Votes from fund managers responsible for more than pounds 725bn enabled James Capel to push NatWest Securities out of second spot, with its analysts attracting 12 per cent of a weighted total of votes cast. Warburg received 14.4 per cent.
Support for UBS, the former Phillips & Drew, fell quite sharply and it slipped two places to sixth behind Kleinwort Benson and Barclays de Zoete Wedd. Smith New Court was the most improved research house.
The top team in any one sector was the water analysts at Kleinwort Benson, headed by Peter Hyde. The best five individual analysts were Patrick Wellington of NatWest (electricals), Jamie Stevenson of Kleinwort Benson (building materials), David Ireland of Hoare Govett (conglomerates, other industrial materials), Mike Murphy of Warburg (conglomerates) and Janet Sidaway of Kleinwort Benson (engineering and electricals).
Gavyn Davies of Goldman Sachs, economics columnist of the Independent, was the top- ranked forecaster of the UK economy, though his margin over Bill Martin at UBS narrowed. Goldman Sachs remains way out in front for international forecasting.
Extel made a special award to Hamish Buchan of NatWest Securities, the best investment trust analyst - just as he was when the first survey was conducted 20 years ago.
Extel found the average analyst is 33 years old, has spent four-and-a-half years with his firm and just over eight years in investment research. He - or, increasingly, she - covers 30 companies and spends just over half his time on fundamental research. A quarter is spent on marketing and sales, with the rest on company trips and corporate finance.
Seven out of 10 fund managers still think up to 40 per cent of the research they receive is unnecessary, though the survey suggests quality is improving. In-house research remains on the increase and fund managers are making more effort to meet the companies in which they invest.
Fund managers want more detailed research on small and medium-sized companies and industry analyses. They are less interested in so-called 'overnight notes'.
Extel's survey shows that Scottish insurance companies and funds with more than pounds 10bn under management place less reliance on outside research. However, 62 per cent of the fund managers polled placed the largest share of their commission business with the top five brokers.