Career Path Advice (Please) - Investment Analysis

I'm currently a sophomore undergrad at Villanova, aiming to major in Finance. I've only started doing serious and specific career planning recently, so you'll have to bear with me just a bit. For reference, most of the BB's recruit through Villanova in some capacity. I'd call Villanova semi-target I guess.

I know I want to get into some sort of investment analysis (probably equity/portfolios) and I don't really have any preference whether it be in PB/PWM or with an institutional fund. I just want to be one of the people who analyzes companies/stocks/industries, maybe does some financial modelling, and ultimately aids in the decision of what the best investment options are. Also, I live in Philadelphia and I am not committed to re-locating to NY at this point, so keeping this in mind when replying will be helpful (i.e. if your advice is more NY-specific, please state so).

With that, I will present my concerns in number format and feel free to address any of them:

(1) In a general sense, how hard is this field to break into straight out of non-Ivy undergrad (assume a good resume)? For PB/PWM, I know BB's like JP Morgan have rotational analyst programs for fresh grads, but my question is exactly how competitive are these?

(2) Do most regional offices (for BB's) even offer the services I'm looking for? I'm fairly sure that JPM in Philly does, and I know Goldman Sachs in Philly does at least PWM.

(3) What would be a more helpful summer internship (between sophomore and junior year): a more traditional analyst role at an AM group (Aberdeen Asset Management) dealing with equities and fixed incomes, or a summer analyst position with Goldman Sachs in PWM (but basically dealing with the client relations aspect as opposed to actual analysis, which isn't too relevant)? Does the GS name outweigh the actual experience I'd get elsewhere?

(4) Is there a common career path that would lead to being a full-time analyst for a mutual fund (i..e Vanguard)? What's the pay for someone in this position?

(5) Does anyone know of particular companies (other than the typical PB's) that offer the analyst positions I'm seeking, in Philadelphia? If so, do these companies hire undergrads in this capacity?

(6) If I were to become a full-time analyst working with investments, what are the exit ops after several years?

(7) Is a Masters of Science in Finance relevant to what I want to do? Would that make it significantly easier to break in as an analyst, or would you describe that as a waste of money/time?

(8) If I had an inside track into a boutique IB (doing the typical IBD sort of thing), is that something I should pursue in order to get to the position I really want?

(9) How does investment management/analysis tend to work at BB's that already have full Equity Research divisions? It seems there is some overlap, and I'm having a little trouble organizing this all in my mind (considering the huge range of shit done at places like JPM).****

(10) Can institutional asset management lead into HF? (yes, I already read that article on Mergers&Inquisitions)

(11) If you had to recommend one path, would it be within PB or within a more institutional fund? How would these differ in comp and atmosphere?

Ok, so I'll leave it at that for now. Again, remember that this is not in NY. I appreciate anyone who will take the time to read through this and provide any feedback.

**** For the record, I know this is the AM forum but I'd like to point out that everything I read about sell-side ER sounds perfect for me. The reason I stopped looking into that is because it seems (from my perspective of limited knowledge of the industry) ER is largely centered in NY and the other "major" cities (i.e. not Philadelphia). If anyone has any insight into this, I would certainly welcome that as well.

Comments (11)

Best Response
Jan 18, 2012 - 4:40pm
wannabe2013, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If you are only a sophomore, then dont worry too much about MSF or any of the back up plans. You want to make sure you make your resume as finance-driven as possible: investment clubs, finance clubs, business fraterntiy etc. You also want good grades obviously, and start networking. (pretty sure Ant on this board is a Nova guy, so I'm sure he can help). You are in good position to do exactly what you want, so don't start shooting for PB and PWM if that's not what you want to do.

For internships, shoot for IB and ER. I think that ER internships might be few an far between, im not so sure on that. but IB internships will definitely be a very good foundaton for modeling, industry knowledge, and proving that you can handle long hours. ...I would absolutely take the aberdeen over GS PWM. People in the industry will know Aberdeen, and the learning experience will be much more relevant. BUT, the sophomore PWM internship may help you get a junior internship at GS, but I dont know if thats true, ore how much it will help.

Investment management at BB's is usually split into PWM and AM... within those there are also sales/broker type roles, and investment management/PM area roles. The PM area is obvioulsy what you are looking for - WIthin the AM division is most sought after usually.

My advice to you would be to get a finance internship this summer - probably difficult to find anything other then PWM as a sophomore if you are gunning for big name places, but it might be more beneficial to target boutique banks, small asset managers, research shops and be willing to work unpaid. IF you actually have an analytical internship at an inst. asset Manager, I would absolutely take that without thinking twice.

Also, from a student perspective, it would be good to prove that you actively invest. Open up a personal account, or start paper trading. Keep track of all your winners, all your losers, your rationale, what you learned etc. A notebook like that is one of the most impressive thing a new graduate can show.

But in reality, the three most important things for you are: 1) Grades - sucks but true. Try to get all A's, and take a hard major with fluff electives if you can/have to. 2) Strong internships - doesnt have to be in exactly what you want to do - just take the one where you'll learn the most, and shows that you're interested in finance. 3) being able to articulate why you want to do what you want to do, and showing that you have a genuine interest in that career by being able to speak intelligently. Read books about fundamental analysis, bios about HF managers, and learn about the history of the industry - this will do wonders for your networking/interviews.

One more thing: realize what ER at a bank actually does. THere is a huge clien-driven focus to it, and you have to be comfortable in a sales setting. You absolutely learn a lot, and it is very challenging, but it is not like being a research analyst on the buy-side.

Jan 18, 2012 - 5:14pm
PhillyBound, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I appreciate your response. In regard to your advice about proving my interests, I realize this is important and I'm in the process of joining the very exclusive Villanova Equity society (it takes a whole semester just to be considered for acceptance) where I'd start as a long-only analyst.

I'm just very fuzzy on the whole buy-side investment industry as far as career paths go. Everything just seems so ambiguous at this point. That being said, now that I've given serious thought to my career I feel the need to have some sort of general sense of where I'm going (especially for my first full time experience).

Is a buy-side research analyst a feasible position coming out of undergrad with only internship experience?

Again, thanks for your feedback.

Jan 18, 2012 - 7:14pm
ram15, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Thanks man. How intense was the competition, and how many people did they accept?

300+ on the original email list, probably ended up being around 100-150 people that regularly attended the training (a must if you really want to get in). They took around 50. I heard it's generally easier if you do training second semester because less people are applying. The stock report you write is basically the only way to stand out. Mine was 8 pages (including around 3 pages of graphs). I know people that did 4 page ones and didn't get in, but there were a lot of people applying so that might have been enough in some cases. Pick a company that not everyone has heard of, but is big enough to have plenty of available data. Whether your buy/hold/sell recommendation holds up is not as important as doing a good in-depth analysis and supporting your reasoning.

I know that's a lot of info haha, but feel free to message me if you want to know more.

Jan 18, 2012 - 8:45pm
atomic, what's your opinion? Comment below:

To your earlier question, buyside research is definitely feasible out of undergrad; indeed, I think working in buyside research is one of the best possible ways to get into finance, if you can manage it. One of my buddies -- whose a top-tier candidate for anything BB IBD (i.e., he received multiple offers) -- is going to be working at a long-only asset management firm on the West Coast after graduation. He'll certainly be making less in this role than he would have at the BB he summered at, or any of the BB's he received offers from, but I think the combination of a better work-life balance and his passion for the public markets are really what drove his decision. (Well, that, and the fact that buyside research is a hell of a lot more fun than, ahem, "Deal Execution").

That said, there simply aren't many buyside research spots available out of undergrad, and some firms (like PIMCO, if I'm not mistaken) require that their investment professionals have an MBA. I'm on the West Coast, so my perspective is probably skewed a bit, but look into companies like Blackrock, Franklin Templeton, Brandes, Fidelity, Wellington, and T. Rowe, all of whom have some form of research role for undergraduates. I'm not so knowledgeable on the hedge fund space, but I do know that there are opportunities (Bridgewater and Citadel both have investment roles for undergraduates).

So there most certainly are other options aside from the "IBD/PE" route that gets so much press on WSO. That's a great path, to be certain, and immediately places you into the upper echelon of graduating seniors, but buyside research is an arguably better way to break into finance. Again, though, these spots are very competitive. Then again, there's not much improvement post-MBA, either, as I'm pretty sure firms like Capital Group only take a handful of people from Stanford/HBS each year.

Jan 18, 2012 - 9:26pm
PhillyBound, what's your opinion? Comment below:


It doesn't seem that too many of those sorts of companies recruit at my university. And since you said positions are limited anyway, I'm guessing my chances of actually getting an offer are slim.

Do you (or anyone else) have any opinions on corporate finance (i.e. with a F500 company), and its relevance to breaking into the buy-side?

Jan 19, 2012 - 11:42pm
buybuybuy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

It doesn't seem that too many of those sorts of companies recruit at my university. And since you said positions are limited anyway, I'm guessing my chances of actually getting an offer are slim.

Do you (or anyone else) have any opinions on corporate finance (i.e. with a F500 company), and its relevance to breaking into the buy-side?

With this attitude, you're setting yourself up for failure. Figure out what you want and go for it.
Jan 19, 2012 - 11:31pm
Alibi, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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