Future in Equity Research?

Happy Friday – Let me preface this by first saying, my apologies for posting what I'm sure is probably majority consensus to be the most annoying crap posted on this forum. I would, however, appreciate candid advice on my career goals. I know you guys are busy and this is kinda long, so thanks in advance! Here are the facts:

•Age: 30
•Undergrad: 2007 Non-target, 3.0 (Rhetoric/Business Writing Major)
•Graduate: Some courses toward an M.Ed.
•Employer: BB; not NYC, Chicago or SF
•Reputation: Very solid, mgt. is very supportive of my career aspirations
•Current: Traveling Compliance Auditor
•Post Undergrad Work Experience: Business Writer (report writing, research, mostly compliance-type stuff, risk focus, procedures, policies, lots of interaction with Sr. Mgt.)
•Background Snapshot: pre-undergrad, I've been everything from a self employed contractor to a mechanic to retail slave

What I really want to do:
•Near Term: Equity Research in < 18 months
•Less-Near Term: HF Equity Research ~ 3 years

Knowledge Gaps:
•No finance background
•No business classes in college but killed college mathematics
•No accounting background (I audit processes, policies, Dodd-Frank compliance, etc.)

Questions:
1.My reading list now includes Security Analysis by Graham and Best Practices for Equity Research Analysts by Valentine. Any others I should read from which I can build foundational knowledge?
2.Do you guys think it would be a good idea to start reaching out to internal folks to setup informational interviews at my BB if I can only speak to the basics of investing (don't want to come off as retarded and squelch any future ops)?
3.Should I be working toward the CFA level I exam and/or continue my studies for the GMAT?
4.I've read that the online MBA is frowned upon, but what about the IE distance MBA, or the Kelley MBA? The one-year on-site MBAs look cool too (INSEAD, IE, HKUST, LBS, etc.), but I'd rather keep working if possible and there are no good schools within reasonable driving distance from me..
5.I also signed up for an investment banking workshop, which I have yet to take. Is it a good or bad idea to put these skills on a functionally formatted resume for future applications?

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Comments (15)

Jul 6, 2012 - 10:37am
dest149:
To be honest, I am not sure if getting an MBA from one of those schools would be worth the cost/effort.

So, is an MBA a bad idea altogether? Overwhelmingly, I see a consensus for Equity Researchers to obtain the CFA designation, and that any MBA is a waste of time. Does this also ring true with career changers? I just read a post by Flake where he described doing some job shadowing with his firm's research team; he was BO at the time. Seems like a good way to get some exposure to the work itself without taking off three months for an internship.

Jul 6, 2012 - 10:41am
johnwilkesproof:
dest149:
To be honest, I am not sure if getting an MBA from one of those schools would be worth the cost/effort.

So, is an MBA a bad idea altogether? Overwhelmingly, I see a consensus for Equity Researchers to obtain the CFA designation, and that any MBA is a waste of time. Does this also ring true with career changers? I just read a post by Flake where he described doing some job shadowing with his firm's research team; he was BO at the time. Seems like a good way to get some exposure to the work itself without taking off three months for an internship.


Getting a CFA never hurt anyone, because it only makes you more competitive. It's not to say getting an MBA is a waste of time, but getting one from a non top-tier school pretty much is, and is more than anything a waste of money. Also, although any exposure to the industry is better than nothing, it is pretty difficult to move from BO to FO. But maybe if you combine the BO work with a CFA you could have a shot. I just think it's kind of tough all around for you at this stage in the game. I don't want to baby you.
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Jul 6, 2012 - 4:55pm

It's going be tough because usually new associates at your level of experience bring either one of two things: superior industry knowledge in a particular sector or superior financial acumen. As you possess neither it seems an MBA would be your best bet. Just be aware that getting a Summer Associate position will be extremely difficult as most BB recruit 4 or 5 associates for ER per summer. You can work on the CFA as a way to build up your credentials but most shops put more emphasis on previous work experience.

Jul 7, 2012 - 6:53pm
bearing:
It's going be tough because usually new associates at your level of experience bring either one of two things: superior industry knowledge in a particular sector or superior financial acumen. As you possess neither it seems an MBA would be your best bet. Just be aware that getting a Summer Associate position will be extremely difficult as most BB recruit 4 or 5 associates for ER per summer. You can work on the CFA as a way to build up your credentials but most shops put more emphasis on previous work experience.
Jul 7, 2012 - 6:54pm
bearing:
It's going be tough because usually new associates at your level of experience bring either one of two things: superior industry knowledge in a particular sector or superior financial acumen. As you possess neither it seems an MBA would be your best bet. Just be aware that getting a Summer Associate position will be extremely difficult as most BB recruit 4 or 5 associates for ER per summer. You can work on the CFA as a way to build up your credentials but most shops put more emphasis on previous work experience.

If I were to work on learning an industry/sector on my own, what would be the best option in terms of most likely to have openings? Would it be advantageous to learn some obscure industry or the most common?

Best Response
Jul 7, 2012 - 8:08pm
johnwilkesproof:
bearing:
It's going be tough because usually new associates at your level of experience bring either one of two things: superior industry knowledge in a particular sector or superior financial acumen. As you possess neither it seems an MBA would be your best bet. Just be aware that getting a Summer Associate position will be extremely difficult as most BB recruit 4 or 5 associates for ER per summer. You can work on the CFA as a way to build up your credentials but most shops put more emphasis on previous work experience.

If I were to work on learning an industry/sector on my own, what would be the best option in terms of most likely to have openings? Would it be advantageous to learn some obscure industry or the most common?

It would show interest if you were interviewing but placement is done on business needs I.e. which groups need an associate. The type of specific industry knowledge ER is looking for is only gained by working in that industry. Problem with obscure sectors is they wouldn't hire you to cover that sector and they probably wouldn't need an associate to help in that sector because it's obscure and probably generates less turnover due to low volume and small market cap. If by some miracle they do need an associate it's probably only 1 or 2 positions each year for the entire industry.

Jul 7, 2012 - 2:02pm

Just wanted to share that I have somewhat similar background/goals as you and from my research (reading a ton of WSO, other sites and talking to finance people I know) the best bet to re-brand your self with a top tier MBA, easier said the done of course.

I am currently in biotech/pharma industry (~5 years) and originally started to study for the CFA as a means of breaking in but decided/researched the MBA would be the best bet (again assuming it is top tier program). I am not sure how helpful my post is but maybe comforting that there are others in your situation.

Jul 7, 2012 - 6:58pm
TOB2020:
Just wanted to share that I have somewhat similar background/goals as you and from my research (reading a ton of WSO, other sites and talking to finance people I know) the best bet to re-brand your self with a top tier MBA, easier said the done of course.

I am currently in biotech/pharma industry (~5 years) and originally started to study for the CFA as a means of breaking in but decided/researched the MBA would be the best bet (again assuming it is top tier program). I am not sure how helpful my post is but maybe comforting that there are others in your situation.

It seems an MBA is probably the best option for me as well..

Jul 7, 2012 - 3:44pm

Is there anyone you can befriend or latch onto in the research department? If you tell them you can eat double decker shit sandwiches with a smile, you could have a chance. It won't be easy though. You wouldn't be a research analyst in the best of cases in 18 months though. You would have to grind it out as a research associate for at least a few years. The good news is that you at least have some background in writing, which is a big part of the job.

I think studying for the CFA is a good idea. At least you can become more conversant in the language of finance. It seems there are a large people in research with that designation now. Also, you need to learn excel well...don't know where you are with that.

Jul 7, 2012 - 7:24pm
SirPoopsaLot:
Is there anyone you can befriend or latch onto in the research department? If you tell them you can eat double decker shit sandwiches with a smile, you could have a chance. It won't be easy though. You wouldn't be a research analyst in the best of cases in 18 months though. You would have to grind it out as a research associate for at least a few years. The good news is that you at least have some background in writing, which is a big part of the job.

I think studying for the CFA is a good idea. At least you can become more conversant in the language of finance. It seems there are a large people in research with that designation now. Also, you need to learn excel well...don't know where you are with that.

I think so. I'm trying to be careful not to annoy those folks with random questions. I began reaching out to some of the associates in the IB a few months ago to ask some questions about internships. I'd say just about all of my inquiries were answered, having only one or two non-replies. I keep a spreadsheet of my conversations.

I have not reached out specifically to the research guys, yet. I don't want to mess that up. I think the whole process of networking would be a lot easier if I lived in NYC to meet face to face, conduct informational interviews, meet up for a coffee or beer. I'm seriously thinking about taking a week vacation in Manhattan to do a ton of informational interviews. Do people really do this? Does anyone have any suggestions as to what I should be able to discuss (with some level of competence) with a potential supervisor or colleague? As for excel, I use it daily, just not to the extent a numbers-driven dept. would.

Jul 9, 2012 - 7:26am

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