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June 25, 2020  |  Global Equity
Disruption and Growth in Digital Payments

Global Research Analyst

Daniel Hill, CFA, is a global equity research analyst at William Blair Investment Management. He covers small-cap financial companies. He was previously a global generalist research analyst and an international and global research associate supporting the global financial team under the guidance of research analysts. Daniel joined William Blair in 2005 as an investment accountant. He is a member of the CFA Institute and the CFA Society Chicago. He received a B.S. in finance from the University of Nebraska and an M.B.A. from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

The digital payments industry offers access to a truly enormous addressable market across the world, and varying penetration across regions and countries creates opportunities for active managers. But disruption is always a consideration when analyzing an industry, and this threat varies significantly across the segments of the digital payments industry.

The global payments ecosystem consists of three primary segments.

Merchant acquirers are the entities that enable merchants to accept credit cards and other forms of digital payments. Issuers are the banks that issue credit and debit cards and the issuer processors that are either internal functions within banks or are banks’ external partners. And networks are the “pipes” or “rails” through which all transactions flow, connecting merchants and issuers.

These different segments face different disruption risks.

There is nothing overpriced or inefficient about the current system that would make it ripe for disruption.

Disruption Risk: Overstated?

For example, incumbent merchant acquirers face a major threat of losing market share to new, technology-enabled providers.

With networks, on the other hand, we believe that many investors are overestimating the near- and medium-term disruption risk facing the global duopoly of Visa and MasterCard. The existing networks are firmly entrenched, efficient, inexpensive, safe, and reliable.

In other words, there is nothing overpriced or inefficient about the current system that would make it ripe for disruption.

That includes digital currencies and blockchain, which are lauded by their ardent supporters as game-changers for many industries. We believe their potential to significantly disrupt the payments industry is low—at least in the near and medium terms.

First and foremost, the technology simply isn’t capable of handling the bandwidth needed to support any sort of systematic shift. Estimates of the number of transactions that Bitcoin and its competitors can handle ranges from as low as five to a few hundred per second—a fraction of what existing networks such as Visa and MasterCard can handle.[1]

Facebook’s planned digital currency, Libra, is primarily targeted at consumers in emerging markets with high inflation, where a large percentage of the population is under- or unbanked. However, most governments are not keen on the idea of an alternative currency that could interfere with their control of monetary policy.

While Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal were members of the original Libra consortium, all three have recently announced they are withdrawing in the face of government pushback.

Over the longer term, alternatives such as blockchain, real-time payments, and other models may have the potential to take volume from the existing networks, but many of the networks are preparing for this risk and using their powerful balance sheets to invest in alternative systems.

Another reason that near- and medium-term disruption risk across the payments industry is overstated is inertia. The methods individuals use to pay for goods and services tend to be firmly established, and consumer behavior is often resistant to change. Once people are accustomed to—and trust—their forms of payment, a disrupter would have to offer a truly superior alternative, not just a marginally better approach.

New entrants to the payments ecosystem in recent years have leveraged the existing system rather than attempting to replace it. Even if a superior approach that would bypass the existing system did emerge, adoption would likely be slow.

Companies are using artificial intelligence and machine learning to enhance fraud prevention and detection.

Technology Underpins Growth

At the same time, leading payments companies are using increasingly sophisticated technology to create value—and justify their fees—for merchants and consumers through enhanced fraud prevention, increased acceptance rates (i.e., lowering the frequency of rejected transactions), more sophisticated targeted marketing, and improved omnichannel experiences.

Companies across all three segments of the payments ecosystem (merchant acquirers, issuers, and networks) are using artificial intelligence and machine learning to enhance fraud prevention and detection. This is critical in encouraging trust in noncash payment methods, which is particularly important for app-based services and other forms of e-commerce.

Merchant acquirers are using data analytics to enhance merchants’ ability to conduct targeted marketing campaigns, develop more effective customer loyalty programs, and create a more seamless experience for consumers across in-store, online, and mobile environments.

All of this is extremely valuable to merchants in helping to increase sales, driving volume for the payments industry.

As each platform improves in functionality, the entire ecosystem becomes more appealing to consumers.

How We Invest

When we evaluate technology companies, we look for sustainable growth and disruption potential, but also other factors. We are particularly attracted to ones that operate within systems that involve two mutually dependent and mutually beneficial components.

As each platform improves in functionality, the entire ecosystem becomes more appealing to consumers; as these platforms add more users, their infrastructure and development costs are spread over a broader base, driving the marginal cost of each additional transaction closer to zero.

Payments and mobile technology are a prime example of a two-sided system driven by the type of symbiotic relationship that we find so appealing.

Technology advancements continue to enable new services that improve consumers’ lives, whether in the form of ridesharing, streaming video, or having food delivered to your door.

Without digital payments, these services couldn’t exist in their current forms. All parties benefit from ongoing improvements to other parts of the ecosystem and are willing to pay a fee or make the necessary investments to make it work.

Up Next

Although digital payment transactions take only seconds to complete, there are different layers and numerous players interacting behind the scenes that make that phenomenon possible: merchant acquirers, issuers, and networks. In our next posts, we will explain how they interact, and offer some insight into the opportunities and risks each face.

Digital Payments Series
Part 1: Why We Find Digital Payments Compelling
Part 2: 5 Factors Driving Digital Payments Growth
Part 3: Disruption and Growth in Digital Payments
Part 4: Follow the Money in Digital Payments
Part 5: More Competition for Merchant Acquirers
Part 6: Digital Payments Issuers Face Regulatory Risk
Part 7: Networks: The Rails That Connect Digital Payments

[1] Hacknoon. “The Blockchain Scalability Problem & the Race for Visa-Like Transaction Speed.” October 14, 2019. Blockchain.com.

Global Research Analysts Drew Buckley, CFA, and Kwesi Smith, CFA, contributed to this blog post.

Daniel Hill, CFA, is a research analyst on William Blair’s Global Equity team.

Global Research Analyst

Daniel Hill, CFA, is a global equity research analyst at William Blair Investment Management. He covers small-cap financial companies. He was previously a global generalist research analyst and an international and global research associate supporting the global financial team under the guidance of research analysts. Daniel joined William Blair in 2005 as an investment accountant. He is a member of the CFA Institute and the CFA Society Chicago. He received a B.S. in finance from the University of Nebraska and an M.B.A. from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

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There are also certain unique cookies and/or third-party cookies that we may use for analytics purposes to enhance the performance of our website. These cookies may track and provide trend analysis on how our users interact with our website, or help us to track errors. The data collected will generally be aggregated to provide trends and usage patterns for business analysis, site/platform improvement and performance metrics. The type of information we collect includes how many visitors visit our website, when they visited, for how long and which areas of our website are visited and which services are used. While this analysis may be performed by third parties, only William Blair will review the analytics. Your use of our website indicates your consent to the use of these web analytics cookies. One of these third party analytic tools used is a web analytics service provided by Google. Google Analytics is one of the most widespread and trusted analytics solutions on the web for helping us to understand how you use the site and ways that we can improve your experience. Google Analytics uses cookies to help analyze how visitors use the William Blair & Company website. Four types of cookies are used by Google Analytics:

  • __utma Cookie A persistent cookie – remains on a computer, unless it expires or the cookie cache is cleared. It tracks visitors. Metrics associated with the Google __utma cookie include: first visit (unique visit), last visit (returning visit). This also includes Days and Visits to purchase calculations which afford ecommerce websites with data intelligence around purchasing sales funnels.
  • __utmb Cookie & __utmc Cookie These cookies work in tandem to calculate visit length. Google __utmb cookie demarks the exact arrival time, then Google __utmc registers the precise exit time of the user. Because __utmb counts entrance visits, it is a session cookie, and expires at the end of the session, e.g. when the user leaves the page. A timestamp of 30 minutes must pass before Google cookie __utmc expires. Given__utmc cannot tell if a browser or website session ends. Therefore, if no new page view is recorded in 30 minutes the cookie is expired.
  • __utmz Cookie Cookie __utmz monitors the HTTP Referrer and notes where a visitor arrived from, with the referrer siloed into type (Search engine (organic or cost per click), direct, social and unaccounted). From the HTTP Referrer the __utmz Cookie also registers, what keyword generated the visit plus geolocation data. This cookie lasts six months.
  • __utmv Cookie Google __utmv Cookie lasts “forever”. It is a persistent cookie. It is used for segmentation, data experimentation and the __utmv works hand in hand with the __utmz cookie to improve cookie targeting capabilities.

For further details on Google analytics cookies, visit cookies set by Google Analytics.

Targeting Cookies
William Blair may utilize a select set of cookies provided by third parties, such as Like and Share buttons. These cookies store non-personally identifiable information, but may store information that is available to third-party advertisers, publishers, or ad networks.

Managing Cookies
Most browsers are initially set to accept cookies. However, you have the ability to disable cookies if you wish, generally through changing your internet software browsing settings. It may also be possible to configure your browser settings to enable acceptance of specific cookies or to notify you each time a new cookie is about to be stored on your computer permitting you to decide whether to accept or reject the cookie. To manage your use of cookies, there are various resources available to you. For example the “Help” section on your browser may assist you. As our cookies allow you to access some of our website’s essential features, we recommend that you leave cookies enabled. Disabling cookies may mean that you experience reduced functionality or will be prevented from using our site altogether.

Additional Resources

http://www.allaboutcookies.org

https://ico.org.uk/for-the-public/online/cookies

William Blair & Company Privacy and Security Policy

Social Media Disclaimer

William Blair & Company, L.L.C. is a broker dealer and investment adviser dually registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). William Blair, along with affiliated entities William Blair Investment Management, LLC and William Blair International, Ltd (collectively, “William Blair”) sponsors and publishes posts on or through pages, profiles, accounts, feeds, channels or other portions of various social media platforms, including but not limited to YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter (each, a “Site”) for educational, promotional or other business reasons.

About William Blair Posts

No William Blair post published on any social media platform is an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy shares of any William Blair investment product to any person in any jurisdiction in which an offer, solicitation, purchase or sale would be unlawful under the laws of such jurisdiction. Additionally, all William Blair posts published on any social media platform are for informational purposes only and should not be considered as investment advice or recommendations to invest in any particular security, strategy or investment product.

William Blair posts on social media may include statements concerning financial market trends, and are based on current market conditions, which will fluctuate and may be superseded by subsequent market events or for other reasons. Historic market trends are not reliable indicators of actual future market behavior or future performance of any particular investment which may differ materially, and should not be relied upon as such. The investment strategies and broad themes discussed in William Blair’s social media posts may be unsuitable for investors depending on their specific investment objectives and financial situation. Information contained in posts has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but not guaranteed. You should note that the materials on the social media platforms are provided “as is” without any express or implied warranties. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. All investments involve a degree of risk, including the risk of loss. No part of William Blair posts may be altered without express written permission from William Blair.

William Blair posts may provide links to third party websites only as a convenience and the inclusion of such links does not imply any endorsement, approval, investigation, verification or monitoring by William Blair of any content or information contained within or accessible from the linked sites. While we make every attempt to provide links only to those websites we think are trustworthy and accurate, we cannot be responsible for the content or accuracy of the information presented on those websites and we specifically disclaim any liability for any loss or damages which you may incur, directly or indirectly, as a result of your use of them. We reserve the right to terminate a link to a third party website at any time.

General User Guidelines

Due to the highly regulated nature of our industry and as a matter of policy, William Blair, in some instances, may not reply to user comments. Please ensure that your contributions in relation to any William Blair posts are relevant and topical. Do not publish your own advertisements of any kind on any William Blair social media page or with respect to any William Blair posts. We ask you to be respectful and courteous and refrain from publishing, including through hyper-links, inappropriate or offensive material on any William Blair social media page. Do not attempt to promote investments (this includes posting testimonials, giving investment advice, or making recommendations about specific securities, securities strategies, products or services) on any William Blair social media page. Do not attempt to submit to William Blair any personal, confidential or account information through any William Blair social media page. William Blair is not subject to any obligations of confidentiality regarding information submitted to them through any William Blair social media page or otherwise through any social media platform.

Third-Party Posts on any William Blair Social Media Page

While William Blair may monitor third-party posts published on any William Blair social media page, such posts may be reviewed to ensure regulatory compliance, but otherwise are not edited before being displayed. Third-party posts on any William Blair social media page are the view and responsibility of the third-party, not William Blair. William Blair cannot guarantee the appropriateness, accuracy or usefulness of any third-party posts or of any third-party hyper-link, nor are they responsible for any unauthorized or copyrighted materials contributed by a third-party in any William Blair social media page. William Blair reserves the right to remove or edit any third-party posts or comments on any William Blair social media page that are inappropriate or that violate (or may violate) applicable regulations.

William Blair does not publish or otherwise disseminate statements relating to current or former clients’ positive experiences with or endorsements of William Blair and expects you to refrain from publishing such posts on any William Blair social media page. You should limit your posts on any William Blair social media page to investment themes rather than commenting, positively or negatively, on William Blair, its products, services or personnel. Although our clients may follow this account, this should not be interpreted as a testimonial regarding any client’s experience with our firm.

Any descriptions of, references to, or links to other products, publications or services do not constitute an endorsement, authorization, sponsorship by, or affiliation with William Blair with respect to any hyper-linked site or its sponsor, unless expressly stated by William Blair. William Blair expressly disclaims any responsibility for the posts, the accuracy of the information, and/or quality of products or services provided by or advertised on these third-party sites, as posted by third-parties on any William Blair Social media page.

Use Social Media Platforms at Your Own Risk

William Blair is in no way affiliated with any social media platform and has no responsibility for any social media page’s operations and services. William Blair and their respective affiliates, directors, officers, or employees are not liable for any direct, indirect, incidental, consequential, punitive or special damages arising out of or in any way connected with your access or use of, or inability to access or use, a social media platform, any William Blair social media page thereon or reliance on any William Blair post or any failure of performance, interruption, defect, delay in transmission, computer viruses or other harmful components, or line or system failure associated with a social media platform or any William Blair social media page thereon. Use of a social media platform or any William Blair social media page thereon is at your own risk.

Privacy Policy

William Blair is not responsible for the terms of use or privacy policies of any social media platform on which William Blair posts may appear, including in any William Blair social media page. For additional information regarding account security and privacy, refer to our Privacy and Security statement

Copyrights and Trademarks

Each social media page’s content and information, and all trademarks, service marks, trade names, trade dress, logos, copyrights and other intellectual property displayed on the Site by William Blair (“Content”) are protected by U.S. and worldwide copyright and trademark laws and treaty provisions, and are owned by, controlled by or licensed to William Blair or their respective owners. By using any social media page, we do not grant you any rights to reproduce, sell, or license any of the content contained herein, except that you may print a copy of the information contained herein for your personal use only. You may not reproduce or distribute the text or graphics to others or copy all or substantially all of the content to your own hard drive or server without the prior written permission of William Blair.

Permitted Uses of Our Sites and Content

We have listed below the permitted uses of our Content. We reserve the right to change our permitted uses at any time.

  • William Blair grants you a limited, revocable, nonexclusive and nontransferable right to view, store, bookmark, download, copy and print pages from the Site for your personal and noncommercial use only. Unless you receive our permission in advance, you may not exploit any of the Content commercially or forward it as a mass distribution.
  • If you link other websites to any Site, you may not imply or suggest that William Blair has endorsed or is affiliated with such websites and you may not display this Site as “framed” within another website.

Prohibited Uses of Our Sites and Content

William Blair does not grant, by implication, estoppel or otherwise, any license or right to use Content on any social media page other than those set forth above, and you shall not make any other use of such Content without William Blair’s written permission. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing:

  • You agree not to copy large portions of any social media page (such as by bots, robots or spiders that “harvest” the Site), interfere with the functioning of the Site or restrict or inhibit any others from using the Site.
  • If you download any pages from any social media page, you agree that you will not remove or obscure any copyright or other notices or legends contained in any such Content. You may not alter or modify the Content in your copies.
  • You may not (and may not encourage or assist others to) violate any law, regulation, rule or the intellectual property or contractual rights of others, or attempt to violate the security of any social media page or use or gain access to the identities, information or computers of others through any social media page.
  • You may not transmit any virus, worm, time bomb or similar system interference or corruptant through any social media page.

William Blair has the right (but not the obligation) to monitor any social media page for unauthorized or objectionable conduct and to take all appropriate actions in response, without notice to you. We reserve the right to change or supplement our website policies at any time to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law.

Forward-Looking Statements

Statements made on any social media page that look forward in time involve risks and uncertainties and are forward-looking statements. Such risks and uncertainties include, without limitation, the adverse effect from a decline in the securities markets or a decline in William Blair’s products’ performance, a general downturn in the economy, competition from other companies, changes in government policy or regulation, inability of William Blair to attract or retain key employees, unforeseen costs and other effects related to legal proceedings or investigations of governmental and self-regulatory organizations.

Forward-looking statements reflect our current views with respect to, among other things, the operations and performance of our businesses. You can identify these forward-looking statements by the use of words such as “outlook,” “believe,” “expect,” “potential,” “continue,” “may,” “should,” “seek,” “approximately,” “predict,” “intend,” “will,” “plan,” “estimate,” “anticipate” or the negative version of these words or other comparable words. Forward-looking statements are subject to various risks and uncertainties. Accordingly, there are or will be important factors that could cause actual outcomes or results to differ materially from those indicated in these statements. We undertake no obligation to publicly update or review any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise.

International Use

The Content provided in or accessible through any social media page is not intended for distribution to, or use by, any person or entity in any jurisdiction or country where such distribution or use would be contrary to law or regulation or which would subject William Blair to any registration or other requirement within such jurisdiction or country. William Blair reserves the right to limit access to the Site to any person, geographic region or jurisdiction. Unless otherwise expressly set forth herein, William Blair makes no representations that transactions, products or services discussed on or accessible through the Site are available or appropriate for sale or use in all jurisdictions or by all users, or that access by any user in the place it is located is not illegal or prohibited. Users who choose to access the Site from other locations do so on their own initiative and are responsible for establishing the legality, usability and correctness of any information or Content on the Site under the laws of any applicable jurisdictions. You may not use or export the Content on the Site or accessible through the Site in violation of applicable laws and regulations.

Transmission to and From any Social Media Page

Subject to any applicable terms and conditions set forth in our Privacy and Security Statement, any communication or other material that you send to us through the Internet or post on any social media page by electronic mail or otherwise, is and will be deemed to be non-confidential as between you and us and William Blair shall have no obligation of any kind with respect to such information. William Blair will be free to use, for any purpose, and without compensation due or payable to you, any ideas, concepts, know-how or techniques provided by you to William Blair through any social media page.

Disclaimer and Indemnity

William Blair and its affiliates disclaim, to the fullest extent permitted by law, all express and implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, and non-infringement. If you live in a state that does not allow disclaimers of implied warranties, our disclaimer may not apply to you.

William Blair does not warrant that the information in any social media page is accurate, reliable or correct, that any social media page will be available at any particular time or location, or that any social media page is free of viruses or other harmful components. Electronic communications can be intercepted by third parties and, accordingly, electronic mail and other transmissions to and from any social media page or made via any social media page may not be secure.

The investments and strategies discussed in the content may not be suitable for all investors and are not obligations of William Blair or any of its affiliates or guaranteed by William Blair or any of its affiliates. The investments are not bank deposits and are not insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other entity and are subject to investment risks, including the loss of the principal amount invested. Nothing contained on the Site constitutes investment, legal, tax or other advice nor is to be relied on in making an investment or other decision. You should obtain and carefully review any applicable prospectus, statement of additional information and/or offering memorandum as well the William Blair Form ADV, as applicable, before making any investment decision. Decisions based on information or materials contained on any social media page are the sole responsibility of the user.

As consideration for access to any social media page, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless William Blair and their employees, contractors, affiliates, officers and directors from and against any claims whatsoever and of any nature for damages, losses and causes of action, including but not limited to actions by third parties against you, William Blair or any of its Related Person, arising out of or in connection with any decisions that you make based on such Content, your use of any social media page, or your violation of our website policies. You agree to make William Blair, whole for any and all claims, losses, liabilities, and expenses (including attorneys’ fees) arising from your use of the Site or any violation of this the policies laid out in this Disclaimer, unless prohibited by law.

Miscellaneous Provisions

YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and any other social media sites are public sites. William Blair is in no way affiliated with them and has no responsibility for their operations and services or for related service sites. William Blair is not responsible for any social media platform’s terms of use or privacy or security policies, or any other third party sites that may be linked to by a social media platform. By using a social media platform, you accept at your own risk that the Internet and online communications medium may not perform as intended despite the efforts of William Blair, your Internet Service Provider, and you.

For additional information regarding account security and privacy, refer to our Privacy and Security statement. For customer service inquiries or questions about your accounts, please visit our website at: www.williamblair.com.

Your Acceptance of these Terms

Your use of the Site constitutes your acceptance of the terms contained herein. You may reject these terms by leaving the Site at any time.

For additional information about William Blair or to contact us, please visit our website at: www.williamblair.com.

Glossary

INDICES
The Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index is a broad-based benchmark that measures the investment grade, U.S. dollar-denominated, fixed-rate taxable bond market, including Treasuries, government-related and corporate securities, mortgage-backed securities (agency fixed-rate and hybrid ARM pass-throughs), asset-backed securities, and commercial mortgage backed securities.

The MSCI ACWI IMI Index is a free float-adjusted, market capitalization-weighted index that captures large, mid, and small cap representation across developed and emerging markets.

The MSCI ACWI ex-US IMI Index is a free float-adjusted, market capitalization-weighted index that captures large, mid, and small cap representation across developed and emerging markets, excluding the U.S. The Value and Growth Indices are a subset of the Index that adopt a framework for style segmentation in which value and growth securities are characterized using different attributes. Multiple factors are used to identify value and growth characteristics.

The MSCI ACWI Small Cap Index is a free float-adjusted, market capitalization-weighted index that captures small cap representation across developed and emerging markets.

The MSCI Emerging Markets Index is a free float-adjusted, market capitalization-weighted index that is designed to measure the equity market performance of emerging markets.

The MSCI World Index is a free float-adjusted, market capitalization-weighted index that is designed to measure the equity market performance of developed markets.

The Russell 2000 Index is a market capitalization-weighted index designed to represent the small cap segment of the U.S. equity universe.

Index performance is for illustrative purposes only. The indices are unmanaged, do not incur fees or expenses, and cannot be invested in directly.

TERMS
Alpha is a measure of an investment's return in excess of the market's return, after both have been adjusted for risk.

Beta is a measure of the volatility of an investment relative to the overall market, represented by a comparable benchmark.

Half-life is a statistical measure of the time required for the discrepancy between price and value to contract by half of its starting value. Fundamental value estimates are based on the Dynamic Allocation Strategies team's proprietary research.

P/E Ratio is a measure of valuation which compares share price to earnings per share, calculated using estimates for the next twelve months.

Standard deviation is a statistical measurement of variations from the average.

QUANTITATIVE MODELS – FACTOR DEFINITIONS
The William Blair Earnings Trend Model captures information about short- and medium-term changes in analyst estimates in an attempt to anticipate future estimate changes and stock performance. The score combines measurements of earnings revisions, momentum, and earnings surprise.

The William Blair Valuation Model combines varying metrics used to characterize the relationship between the stock’s trading price and its intrinsic value. By going beyond using only one or two measures, the model attempts to build a more holistic version of a stock’s worth vis-a-vis the market. The score combines measurements of earnings/cash flow based, asset-based, and model-based factors.

Cookie Policy

At William Blair, your privacy is important and we want to be clear about the information we may collect when you visit our website. This policy explains how we use cookies and may be amended, from time to time, without notice. Please read the information below about our cookie use. By using this site you agree to the placement of cookies on your computer in accordance with the terms of this policy. If you would like to modify your browser to notify you when you receive a new cookie or to disable cookies, please refer to Managing Cookies below. Additional resources, and a link to our full Privacy and Security Policy may also be found below.

What are cookies? Cookies are text files containing small amounts of information that are downloaded to your device when you visit a website. When you revisit the website, the cookies allow the website to recognize your device and remember certain information about you. Cookies can serve many purposes (helping us to understand how visitors use the website, letting you navigate between pages efficiently, remembering your preferences, and generally improving your user experience). Cookies also can help ensure that we provide information to you that is relevant or that you have requested.

You also can learn more about cookies at www.allaboutcookies.org.

Our use of cookies

Session Cookies
Session cookies are used to temporarily store information about logged in users. These cookies do not collect information from the user’s computer, and do not identify the user. These cookies do not gather information about you that could be used for marketing purposes or remembering where you have been on the internet. The William Blair website uses the following session cookies:

  • “ASP.Net_SessionId”: this cookie helps to identify each browser session on the server so that the user has an uninterrupted journey through the William Blair Website. It expires automatically when the session ends.
  • “ARRAffinity”: these cookies are set by our hosting provider to help load pages efficiently by routing users to the same server consistently. They expire as soon as you close your browser.

Permanent Cookies
Permanent cookies are used to enhance a user’s browsing experience by “remembering” users on subsequent visits. Please note that if you delete these cookies, we will not be able to remember your preferences or your login details or provide you with the content you have requested. These cookies do not gather information about you that could be used for marketing purposes. If you no longer wish for us to remember your selections, you should delete cookies on your machine. The William Blair website uses the following permanent cookies:

  • “recentOffice” and “recentPeople” cookies to speed up navigation by giving you the option to return to pages you have already visited. The cookies expire one year after the last page was requested.
  • “SC_Analytics_Global_Cookie”: this persistent cookie identifies repeat visits from a single user. The cookie expires one year after the last page was requested.
  • “SC_Analytics_Session_Cookie”: this cookie is used to collect anonymised information about how visitors use the site, including the number of visitors, where visitors have come from before coming to the site and the pages they visit on the site. The cookie expires one year after the last page was requested.

Analytics Cookies
There are also certain unique cookies and/or third-party cookies that we may use for analytics purposes to enhance the performance of our website. These cookies may track and provide trend analysis on how our users interact with our website, or help us to track errors. The data collected will generally be aggregated to provide trends and usage patterns for business analysis, site/platform improvement and performance metrics. The type of information we collect includes how many visitors visit our website, when they visited, for how long and which areas of our website are visited and which services are used. While this analysis may be performed by third parties, only William Blair will review the analytics. Your use of our website indicates your consent to the use of these web analytics cookies. One of these third party analytic tools used is a web analytics service provided by Google. Google Analytics is one of the most widespread and trusted analytics solutions on the web for helping us to understand how you use the site and ways that we can improve your experience. Google Analytics uses cookies to help analyze how visitors use the William Blair & Company website. Four types of cookies are used by Google Analytics:

  • __utma Cookie A persistent cookie – remains on a computer, unless it expires or the cookie cache is cleared. It tracks visitors. Metrics associated with the Google __utma cookie include: first visit (unique visit), last visit (returning visit). This also includes Days and Visits to purchase calculations which afford ecommerce websites with data intelligence around purchasing sales funnels.
  • __utmb Cookie & __utmc Cookie These cookies work in tandem to calculate visit length. Google __utmb cookie demarks the exact arrival time, then Google __utmc registers the precise exit time of the user. Because __utmb counts entrance visits, it is a session cookie, and expires at the end of the session, e.g. when the user leaves the page. A timestamp of 30 minutes must pass before Google cookie __utmc expires. Given__utmc cannot tell if a browser or website session ends. Therefore, if no new page view is recorded in 30 minutes the cookie is expired.
  • __utmz Cookie Cookie __utmz monitors the HTTP Referrer and notes where a visitor arrived from, with the referrer siloed into type (Search engine (organic or cost per click), direct, social and unaccounted). From the HTTP Referrer the __utmz Cookie also registers, what keyword generated the visit plus geolocation data. This cookie lasts six months.
  • __utmv Cookie Google __utmv Cookie lasts “forever”. It is a persistent cookie. It is used for segmentation, data experimentation and the __utmv works hand in hand with the __utmz cookie to improve cookie targeting capabilities.

For further details on Google analytics cookies, visit cookies set by Google Analytics.

Targeting Cookies
William Blair may utilize a select set of cookies provided by third parties, such as Like and Share buttons. These cookies store non-personally identifiable information, but may store information that is available to third-party advertisers, publishers, or ad networks.

Managing Cookies
Most browsers are initially set to accept cookies. However, you have the ability to disable cookies if you wish, generally through changing your internet software browsing settings. It may also be possible to configure your browser settings to enable acceptance of specific cookies or to notify you each time a new cookie is about to be stored on your computer permitting you to decide whether to accept or reject the cookie. To manage your use of cookies, there are various resources available to you. For example the “Help” section on your browser may assist you. As our cookies allow you to access some of our website’s essential features, we recommend that you leave cookies enabled. Disabling cookies may mean that you experience reduced functionality or will be prevented from using our site altogether.

Additional Resources

http://www.allaboutcookies.org

https://ico.org.uk/for-the-public/online/cookies

William Blair & Company Privacy and Security Policy

Social Media Disclaimer

William Blair & Company, L.L.C. is a broker dealer and investment adviser dually registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). William Blair, along with affiliated entities William Blair Investment Management, LLC and William Blair International, Ltd (collectively, “William Blair”) sponsors and publishes posts on or through pages, profiles, accounts, feeds, channels or other portions of various social media platforms, including but not limited to YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter (each, a “Site”) for educational, promotional or other business reasons.

About William Blair Posts

No William Blair post published on any social media platform is an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy shares of any William Blair investment product to any person in any jurisdiction in which an offer, solicitation, purchase or sale would be unlawful under the laws of such jurisdiction. Additionally, all William Blair posts published on any social media platform are for informational purposes only and should not be considered as investment advice or recommendations to invest in any particular security, strategy or investment product.

William Blair posts on social media may include statements concerning financial market trends, and are based on current market conditions, which will fluctuate and may be superseded by subsequent market events or for other reasons. Historic market trends are not reliable indicators of actual future market behavior or future performance of any particular investment which may differ materially, and should not be relied upon as such. The investment strategies and broad themes discussed in William Blair’s social media posts may be unsuitable for investors depending on their specific investment objectives and financial situation. Information contained in posts has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but not guaranteed. You should note that the materials on the social media platforms are provided “as is” without any express or implied warranties. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. All investments involve a degree of risk, including the risk of loss. No part of William Blair posts may be altered without express written permission from William Blair.

William Blair posts may provide links to third party websites only as a convenience and the inclusion of such links does not imply any endorsement, approval, investigation, verification or monitoring by William Blair of any content or information contained within or accessible from the linked sites. While we make every attempt to provide links only to those websites we think are trustworthy and accurate, we cannot be responsible for the content or accuracy of the information presented on those websites and we specifically disclaim any liability for any loss or damages which you may incur, directly or indirectly, as a result of your use of them. We reserve the right to terminate a link to a third party website at any time.

General User Guidelines

Due to the highly regulated nature of our industry and as a matter of policy, William Blair, in some instances, may not reply to user comments. Please ensure that your contributions in relation to any William Blair posts are relevant and topical. Do not publish your own advertisements of any kind on any William Blair social media page or with respect to any William Blair posts. We ask you to be respectful and courteous and refrain from publishing, including through hyper-links, inappropriate or offensive material on any William Blair social media page. Do not attempt to promote investments (this includes posting testimonials, giving investment advice, or making recommendations about specific securities, securities strategies, products or services) on any William Blair social media page. Do not attempt to submit to William Blair any personal, confidential or account information through any William Blair social media page. William Blair is not subject to any obligations of confidentiality regarding information submitted to them through any William Blair social media page or otherwise through any social media platform.

Third-Party Posts on any William Blair Social Media Page

While William Blair may monitor third-party posts published on any William Blair social media page, such posts may be reviewed to ensure regulatory compliance, but otherwise are not edited before being displayed. Third-party posts on any William Blair social media page are the view and responsibility of the third-party, not William Blair. William Blair cannot guarantee the appropriateness, accuracy or usefulness of any third-party posts or of any third-party hyper-link, nor are they responsible for any unauthorized or copyrighted materials contributed by a third-party in any William Blair social media page. William Blair reserves the right to remove or edit any third-party posts or comments on any William Blair social media page that are inappropriate or that violate (or may violate) applicable regulations.

William Blair does not publish or otherwise disseminate statements relating to current or former clients’ positive experiences with or endorsements of William Blair and expects you to refrain from publishing such posts on any William Blair social media page. You should limit your posts on any William Blair social media page to investment themes rather than commenting, positively or negatively, on William Blair, its products, services or personnel. Although our clients may follow this account, this should not be interpreted as a testimonial regarding any client’s experience with our firm.

Any descriptions of, references to, or links to other products, publications or services do not constitute an endorsement, authorization, sponsorship by, or affiliation with William Blair with respect to any hyper-linked site or its sponsor, unless expressly stated by William Blair. William Blair expressly disclaims any responsibility for the posts, the accuracy of the information, and/or quality of products or services provided by or advertised on these third-party sites, as posted by third-parties on any William Blair Social media page.

Use Social Media Platforms at Your Own Risk

William Blair is in no way affiliated with any social media platform and has no responsibility for any social media page’s operations and services. William Blair and their respective affiliates, directors, officers, or employees are not liable for any direct, indirect, incidental, consequential, punitive or special damages arising out of or in any way connected with your access or use of, or inability to access or use, a social media platform, any William Blair social media page thereon or reliance on any William Blair post or any failure of performance, interruption, defect, delay in transmission, computer viruses or other harmful components, or line or system failure associated with a social media platform or any William Blair social media page thereon. Use of a social media platform or any William Blair social media page thereon is at your own risk.

Privacy Policy

William Blair is not responsible for the terms of use or privacy policies of any social media platform on which William Blair posts may appear, including in any William Blair social media page. For additional information regarding account security and privacy, refer to our Privacy and Security statement

Copyrights and Trademarks

Each social media page’s content and information, and all trademarks, service marks, trade names, trade dress, logos, copyrights and other intellectual property displayed on the Site by William Blair (“Content”) are protected by U.S. and worldwide copyright and trademark laws and treaty provisions, and are owned by, controlled by or licensed to William Blair or their respective owners. By using any social media page, we do not grant you any rights to reproduce, sell, or license any of the content contained herein, except that you may print a copy of the information contained herein for your personal use only. You may not reproduce or distribute the text or graphics to others or copy all or substantially all of the content to your own hard drive or server without the prior written permission of William Blair.

Permitted Uses of Our Sites and Content

We have listed below the permitted uses of our Content. We reserve the right to change our permitted uses at any time.

  • William Blair grants you a limited, revocable, nonexclusive and nontransferable right to view, store, bookmark, download, copy and print pages from the Site for your personal and noncommercial use only. Unless you receive our permission in advance, you may not exploit any of the Content commercially or forward it as a mass distribution.
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William Blair does not grant, by implication, estoppel or otherwise, any license or right to use Content on any social media page other than those set forth above, and you shall not make any other use of such Content without William Blair’s written permission. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing:

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William Blair has the right (but not the obligation) to monitor any social media page for unauthorized or objectionable conduct and to take all appropriate actions in response, without notice to you. We reserve the right to change or supplement our website policies at any time to the fullest extent permitted by applicable law.

Forward-Looking Statements

Statements made on any social media page that look forward in time involve risks and uncertainties and are forward-looking statements. Such risks and uncertainties include, without limitation, the adverse effect from a decline in the securities markets or a decline in William Blair’s products’ performance, a general downturn in the economy, competition from other companies, changes in government policy or regulation, inability of William Blair to attract or retain key employees, unforeseen costs and other effects related to legal proceedings or investigations of governmental and self-regulatory organizations.

Forward-looking statements reflect our current views with respect to, among other things, the operations and performance of our businesses. You can identify these forward-looking statements by the use of words such as “outlook,” “believe,” “expect,” “potential,” “continue,” “may,” “should,” “seek,” “approximately,” “predict,” “intend,” “will,” “plan,” “estimate,” “anticipate” or the negative version of these words or other comparable words. Forward-looking statements are subject to various risks and uncertainties. Accordingly, there are or will be important factors that could cause actual outcomes or results to differ materially from those indicated in these statements. We undertake no obligation to publicly update or review any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise.

International Use

The Content provided in or accessible through any social media page is not intended for distribution to, or use by, any person or entity in any jurisdiction or country where such distribution or use would be contrary to law or regulation or which would subject William Blair to any registration or other requirement within such jurisdiction or country. William Blair reserves the right to limit access to the Site to any person, geographic region or jurisdiction. Unless otherwise expressly set forth herein, William Blair makes no representations that transactions, products or services discussed on or accessible through the Site are available or appropriate for sale or use in all jurisdictions or by all users, or that access by any user in the place it is located is not illegal or prohibited. Users who choose to access the Site from other locations do so on their own initiative and are responsible for establishing the legality, usability and correctness of any information or Content on the Site under the laws of any applicable jurisdictions. You may not use or export the Content on the Site or accessible through the Site in violation of applicable laws and regulations.

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Subject to any applicable terms and conditions set forth in our Privacy and Security Statement, any communication or other material that you send to us through the Internet or post on any social media page by electronic mail or otherwise, is and will be deemed to be non-confidential as between you and us and William Blair shall have no obligation of any kind with respect to such information. William Blair will be free to use, for any purpose, and without compensation due or payable to you, any ideas, concepts, know-how or techniques provided by you to William Blair through any social media page.

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William Blair and its affiliates disclaim, to the fullest extent permitted by law, all express and implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, and non-infringement. If you live in a state that does not allow disclaimers of implied warranties, our disclaimer may not apply to you.

William Blair does not warrant that the information in any social media page is accurate, reliable or correct, that any social media page will be available at any particular time or location, or that any social media page is free of viruses or other harmful components. Electronic communications can be intercepted by third parties and, accordingly, electronic mail and other transmissions to and from any social media page or made via any social media page may not be secure.

The investments and strategies discussed in the content may not be suitable for all investors and are not obligations of William Blair or any of its affiliates or guaranteed by William Blair or any of its affiliates. The investments are not bank deposits and are not insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other entity and are subject to investment risks, including the loss of the principal amount invested. Nothing contained on the Site constitutes investment, legal, tax or other advice nor is to be relied on in making an investment or other decision. You should obtain and carefully review any applicable prospectus, statement of additional information and/or offering memorandum as well the William Blair Form ADV, as applicable, before making any investment decision. Decisions based on information or materials contained on any social media page are the sole responsibility of the user.

As consideration for access to any social media page, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless William Blair and their employees, contractors, affiliates, officers and directors from and against any claims whatsoever and of any nature for damages, losses and causes of action, including but not limited to actions by third parties against you, William Blair or any of its Related Person, arising out of or in connection with any decisions that you make based on such Content, your use of any social media page, or your violation of our website policies. You agree to make William Blair, whole for any and all claims, losses, liabilities, and expenses (including attorneys’ fees) arising from your use of the Site or any violation of this the policies laid out in this Disclaimer, unless prohibited by law.

Miscellaneous Provisions

YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and any other social media sites are public sites. William Blair is in no way affiliated with them and has no responsibility for their operations and services or for related service sites. William Blair is not responsible for any social media platform’s terms of use or privacy or security policies, or any other third party sites that may be linked to by a social media platform. By using a social media platform, you accept at your own risk that the Internet and online communications medium may not perform as intended despite the efforts of William Blair, your Internet Service Provider, and you.

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For additional information about William Blair or to contact us, please visit our website at: www.williamblair.com.

Glossary

INDICES
The Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index is a broad-based benchmark that measures the investment grade, U.S. dollar-denominated, fixed-rate taxable bond market, including Treasuries, government-related and corporate securities, mortgage-backed securities (agency fixed-rate and hybrid ARM pass-throughs), asset-backed securities, and commercial mortgage backed securities.

The MSCI ACWI IMI Index is a free float-adjusted, market capitalization-weighted index that captures large, mid, and small cap representation across developed and emerging markets.

The MSCI ACWI ex-US IMI Index is a free float-adjusted, market capitalization-weighted index that captures large, mid, and small cap representation across developed and emerging markets, excluding the U.S. The Value and Growth Indices are a subset of the Index that adopt a framework for style segmentation in which value and growth securities are characterized using different attributes. Multiple factors are used to identify value and growth characteristics.

The MSCI ACWI Small Cap Index is a free float-adjusted, market capitalization-weighted index that captures small cap representation across developed and emerging markets.

The MSCI Emerging Markets Index is a free float-adjusted, market capitalization-weighted index that is designed to measure the equity market performance of emerging markets.

The MSCI World Index is a free float-adjusted, market capitalization-weighted index that is designed to measure the equity market performance of developed markets.

The Russell 2000 Index is a market capitalization-weighted index designed to represent the small cap segment of the U.S. equity universe.

Index performance is for illustrative purposes only. The indices are unmanaged, do not incur fees or expenses, and cannot be invested in directly.

TERMS
Alpha is a measure of an investment's return in excess of the market's return, after both have been adjusted for risk.

Beta is a measure of the volatility of an investment relative to the overall market, represented by a comparable benchmark.

Half-life is a statistical measure of the time required for the discrepancy between price and value to contract by half of its starting value. Fundamental value estimates are based on the Dynamic Allocation Strategies team's proprietary research.

P/E Ratio is a measure of valuation which compares share price to earnings per share, calculated using estimates for the next twelve months.

Standard deviation is a statistical measurement of variations from the average.

QUANTITATIVE MODELS – FACTOR DEFINITIONS
The William Blair Earnings Trend Model captures information about short- and medium-term changes in analyst estimates in an attempt to anticipate future estimate changes and stock performance. The score combines measurements of earnings revisions, momentum, and earnings surprise.

The William Blair Valuation Model combines varying metrics used to characterize the relationship between the stock’s trading price and its intrinsic value. By going beyond using only one or two measures, the model attempts to build a more holistic version of a stock’s worth vis-a-vis the market. The score combines measurements of earnings/cash flow based, asset-based, and model-based factors.

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