Best route to buy-side ER (non-MBA)

I had posted a question few weeks ago on this forum asking how hard it would be for me to break into this field and got the reply that it wouldn't be easy at all. lol. I've been in touch whatever few contacts I have working in IB and wall street to somehow try to get into this industry, but all seem to suggest that it is pretty hard at the moment to break into ER and being from abroad even harder. So I was thinking what would be a good alternate route to move into this field (besides MBA).

I'm currently working in audit in the Big4, and desperately want to move out of here. My main aim is to move to buy-side equity research, but as I described above that seems unlikely right now for me. What would a good route that would lead to a good chance of moving to ER. As per my knowledge the current options for me moving out of audit would be the following:
1. Transaction advisory division in one of the Big4
2. Working in the finance department of major F500 company
3. Working in firms like Bloomberg, Morningstar doing what I presume is sell-side research. (although even this seems a little hard for me given my audit background)

Which of the above 3 options do you think would be the best route to move into buy-side research? Or is there a better alternative to the three?

Your replies would be greatly appreciated!

Comments (23)

Apr 15, 2012 - 3:50pm

CFA... plain and simple. If you want to break in without getting your MBA its the CFA. Passing level 1 is at least a good indicator to employers that your serious.

Here's the thing. If you can't spot the sucker in the first half hour at the table, you are the sucker.
  • 1
Apr 16, 2012 - 11:50am

@technoviking - I'm halfway through the CPA and would most likely complete it by the second half the year. I was asking which would be the best transition route for me to move into buy-side ER coming from audit. Judging by your response I'm guessing sell-side ER would be my best bet.

@bullbythehorns - I'm planning on taking the CFA next year since I'm already studying towards the CPA (required by my employer). But my question was more directed towards which work route would be the best transition route leading to buy-side research roles. Anyway thanks for the reply. Gives me some validation for spending my precious non-work time studying.

Apr 16, 2012 - 1:16pm

I would say transaction advisory. If you get a chance to specialize in a specific sector it would make your time spent there much more valuable as you could market your experience and understanding of that industry to better prepare yourself to cover the sector for a buyside shop

Here's the thing. If you can't spot the sucker in the first half hour at the table, you are the sucker.
Apr 21, 2012 - 2:30pm

What's a good pathway for getting a Buy-Side Analyst job out of school? (Originally Posted: 06/02/2013)

I need to make the most out of the advice you guys have for me. So I'm a freshmen at the University of Michigan studying Economics. What should I do right now and in the future that could assist me in landing that Buy-Side Analyst job?

Apr 21, 2012 - 2:31pm

Work at a boutique firm. Big firms ( my knowledge comes from a firm with over $2 Trillion AUM) will put you through the ringer (5-10 years experience as a sell-side research analyst, performance analyst, etc.) then you will be there as a buy-side analyst for 5 to 10 years just in time to be PM at around 15-20 years of tenure.

Apr 21, 2012 - 2:32pm

I wouldn't call my firm boutique (~$50 billion AUM), but in my experience (albeit brief) the typical buy-side progression goes Associate -> Analyst -> PM. I was hired on as an Associate out of undergrad working under an Analyst. An Analyst typically "covers" one industry under the firms investment mandate (e.g. Healthcare, Financials).

Right now, just get ANY finance internship. Most buy-side firms don't eff around with interns, but you should be able to get something in private wealth management this summer or next. Follow that up with an investment banking internship if you can. In the mean time, find out exactly which area of "the buy-side" you want to work for; do you want to work for a growth manager, value manager, or do something entirely different? Focus on building your resume and fine tuning the EXACT area that you see yourself. A good resume and a clear vision is a winning combination.

Best Response
Apr 21, 2012 - 2:33pm

Strategy to get to the buy side (Originally Posted: 01/15/2012)

Hi guys/gals,

I am a graduate working at one of the ratings agencies as a trainee corporate credit analyst in the UK. My long term goal is to work as an equity analyst at a long only buy side fund. I am being sponsored to sit the CFA exams and have cleared level 1, will be sitting level 2 in June. After my second year as a trainee I will be given the chance to join a sector team and become a full analyst covering 10-12 companies in my chosen sector. My plan is to stay at the agency for 4-5 years, finish the CFA exams at which point I will have the necessary 4 years work experience to use the charter. After this I hope to have enough sector knowledge to make the jump to a buy side fund.

Do you guys think this jump would be possible or would I need to move to the sell side first post CFA or would I need an MBA? I'm not looking to work for a mega fund, just a small boring bottom up value shop with a AUM500/600m.


  • 2
Apr 21, 2012 - 2:34pm

Sell-side is by no means a necessity to get to the buy side from your position. In fact, hedge funds and investment management shops will probably value a CFA charterholder more than sell side employers do. Your strategy sounds reasonable as long as you can find the job opportunities through networking.

Apr 21, 2012 - 2:35pm

Interesting. In case you're curious, I've known quite a few people to go from the top ratings agencies to Bridgewater -- they seem to love the background

Apr 21, 2012 - 2:36pm

I think your current strategy is sound. Like RainEllington said, CFA is probably more valued by the buy side shops, MBA should not be necessary in your case. Just my thoughts.

Under my tutelage, you will grow from boys to men. From men into gladiators. And from gladiators into SWANSONS.
  • 2
Apr 21, 2012 - 2:37pm

I had a similar goal as you did -- getting to primarily a long-only buyside value shop with a decent AUM, even if not massive and widely known. I will be making the move in a few months from independent sell-side ER.

I think that you are spot on with your thoughts about getting the CFA designation -- this is much higher value-add than the MBA is. I went to an MBA program that was a CFA Partner school to help prepping for the exams during my 2 years in school.

The MBA wasn't nearly as helpful in getting a job on the buy-side, but CFA and progress towards it was something that helped me out when coupled with some work experience. Given what you're doing now, I think you have good experience, and that the CFA designation should prove sufficient for you. Best wishes in the search!

Apr 21, 2012 - 2:39pm

Advice wanted on breaking into the Buy-Side (Originally Posted: 05/10/2011)

Hello All,

This is my first post on Wall Street Oasis, which i was referred to from a good friend of mine. Thank you in advance for all of your help and time.

I have recently finished undergrad, and am currently working for a fortune 500 pharma company in a financial rotation program. For 2 years I will work 4 six-month stents in 4 different parts of the corporate finance structure/world. While this job is interesting, and I am enjoying the experience to live internationally (from NYC area), I am pretty settled on what I would like to do with my life. I am just looking for how to do this.

I would like to break into the HF world, working as a buy-side analyst. I am still unsettled on what exactly I want to focus on as an analyst, but am pretty sure it is going to value equity investing.

Since I am positive my experience is not all that desired in this position, I am wondering what I need to do enter this field. I graduated Summa Cum Laude from a business school in Manhattan undergrad, and believe I could gain admittance to a top 10 business school, but would look for advice on which specific programs would be best for this career path? What should I do in business school to increase my chances?

Instead of direct to business school after 2-3 years in this current program/career, would it be better to try to land an entry level equity research position in NYC? Or even get into a boutique i-bank? Would it be possible to land the most basic positions at a HF?

What can I do outside my formal eduction? What skills should I focus on learning? What should I be reading? Should I get a CFA I? Take some part time mathematics courses? Begin conducting my own independent research?

Any advice anyone can provide me will be greatly apprecaited.


Apr 21, 2012 - 2:40pm

Dude def. can get an entry level position at a HF. I hear bob and joe are putting together 500k-1MM of AUM and running a really hot growth fund out of their home in White Plains, just out to take the markets by storm. know what i mean? Take the markets by storm.

I'd also look into entry-level positions of traditionally long-only buyside shops who have limited undergrad classes, work with top value investors there who will spinoff into their own HFs. Alternatively the usual path of ER, prop, ib to HF is true and tested but less fun as you delay what u want to do.

Apr 21, 2012 - 2:42pm

If you have time, enroll in the CFA program. At least get your level 1 complete before you start applying for buyside jobs. It will show commitment to the field and answer a lot of questions people might have about what you know about investing given your non-traditional background.

Also, the best thing you can do is start your own portfolio (a paper account will suffice) that documents your investment ideas, your success and your reasons for investing. Again, shows commitment and a passion for investing.

Apr 21, 2012 - 2:44pm

[quote=DurbanDiMangus]Honestly - the direct from undergrad to long-only buyside roles get no love but they are great. You can def network with HF professionals who are doing the same exact work…]

I completely agree. Start the CFA program, finish it on the job, then network to wherever you want to go. Who knows, you might just like the long-only side of the business. There seems to be this misperception that HFs have a monopoly on value investing.

Apr 21, 2012 - 2:45pm

Thanks for all of your responses. So the general consensus is to skip b-school, get a CFA I, and attend every event possible to meet every buy-side professional as possible. Does anyone disagree?

In regards to my own (paper) portfolio, I was considering doing my own (basic) macro research and then focusing on a specific industry. Any thoughts on this approach?

Also, are there any specific avenues anyone could recommend to begin my networking pursuits? (e.g. any industry events, conventions etc.)

Finally, can anyone recommend any reading materials to increase my investing knowledge?

Thanks for all the advice!


Apr 21, 2012 - 2:46pm
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