Analysts and PMs -- Would you recommend LO research (equity or credit) to someone graduating college today?

Title -- want to specially ask Analysts and PMs (not associates) given they have a longer history of experience in the industry and better understanding of how it's evolved & where it's going. If you were giving advice to a kid in college interested in LO research, would you recommend they pursue a career in this space today (30-40yrs of working) or no? Why or why not?


Personally, I believe that it remains one of the best career paths in finance (WLB, intellectually stimulating work, good pay) but the overall industry is shrinking and there are very few seats available


Yes, but with the following caveats:

  1. Equities in particular (less of an issue for credit) will see sinking fees as more people invest generally, passive investing continues eating market share and competition between funds and asset managers keeps increasing.
  1. Tech and AI absolutely are going to replace a lot of entry level tasks so it is becoming a necessity to study STEM or teach yourself programming.
  1. Quite subjective but part of the reason I enjoy credit more than equities is because equities is a much tougher market to generate any kind of outperformance and modelling is hugely important. Less so for credit on both fronts.

I'm sure I've missed a lot of details but happy to chat further.


Is HY credit the same as distressed credit? A bit confused as I saw these two used interchangeably.

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Great thread idea, I'll take a crack at this:

Out of the analysts/PMs at my firm, I would say most if not all still view entry level roles in LO favorably. However, this is largely due to the reason noted by Tmeditator: the roles can have a phenomenal balance of lifestyle, engaging/exciting work if you're passionate about investing, and good pay relative to the hours you work. Regarding the lack of upward mobility that is notoriously present, many basically offered the view that even if you wash out of the buyside after your 2-5yr stint, it CAN still be a very rewarding and positive experience for the aforementioned reasons. Again, based on conversations with senior investment professionals, it sounds like the general consensus is that the MAJORITY of associates that come through these programs are not and WILL NOT be professional investors for their entire career. It sounds like this is as much due to either a lack of ability and/or motivation/passion as it is lack of opportunity. At my firm, a very small number of top performing RAs get promoted to analyst - connected to the last point, it sounds like the vast majority of associates who never made it would not have, even if there was an immediate need to fill an analyst seat. (I include this to not discourage people who are worried about the limited upward trajectory - I think the longevity looks a lot better if you hypothetically were able to weed out people who were never gonna cut it anyways.)

My take (I know you didn't ask for it but I see potential in this thread and would like to help get things rolling):

Yes, associate programs are still worth going into IF AND ONLY IF you are 110% set on investing for your career. While perhaps a less attractive option than the golden 2+2 path (in the sense that the only field a LO RA would be potentially advantaged in recruiting for relative to a 2+2 is LO AM), if you are POSITIVE that you were put on this planet to invest in and analyze companies (and find the LO space to be preferable than the HF world for lifestyle, stability, whatever reasons) then I think LO AM associate program is a great fit for you. In my opinion, this is a much better environment for someone to learn to think like an investor/analyst as (1) your IDEAS are as valuable if not more valuable than your modeling/grunt work contributions and (2) you will have more direct exposure to career investors who generally will be more inclined to take time to teach you how to think/invest, which I think is more valuable than any modeling or ppt training.

One caveat is that while the lifestyle is great compared to most other entry level finance roles, if you truly want to be a good investor/analyst, and/or have a long career in the LO space, YOU WILL NOT be able to get away with working <=40hrs/wk (comp relative to hours worked appeal fades because of this). My view is that truly passionate investors will still be putting the time in outside of normal work hours pursuing things like the CFA, digging into personal/PA ideas, screening, networking, etc. etc. without exterior motivation. LO RA lifestyle should not be viewed as only "having" to work ~40hrs, but rather imo, as having the privilege to work up to a max of ~40hrs/wk most of the time which leaves the rest of your time to work how you best see fit to your personal growth. If you are not 100% certain you want to be a public equities (or general LO) investor for your entire career, I would strongly urge you to pursue the 2+2+optional MBA as this will open FAR more opportunities (and more diverse ones too) for you at virtually every stage.

A comment on the industry headwinds facing the equities space in particular: yes, the entire LO space has been hit pretty hard and net net fees/AUM have been declining across the board for the most part. This does not concern me for a couple reasons, namely (1) a relatively higher % allocation of capital to passive funds makes markets less efficient, thus making the investing environment more attractive for bottoms up fundamental investors, (2) there will always be a need (or at least for a very very long time) for active managers because institutional investors simply can't punt their entire equity allocation into passive buckets, and (3) I do not think value-adding analysts need to be worried about having their jobs displaced by AI - at the end of the day, fundamental investing still requires a human to make the call and analyze the nuances that would be lost on a ML model or program IMO, and the tech is still very nascent despite the recent market buzz. 

To anyone who made it this far, I apologize for the long read or if this comes off as rambling. Looking forward to discussion!


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