To avoid conflicts of interest, we never cross the line. Our work focuses on competitive analysis. To do this work, we perform research to identify the detailed solutions and strategies companies are likely to employ to beat our clients. This work is ethical, moral and legal when the research relies on open source, non-proprietary data – but most definitely unethical, immoral and illegal when proprietary data is used. Unfortunately, it’s not unusual for companies in our industry to provide services that expose them to their own client’s data. Ever needed help with a cost volume? Congratulations; the consultant now knows highly valuable information about your costing and pricing strategies. Even if that data is never recorded, it is impossible to completely forget – so when the client becomes the target in another program, that knowledge will be used. At best, this is a clear conflict of interest and a violation of nondisclosure agreements; at worst, a violation of the law. Richter & Company’s policy and practice is simple. First, we work on an exclusive basis; we support only one client on every opportunity. And when clients ask for assistance that will expose us to their proprietary data, we refer that business to other companies whose work and ethics we trust. The net result: our clients get the support they need, without risk of improper disclosure of their invaluable data. In our view, the line between open source and proprietary data is clear. We will never cross it, and wish that all companies in our space followed the same philosophy.