Interview with an Equity Research Associate (Part 2/2)

The following is an interview with Equity Research Associate IntoTheRain (he is also available to answer your questions)

Are you a professional and want to do an interview? View our interview template here and then email me your responses to [email protected]

General Advice

  1. What is the one tip you would give to current students (ugrad and/or grad students) to help them succeed?

    You'll get a head start if you get involved and make an earnest effort to build relationships while you are still at school.

  2. What are some tips for moving up and becoming "the boss" (i.e. a department head / managing director / partner)?

    Work hard and don't fret over immaterial issues. Make an effort to socialize with others and don't just bury your head in your excel. There's no benefit from sulking when you don't like something. If you consistently just get your shit done without drama, the expected value will be positive in the long run.

  3. Any specific cold-emailing or cold-calling tips you can pass on?

    I personally wouldn't cold-call/e-mail someone (as you can probably tell) but I can understand why some people will have to do it. I guess I would recommend to come up with something interesting and personable as opposed to being like all of the other cold callers.

  4. Any specific networking tips you can pass on?

    See above, sell yourself as a person, not just another number in the queue.

  5. What is a memorable experience you have of how someone got your attention? (for networking / internship / job purposes)

    I typically like people who carry a natural conversation and are just enjoyable to talk to. To date I have yet to be "surprised" by anything but I certainly have seen some stellar profiles.

  6. What are unique things college students and young-professionals can do to separate themselves from the crowd?

    Demonstrate that you can think. Easier said than done right?

    I sense that most approaches or recommendations given on this site are pretty cookie cutter and that may work if you have an excellent academic and work record. Otherwise, you'll have to do something unique to stand out.

    For my case, the initial job positing had very little information and didn't even have a sector. When I was contacted for the interview, I was given no information either and just the first name of the person I will be meeting. The person made it sound like the first meeting was to be with a HR person just to say hi but in reality it was with the analyst. I had 2 weeks to the interview so I expended a lot of time to narrow down the sector and person from a pretty common first name. I then read and memorized about 3 months worth of research reports (they issue a lot!) and knew every little detail about the role, coverage universe and their writing style prior to going in. However, I didn't interrupt the person during the first 10 mins of the interview/informational session and just bobbled my head politely and went along with the conversation. When it came time to ask a question at the end, I needed just one to get the point across.

  7. What is your opinion on gaining relevant experience at a lesser known firm vs. working for a brand name firm (with less relevant experience)?

    I'm personally biased towards the larger established firms as that gives you higher percentages to land an interview. Past that point, you can probably spin your experiences to align with the job requirements and land the role. The better you work and the more initiatives you take, the more experiences will come your way regardless of where you are.

  8. What do you look for in a potential intern candidate?

    Aptitude. I much rather have someone with a good attitude and a high ceiling who can adapt and think on their own over a person who is just clocking in for the sake of the job.

  9. What do you look for in a potential entry level hire?

    See above.

  10. What are your favorite interview questions you like to ask potential new hires?

    I was actually a hiring manager in my last role. I personally prefer a fluid interview and will pick questions based on their experiences in the past and tailor them so they are put on the spot and can't pull one of their scripted answers out of a hat. If they still try, they are dinged.

    Example: One kid had some previous manufacturing experience in the assembly line and eventually wanted to start his own business. So I asked him to draw out the manufacturing, sales, shipping and collection cycles for me since if he wants to open shop he better know more than just one facet of the business. He also listed "building sundials" in his interests and I asked him what's the difference between a good sundial and a great sundial. Random (almost silly?) questions for sure but I needed to test his composure and ability to think on the fly. He did a pretty well given the circumstances and ended up getting the job.

  11. What are some of the worst mistakes you've seen people make in interviews?

    Arrogance. Having a good CV only gets you halfway there. There were a few candidates that believed they were entitled to a position because they had good grades + relevant work experience. This type of work really isn't rocket science so I'd much rather have someone that is enjoyable to be around late at night than a jerk behind a Rhodes Scholarship.

  12. If you review resumes (or have in the past) - what are some of the most common mistakes you've seen?

    Wordy but hollow explanations of skillset. Resume reviewers only spend a few seconds per so don't dance and get straight to the point.

  13. What are your thoughts on this statement: "Wall Street is a more meritocratic place than most. If you are a young person and you have good ideas, people will often listen to them, if you are in the right role" ?

    For the most part I agree. You just have a steeper hill to climb if you lack the connections, but plenty of people still get in without them. Once you get your foot in the door your path is usually dictated by your abilities and efforts.

  14. Any other interesting stories or wisdom you would like to share with the WSO readers?

    I'll keep the interesting stories to myself since they are more for bar time anecdotes. Not landing a dream finance job is hardly the end of the world. Play the hand you're dealt to the best of your abilities.

Comments (7)

Mar 1, 2013

For someone such as myself from a non-target and little to no research experience, Would graduate school (M.A. Economics/M.A. Finance) help in any way? I'm looking to break into the industry but I feel like I'm being held back based on my credentials.

Mar 2, 2013
shadowfx23:

For someone such as myself from a non-target and little to no research experience, Would graduate school (M.A. Economics/M.A. Finance) help in any way? I'm looking to break into the industry but I feel like I'm being held back based on my credentials.

M Fin is probably a better bet than Econ but just having a degree won't help you that much. If you're lacking credentials, consider the step by step approach and move into positions that can give you skillsets that are valued in research. Work on your CFA on the side and spend some time networking.

Mar 13, 2013

Sounds good. In regards to positions, which do you think would have the greatest value in regards to pursuing a career in Equity Research? Within this company that I've been looking into, I'm interested in Mutual Fund Research and the Public Finance Department. I'm assuming Mutual Fund Research would be the better choice of the two. I'll begin working on my CFA as soon as possible so thank you for that.
Also, what are a few things a candidate can say/do that would "wow" you?

Apr 10, 2013
shadowfx23:

Sounds good. In regards to positions, which do you think would have the greatest value in regards to pursuing a career in Equity Research? Within this company that I've been looking into, I'm interested in Mutual Fund Research and the Public Finance Department. I'm assuming Mutual Fund Research would be the better choice of the two. I'll begin working on my CFA as soon as possible so thank you for that.
Also, what are a few things a candidate can say/do that would "wow" you?

Sorry for the delayed response. Position wise, I think revenue generating or operations roles in the industry you are applying for would be the most useful. The key is to get visibility over all key aspects of the business so you get a sense of what makes the company tick and the main drivers/risks in the industry are. You can learn the finance and modelling with practice but good industry knowledge is harder to come by. This is more important in certain sectors that require this knowledge to provide value (e.g. junior mining, pharma) over more intuitive industries (real estate, retail). This + MBA or CFA should at least get you an interview. Given the non-structured hiring format in research, opportunities are limited so it may not be practical to shoot for a specific sector. You generally take what you can get and maybe lateral once you pad your resume a bit.

With regards to the two positions that you listed, Mutual Fund Research sounds more applicable but it's more about your responsibilities and type of work. Once you get to the interview stages, your experiences will show.

As to your last question, if you can give a question or response that shows you did a lot of work in advance that would certainly get some brownie points.

Apr 10, 2013
IntoTheRain:

When it came time to ask a question at the end, I needed just one to get the point across.

And this was?

Apr 11, 2013
FutureWaller:
IntoTheRain:

When it came time to ask a question at the end, I needed just one to get the point across.

And this was?

Well I read all of their reports dating back a few months and then of every competitor. I picked out a few distinct differences between their approach vs. peers and asked them to confirm the thought process behind the idea. I made an effort to think about why things were done a certain way and linked it to what matters most (rep/trading volume).

Jan 19, 2015
Comment