Interview with a Senior Institutional Research Associate - (Part 1/2)

The following is an interview I did with a Senior Institutional Research Associate, enjoy monkeys! Are you a professional and want to do an interview? Email me at [email protected]

  1. What is your job title?
  2. Senior Institutional Research Associate

  3. What are previous positions you have held and how many years of experience do you have?
  4. I took a long walk to get into industry, my first shop blew up within months of my arrival when the Managing Partners decided they didn't like each other anymore.

    From there I did some contract consulting, industry sales, Investor Relations, three years corporate finance and then equity research, all told: 5-6 years on this side of the street. I've recently accepted a IBD Associate position with a BB.


  5. Did you go to a "target", "semi target" or "non target".
    My school was definitely non target.

  6. What was the most useful thing you learned in ugrad that you apply in your current position?

    I don't know that there is much I learned in undergrad that I use at the office, maybe just financial statement analysis and ratio analysis. I've often thought that I should have taken a class on just building comps tables and price/volume charts, that would have been helpful for a while.

  7. What was the most useful thing you learned in ugrad that helped you get where you are now?

    I learned how to network properly. So many kids I see now are just shitty at networking and it's not a hard thing to do well.

  8. What was your most useful class and why?

    Accounting, once you know how the numbers work and drive each other, the rest just makes sense.

  9. GPA?

    I'm ashamed that my GPA was around 3.3 - 3.4, I always tried to cover it up by explaining that I was working 40-50 hours a week during school, but the reality is that to be good in this line of work, you have to do the hours and still be nearly perfect.

  10. During recruiting, how were you able to set yourself apart from other competitive candidates at your school?

    I got my first job offer from the partner of a small boutique at a networking party. I found out later that he was in such a good mood because he had just gotten a hummer in the bathroom from a girl in one of my classes.

  11. What kind of internships did you have during ugrad?

    I screwed up in undergrad. I was so focused on making it through school without any debt that I worked manual labour during summer rather than look for internships. I'm a bad example.

  12. Graduate

  13. Did you go to a "target", "semi target" or "non target".
    Non target.

  14. What was the most useful thing you learned in grad school that you apply in your current position?

    The number of papers improved my writing. Also, reading and proofing my team's writing during group assignments highlighted what shitty writing looks like.

  15. What was the most useful thing you learned in grad school that helped you get where you are now?

    That I'm really good at networking. Depending on who you talk to, between 60% and 80% of the value of an MBA is what you get from your network. I think I got more than most, because I met and talked to almost everyone.

  16. What was your most useful class and why?

    My Entrepreneur class; because the prof was terrible and taught me that sometimes assholes can be in charge of your comp (in this case my grade).

  17. GPA?

    Because of Entrepreneurship...3.9 - 3.95

  18. During recruiting, how were you able to set yourself apart from other competitive candidates at your school?

    Oil and gas technical knowledge.

  19. Do you have any professional certifications (CFA / CAIA / etc.) ?


  20. If so, how has that certification helped you in your career?

    People with a CFA tend to like other people with a CFA, they know that you:
    a) can retain large volumes of information,
    b) are willing to sacrifice evenings and weekends to advance your career, and c) suffered the same as they did.

  21. On the job

  22. How did you initially "break-in" to the industry?

    Through my IR role I was starting to put together convertible debenture deals for junior companies, ended up using a contact to land an interview in Corp. Fi, then used oil and gas plus MBA to get to a BB.

  23. What were some of the main factors in getting the job position you have now?

    The MBA provided an opening to apply for MBA graduate positions, and a background in research and corp. fi. showed I had the chops.

    As far as the ER role I'm currently occupying while I wait to start the IB role, it was timing. I met an analyst over drinks at a networking event, called him for coffee a few weeks later, he referred me to his buddy that needed an associate. I had the skillset and temperament my analyst liked, he hired me shortly thereafter.

  24. What are some of the specific things you do in your current position?

    - I write book reports about oil and gas companies at a grade nine level.
    - Monitor news and maintain models to try and determine the intrinsic value of the companies we cover.
    - Talk to our sales desk and portfolio managers to try and get them to care about our names under coverage.

    For the most part ER is trying to get people to care about your stocks rather than someone else's by distilling the story or investment thesis of a stock into bite size pieces. There are thousands of stocks, why this one?

  25. What is a day in your life like during the workweek? Can you give us an hour by hour run down of your typical day?

    I'm typically in the office about 6:30 - 7:00. If one of our companies has released overnight we need to get something written to our sales desk before market open.

    If we have something in the research package this morning, I'll re-proofread the document then send it to our distribution list.

    If these jobs are done, I check Bloomberg for news, then I check Thomson for news, then GoogleAlerts, then Marketwire, then Stockhouse, then newspapers etc... I have about a dozen news sources that I check daily to find news relevant to my coverage universe.

    By 7:45 we're on the morning call, if my analyst is away or busy I'll speak on the call, which means I have to prep some notes, or get data for my analyst if he's speaking.

    8:00 - 8:30: We hit the phones to talk to our clients about whatever we've published or found that may impact the value of the positions we know they have. I'm not the analyst, so I don't talk directly to buy side accounts much, however I talk to the desk all morning and feed data my analyst or the desk as needed. This is a busy time for us, and if one of our companies releases, we drop everything to evaluate the release, and potentially publish a note on it.

    11:00 – 11:30: If we haven't had a release, things calm down and we go back to working on either initiation reports or whatever special project we've been working on.

    I tend to stay later than many of my peers, I'll be at the office till 7:30 - 8:00 most nights, but that's because we tend to have a lot of releases after market close. Most of my co-workers are gone by 4:30 - 5:00.

  26. What is your favorite part about the job? What is your least favorite?

    The rush when you beat the street to some new news or a trade idea. It's tough to beat everyone, so when you do it's pretty sweet. My personal best, I found an obscure article in a foreign country newspaper about a joint venture that hadn't been announced here, we beat the street by about 12 hours and were plagiarized by the competition. We banked a lot of client appreciation and got a lot of trades off that news.

    The worst is when you beat everyone but either your banking team or sales team can't back it up, so you've done your job, but don't get paid for it.

  27. How did your background (life up until graduating college) best prepare you for where you're at now?

    I worked a lot, wrote a lot and drank a lot.

  28. What is the company culture like at your firm? What is the size of your firm?

    Culture is focused on small cap mining and precious metals, so we constantly have to fight for recognition and share of mind with our sales desk. Pretty small shop, maybe $5-7 billion in assets under management.

  29. 13. If you have worked in multiple countries, what are some noticeable differences regarding work culture and hiring in these countries?

    I've done due diligence in southeast Asia, business is the same, culturally very different. It's tough to explain to your counterpart that you don't want to get a hooker without offending them, one guy though I was mad that they weren't spending enough.

  30. What type of person (what background / knowledge / experience / personality) is best fit to do your type of job?

    I tried to explain that this is an odd job. You need to be pretty geeky to enjoy the modeling and technical aspect, but you also need to be comfortable talking to PMs and company management all day. Mostly, you need to be able to go back to a client after you've lost them money with your best investment idea, and ask them to trust you again.

  31. Did you ever have a mentor and who were some other influential people who helped you along the way?

    I leaned very heavily on my securities lawyers when I was in corporate finance. They taught me a ton about executing deals. Some of it was on the clock, some of it was business development for them, either way it was great learning.

  32. Are the sacrifices you've made to date worth the benefit realized by you so far in your career?

    I don't have friends outside of industry. They got tired of inviting me out and me turning them down because I was working or studying. This was tough as I had some good friends go by the wayside. That said, I love my job, and I like the friends that I have now.

  33. If you weren't working in finance, what do you think you would be doing?

    I got asked this in an interview, and I really didn't have an answer. Pulled out that I'd have to be on the issuer side, gunning for the C-Suite.

  34. What keeps you motivated?

    I like working, and I like my job. I don't do it for the money, but I also couldn't justify this lifestyle if I weren't getting paid like this./li>

  35. How much does money motivate you?

    See above. I'm kind of trapped in this world now though, how do I go to the issuer side and live on what those guys pay?

  36. How much does someone in a role like yours make per year (base + bonus)?

    Larger shops pay base $105 + 20-30% bonus. Smaller shops pay $65 + 20-30% bonus. I'm in the middle.

  37. Have you ever considered leaving your job to start your own company?

    No, my long term plan is to spend another 10-15 years in ER or IB then be a rainmaker and sit on a dozen or so boards once I have all the buy side and issuer side connections. Make up for years of 90 hour weeks with some 20-30 hour ones.

See Part 2 Here (available on Feb 15, 1:00 PM et)

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Total Avg Compensation

May 2021 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (9) $911
  • Vice President (35) $364
  • Associates (195) $233
  • 2nd Year Analyst (110) $151
  • Intern/Summer Associate (96) $145
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (26) $145
  • 1st Year Analyst (404) $131
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (330) $82