Research Assistant vs Associate

In equity research, wealth management, etc, what exactly is the role of "research assistant"? I know "research associate" is usually reserved for people with an MBA or CFA or all-around more experience, and "research analyst" is essentially a team lead.

But what is "research assistant"? Would it be a respectable job if I wanted to get into equity research? Basically, I just want to make sure it's not the admin role for the research teams.

Comments (49)

Mar 23, 2010

I'm not sure there's a "research assistant" position actually. I am graduating in May from undergrad and I have no CFA and I'm starting work as a "Research Associate" in June. And obviously, the team lead and other more senior people are called "Research analysts".
My friends who work in econ consulting or econ research would have the R. Assistant title.

Mar 23, 2010

I know at one BB that a Research Assistant has more admin duties than an Associate, making travel arrangements, doing ad-hoc departmental admin support work etc.

An Associate is dedicated to one analyst and one coverage area, the Assistant can support a number of coverage areas and serve as an overflow resource, but again, in more of an administrative capacity. Basically the Assistant will get to do the modeling / Research piece only on an as needed basis as opposed to the Associate who will do this regularly. This particular BB wanted their Assistants to put in two years before being considered for an Associate role. Hope this helps.

Mar 23, 2010

Which BB are you talking about? From what I understand Research Assistants do a majority of the grunt work on a regular basis (i.e. data aggregation, update earnings and valuation models) and that there is a specific designation for Admin. Assistants who do travel and book apptments. Please correct me if im wrong

Mar 23, 2010
HCIBER:

Which BB are you talking about? From what I understand Research Assistants do a majority of the grunt work on a regular basis (i.e. data aggregation, update earnings and valuation models) and that there is a specific designation for Admin. Assistants who do travel and book apptments. Please correct me if im wrong

This is what I was thinking, and from the job description, this is what it seems like. So what would be the next step in the progression? Research Associate?

Mar 23, 2010

I think it goes assistant -> associate -> analyst.

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Mar 29, 2010

How long does it take to go from research assistant to research associate?

Mar 29, 2010

Not sure how it goes at the BB firms, but at my boutique the research assistants are basically secretaries. They book our travel, answer the phones, format and bind marketing books, etc. They all have college degrees but none of them are really on the track to do much beyond what they're doing now. Could be and probably is totally different at a big firm though.

Jan 25, 2011
rjroberts1:

Not sure how it goes at the BB firms, but at my boutique the research assistants are basically secretaries. They book our travel, answer the phones, format and bind marketing books, etc. They all have college degrees but none of them are really on the track to do much beyond what they're doing now. Could be and probably is totally different at a big firm though.

Do they know that they will likely not move up, or are they being strung along? I'm considering taking one of these positions and don't want to be fed a line of BS

Mar 29, 2010

rjroberts1 from doing basic linkedin stuff I can see where you work. Where is HW hiring assistants from? Tulane? Also where are people finding out about these? I'm in need of experience and was curious about how to get anything there, even a research assistantship.

Mar 30, 2010

MsCleo, we're a really small shop so we don't do any regular hiring. Basically when someone leaves there's a position to fill, but we have very little turnover. Of the 3 research assistants we have 1 went to LSU, 1 went to SMU and I'm not sure about the other. If you went to Tulane talk to Ricchiuti, he's pretty well plugged in to the city and knows who to talk to about getting a job.

Jun 14, 2010

I just interviewed for a research assistant position at a Canadian Bank, and its basically supporting about 3 associates in research, industry statistics, modeling, updating comp tables, etc. From what I heard, its a good foot in the door, and can progress to an associate level in 2-3 years.

Jun 14, 2010
matterwater:

In equity research, wealth management, etc, what exactly is the role of "research assistant"?

From my understanding, its typically a Jr Associate role, where you'll support a team of analysts and their associates. Lighter on the modeling, more admin, with the opportunity to help publish some of the notes after proving yourself.

azima:

From what I heard, its a good foot in the door, and can progress to an associate level in 2-3 years.

Agreed. 2-3 yrs of stellar performance and you have the option of moving up or exiting to a better research position. Great place to start if you don't think you can land a spot as an associate out of the gate.

Jun 26, 2010

What would the pay be like at the research assistant position then?

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Jun 27, 2010

I'm guessing ~45 - 50k base + bonus, mostly dependent on group perf.

Jun 29, 2010

2-3 years seems like a lot to spend in an admin role. Wouldn't it be best to try and an associate gig after around 1 year? At that point in time you should have at least CFA level 1, possibly 2. If you took the assistant route and waited to become an associate, by the time you were ready to be an analyst or jump to the buyside you will have like 6 years exp.

Jan 25, 2011

UFO, none of our assistants want to be analysts. I'm sure when they were hired that was never part of the discussion. But again I can only speak for my firm.

Jan 25, 2011

bump

Jan 25, 2011

Depends upon the firm, but usually you'd be promoted to Research Associate after 2-3 years and Research Analyst sometime after that or after grad school. The associate-analyst order is flipped in ER vs. IBD.

Jan 25, 2011
models_and_bottles:

Depends upon the firm, but usually you'd be promoted to Research Associate after 2-3 years and Research Analyst sometime after that or after grad school. The associate-analyst order is flipped in ER vs. IBD.

Dude, you got this definition straight out of the vault guide to investment banking, but it doesn't usually work like this in real life.

For most banks the structure is exactly the same as in IBD: You start out as an analyst then get promoted to associate, vp, senior director (senior VP), MD.

You are either a senior analyst (head of your coverage group) or a junior analyst (not head of your coverage group). Most banks don't use official titles such as research assistant or associate.

Jan 25, 2011

bump

Jan 25, 2011

bump

Jan 25, 2011

I'm interested in this too. Most of the company websites I've seen leave open a wide range of responsibilities for new ER analysts.

Jan 25, 2011

bump... anyone have any experience with one of these roles?

Jan 25, 2011

bitch work would describe it. Depends on the firm really. At a bulge, it's pretty standard progression and workload. You might be on rotation initially (like at London firms).

Updating models - which fucking sucks - maybe due diligence and being a lackey.

If you're at a boutique, you can progress however you like. I'm currently covering my own stock and I have my own bloomberg terminal already and I'm a year in. It depends if you want the UBS ER name or the responsibility.

Jan 25, 2011

...

Jan 25, 2011

yeah, that is not an ER description AT ALL. I don't even know what that shiit is.

Numbers, news and analysis - that's ER baby.

Jan 25, 2011

anyone else mind chiming in?

Jan 25, 2011

An ER assistant is a step below an ER associate. They ASSIST the associates and analysts. They are paid less, and, if eligible, are paid a much lower bonus. Depending on the shop, the assistant position can be a good way to get your foot in the door to step up into an associate role, if you are unable to land the associate position on your own.

Jan 25, 2011

what would the average pay be fore an ER assistant?

Jan 25, 2011

bump.

Jan 25, 2011

These days, I'm thinking it's $50-60K base and $5-20K bonus.

Jan 25, 2011

Merrills gave second year analysts like 5k GBP stub - ouch.

Jan 25, 2011
ratul:

Merrills gave second year analysts like 5k GBP stub - ouch.

Why would second year analysts receive stub bonuses? Isn't that why you receive a stub in your first year, so that you get a full bonus in your second? Is it different in the UK?

Jan 25, 2011

stub interchangeable with full year bonus here.

They got a 5k GBP full year bonus

Jan 25, 2011

theoretical question here. let's say this fall i apply for associate jobs don't get much luck can i try to reapply for assistant jobs at the same banks or would they just automatically move weaker resumes to assistant interviews

Jan 25, 2011
excelsior:

theoretical question here. let's say this fall i apply for associate jobs don't get much luck can i try to reapply for assistant jobs at the same banks or would they just automatically move weaker resumes to assistant interviews

I have already posted this in another similar thread: You are probably reading the "Vault Guide to Investment Banking", but in reality there is no such thing as a research assistant. For the banks that I am familiar with you have the same career progression as a banker or trader would have - analyst, associate, VP, Director (insert name your bank uses), MD.

You are either the head of the group (a senior analyst) or not (a junior analyst who is also referred to as an associate even when he/she is could be an analyst or VP by title).

Unless by research assistant you mean (what the inscrutable chicken described) a secretary (administrative assistant) that each team has or shares. But you do not want this position, since it has nothing to do with research and I would question whether you even need a college degree to actually have that job, but if so than it would be more of an HR degree. And those "assistants" do not get promoted to "associate" they just stay secretaries forever.

Although if you have the skills to work in research but can't get a job, then you can always take the job as a secretary and try to transfer into research afterwards but there is no guarantee that it will happen.

Jan 25, 2011

an equity research assistant is basically a secretary in the research department. Basically booking travel and hotels, taking phone messages, printing & photocopying, and coffee.

An equity research associate is actually building/maintaining models and writing research and should have coverage of some stocks.

Jan 25, 2011

AT Goldman Sachs JBWere in aus. the progression is to start off in research as:

Assistant Analyst

Analyst

Etc...

But in GSJBW the progression goes Analyst, Associate, Director, etc

So an assistant analyst is an analyst, and an analyst is an associate. Weird

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Jan 25, 2011

I agree with STK. I have no idea where the term ER assistant come from but only found it in the vault guides. At my bank is still the normal analyst, associate, VP, director,and MD. Instead of secretaries we call them admins nowadays.

Jan 25, 2011

on that topic, is there a book or site somewhere where i can read more about investment banks that is more detailed and accurate than a vault guide?

Jan 25, 2011
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