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Bloomberg vs. Capital IQ vs. Factset vs. Refinitiv

Comparison of the Costs and Features of the Four Leading Financial Data Providers

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Financial data providers are a key part of a finance professional’s workflow. For the investment banking analyst who needs to find historical data and forecasts to build a 3-statement model or for the currency trader looking for real-time quotes, having access to up-to-date and accurate financial data is critical.

As it currently stands, the financial data industry is dominated by 4 large providers:

  1. Bloomberg
  2. S&P Capital IQ
  3. FactSet
  4. Refinitiv Eikon (Subsidiary of London Stock Exchange Group, Formerly Thomson Reuters)

All four attempt to offer a one-stop-shop platform that provides all types of financial data services (with a massive price tag, as you’ll see below).

The goal of this article is to provide a thorough comparison of cost, industry relevance (buy-side vs. sell-side), and apps and features that might push users to favor one data provider over another.

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Price Comparison at a Glance

Platform Pricing Market Share (1)
Bloomberg The cost of a Bloomberg Terminal is $27,660/year for one license, and terminals are leased on a two-year basis. The price drops to $24,240 per terminal per year for two or more terminals. See below for academic pricing. 33.4%
Capital IQ The cost of Capital IQ is not published publicly, as the pricing model is tier-based and tailored to meet the specific needs of each customer.

The lack of transparency around Capital IQ’s pricing stems from their product offerings being customized solutions for the customer profile and specific use-cases.

FactSet The cost of a FactSet subscription is $12,000 per year for the full product. 4.5%
Refinitiv Eikon The cost of Eikon is $22,000 per year, but a stripped-down version can cost as little as $3,600 per year. 19.6%

(1) Source: Burton-Taylor International Consulting 2020 Financial Market Data Report


Bloomberg is the 800-pound gorilla in the financial data world, with financial data revenue of approximately $10+ billion. It controls more than ~33% of the financial data market. Its closest rival is Refinitiv Eikon, with ~20% of the market share.


Source: Bloomberg

Bloomberg Pricing

The cost of a Bloomberg Terminal is $27,660 per year, and terminals are leased on a two-year basis. The price drops to $24,240 per terminal per year for 2 or more terminals.

Academic discounts: For universities looking to power their finance labs with the famous terminals, Bloomberg offers significant incentives. For example, once schools commit to 3 terminals, they can get nine additional machines for free, dropping the total per-terminal cost to as little as $3,000 per year.

Bloomberg is best for …

Buy-side, sales and trading, and asset management. While the Bloomberg terminal is used across the financial services world, it is used predominantly by portfolio managers, buy-side analysts, and sell-side finance professionals within the sales and trading, and asset management functions.

You absolutely have to go with Bloomberg if …

You’re in any way involved in the bond market. Bloomberg’s fixed income data is second to none. Its data sets are more comprehensive and are updated more quickly than any of its peers, making it especially useful for credit research analysts, fixed income sales and bond traders, and professionals in debt capital markets.

Then there’s Bloomberg’s instant messaging service — one of Bloomberg’s arguably stickiest features. Bloomberg’s IM service allows anyone on the terminal to IM with others on the terminal. Why is this exciting? Because if traders at all the trading desks are posting quotes on Bloomberg IM and nowhere else, you simply have to be on Bloomberg. It’s basically the same reason you’re on Facebook and not on MySpace.

This is a sticky feature for Bloomberg as it faces competition from the Eikon platform and chat-only startup alternative Symphony. In an effort to kill Symphony, in October of 2017 Bloomberg surprised many observers by decoupling IM from the rest of the terminal license. It now charges $10 per month for IM only  (your company has to own at least one terminal to be able to get this service for additional users).

You could probably live without Bloomberg if …

You’re in investment banking. Investment bankers do not use Bloomberg as widely as some of their sell-side peers and buy-side professionals. For example, the M&A team at an investment bank might have a couple of Bloomberg Terminals available, but it’s unlikely that each banker will have their own machine.

Instead, investment bankers are far more likely to have their own dedicated FactSet or Capital IQ subscription. That’s because Capital IQ and FactSet have developed specific capabilities such as a click-through function to audit data in source documents, Excel plugins that increase productivity, and company and transaction screening tools designed specifically with the investment banking workflow in mind (more on this below).

Capital IQ

capital iq

Source: S&P

Capital IQ was founded in 1998 and was acquired by McGraw Hill’s S&P division for $200 million in 2004.

Unlike Bloomberg or FactSet, Capital IQ is a web-based portal accessible from any machine.

The Capital IQ offering was strengthened further in July 2015 with McGraw Hill’s $2.2 billion purchase of rival SNL. While Capital IQ and its largest rival FactSet provide financial data across all sectors, SNL’s strength has been unparalleled financial and transaction data sets within specific sectors, namely insurance, banking, real estate, energy, metals and mining, and media.

While S&P does not disclose Capital IQ and SNL revenue separately from its other data products within the “Markets and Commodities Intelligence” segment, it’s likely that Capital IQ and SNL represent the vast majority of the segment’s $2.2 billion in subscription revenue.

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Capital IQ Pricing

Capital IQ’s pricing is non-public information, as mentioned earlier, because the price is specific to the customer and their specific needs.

The flexibility of Capital IQ’s pricing model coincides with the wide range of features offered to customers, unlike many of its competitors that provide strict pricing.

For example, factors that can potentially impact the price include the firm type, size of the firm (AUM), number of licenses, regional location, research report access, configuration needs, and more.

In general, Cap IQ is known for being a more affordable option than Bloomberg, however, the pricing can vary substantially based on the features requested.

Therefore, for the most accurate, up-to-date pricing data, we recommend reaching out directly to Capital IQ’s client support team.

Capital IQ is best for…

Investment banking. Bankers do a lot of data scrubbing, spreading comps and company profiles, and Capital IQ is designed specifically to help with this.

Scrubbing data: When a company reports its third-quarter earnings, the GAAP-based numbers like operating profit, net income and earnings per share are often not the numbers anyone actually cares about. Instead, analysts pore through the footnotes and disclosures to arrive at “normalized” “non-GAAP” data like EBITDA and cash EPS. Finding and scrubbing this data is time-consuming work, and mistakes can significantly impact the output of an investment banker’s analysis.

Capital IQ’s fleet of data scrubbers try to do it for you. Coupled with its killer app that allows analysts to click back to audit the source data, this feature largely explains Capital IQ’s enduring popularity in the investment banking world.

Click-through to audit source data: One of its early killer apps was a feature that allows analysts to click-through to audit source data. For example, when a user wants to verify that Capital IQ correctly arrived at Walmart’s EBITDA, he/she can simply click through from the portal to the source documents.

Excel plugin: Capital IQ’s Excel plugin enables analysts to pull data directly into Excel. While not as robust as FactSet’s Excel plugin, which has robust productivity-enhancing tools like custom Excel formatting macros and PowerPoint presentation macros, Capital IQ has made strides in bridging the divide with some custom Excel shortcuts and formatting macros.

You absolutely have to go with Capital IQ if …

You’re on the go and need to access financial data from a variety of computers. While Bloomberg access requires a dedicated terminal and FactSet access requires a software installation on each machine, your Capital IQ account can be accessed from a web browser anywhere.

You could probably live without Capital IQ if …

Real-time market data isn’t critical for your job. This is where Bloomberg (the king), along with FactSet and Refinitiv Eikon, are better than Capital IQ. The kinds of roles where this really matters are on the buy side, in sales and trading, and in public equities and fixed income.



As of 2017, FactSet had 89,000 clients with total revenue of approximately $1.3 billion, making it the fourth largest player in the financial data space after Bloomberg, Refinitiv Eikon, and S&P (Capital IQ + SNL). Per FactSet’s 2017 10K, buy side clients accounted for 84.1% of revenue, while the remainder came from the sell side (i.e. M&A, capital markets and equity research).

FactSet pricing

The cost of a FactSet subscription is $12,000 per year for the full product.

FactSet is best for …

Investment bankers. FactSet is comparable to Capital IQ in terms of scope of data and functionality. Much of Capital IQ’s early strength has been bridged by FactSet, which now boasts its own set of comprehensively scrubbed financial data, estimates and click-through functionality.

You absolutely have to go with FactSet if …

Your life revolves around making pitchbooks. While Capital IQ’s Excel CIQ codes are somewhat easier to work with, FactSet’s 2007 purchase of DealMaven gives FactSet users the ability to increase financial modeling efficiency via helpful formatting and custom macro shortcuts that Capital IQ hasn’t quite caught up to yet. In addition, FactSet’s PowerPoint plugin enables bankers to automate much of the pitchbook presentation process. Another frequently cited FactSet advantage over Capital IQ is the ease of navigation and getting around the user interface.

You should consider something other than FactSet if …

You need equity research. FactSet does not offer robust equity research access. You could, of course, access this through another service, but if you want it all in one place, FactSet isn’t the right choice. Perhaps even more of a deterrent for some is that FactSet requires a physical installation on each machine, and it is only allowed on two machines per subscription.

Capital IQ vs FactSet: Comparison of features that matter to investment bankers

Feature Advantage
Fundamental data, Estimates, Conference call transcripts S&P (Capital IQ +SNL)
Real-time market data FactSet
Equity Research S&P (Capital IQ +SNL)
User interface FactSet
Unique data sets FactSet
Transaction screening S&P (Capital IQ +SNL)
Excel plugin FactSet
Access data on a browser from any computer S&P (Capital IQ +SNL)
Cost FactSet

Refinitiv Eikon

Thomson Reuter Eikon

Source: Thomson Reuters

Refinitiv Eikon Cost

While Capital IQ differentiates itself on cost, its focus on fundamental data, and usefulness on the sell side, Eikon is the most direct competitor to the Bloomberg Terminal. The cost of Refinitiv Eikon is $22,000 per year, but a very stripped-down version can cost as little as $3,600 per year.

Refinitiv Eikon is best for …

Those who would otherwise buy Bloomberg but want something cheaper. It has a lot of the same financial data as Bloomberg but is generally considered to be the lesser option in terms of data breadth. To put it bluntly, it’s what you get junior staff if you want to save on costs while the senior folks are using Bloomberg.

Honorable mentions

  • PitchBook: Unlike the other financial data providers, PitchBook is focused on private transactions and creating buyers lists.
  • Mergermarket: A database of M&A transactions. While Capital IQ and FactSet maintain large M&A databases and have tools for screening M&A and other transactions, Mergermarket is specifically dedicated to hunting down details for M&A deals. Because it specializes in M&A, it’s not a substitute for FactSet’s or Capital IQ’s broad data sets and features. Rather, it’s a supplement when finding historical transaction data is critical to the job.
  • The rest: A growing number of small startups are trying to disrupt the industry with their own specific features and a lower price tag. For example, Symphony is attempting to peel users away from Bloomberg’s popular instant message service; Estimize wants to give estimates to the masses through crowdsourcing; and and are going after news, charting and real-time data. While their day might come, they have not yet meaningfully threatened the Big Four. When serious finance professionals need financial data, most are still coughing up serious $$$ for one of the big providers.
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September 8, 2019 11:38 am

As a non-US individual investor, I used Bloomberg for like six years and finally quit as I was fed up with their arrogance. Any complaints and they respond with (Goldman Sacks) having 2000 terminals and they’re like “who are you to talk with one subscription?” This happening not because I… Read more »

Lindi Barla
Lindi Barla
August 24, 2018 3:25 am

Interesting overview, just a quick note on FactSet, FactSet does nowadays offer access to its applications through a (not locally installed) weblink and a mobile app. Makes for easier access for some users indeed.

December 20, 2019 6:45 am

Bloomberg is the go to for fixed income, without a shadow of doubt. But for Portfolio Managers and buy side analysts, FactSet is the tool. Firstly, $12,000 is the very basic price, which doesn’t actually give you a lot, it’s their entry level price. To get the full range of… Read more »

December 5, 2019 5:29 am

As of 2020 you would use : BBG – Fixed Income and OTC; Trading CiQ – as reported historical financials (PE/VC , partly used in M&A) TR – Treasury, News, Datafeeds (core data), Prices Corporate Actions FDS – Research, Analysis, Attribution, Multi Asset PM and Risk, Screening, Backtesting, Excel, Alternative… Read more »

July 20, 2020 10:53 am

Excellent comparison – a lot of work went into this study. I am interested in the time (i.e number of days) it takes to post fundamental company data (i.e. balance sheet, income statement, sources of capital, etc.) following the release of the data by the company. Does anyone have comparative… Read more »

June 6, 2019 7:36 am

Hey, I new to the Industry, and without hands on any of these it would be difficult to break into the Industry. How can a newbie learn any 1 of them to get a break or can get even an internship somehow.

Maxim Platonov
Maxim Platonov
December 16, 2021 12:11 pm

I am wondering where you get this prices from… I just received a proposal from BBG and it does not match your numbers :-/

Khandu Gandu Sathe
Khandu Gandu Sathe
June 3, 2018 1:25 am

good topic. i work on bloomberg

September 1, 2021 3:12 pm

Bloomberg PricingThe cost of a Bloomberg Terminal is $24,000 per year, and terminals are leased on a two-year basis. The price drops to $20,000 per terminal per year for 2 or more terminals. Academic discounts: For universities looking to power their finance labs with the famous terminals, Bloomberg offers significant incentives. For… Read more »

Elizabeth O
Elizabeth O
June 9, 2021 2:23 pm

FactSet offers a nice package for Law Firms and the Legal Professionals.

July 11, 2019 6:58 am

Great article. I think Dealogic must be mentioned as it’s the largest M&A, ECM, DCM database in the market, plus their parent company (ION) just acquired Acuris (owner of Mergermarket, Debtwire, etc). Any idea of the Alternative Investments Data Market size? Trying to estimate a size for the market, players… Read more »

George Stellar
George Stellar
May 23, 2022 12:54 pm

Certainly these 4 are great global solutions. There are more that are geo-focus such as Teaser Platform which concentrates on MENA region specifically.

October 12, 2021 10:50 am

Anyone know which might be best simply for market prices? I need futures, options on futures and fixed income prices (or yields, or both) for popular issues (mainly govt, some benchmark commercial).

September 8, 2020 7:01 am

Good comparison. Any idea on Evaluatepharma, Globaldata and any other sector-based datasources? I guess these are sector-specific, but would be interesting to know their pricing.

August 23, 2020 2:47 pm

Hi, I’m interested in purchasing an annual subscription that provides equity research access (GS, JPM, etc.). I’ve read through the above, but can’t determine which one would be best for my needs there. Can anyone chime in? Thanks!

Leigh Eichel
Leigh Eichel
September 6, 2019 4:40 pm

Excellent Article. Alpha Vee’s terminal is also a notable one to mention for Equity buy side work

August 15, 2019 2:24 am

Hi. How up to date is your pricing? The reason I’m asking is because I can’t seem to find the USD 3,600 a year Thomson Reuters Eikon offering. Lowest I hear is around 6000 a year

June 14, 2018 4:15 pm

Good topic about the Market data providers, am feeling proud to worked with S&P Global(Capital IQ)…

February 5, 2022 2:49 am

what would be a feature that should be in capital IQ pro which is lacking big time any guess?

Steve Gray Booyens
Steve Gray Booyens
August 26, 2021 12:51 pm

recommendations for JSE equity market?

Christoph Mues
Christoph Mues
September 28, 2020 9:33 am

In 95% of the cases I am only looking for valuation comps of previous transactions, listed comparables, sector comps etc for my specific client. I don’t need share prices, analyst research, data feed, news, etc. What would you guys recommend of the above, and would maybe mergermarket or Zephyr from… Read more »

September 10, 2020 8:29 am

Is there any comparison between Capital IQ, FactSet and EquityRT. I assume that all of them are good for equity research, but was wondering if all bases (Sell side, Buy side & asset management) are covered, which would be the most effective platform? I know all of them have a… Read more »

March 5, 2019 8:19 pm

How does Marketmap by FIS Global compare against the other data terminals?

Syed Babar Ali
Syed Babar Ali
November 27, 2018 8:13 am

Also, Metisglobal has not been compared. And I wonder why it is quite popular in Pakistan – definitely after bloomberg.

Syed Babar Ali
Syed Babar Ali
November 25, 2018 10:29 pm

Please compare them from the perspective of sell-side equity research professionals.

June 8, 2018 2:15 am

Good comparison in terms of pricing info & product offerings. I worked with S&P Capital IQ.

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