Do I hate ER as a job or my boss?

I started in ER at a BB about a year ago. So far I've hated it, I spend most of my time churning handwritten edits on research notes and updating marketing materials. I get late night faxes from hotels while the MD is traveling asking to have his handwritten edits put into a research note and sent back to the hotel by the morning. My MD wastes double the time by handwriting the edits and giving them to me instead of learning how to use a fucking computer to type into Microsoft Word. I actually enjoy learning about the sector but I can't stand the menial work I am forced to do, and I feel chained to my desk all day due to needing to be available at any given time. I work in some capacity every weekend and am expected to be available every weekend, but almost always work from home unless it is earnings.

So my question is, is this normal for Research? I chose research because I wanted to avoid this type of menial work which feels like what bankers would be doing, and to have a better work-life balance. But perhaps I just misunderstand the demands of the job. I am debating leaving research altogether but don't want to make a rash decision when maybe it is just a bad boss and I should just consider changing sectors.

At its core I think I like research, I like thinking critically about what moves markets, but I can't stand the BS work I have to do and I don't see it getting better any time soon under my current boss. What do you guys think? Change sectors, or leave and look to do something different?

Comments (29)

May 15, 2019 - 10:51pm
faceslappingcompilation, what's your opinion? Comment below:

you have a lousy boss. on the flip side...you aren't experienced enough to add value to the research product yet....your "job" right now is to learn...and while doing that, make the life of other senior people easier.

it will be years before you are really able to add value...this is true in any industry...more especially in finance.

however, yes, you have a lousy boss...try to lateral

just google it...you're welcome
May 15, 2019 - 11:44pm
rudeawakening, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm in the same boat. Think ER is really interesting job at its core, but team sucks, and that makes all the difference. Becomes painfully obvious when i talk to the other analysts in my class and they're aghast at what i go through. Everyone i've talked to has said 1. don't deal with the BS and 2. leave when the time is right. not worth spending another thought on it

May 16, 2019 - 7:46am
Calnus, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Normally you can ask your DOR to change teams but usually that's within a 6 month window. Given it's been a year, it might be tough (though I've heard people switch to another team after a year or two). May be worth an ask if you feel ok doing that. Otherwise look for another team/shop. That stuff is not normal per se, but some analysts are definitely less tech savvy.

May 16, 2019 - 9:14am
Deter6895, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I knew pretty much within the first few months that I wasn't a match for the team. But I didn't want to look like I was throwing in the towel just because I didn't have a good work ethic. Unfortunately it looks like this has just led me to being uphappy for a longer period of time than necessary, but now that it's mid year I'll wait til next bonus cycle and try to lateral.

May 16, 2019 - 9:03am
BobTheBaker, what's your opinion? Comment below:

At my shop associates are responsible for notes ~6 months into the job. Of course the analyst/ senior associate/ associate analyst is likely to heavily edit your work but it is very much a "trial by fire" environment. I spend most of my time 1.) reading or writing notes 3.) updating marketing materials and 4.) editing models. You sound like you spend all your time doing nonsense, which is unfortunate. Also mostly work 12 hours M-F and almost never on weekends. My next big project will likely be an IOC I am expected to do from cradle to the grave (model, note, presentation, present it to sales - everything) with the analyst providing suggestions and minor edits. Sounds like your team/ bank sucks. That said, I heard my bank/team is different in how they use associates.

Array

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May 16, 2019 - 9:16am
Deter6895, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Those hours sound very reasonable, the never knowing when work will come in on the weekends really messes with your well-being. I work about the same during the week but the weekend work really kills me.

May 18, 2019 - 11:27am
sl55amg, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I know of an MD who makes his associates transcribe his handwritten notes. In his defense, sometimes clients/mgmt don't like the sell side guy using a laptop during corp access meetings. But anyway, if its the same guy I'm thinking of, I know that he is especially brutal to work for.

The sell side experience is very much shaped by your senior analyst. If its any consolation, the buy side usually knows which associates have it the worst and you earn their respect if you can stick it out.

May 18, 2019 - 12:05pm
HFANALYST84, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You have a terrible boss.

I did two years of ER. After 3 months I was taking full responsibility for writing notes/earnings notes and initiations with my boss simply making edits directly into the software. I attended conferences and meetings alone or in tow with my boss but had full authonomy.

May 18, 2019 - 1:34pm
hedgehog9, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Just some perspective from a guy two years in. I've been working on buy-side at a West Coast manager, but I've wondered the same thing at certain points. Things I like:

  • Drafting investment cases (analyzing industry, competitors, macro, competitive advantages, etc.)
  • Thinking high level through various levers
  • Talking to management
  • Attending conferences

Things I'm eh on:

  • Modeling. Slowly coming to appreciate it more & the process of going deep on each line item, but I suspect this will always just be an 'eh' to me.

Things I hate:

  • Writing earnings notes. Seriously, we're LT investors, why do we have to write an earnings note for each damn company every quarter? It almost never materially changes our thinking, and just because we wouldn't be writing notes doesn't mean we wouldn't be monitoring the quarter & missing something either. Massive time waster and annoying as hell w/ the constant edits.

Just adding a little perspective, as I think it's pretty rare to find a guy who likes all of the above, but hey, who knows. From my experience, the bottom two items are the bulk of the work for the first few years, but you gradually move up over time. If you were at HF, you could likely do all of it at once, but this is what you get at a long only AM.

Most Helpful
May 18, 2019 - 5:54pm
vanillathunder, what's your opinion? Comment below:

PM me. We will talk.

In sell-side research, just expect some level of inefficiencies that are almost always idiosyncratic to the analyst. The MD didn't get to that corner office because he or she is a good leader or project manager so their minions lives are shitty to certain extent. My MD is a really nice dude, but the work still mostly centers around DOING (maintaining comp sheet, some sort of proprietary database, talking to idiot clients and sale people, etc.), as compared to reading and thinking. It's the nature of the damn profession, which is why most ppl do for some time and then peace out to do something else.

Even with a strong understanding the shenanigans coming into my job, I grossly underestimated the amount of selling (the SELL-side is for real) that is involved: eg. standing there for 4 hours deciding with the team what music is good for the introduction of a sector conference is not thinking and definitely not investing. So you just have to realize one thing and one thing only: sell-side "research" pretty much has nothing to do with investing or research, ironic as it is.

May 19, 2019 - 3:46pm
Dr. Rahma Dikhinmahas, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Very interesting points.

If sell-side research has little to do with investing or research, why do some of the more talented thinkers stay in it and eventually become star analysts? I'm not saying most do, but there are some that are widely followed that like that Autos guy at MS or Meredith Whitney back in the day, just to name a couple.

I would think if the job is as truly divorced from analysis as people describe, then those types of performers would eventually get over to the buy side long before reaching MD level.

May 19, 2019 - 5:34pm
vanillathunder, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If you are same as the consensus and then consensus is wrong, your job is safe, but you are not gonna be Meredith Whitney. If you are contrarian to the consensus, and you are wrong, you are fired. If you are contrarian to the consensus, and the consensus is wrong, you go on Fortune magazine and be lauded as a hero. And then you come up with a narrative on how you totally saw the auto cycle coming or saw that Citi was fucked, in hindsight.

Once you make MD, (1) if you can bring in IB deals or have a stable base of audience, you make more than $1 mil each year making risk-free stock calls with 0 skin in the game, why would you leave to the buy side to deal with the pressure of being wrong and actually staring at massive unrealized loss? (2) you got private school tuitions and mortgage on that Sausalito house with San Francisco Bay view. (3) your mind is probably so plagued with how sell-side thinking that how you want to learn actually how to invest? (4) what buy side shop will hire a $1mm research analyst when they can hire an undergraduate who can be molded into a promising investor?

May 19, 2019 - 4:27pm
TheKid51, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This is the main reason I didn't end up going into ER, even though I thought I'd enjoy being research analyst overall / on the buyside. It takes wayyyyyy too long to get to the point where you are actually given decision making responsibility. You can be an Associate for 5+ years, and the entire time you'll just be doing the grunt work for the analyst who makes all the decisions (i.e. all the writing, updating the model using the inputs he wants, taking notes on tours, etc.). On top of all of that, your hours are worse than a buyside analyst. It's a pretty ridiculous lifestyle.

Jun 8, 2020 - 6:46pm
ken-Krak, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Is buy side like that too?

Array
Jun 8, 2020 - 8:03pm
TheKid51, what's your opinion? Comment below:

No. On the buyside you usually get significant responsibility quite quickly. It will take time to build trust with the PMs and senior analysts, but you will still have responsibility and a say in decisions and can make your opinions known.

May 21, 2019 - 9:16am
Hayek, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I haven't worked in ER but have some friends who have. Sounds like the industry is very dependent on who your analyst is, and you happen to have a crappy one.

  • Junior Trader in S&T - Comm
Apr 28, 2022 - 8:46pm

I feel this so hard, been in the job a few months and don't think I can deal with it. Does anyone know what I should do working under an analyst that barely wants to mentor + shitty sector that's dying an learning quick I have no interest in...

Apr 30, 2022 - 2:46pm
growingpainsgrowingdays, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Totally different from my experience. I write the whole note and then my MD makes some slight edits (if any) and submits it. Idk, maybe I'm just good at first drafts or my notes are easy. But I don't ever work on a note after the first draft really or get comments (not to mention handwritten ones). I'm a year into my first ER associate role.

Apr 30, 2022 - 3:26pm
dickthesellsider, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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May 6, 2022 - 2:02am
attentionisallyouneed, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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