How accurate or up to date are ownership levels?

How accurate are ownership levels across information sources? For example, I work on the buy-side and receive tables from IB’s with ownership levels and the breakdown between institutional, insiders, and retail. Now using the information resources available to me, I go and check myself and the numbers I come up with are way different. Do the institutional players have to file every time they buy or sell shares or is it on a quarterly basis. Is it automatically done for them? Is it the same for insiders? Now I’m sure the IB’s have access to better/more up to date sources than I do, but should I be trusting their figures as the most accurate? Any help would be appreciated, thanks.

Institutions are required to file a 13-F quarterly. Insiders used to be required to file a form 3 (for initial holdings) or 4 (for subsequent holdings) by the 10th day following the end of the month in which the transaction took place. Since Sarbanes Oxley, they’re now required to file within a couple of days. But the filings (particularly if you’re using a commercial database) often have errors/miscodings on them.

Bloomberg is the worst when it comes to ownership data for equities. Always a few months behind the competitors. However, I have been told that Capital IQ is one of the best when it comes to mining for such data.

Hmm thanks for the insights. I’m using a source called TSX Connect (Canada) which I think pulls from some other resource. It seems to do an alright job but also seems to be quite out of date most of the time. I’m not sure which data provider the IB’s we consult with are using. Makes it hard to decide which source to use when they are both so different…

In Canada, you can use SEDI, but that’s a crapshoot in itself.

None of the commercial sources are that accurate or up-to-date. Even I-Banks have no better source than you do, since they use the same sources available to the buy side. The only accurate source is the shareholders list from the transfer agent, which only the Company can request. Even then, the name on the list isn’t always the fund’s actual name, it could be the name of their principal, could be spread over several subfunds, could be proxy holders…

Why not call their investor relations guys and ask for the data? If it is public then they should be able to give it to you.