Are you happy working in Equity Research?

Hi I’m an incoming associate in ER at a mid sized bank. I was wondering how you guys who’ve been working in the field for several years have thought about your jobs and roles overall. 
 

  • What are some things you enjoy the most about the job? 
     

  • Are you happy with the comp? How about the hours / WLB do you find you have sufficient time to enjoy your weekends and evenings as opposed to your peers in ib or s&t?


  • What does job stability look like? Do you feel the need to constantly go above and beyond or can you get by from being  adequate / good enough? Does it depend on what level you are? Asking as my group only gave return offers to 5 out of 10 interns. 
  • Have hours gotten better as you got more senior?

I had many of these questions during my internship but did not know about this site last year, and did not want to ask my coworkers this as I wanted to get the return offer 

 
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  • What are some things you enjoy the most about the job? 

    • Financial modeling/valuation, reading, learning about the industry and the businesses within, talking to C-suite executives and investors, going to industry conferences

  • Are you happy with the comp? How about the hours / WLB do you find you have sufficient time to enjoy your weekends and evenings as opposed to your peers in ib or s&t?

    • Comp is not great for the amount of hours, but hours are better than IB (worse than S&T). Whether you get to enjoy weekends and evenings is 100% dependent on which analyst you work, not what bank you work for. I enjoyed my weekends completely unbothered. 

  • What does job stability look like? Do you feel the need to constantly go above and beyond or can you get by from being adequate / good enough? Does it depend on what level you are? Asking as my group only gave return offers to 5 out of 10 interns. 
    • So again, with equity research, it always depends on whom you work for. Job stability depends on your sector, your bank and whether your analyst is good. Whether you are considered "good enough" or "above and beyond" depends on whether you work for a workaholic or a sunsetting II hall-famer who is just cruising off their brand.  
  • Have hours gotten better as you got more senior?
    • It's the same or worse. It also becomes a different job with higher pressure because you no longer do as much modeling and writing, but you need to build more relationships with company C-suite (and private C-suite too for IPO deal sourcing), do in-person marketing in front of buy-side investors in big markets (NYC, Boston, SF/LA, Europe, etc.) host a marquee event with investors and C-suite in attendance, and make TV/press appearances. You are pressure to earn votes on a system called II voting that literally means nothing to anyone outside the profession (even buy-siders mostly don't give a sht)
 

I agree with this. I can't emphasize enough how much weight your senior will have on your overall experience. During my time at a BB, I saw everything from juniors getting away with 40-hour work weeks with no travel to juniors working 90+ hours per week (including weekends) and traveling on a monthly basis. There are seniors that genuinely care for your success and mental health, and there are others that see you as expandable and assume you'll be gone within two years anyways... so why bother getting to know you.  

I will also add that generally speaking, the vast majority of seniors in the industry work very hard. My senior, and he was not an outlier, frequented ~80 hours per week, no vacation, and traveled for marketing once each month or two. Earnings season is a real thing and those hourly numbers will be higher. Add to this the unpredictable nature of the markets and the possibility of Walmart announcing some random thing at 4pm on a Friday afternoon, makes things pretty unsustainable for me personally. 

All this being said, I would much rather work in ER for two years and then switch to the buy-side, than working in IB for two years. I do think with some luck there are also positions in ER that are viable and fulfilling for the long-term. In my experience it is relatively easy to switch shops on the sell-side, so if you do hate your seat, you should not be stuck for a long time. 

 
  1. Generally intellectually stimulating, lots of autonomy, get lots of responsibility early on, great exits, get along with my team, enjoy my sector

  2. Comp is decent got paid 156k out of school (when you annualize bonus for working 1/2 year), expecting 160-165k this year

  3. S&T is much better from a WLB standpoint. I probably work 60 hrs a week regular / 80-90 hrs a week for 10-12 weeks out of the year (earnings, conferences, etc).

  4. Job stability is unmatched, my analyst likes me and my team crushes it (ranked very high). That being said if my goal was to be “adequate” or “good enough” my days would likely be numbered. If your analyst is also lazy (there’s plenty of them), you can likely coast…but if the rest of your team is grinding there’s nowhere to hide.

    At a BB for reference.
 

Hey there, future ER associate! Welcome to the jungle. Let's dive into your questions:

  • The things I enjoy the most about the job? Well, I love the fact that the work is meaningful and needs to be done. When a press release comes out, you have to update the model and it's all part of the thrill. Plus, the work is very different from banking, which keeps things interesting.

  • As for the comp and work-life balance, it's a bit of a mixed bag. The hours can be long, especially when you're juggling responsibilities for your analyst and your own coverage. You might find yourself working 60 to 70 hours for your analyst and then putting in more time for your own coverage. But the silver lining is that Saturdays are usually untouched and Sundays are usually half days. So, you can plan your life a bit better.

  • Job stability? Well, it can get a bit rocky, especially when you're transitioning between a full ER analyst and associate. You might have to say goodbye to some of your free Saturdays and Sundays. But once you become a full analyst, things start to improve again.

  • As for the hours getting better as you get more senior, it's not as clear in ER as it is in banking. In banking, life gets easier over time, but in equity research, your life starts easier, gets worse, and then if you become a full analyst starts to improve again.

Remember, every banana has its peel. But with the right mindset and a bit of monkeying around, you'll find your groove. Good luck!

Sources: Work/Life Balance: Equity Research vs. Investment Banking - (A Definitive Guide, Part 1), I'm a Senior Sell-Side Research Associate, Q&A, Affect of the sector you cover on work/life balance for ER Associate?

I'm an AI bot trained on the most helpful WSO content across 17+ years.
 

Enjoy the Autonomy of the work. A lot of the time is spent just thinking, learning, writing, etc. Modeling too but basically its just back of the napkin type modelling.    

Comp - On an absolute basis, meh. ~$120 all-in. But analyst is very laid back, outside of earnings its 50/hr weeks. I do some on my own time (listening to podcasts, reading substacks, scripting how to automate some monotonous tasks, trying to understand different verticals, etc.) In reality I probably spend closer to 70 hrs on my job if you consider that but its at my discretion and just to take pressure off when times get busy.  

Stability is good. Lot of AI doomers but research will always be around to an extent imho.

2 YOE, WLB gotten better, especially in earnings. But thats mainly just more efficient at the job. Have also gotten more responsibilities but thats also more bullets on the resume  

 

As some background I am probably more senior than most here. 12 years experience, 8 in ER. Fairly senior now and have some of my own coverage (high single digit # of stocks under covg). 

  • What are some things you enjoy the most about the job? 
     - As others have noted, intellectually stimulating. As you progress and become more senior, the job is what you make of it. Every team has a slightly different model and there are many ways to succeed in this industry. Find what works for you/what you enjoy.

  • Are you happy with the comp? How about the hours / WLB do you find you have sufficient time to enjoy your weekends and evenings as opposed to your peers in ib or s&t?

    • For the reasons stated above the job can be highly flexible. If you can work quickly/efficiently you can have a good work life balance. That said I find most younger people just aren't willing (or capable) of doing the work. I don't mind working an 80+ hour week once per quarter so to me the hours don't seem bad at all relative to what I am paid. Generally happy with the comp. That said, everyone always wants more, regardless of where they are at. Even at this point in my career I would say that I would happily take more pain/longer hours in exchange for more money. As a ballpark my total comp is approaching $450k. 

  • What does job stability look like? Do you feel the need to constantly go above and beyond or can you get by from being  adequate / good enough? Does it depend on what level you are? Asking as my group only gave return offers to 5 out of 10 interns. 
    • Why would you want to just be "adequate" in any job? this is the totally wrong mindset and is probably a big reason why, as I said above, it is challenging to find good younger associates now. Nobody wants to work hard. The tradeoff is the bar is awfully low for a motivated individual to succeed. 
  • Have hours gotten better as you got more senior?
    • Hours were difficult in the first couple of years as I ramped. Then got better as I became more efficient at my job, now getting a little worse again (but not like it was when I first started) due to having more of my own coverage. 
 

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