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Equity Research Career Path Advice

Currently working a job in Asset Performance Analytics and reporting at a boutique Investment Management firm. Based on my exposure in school, and what I've learned and been exposed too at my current position, I think I would really enjoy working in equity research.

I'm generally knowledgeable about different jobs and functions within equity research, hence my interest, but am less educated on things such as:

coming from a semi target school with a bachelors in Finance, an average GPA but solid experience (2 years worth), am I poised well to pursue entry level equity research positions or am I shooting for the stars here? I can expand on my resume if needed for a more accurate answer.

If more or more relevant experience is needed, what are some less competitive firms that I might have a better chance at getting into? On that note, relative to other industries (RE, IB, HF, etc...) how competitive is equity research?

Any other tips or advice on breaking in, or other important details I might miss are appreciated.

Thanks!

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Comments (277)

Jun 3, 2017

Do you have any prior industry work experience (i.e. outside of finance) that might make you valuable?

Jun 3, 2017

I have a good amount of client facing exposure and investor relations experience at this job and my previous job amd even my internship that i feel like could help me with establishing relationships with management teams, others in the industry, etc

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Jun 3, 2017
  1. What is everyone's opinion of my chances to "break in" and any suggestions on what I should focus on to further strengthen my profile?

While I'm not everyone, I'd say you have a solid chance to break in. Based solely on the information provided, it appears you hit all the major requirements of doing sell-side associate monkey work (i.e. modelling, understanding accounting, etc.). The only things not directly touched on by your listed experiences are (1) a passion for the markets and (2) writing skills. The latter is fairly technical, so just get good at it. The former however is very much a real thing that you need to structure your story around. In the event you get an interview or even an informational interview, be ready to talk about why public markets and how everything you've done to date helps you in this respect. It also wouldn't hurt to have a few stocks you're ready to pitch even if it's just an informational interview (and this will be absolutely necessary if you get an actual interview)

  1. Any suggestions on banks I should target (small boutiques, mid-market, large or everything!?). I am not in NYC but in large metropolitan area.

Depends how much you make (I can hazard a guess because I also come from Big4), but you might actually be a bit 'expensive' for the much smaller shops. If you're willing to take a bit of a cut to break in though, then apply for everything would be my advice. Otherwise, I think you should have a decent chance of breaking into a mid market firm or even a bulge bracket to be honest.

Best of luck on your search!

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Jun 3, 2017

Thanks for your quick reply.

You say you come from big4 as well. Are you currently in ER and if so do you mind sharing your background and how you made the transition?

Any recommendation on how to improve your technical writing?

If I apply, should I go for an entry level position or do you think I may be able to get in at a more experienced level (still associate of course)?

Best Response
Jun 3, 2017

I had a far inferior background when I broke into ER (BB no less, though i've since moved to buyside ER). My situation isn't terribly applicable to most people's as I was at the right time, right place, and lady luck decided to smile on me at that exact moment.

Having said that, the fundamental reasons I broke in were that I had the raw skill set as demonstrated by a CPA, excellent writing samples (not stock write ups), high levels of comfort with Excel, and an extreme go-getter attitude. Normally, this would be woefully insufficient, but again, right time right place. In reflecting on my lucky break, the only other piece of advice that comes to mind is that you should not overestimate the competition. Yes, the world is filled with unbelievably talented people who are younger, cheaper, and probably better suited than you for any given role, but if you're willing to put in the leg work to network and demonstrate sincerity, I believe your time will come.

As for technical writing, just write up a few stock reports. If you can get your hands on a few initiation pieces, you'll see the nuts and bolts of how sell side analysts build up an investment thesis. The problem is that those pieces tend to be 20-100+ pages long (yes I've seen initiations that are over 100 pages) and you'll need to fit it in <=5 pages. Write a few of those, run them by your finance friends (or WSO), and you should be good to go.

With your background, if you have deep industry knowledge of any given industry, you'll probably come in as a senior associate. Having said that, given the super flat hierarchy of sell side research, the only functional difference in the short run will be pay. Longer term, it may mean you can shoot for a sr. analyst role a bit sooner (which means more pay, but more headaches).

As always, lemme know if you have any other questions.

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Jun 3, 2017
Braininajar:
  1. What is everyone's opinion of my chances to "break in" and any suggestions on what I should focus on to further strengthen my profile?

While I'm not everyone, I'd say you have a solid chance to break in. Based solely on the information provided, it appears you hit all the major requirements of doing sell-side associate monkey work (i.e. modelling, understanding accounting, etc.). The only things not directly touched on by your listed experiences are (1) a passion for the markets and (2) writing skills. The latter is fairly technical, so just get good at it. The former however is very much a real thing that you need to structure your story around. In the event you get an interview or even an informational interview, be ready to talk about why public markets and how everything you've done to date helps you in this respect. It also wouldn't hurt to have a few stocks you're ready to pitch even if it's just an informational interview (and this will be absolutely necessary if you get an actual interview)

  1. Any suggestions on banks I should target (small boutiques, mid-market, large or everything!?). I am not in NYC but in large metropolitan area.

Depends how much you make (I can hazard a guess because I also come from Big4), but you might actually be a bit 'expensive' for the much smaller shops. If you're willing to take a bit of a cut to break in though, then apply for everything would be my advice. Otherwise, I think you should have a decent chance of breaking into a mid market firm or even a bulge bracket to be honest.

Best of luck on your search!

This is great info. The only thing I would emphasize is showing great interest in the market by means of doing your own write-up/building model. If you haven't already start sending out emails now. Your background is solid and I've definitely seen associate positions on LinkedIn where they prefer 2+ years of experience in FO jobs (ie consulting, ER, ib, big4, etc.)

Jun 3, 2017

What is everyone's opinion of my chances to "break in"

Your profile is competitive enough. You didn't mention the caliber of schools you attended. It would be a lot easier to break in, fair or not, if you went to a well regarded program for either BBA or MS.

suggestions on what I should focus on to further strengthen my profile?

As mentioned above, demonstrate an interest in markets, ideally by running either an actual or paper portfolio. At least follow a few stocks that you have high conviction on, either long or short. Also read investing books and attend local CFA society events and network.

Any suggestions on banks I should target (small boutiques, mid-market, large or everything!?). I am not in NYC but in large metropolitan area.

Apply to everything but your chances are best at smaller shop. Cruise the CFA institute job board for opportunities. As I mentioned, your local CFA society might also have networking events which can be helpful at finding opportunities.

    • 2

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