Starting a career in ER

I want to switch careers into ER- in pharmaceuticals or healthcare. I have a PharmD and have been working as a pharmacist. I did an online MBA (not a top business school) with the intentions of getting into the pharma industry. I recently discovered ER and was looking into switching careers. I looked into getting a CFA or going back to getting a masters online in finance. Due to time constraints/and financial obligations I was looking at some MSF online programs.

My questions are:
1. With someone with my background with no finance experience how do I break into the industry?
2. Am I wasting my time pursuing a masters in finance on top of my MBA?
3. If I do the online MSF programs, I see that some people recommended Indiana. Can anyone recommend an online program? Preferably one that I can waive the GMAT.

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Comments (15)

Apr 19, 2018 - 1:09am

CFA is usually preferred over MBA for ER, not to mention it consumes less of your time and money.

Given your situation, I would do the following things in this order:
-Network, Network, Network. Talk to people in industry and get coffee and pick their brain, they'll steer you in the right direction
-Land a job to gain some experience. Whether it's part-time or entry-level, experience is experience.
-Start studying for the CFA. This shows initiative and intellectual curiosity, two things employers love.

Hope this helps.

Apr 19, 2018 - 9:58am

Breaking into Equity Research From Industry (Originally Posted: 05/07/2011)

Trying to break into Equity Research-

I graduated from a T-20 school currently working in Strategy/Business Development at Boeing/Northrop/Raytheon.

With a few years experience, how hard would it be to break get an Equity Research position in Aerospace/Defense at a bank or fund? Does industry experience at a top firm in the industry you would cover help?


Best Response
Apr 19, 2018 - 9:59am

Yes. I know some sellside ER ppl with previous aero/def backgrounds (engin.) pre-mba (now sr. analysts). I think this will really be a super strong differentiating factor for you as a jr analyst. Why is it a differentiator? Most of the time ER are deemed experts in a sector or expert in a given company -- if anyone inside a BB wants to get the scoop on A&D, they are the go to guys/girls -- yet most of these analysts have never worked for the sector they cover, particularly the ones who joined a bank out of school and rose thru ranks, and know that they really don't know much about how these companies truly work and drive value. Your background would be incredibly refreshing to them as you would have a deep knowledge of how to model these companies and a deep notion of value-levers. You would also set these Sr. analysts up for more client recognition ("Hey SAC/Citadel look @ me - I have team with former industry guys!!!!! Vote for ME!!!!!!"), which drives Institutional Investor rankings, which is all sr. ER ppl care about (literally there is nothing more important than the votes).

The only problem with your story is - do you know how to pick stocks and if so why do you want to make it a career. I think maybe 10-15 years ago if you were an industry guy and had no clue about how to trade/pick stocks you would get a look. Now kids are trading in their teens and by the time they look for FT jobs have had HF internships and are pretty much experts on picking stocks. The ER job is def deep industry analysis but the majority is "should we be overweight or underweight BA, NOC, RTN, LMT, and why."

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Apr 19, 2018 - 10:01am

Thanks, that's a big help. A lot of what I do is competitor analysis, looking at the defense budget, other top ten defense firms, what they're product offerings are, how we expect their financials to move as a result. I recognize I have a lack of financial industry experience so that's the real question-

I plan to do an MBA, I'm debating whether to stay in the defense industry, get the MBA, then go into sell side or get a sell side job before the MBA. I've been out of undergrad for three years so taking a position (if i could get one) means another 2 years before MBA. I would definitely be more prepared, but at the same time I think I would stand out more from the MBA applicant pool working in industry and moving up rather than being just another faceless equity analyst doing the normal path. Thoughts?

Apr 19, 2018 - 10:03am

That's true, I'm just trying to keep my options open down the road. My concern is that coming out of MBA, if you want to go into finance then wouldn't banks want to see that you already have previous IB experience, CFA, other credentials, etc.?

Apr 19, 2018 - 10:04am

ER pays way better than anything you can do (short of being a very senior guy) in the industry.

Realize that once you go and get an MBA you get on a very tight schedule - so to go for aerospace/defense research position you better hope that there is one open in August of the year that you graduate and they are ready to recruit for it 6 months in advance. There are maybe 10 aerospace/defense groups you want to work for on the Street; each group has maybe 1-2 associate spots so that's maybe 15 spots total. As an MBA you are a part of very structured recruiting process where with very few exceptions you are supposed to have an offer by February/March of the year that you graduate - which makes hunting for a specific industry spot in ER very hard.

The math doesn't work in your favor - you should try to break in before you get your MBA and maybe forego MBA altogether (if equity aerospace/defense research is what you want)

Apr 19, 2018 - 10:06am

CFA is a waste of time, particularly if your work won't pay for it - you should only do it if your employer makes you do it. Also, it is no longer a big differentiator as too many people outside the industry take it to break in - all it tells you is that you are good at taking tests - yes on the margin it will probably make a difference but on its own it won't really get you an interview or a job. MBA is a much better route for getting an ER job at a real firm.

Apr 19, 2018 - 10:07am

"A waste of time" is a pretty strong claim considering how many people in the industry have it. As for "too many" people having it, sure it's less of a differentiator than it was, but that makes it more necessary, not less. I think that five years from now it's going to be expected that you have it for AM the way CPA is for accountants at Big 4 now. It's also much less expensive than a top MBA, especially considering that you have to give up a paying job to do the MBA.

All that being said, my company is both paying for it and requiring it, so I don't really have to weigh my options on this one.

Apr 19, 2018 - 10:09am

I didn't realize that industry research groups were that small. I thought they were much larger, at least at the lower levels.

I've looked up the research groups at a few BB's, it seems like a few have CFA's but the majority don't seem to have that accrediation or have an MBA instead. I know you don't need an MBA if you have analyst experience and get promoted, but my understanding is that unless you're a trader, you need an advanced degree to keep moving up.

Apr 19, 2018 - 10:10am

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