 

95

 

 

 

 

 

PART IV

 

 

Item 15.

 

Exhibit and Financial Statement Schedules

 

96

Item 16.

 

Form 10-K Summary

 

112

 

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

 

 

 

 


 

 

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”).

 

 

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 services for the global investment community.  Leveraging our knowledge of the global investment process and our expertise in research, data and technology, our actionable solutions power better investment decisions by enabling 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 tools and services to gain insights and improve transparency throughout their investment processes, including to help define their investment universe, inform and analyze their asset allocation and portfolio construction decisions, measure and manage portfolio performance and risk, conduct performance attribution, implement sustainable and other investment strategies, design and issue exchange traded funds (“ETFs”) and other indexed financial products, and facilitate reporting to stakeholders.  

 

Our leading, research-enhanced products and services include indexes; portfolio construction and risk management analytics; environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) and climate solutions; and real estate benchmarks, return-analytics and market insights.  Through our integrated franchise we provide solutions across our products and services to support our clients’ dynamic and complex needs. Our content and capabilities can be accessed by our clients through multiple channels and platforms.  

 

We are focused on product innovation to address the evolving needs of our clients in light of changing investment trends and an increasingly complex industry. In order to most effectively serve our clients, we are committed to driving an integrated solutions-based approach, achieving service excellence, enhancing our differentiated research and content, and delivering flexible, cutting-edge technology and platforms.  

 

1


 

 

Clients

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Corporates

 

As of December 31, 2020, we served over 4,400 clients1 in more than 95 countries. For the year ended December 31, 2020, our largest client organization by revenue, BlackRock, accounted for 11.0% of our total revenues, with 94.3% of the revenue from BlackRock coming from fees based on the assets in BlackRock’s ETFs that are based on our indexes.  

 

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. Investors are increasingly looking outside their home countries, and the access to and diversity of investment choices are growing. As a result, the investment process is transforming, reflected in a number of trends we have observed, including:

 

 

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

 

Increasing use of global and multi-asset class strategies, incorporating private asset investments and factor objectives, as investors seek specific, customized outcomes;

 

Accelerating integration of ESG and climate considerations into investment processes, reporting and products as sustainable investing goes increasingly mainstream and investors increasingly focus on companies with strong sustainability practices as an indicator of long-term resilience especially in light of events such as the COVID-19 pandemic;

 

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 demand for data and tools that can be customized by clients 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.

 

 

1 

Represents the aggregate of all related clients under their respective parent entity. 

2


 

 

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

 

 

Differentiated research-enhanced content, which is integral to the solutions we provide to clients to help them adapt to a 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, factor models, private real estate assets benchmark data, risk algorithms and ESG and climate data, all of which are 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. We consult with clients and other market participants to discuss their needs, investment trends and implications for our business.

 

Strong client relationships supported by a client coverage team with significant industry experience. The coverage team develops and maintains strong and trusted relationships with senior executives and investment professionals at the world’s largest investment institutions. We believe that these relationships and our global operating footprint enable us to better understand our clients’ unique needs and tailor our coverage initiatives to better serve our clients in the markets in which they operate.

 

Flexible, scalable, cutting-edge technology that is used, developed and enhanced by a global team of sophisticated and innovative technology and data professionals. Our technology enables clients to use content created by MSCI, themselves and third parties in an efficient manner and thereby helps them be more cost-effective in their own operations. Our 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 of our solutions into distribution channels and our clients’ workflows.

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 deliver solutions that incorporate proprietary and highly differentiated content based on rich insights from our research and product development team. In addition to continuing to enhance our position as a leader with respect to tools and services for equity investors globally, our strategic priorities with respect to content also include ESG and climate, thematics, factors, fixed income, liquidity and private assets, all of which we believe represent significant growth opportunities. We are focused on expanding our performance and risk capabilities and content across asset classes, which will allow us to provide more tools to our clients that help them pursue and achieve their investment objectives.

 

 

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 machine learning and artificial intelligence tools, to enhance our ability to gather and analyze data, create content and automate and enhance the efficiency of many of our data processes.

 

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.

 

 

Growth through strengthening existing client relationships and developing new ones. In support of our solutions-driven strategy, we continue to grow our existing offerings by cultivating and expanding relationships across our client base and serving the needs of different client types across multiple asset classes. We remain focused on building the strength and knowledge of our client coverage team to enable them to understand our clients’ needs and educate our clients on the full breadth of our content and capabilities and how using complementary tools can help clients analyze performance and risk across asset classes, investment strategies and geographies. We continue to develop relationships with the following client segments that we believe offer significant growth opportunities: wealth managers, corporates, insurance companies and exchanges, as well as clients in fast-growing regions such as Asia.

 

3


 

 

 

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, in January 2020, we entered into a strategic relationship with The Burgiss Group, LLC (“Burgiss”), a global provider of investment decision support tools for private capital, that is intended to accelerate and expand the data, analytics and other investment decision support tools available to investors in private assets.

 

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.

 

Operating Segments

 

For the year ended December 31, 2020, we had five operating segments - Index, Analytics, ESG, Real Estate and Burgiss. For reporting purposes, the ESG and Real Estate operating segments were combined and presented as All Other as they did not meet the thresholds for separate presentation. The Burgiss operating segment represented the Company’s equity method investment in Burgiss. Effective January 1, 2021, we revised our reportable segment structure. While our strategy, organizational structure and day-to-day operations remain largely unchanged, we believe the new segment reporting structure provides additional and helpful transparency into our operations. See Note 16. “Subsequent Events,” of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements included herein for additional information.

 

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 246,0002 end-of-day indexes daily and more than 14,000 indexes in real time. Clients receive index data directly from us or from third-party vendors worldwide.

 

Our indexes 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, 2020, we calculated indexes that covered more than 80 countries in developed, emerging, frontier and standalone markets, as well as various regional indexes built from the component country indexes.

 

Factor Indexes. Factor Indexes are created using the Barra Equity Models from our Analytics segment to address a growing trend among institutional investors and asset managers to target systematic style factors, such as volatility, size and momentum.

 

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

 

2 

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

4


 

 

 

Customized Indexes. Customized 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.

 

Thematic Indexes. Thematic Indexes are designed to measure the performance of specific social, economic, industrial, environmental or demographic investment strategies.

 

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

 

In 2020, we launched the following indexes:

 

Fixed Income Indexes. Fixed Income Indexes use broad market corporate bond universes to create indexes that track the performance of investment strategies based upon (i) the credit market (MSCI Corporate Bond Indexes), (ii) systematic style factor exposures such as carry, value, size and low risk (MSCI Factor Fixed Income Indexes), (iii) certain ESG metrics and companies’ ESG profiles (MSCI Fixed Income ESG Universal Indexes), (iv) fixed income securities from issuers that have high ESG ratings relative to their sector peers (MSCI Fixed Income ESG Leaders Indexes) and (v) the opportunities and risks associated with the transition to a lower carbon economy (MSCI Climate Change Fixed Income Indexes).

 

Innovation-Focused Thematic Indexes. Innovation-Focused Thematic Indexes expand MSCI’s megatrend index suite to include indexes that are focused on disruptive innovation. These indexes are designed to track the performance of companies in dynamic fields such as autonomous technologies, genomics, fintech, future education and next generation internet. These indexes are used by investors to realign their portfolios to capture structural economic changes.

 

MSCI Climate Paris Aligned Indexes. MSCI Climate Paris Aligned Indexes are designed to help investors mitigate transition and physical risks, identify potential opportunities and allocate resources in a way that supports the decarbonization of the economy while being compatible with the Paris Agreement. The MSCI Climate Paris Aligned Indexes incorporate the recommendations of the EU Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (“TCFD”) and are designed to exceed the minimum standards for EU Paris-aligned Benchmarks.

 

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. (“Standard & Poor’s”).  This classification system was designed to respond to clients’ needs for a comprehensive, consistent and accurate 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, 2020, 60.0% of our revenues were attributable to our Index segment. A majority of those revenues are attributable to annual, recurring subscriptions. A portion of our revenues come 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, 2020, asset-based fees accounted for 39.3% 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 and counterparty risk across all major asset classes, spanning short-, medium- and long-term time horizons. Our offerings also support clients’ various regulatory reporting needs.

 

5


 

 

Our Analytics tools and capabilities include: 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. For example, in 2020 we released multi-period stress testing capabilities that allow investors to model the impact of long horizon scenarios on their portfolios.

 

Our clients access our Analytics tools and content through our proprietary applications and APIs (application programming interfaces), 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 is an industry leader in value at risk (“VaR”) simulation and in stress testing. Clients use RiskManager for daily analysis; measuring and monitoring market and liquidity risk at position, fund and firm levels; sensitivity and stress testing; interactive what-if analysis; counterparty credit exposure; and regulatory risk reporting.   

 

 

BarraOne. Powered by our MAC models and Barra Integrated Model, BarraOne provides clients with global, multi-asset class, multi-currency risk and performance analytics using Barra’s fundamental factor methodology that allows clients to identify the factors driving the risk and performance of their portfolios and calculate portfolio optimizations.

 

 

Barra Portfolio Manager. Barra Portfolio Manager is an integrated risk, performance and optimization platform. Powered by Barra equity models, Barra Portfolio Manager enables our clients to share strategies, analytics and reports across their organizations. It is used by equity fund managers and their teams to gain additional portfolio insight, manage their investment processes more systematically and make more efficient and informed investment decisions.

 

 

WealthBench and CreditManager. 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. CreditManager is a portfolio credit risk management system used primarily by banks to calculate economic capital, facilitate risk-based pricing and measure credit risk concentrations.

 

 

MSCI BEON™. Our BEON application provides an enhanced client experience for equity portfolio and risk managers through a graphical interface that allows clients to easily determine drivers of risk and return. BEON offers clients consolidated access to certain capabilities and tools currently available through other Analytics applications, as well as certain tools from other MSCI operating segments.

 

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 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, 2020, 30.3% of our revenues were attributable to our Analytics segment.

 

All Other – ESG

MSCI ESG Research3 analyzes over 8,5004 entities worldwide to help institutional investors understand how ESG and climate considerations can impact the long-term risks and opportunities in financial markets. Subscribers to MSCI ESG Research include global asset managers, leading asset owners, consultants, advisers and academics.

 

3 

MSCI ESG Research is provided by MSCI ESG Research LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of MSCI Inc. that is registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as an Investment Adviser under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. MSCI ESG Ratings are used in the construction and calculation of MSCI ESG indexes. MSCI indexes are products of MSCI Inc., and MSCI Limited is the benchmark administrator of such indexes.  

4 

Does not include subsidiary-level companies.

6


 

 

In addition, MSCI ESG Research data and MSCI ESG Ratings are used in the construction of MSCI equity and fixed income indexes from our Index operating segment to help institutional investors more effectively benchmark ESG investment performance, issue indexed investment products, as well as manage, measure and report on ESG mandates.  

 

MSCI ESG Research 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. In 2020, MSCI launched the MSCI ESG Industry Materiality Map, a public tool which 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 satisfy their clients’ investment guidelines, implement client mandates and manage potential ESG portfolio risks.

 

 

MSCI Climate Solutions. MSCI’s Climate VaR metric provides investors with an estimation of how the value of their investment portfolios could be impacted (up or down) by climate policy risk, technology transition opportunities and extreme weather (physical climate risks). A company's Climate VaR, expressed as a percentage change from its current market valuation, is derived from financial modeling of potential future costs and profits associated with climate-related risks and opportunities.

 

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

 

For the year ended December 31, 2020, 6.5% of our revenues were attributable to our ESG segment.

All Other – Real Estate

 

Our Real Estate segment includes research, reporting, market data and benchmarking offerings that provide real estate performance analytics for funds, investors and managers. Our Real Estate performance and risk analytics range from enterprise-wide to property-specific analysis. Some of the risk analysis generated in the Real Estate segment is also used in the products offered by our other operating segments. 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. We also provide business intelligence to real estate owners, managers, developers and brokers worldwide. Real Estate offerings include:

 

 

MSCI Enterprise Analytics. Our Enterprise Analytics application offers an interactive, single 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 Global Intel. Our Global Intel offering is an industry-leading database that equips asset owners, researchers, strategists and portfolio and risk managers with data and analytics to enhance their understanding of local, regional and global real estate performance and risks. This tool comprises a consolidated set of global, regional, national, city and submarket indexes with segmentation by property type.   

 

 

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 both transition risk from changing legislation due to climate action and 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.

 

7


 

 

For the year ended December 31, 2020, 3.2% of our revenues were attributable to our Real Estate segment.

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 are constructed using data from our ESG 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 meets twice a 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. 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.

 

 

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

 

 

Improving the client experience by enhancing the way clients access, interact with and use our data, applications and other tools.

 

 

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.

 

Enhancing information security by further strengthening our technology infrastructure, with an emphasis on cyber and information security. Our success depends on our clients’ abilities to securely access our products and services. We implement changes and upgrades to technology and processes to minimize risk on an ongoing basis, and we seek to improve employee awareness of cyber and information security issues through training.

8


 

 

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 risk category, 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 company owned by CME Group, Inc., CME Group Services LLC and S&P Global Inc.) and FTSE Russell, a subsidiary of the London Stock Exchange Group PLC.

 

Growing 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. Asset managers manage funds, including ETFs, based on their proprietary indexes, and many 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. and acquired by Deutsche Borse Group as part of a strategic partnership with General Atlantic), 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.

 

All Other.  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 issue ESG data, ratings or research and a growing number of companies that provide Real Estate data, indexes, performance and risk attribution services. For example, our ESG offerings compete with those from a range of competitors, including Sustainalytics Holding B.V. (now a part of Morningstar, Inc.), Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. and Refinitiv Holdings Limited.

 

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. We do not believe we are dependent on any one of our intellectual property rights or any one license to use third-party intellectual property.

 

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

 

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, equality and inclusion.

 

MSCI is an international company with a highly diverse footprint. Our employees are located in more than 30 cities across more than 20 countries. As of December 31, 2020, we employed 3,633 people, of which 47.0% of MSCI employees were located in the Asia Pacific region, 23.3% in Europe, Middle East and Africa, 20.7% in the U.S. and Canada, and 9.0% in Mexico and Brazil. For the one-year period ended December 31, 2020, voluntary turnover was 7.6% and involuntary turnover was 3.8%.

 

9


 

 

Diversity, Equality and Inclusion

At MSCI, diversity, equality 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, 2020, women represented 33.1% of our global employees, and people of color (defined as those who identify as Asian, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American, Hawaiian, Pacific Islander or two or more races) represented 41.7% of our U.S. employees. From a global diversity perspective, the U.S. represents only 19.9% of our global workforce.

 

Our Executive Diversity Council (the “EDC”) champions a diverse and inclusive culture by advising on corporate initiatives and facilitating collaboration across the Company. Members of the EDC partner with our employee resource groups (the Women’s Leadership Forum, Women in Tech (formed in 2020), MSCI Pride, the Black Leadership Network (formed in 2020) and Eco Groups) to raise awareness, conduct events around the globe and serve as sponsors in their respective locations.

 

In 2020, we established the Employer Brand Council and the Diversity Engagement and Sourcing team. These groups 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 gender, race, ethnicity, LGBTQ+, socio-economic and native/indigenous diversity;

 

forging relationships at institutions worldwide that promote diversity; and

 

building relationships with external partners and media to position MSCI’s programs and opportunities with new networks.

The team not only creates a pipeline of diverse talent for MSCI but also ensures we are positioned more broadly as a leading organization that puts diversity, equality and inclusion at the center of its strategy. We are growing a culture that has highly competent, engaged, accountable and diverse people at every level. 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-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 for employees; 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 we compete for talent. We believe in linking all employee’s 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 the Company’s values and culture.

 

10


 

 

Officers of the Company 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 officers 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 performing officers.

 

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, MSCI prioritized the well-being of its global workforce by having the vast majority of our employees work from home. At the onset of the pandemic, we engaged a firm of global medical and safety experts to provide additional information and guidance to all of our offices globally. In response to the pandemic, we also increased communications about employee assistance programs that provide mental health and emotional well-being support, as well as resources to help manage stress and care for individuals and their families. We also provide ergonomics workshops that focus on how to configure home workspaces for optimal health, comfort and performance.

 

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. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the transition to working from home on a regular basis, MSCI created and delivered virtual training programs to quickly build remote capabilities, such as Leading Virtually, Working Virtually and Building Resilience. Employees were also asked to examine their goals through a start, stop, delay and pivot lens. The “re-imagined” goals focused on servicing our clients and prioritizing critical actions to help clients navigate the evolving and challenging circumstances.

 

MSCI conducts an annual employee engagement survey 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 2020, 85% of employees responded to an employee engagement check-in survey conducted in November 2020 and to an additional employee engagement check-in survey conducted in June 2020. The June 2020 check-in survey was designed to help us understand employees’ overall work experience throughout the unprecedented personal and professional challenges they faced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. These responses helped us gather insights on what drives business outcomes, refine our communication throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and explore ways to continue to make MSCI more inclusive and innovative and support employee well-being.

 

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.

 

COVID-19 Update

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. A substantial majority of our global workforce continues to work from home on a regular basis, as 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 and the local governments where our offices are located globally. Our Innovation Center of Excellence has partnered with cross-functional groups throughout the Company to help our employees address challenges, opportunities and long-term shifts in the remote

11


 

working paradigm introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic, such as re-imagining the future of work and supporting client needs.

 

We have in place well-defined location and business-specific continuity plans and processes which have helped us to ensure the continued operation of critical products and services. During 2020, we did not delay any of our index rebalancings. Our index methodologies are designed to ensure continuity of calculation, maintenance and distribution, and appropriate treatment of global market volatility, circuit breaker events and exchange closures. Additionally, our production environment remained fully functional with the capacity not only to run our index and risk model calculations and produce our ESG ratings, but also to process our clients’ portfolios for risk and performance reports and to respond to ad-hoc demands for stress testing scenarios and COVID-19 risk analyses.

 

Government Regulation

 

The Company is subject to reporting, disclosure and recordkeeping obligations pursuant to SEC requirements.

 

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. We registered in 2012 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

  

62

  

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

C.D. Baer Pettit

  

56

  

President and Chief Operating Officer

Andrew C. Wiechmann

  

41

  

Chief Financial Officer

Robert J. Gutowski

  

53

  

General Counsel

Scott A. Crum

  

64

  

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 President from 1998 until 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 product strategy, equity derivative sales and trading, mergers and acquisitions, worldwide corporate finance and mortgage finance for U.S. financial institutions. Mr. Fernandez worked for Morgan Stanley from 1983 to 1991 and from 1994 to 2007. Mr. Fernandez also serves on the boards of directors/trustees of Royalty Pharma plc, Stanford University, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, the Hoover Institution, the 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.

12


 

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 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 Chief Financial Officer since September 2020.  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, as 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 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 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

13


 

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.

 

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 in our internal network, systems or applications 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;

 

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.

14


 

 

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. 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. Use of our products or services as part of the investment process 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.

15


 

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, which 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 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. While we were not materially impacted in 2020, 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);

 

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 (for example, subscription cancellations increased by 26.6% for the year ended December 31, 2020 compared to being down 1.7% for the year ended December 31, 2019, due, in part, to the challenging operating environment);

 

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

16


 

 

increased strain on our workforce, management and other resources, including employee absenteeism 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.

We continue to work with our stakeholders (including customers, employees, suppliers, business partners, and local communities) to attempt to mitigate any negative effects of this global pandemic on our business. These mitigation efforts have included implementing our business-specific continuity plans and processes, transitioning to a largely global work-at-home model, 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 cannot assure you that we will be successful in any of these mitigation efforts.

We closely monitor the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and continually assess its potential effects on our business. Given the dynamic nature of these circumstances, we cannot reasonably estimate the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic at this time. The extent to which our business, financial condition, results of operations, or cash flows are affected by COVID-19 will depend in part on future developments which cannot be accurately predicted and are uncertain, as there are no comparable recent events that provide guidance as to the potential effect of the spread of a global pandemic. 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 and financial condition 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 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; disagreement with our methodologies or models, including for calculating indexes, value-at-risk and other risk measures, ESG ratings and related 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 processes; 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; criticism of our own sustainability and corporate responsibility policies or practices by the companies we evaluate for ESG ratings or index inclusion; 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. 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.

 

Damage to our reputation, brand or credibility could have a material adverse impact on MSCI’s business, operating results and financial condition.


17


 

 

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 lower or eliminate floors on asset-based fees (i.e., minimum asset-based fee percentages) or impose or lower ceilings on asset-based fees (i.e., maximum asset-based fee percentages). Such changes affecting our fees and fee structures could individually, or in the aggregate, negatively impact our 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 to cease offering the product or switch to a lower fee index. For example, at least one large client ceased using MSCI indexes as the basis for a significant number of its index funds. 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, 2020, our largest client organization by revenue, BlackRock, accounted for 11.0% of our total revenues. For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019, BlackRock, accounted for 11.5% 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 operating results. 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. 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 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.


18


 

 

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., natural disasters), power loss, telecommunications failures, technical breakdowns, Internet failures or computer viruses could impair our systems’ operations or interrupt their availability for extended periods of time. 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. There is no assurance that we will be able to successfully defend against such disruptions or that our disaster recovery or business continuity plans 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 provide for the exchange of sensitive information with our clients through a variety of media and channels, such as the Internet, applications and dedicated transmission lines. We rely on a complex system of internal processes and software controls along with policies, procedures and training to protect data that we receive in the ordinary course of business, including sensitive and confidential 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 data 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 replicating 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 and the price of 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, 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.

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,

19


 

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 software 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 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 major migration efforts (e.g., cloud migration), even after extensive testing of new systems, processes, applications and hardware. Such disruptions may result in cancellations and reduced demand for our products and services, resulting in decreased revenues. 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 financial condition or results of operations.

Our use of open source code could introduce security vulnerabilities into our internal network, systems and applications, 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, as well as to support our internal systems and infrastructure. 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 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. Accordingly, there are risks that there may be a failure in our procedures for controlling the use of open source code or that these licenses could be construed in a manner that imposes unanticipated conditions or restrictions on our ability to commercialize our products. In either event, 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 could divert resources away from our development efforts. Any of these requirements could materially adversely affect our business, financial condition or results of operations.

 


20


 

 

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, 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.

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 and MAC investing.  A decline in the equity markets or a trend away from such investment trends could decrease demand for the Company’s 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. To remain competitive, we must successfully develop new and enhanced products and services and effectively manage product transitions and integrations.

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, advances in cloud computing, increased use of open source code, 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, 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.

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 upgraded 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

21


 

standards or achieve market acceptance. We must make long-term investments and commit significant resources before knowing whether these investments will eventually result in products and services that satisfy our clients’ needs and generate revenues required to provide the desired results. 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 transitions to 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. We must continue to improve our operational, financial, human resources, management, legal and compliance processes and information systems to keep pace with the expansion of our business. If we expand organically or by way of acquisition, there can be no assurance that our management will be effective in attracting, engaging and retaining additional qualified personnel, including additional managers or key employees, developing effective leadership in all our locations, expanding our physical facilities and information technology infrastructure, integrating acquired businesses or otherwise managing 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 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 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 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. 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 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

22


 

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. The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement was formally approved by the UK parliament on December 30, 2020 and is being applied provisionally until it is formally ratified by the EU parliament.

The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement provides 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 Europe and certain members of our senior management team are based in London, 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 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. 

For example, the benchmark industry is subject to regulations in the EU, such as Regulation (EU) 2016/1011 (as amended) and Regulation (EU) No 600/2014, 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 benchmark regulation. 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.  The heightened attention and scrutiny on benchmarks and index providers by regulators,

23


 

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. The CCPA regulates 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 (“APPI”) 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. 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.  Certain regulators in the U.S., for example, have commented publicly on whether index providers, in some cases, are or should be subject to the Advisers Act. See Part I, Item 1. “Business—Government Regulation” above for information about similar regulations in other countries.

 

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 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 ratings 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 profitability.

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, as well as technical measures and contractual protections,

24


 

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 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 the Company’s intellectual property adequately could harm its brand and reputation and affect the Company’s 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 patent or otherwise 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 the Company 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 and 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 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. 

25


 

We manage certain 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.

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.  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. A weaker British pound sterling means that revenues earned in British pound sterling translate to lower reported U.S. dollar revenues.  A weaker British pound sterling also means that expenses incurred in British pound sterling translate to lower reported U.S. dollar expenses. A weaker British pound sterling could also impair the purchasing power of certain clients and could result in decreased demand for our products and services. A fall in the British pound sterling relative to the U.S. dollar, and the strengthening of the U.S. dollar relative to a number of currencies including the British pound sterling, could have significant impacts 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 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 our Revolving Credit Facility.

In 2017, the U.K. 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. This announcement indicates that the continuation of LIBOR on the current basis cannot be guaranteed after 2021, and it appears highly likely that LIBOR will be discontinued or modified by the end of 2021, and although alternative reference rates have been proposed, it is unknown whether they will attain market acceptance as replacements of LIBOR. At this time, it is not possible to predict the effect that these developments, any discontinuance, modification or other reforms to LIBOR or any other reference rate, or the establishment of alternative reference rates may have on LIBOR, other benchmarks or floating rate debt instruments, including borrowings under the Credit Agreement, dated as of November 20, 2014, by and among the Company, the guarantors party 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”). The use of alternative reference rates or other reforms could cause the interest rate calculated for such borrowings to increase or otherwise fail to correlate over time with the interest rates and/or

26


 

payments that would have been made on our obligations if LIBOR was available in its current form, or have other adverse effects on us. To address the transition away from LIBOR, our Revolving Credit Facility provides for a process to amend our Revolving Credit Facility to substitute LIBOR with a replacement rate under certain circumstances. However, there is no guarantee that any such amendment for a replacement rate would become effective, and in the event that such amendment does not become effective, we may be required to pay a rate of interest higher than expected on any amounts owed under our Revolving Credit Facility. As of December 31, 2020, there were no amounts outstanding under our Revolving Credit Facility. 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 either or both 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 the following two conditions are met at the time of, or as a result of, a change of control or sale of substantially all of the Company’s assets: (i) the Senior Notes are rated below investment grade by each rating agency that rates the Senior Notes and (ii) the Senior Notes are downgraded by any rating agency.

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 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 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 increasingly 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.

 


27


 

 

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 anti-corruption laws and any determination that we violated these laws could have a material adverse effect on our business.

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 U.K. Bribery Act 2010. We have implemented safeguards and policies to discourage these practices by our employees and agents. However, our existing safeguards and any future improvements may prove to be less than fully effective and 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 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, results of operations and financial condition.

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 candidates for successful acquisition at acceptable terms. Our ability to achieve the expected returns and synergies from our past and future acquisitions, 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

28


 

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.

In the event that 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 their employment at any time and the loss of any of our key employees could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations. 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 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 our common shares pursuant to our share repurchase program.

The timing, price and volume of repurchases 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 allocation 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 shares. Additionally, the existence of a share repurchase program could cause the market price of our common shares 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.

 

 

29


 

 

Item 2.

Properties

As of December 31, 2020, 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

 

 

February 28, 2033

Budapest, Hungary

 

 

70,833

 

 

February 28, 2029

Monterrey, Mexico

 

 

46,569

 

 

October 31, 2028

Manila, Philippines

 

 

31,544

 

 

February 28, 2027

London, England

 

 

30,519

 

 

December 25, 2026

Pune, India

 

 

24,434

 

 

February 14, 2026

Norman, Oklahoma

 

 

23,664

 

 

May 31, 2024

Berkeley, California

 

 

19,808

 

 

February 28, 2030

 

As of December 31, 2020, we have more than 30 leased and occupied locations of which the principal offices are listed above. We also have additional office locations, including but not limited to, the following leased locations (in descending order of square footage): Boston, Massachusetts; Chicago, Illinois; Geneva, Switzerland; San Francisco, California; Frankfurt, Germany; Shanghai, China; Paris, France; Hong Kong, China; Tokyo, Japan; Beijing, China; Sydney, Australia; Toronto, Canada; and Singapore.

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 us in the ordinary course of business. While the amounts claimed could be substantial, the ultimate liability cannot now be determined because of the considerable uncertainty that exists. 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.

30


 

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 has traded on the New York Stock Exchange since November 15, 2007 and trades under the symbol “MSCI.” As of February 5, 2021, there were 116 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.

The Transfer Agent and Registrar for our common stock is Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc.

Equity Compensation Plans

On February 18, 2016, the Board of Directors, upon the recommendation of the Compensation & Talent Management Committee of the Board of Directors (the “Compensation Committee”), approved the MSCI Inc. 2016 Non-Employee Directors Compensation Plan (the “Directors Plan”), a cash and equity incentive compensation plan that was approved by shareholders at the Company’s 2016 annual meeting of shareholders. The Directors Plan replaced the Company’s then existing non-employee director compensation plan—the MSCI Inc. Independent Directors’ Equity Compensation Plan (the “2011 Plan”). The total number of shares authorized to be awarded under the Directors Plan is 352,460, which is equal to the number of shares that remained available for issuance under the 2011 Plan.

Under the Directors Plan, directors that are not employees of the Company receive annual Board retainer fees and fees for serving on the Company’s committees, if applicable, and a director may make an election to receive all or any portion of such director’s retainer and committee fees in shares of our common stock in lieu of cash. Non-employee directors are entitled to receive an annual grant of $165,000 and the lead director is entitled to an additional $50,000 in stock units (a total of $215,000), in each case, subject to a one-year vesting schedule. Under the MSCI Inc. Non-Employee Directors Deferral Plan, directors may elect to defer receipt of all or any portion of any shares of our common stock issuable upon conversion of any stock unit or any retainer elected to be paid in shares of our common stock until (i) 60 days following separation of service or (ii) the earlier of a specified date or 60 days following separation of service.

On February 18, 2016, the Board of Directors, upon the recommendation of the Compensation Committee, approved the MSCI Inc. 2016 Omnibus Plan (“Omnibus Plan”), an equity incentive compensation plan that was approved by shareholders at the Company’s 2016 annual meeting of shareholders. The Omnibus Plan replaced the Company’s then existing equity compensation plan—the MSCI Inc. Amended and Restated 2007 Equity Incentive Compensation Plan (as amended, the “2007 Plan”). Compensation paid to the Company’s executive officers historically complied with the performance-based compensation exception under 162(m) of the IRC (“162(m)”) by being granted pursuant to the MSCI Inc. Performance Formula and Incentive Plan (the “Performance Plan”). Shareholder approval of the Omnibus Plan constituted approval of the material terms of the performance goals under the Omnibus Plan for purposes of 162(m). Despite the changes implemented by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on December 22, 2017 (“Tax Reform”), the Company will continue to maintain the Performance Plan and may make awards pursuant to it.

31


 

Pursuant to the Omnibus Plan, the Company reserved 7,565,483 shares of common stock for issuance; plus any additional shares which become available due to forfeiture, expiration or cancellation of outstanding awards, which were registered under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”) following approval by the Company’s shareholders. This is in addition to currently outstanding awards under the 2007 Plan. The Omnibus Plan permits the Compensation Committee to make grants of a variety of equity-based awards (such as stock options, stock appreciation rights, restricted stock units, restricted stock, performance awards and other stock-based awards) totaling up to 7,565,483 and other cash-based awards to eligible recipients, including employees and consultants. No awards will be granted under the Omnibus Plan after the earliest to occur of (i) April 28, 2026, (ii) the maximum number of shares available for issuance having been issued and (iii) the Board of Directors terminating the Omnibus Plan in accordance with its terms.  

The following table presents certain information with respect to our equity compensation plans at December 31, 2020:

 

 

 

Number of

Securities to

be Issued

Upon

Vesting of

Restricted

Stock Units

and

Exercise of

Outstanding

Options

a

 

 

Weighted

Average

Unit Award

Value of

Restricted

Stock Units

and

Weighted

-Average

Exercise

Price of

Outstanding

Options

b

 

 

Number of

Securities

Remaining

Available for

Future

Issuance

under Equity

Compensation

Plans

(excluding

securities

reflected

in column (a))

c

 

Equity Compensation Plans Not Approved by Security

   Holders

 

 

 

 

$

 

 

 

 

Equity Compensation Plans Approved by Security

   Holders

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MSCI Inc. 2016 Omnibus Plan

 

 

734,811

 

 

$

162.95

 

 

 

4,530,563

 

MSCI Inc. 2016 Non-Employee Directors

   Compensation Plan

 

 

4,689

 

 

$

327.00

 

 

 

283,177

 

Total

 

 

739,500

 

 

$

163.99

 

 

 

4,813,740

 

Stock Repurchases

The Board of Directors has approved a stock repurchase program for the purchase of the Company’s common stock in the open market. See Note 10, “Shareholders’ Equity (Deficit),” of the Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements included herein for additional information on our stock repurchase program.


32


 

 

The following table provides information with respect to purchases made by or on behalf of the Company of its common stock during the quarter ended December 31, 2020.

 

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, 2020-October 31, 2020

 

 

297,103

 

 

$

347.39

 

 

 

297,103

 

 

$

1,789,547,000

 

November 1, 2020-November 30, 2020

 

 

177,181

 

 

$

348.45

 

 

 

174,488

 

 

$

1,728,753,000

 

December 1, 2020-December 31, 2020

 

 

6

 

 

$

402.25

 

 

 

-

 

 

$

1,728,753,000

 

Total

 

 

474,290

 

 

$

347.79

 

 

 

471,591

 

 

$

1,728,753,000

 

 

 

(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; (iii) shares withheld to satisfy tax withholding obligations and exercise price on behalf of employees that occur upon exercise and delivery of outstanding shares underlying stock options; and (iv) 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 10, “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, 2020.

Use of Proceeds from Sale of Registered Securities

None.

33


 

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, 2015 assuming an investment of $100 at the closing price on December 31, 2015. 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 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,

 

 

 

2015

 

 

2016

 

 

2017

 

 

2018

 

 

2019

 

 

2020

 

MSCI Inc.

 

$

100

 

 

$

111

 

 

$

180

 

 

$

212

 

 

$

376

 

 

$

656

 

S&P 500

 

$

100

 

 

$

112

 

 

$

136

 

 

$

130

 

 

$

171

 

 

$

203

 

NYSE Composite Index

 

$

100

 

 

$

112

 

 

$

133

 

 

$

121

 

 

$

152

 

 

$

162

 

 

Source: S&P Global

34


 

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,

 

 

 

 

 

2020

 

 

 

2019

 

 

2018 (1)

 

 

 

2017

 

 

 

2016

 

 

 

 

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

Operating revenues

 

$

1,695,390

 

 

$

1,557,796

 

 

$

1,433,984

 

 

$

1,274,172

 

 

$

1,150,669

 

 

Total operating expenses

 

 

810,626

 

 

 

802,095

 

 

 

747,086

 

 

 

694,402

 

 

 

662,565

 

 

Operating income

 

 

884,764

 

 

 

755,701

 

 

 

686,898

 

 

 

579,770

 

 

 

488,104

 

 

Other expense (income), net

 

 

198,539

 

 

 

152,383

 

 

 

57,002

 

 

 

112,871

 

 

 

102,166

 

 

Provision for income taxes

 

 

84,403

 

 

 

39,670

 

 

 

122,011

 

 

 

162,927

 

 

 

125,083

 

 

Net income

 

$

601,822

 

 

$

563,648

 

 

$

507,885

 

 

$

303,972

 

 

$

260,855

 

 

Operating margin

 

 

52.2

%

 

 

48.5

%

 

 

47.9

%

 

 

45.5

%

 

 

42.4

%

 

Earnings per basic common share

 

$

7.19

 

 

$

6.66

 

 

$

5.83

 

 

$

3.36

 

 

$

2.72

 

 

Earnings per diluted common share

 

$

7.12

 

 

$

6.59

 

 

$

5.66

 

 

$

3.31

 

 

$

2.70

 

 

Weighted average shares outstanding used

   in computing earnings per share

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic

 

 

83,716

 

 

 

84,644

 

 

 

87,179

 

 

 

90,336

 

 

 

95,986

 

 

Diluted

 

 

84,517

 

 

 

85,536

 

 

 

89,701

 

 

 

91,914

 

 

 

96,540

 

 

Dividends declared per common share

 

$

2.92

 

 

$

2.52

 

 

$

1.92

 

 

$

1.32

 

 

$

1.00

 

 

 

 

 

As of

 

 

 

 

December 31,

 

 

December 31,

 

 

December 31,

 

 

December 31,

 

 

December 31,

 

 

 

 

 

2020

 

 

2019 (2)

 

 

2018 (1)

 

 

 

2017

 

 

 

2016

 

 

 

 

(in thousands)

Cash and cash equivalents

 

$

1,300,521

 

 

$

1,506,567

 

 

$

904,176

 

 

$

889,502

 

 

$

791,834

 

 

Accounts receivable (net of allowances)

 

$

558,569

 

 

$

499,268

 

 

$

473,433

 

 

$

327,597

 

 

$

221,504

 

 

Goodwill and intangibles, net of

   accumulated amortization

 

$

1,800,770

 

 

$

1,824,355

 

 

$

1,826,564

 

 

$

1,882,457

 

 

$

1,903,490

 

 

Total assets

 

$

4,198,647

 

 

$

4,204,439

 

 

$

3,387,952

 

 

$

3,275,668

 

 

$

3,082,578

 

 

Deferred revenue

 

$

675,870

 

 

$

574,656

 

 

$

537,977

 

 

$

374,365

 

 

$

334,358

 

 

Long-term debt, net of current maturities

 

$

3,366,777

 

 

$

3,071,926

 

 

$

2,575,502

 

 

$

2,078,093

 

 

$

2,075,201

 

 

Total shareholders' equity (deficit)

 

$

(443,234

)

 

$

(76,714

)

 

$

(166,494

)

 

$

401,012

 

 

$

317,605

 

 

 

(1)

Includes the impact of the Financial Engineering Associates, Inc. (“FEA”) and Investor Force Holdings, Inc. (“InvestorForce”) 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.

 

 

35


 

Item 7.

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

The following discussion and analysis of the financial condition and results of our operations for the year ended December 31, 2020 should be read in conjunction with the consolidated financial statements and related notes included elsewhere in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. The discussion summarizing the significant factors affecting the results of operations and financial condition of MSCI for the year ended December 31, 2019 can be found in Part II, “Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” of our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2019 (the “2019 Annual Report”), which was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on February 18, 2020.

Overview

 

We are a leading provider of critical decision support tools and services for the global investment community.  Leveraging our knowledge of the global investment process and our expertise in research, data and technology, our actionable solutions power better investment decisions by enabling 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 tools and services to gain insight and improve transparency throughout their investment processes, including to help define their investment universe, inform and analyze their asset allocation and portfolio construction decisions, measure and manage portfolio performance and risk, conduct performance attribution, implement sustainable and other investment strategies, design