by Brian DeChesare Comments (196)

Buy, Sell, or Hold: How to Break Into Equity Research and Pitch Stocks Like a Pro

Numi Advisory has advised over 400 clients by providing career coaching, mock interviews, and resume reviews for people seeking jobs in equity research and investment management (full bio at the bottom of this article).

So I was looking at the most popular search terms on M&I the other day, and reached two conclusions:

  1. You really like that silly little cover letter template I created.
  2. It seems a few people might want to hear about this thing called “equity research” – I guess that might be a good idea one of these days?

We’ve already been through everything else on the list to the right, so now we’re going to apply the magical process of elimination and focus on equity research: what it is, how you break in, and how to dominate your interviews and land offers.

You’ll get to learn all of that straight from the source: a reader who has worked in equity research at both boutiques and bulge bracket banks and seen the market in the best of times and the worst of times.

Let’s get started.

The Elevator Pitch

Q: Why don’t we kick things off by learning more about your background? Walk us through your resume.

A: Sure. I went to a “target” school and did a few finance-related activities and internships there, including one summer internship at a long-only investment management firm. I had considered investment banking but ultimately was more drawn to stocks and the public markets rather than M&A deals.

Ultimately, I received offers in both investment banking and equity research, and accepted the research offer. I ended up working at a couple bulge bracket investment banks over the next three years.

Q: I’m kind of disappointed; I was expecting juicier and more personally identifiable details from you.

A: Hey, I can’t reveal too much – I still work in the industry and equity research is a small world.

Q: I guess I’ll accept that for now, but we’ll see what happens once you really start talking.

So what exactly is “equity research”? What do you do, and is it more or less glamorous than Jim Cramer’s job?

A: I’d like to think we know a lot more than Cramer, but sadly enough he gets way more attention.

Broadly speaking, we advise investors (primarily asset managers and hedge funds) on what stocks they should invest in. We track public companies in a specific sector, issue reports giving buy, sell, or hold recommendations (dated, but good report example here), and comment on earnings announcements and news.

These “reports” are the most well-known part of the job, but we actually don’t spend the most time writing them – they’re only issued a few times per quarter, so most of our time is taken up by researching companies and other qualitative tasks.

Similar to banking, you develop a well-rounded skill set in accounting and finance and learn industries in-depth.

The main difference is that in investment banking you focus more on transactions, whereas in equity research you care more about tracking stocks and making investment recommendations.

The purpose of equity research is to generate trading fees and commissions for the bank – by writing about specific companies and keeping in touch with investors, we aim to build up interest in certain stocks and get big institutional investors like Fidelity to make their trades through us.

Q: That sounds cool, but I’m guessing that you don’t get to do all of that at the entry-level – what do the important people in equity research do, and how is that different from the peons?

A: Actually, you do a lot of that at the entry-level in equity research – the hierarchy is much flatter than what you see in investment banking.

The two main levels are Associate and Research Analyst – and they’re the opposite of IB, so the Research Analyst is the senior person above the Associate.

At the Associate level, you do pretty much what I described above; Research Analysts do less modeling and report writing and instead spend most of their time speaking with institutional investors and others on the buy-side, providing investors with access to management teams, and coming up with insights into stocks.

So the Research Analyst might meet with a management team, be impressed and come away with a positive impression, and then speak with investors he or she knows who might be interested.

Then, the Analyst would tell the Associate to turn the ideas into a report, run a model and value the company, and start doing additional research.

Q: Right, and so you wanted to get into equity research because you follow companies and invest for fun anyway and this was a logical extension.

A: It was partially that, and also partially that you sometimes get to be more creative in equity research than you would be in banking. There, you don’t really generate ideas of your own or go out and start meeting clients until you’re much more senior – but even as an Associate in equity research you start doing that over time.

And your Analyst generally encourages you to come up with ideas of your own and to think about companies differently from the mainstream, whereas in banking you’re pretty much just taking orders from the senior bankers.

Q: Right, so you’re still not writing the next New York Times fiction bestseller but at least you get some form of autonomy / creativity.

A: Yeah, but I should also point out that it sounded much cooler when I was recruiting.

To set expectations here, you’re not going to start appearing on CNBC right out of the gate – and very few Research Analysts ever become “famous” (e.g. Meredith Whitney, Mary Meeker…).

And keep in mind that just like the pitch books you see in banking, the report writing, presentations, and model updates in equity research can also get repetitive. It gets more fun as you advance and focus more on building relationships, but don’t expect to get guest appearances on TV in your first 3 months.

Breaking Into Equity Research

Q: So what types of people get into the industry? Do banks just recruit straight out of undergraduate and MBA programs, or do they also consider people who are working full-time and people with advanced degrees?

A: Bulge bracket banks definitely focus on undergrad and business school recruiting, and they look for the usual characteristics you would expect – high grades, analytical ability, demonstrated passion for the markets, and so on.

The main difference is that you need to show a strong interest in stocks to get into ER – for banking or PE you could just be interested in doing deals or business in general, but for ER you need to be passionate about the public markets (see: asset management and hedge funds as well).

So the basic criteria is not much different from what you need to get into anything else in finance, and just as in those other fields, the only way you advance is by being social and making friends everywhere.

One difference is that the hiring process in equity research is less structured – not just with the interviews themselves (which we’ll get to in a bit) but also in terms of who can break in.

An equity research group that focuses on semiconductors, for example, might hire someone who worked at Texas Instruments for 5 years, understands how the technology actually works, and knows the companies’ business models firsthand.

That can happen in banking or PE as well, but it’s rare and you usually need an MBA or some type of previous finance experience to do it.

But since we specialize in understanding companies rather than doing deals, we value people with deep industry experience; occasionally you also see Ph.D. holders get in if they have enough business sense to perform well.

Q: So is it harder to get into investment banking or equity research?

A: People debate that question a lot, but it’s tough to answer because ER is a much smaller industry – so fewer people get in, but fewer people also apply. Overall, it’s very competitive to get into either field.

There’s more of a difference with the exit opportunities, which are definitely broader in investment banking since you get exposed to deals.

Q: I’ll have to cut you off awkwardly right there because we’re saving the exit opps discussion for part 2 of this interview.

You said earlier that the recruiting process is less structured, but what do you mean exactly? Is it still based on on-campus first round interviews and then Superdays?

A: The largest banks do on-campus recruiting and the process is similar to banking interviews – on-campus at first, then Superday interviews at their offices if you do well.

By “less structured,” I meant that some banks don’t do on-campus recruiting at all – and we’re not talking about the tiny boutiques that would never do it anyway, but rather firms you’ve definitely heard of that just don’t recruit on campuses.

So you have to be proactive with reaching out and contacting firms, even if you’re at a top school and plenty of banks recruit on-campus for IB roles.

As I said before, they’re looking for similar qualities – the top 4 most important ones are:

  1. High grades / good academic performance
  2. Some knowledge of finance and accounting
  3. Solid internships or work experience
  4. Personal investing and passion for the markets

Ironically, you’re not putting your money where your mouth is in equity research since you’re just making investment recommendations – but showing evidence of investing yourself is still a requirement if you want to get in.

At the MBA-level the process is similar, but we look for people who have interesting industry experience related to the sectors we cover. So going back to the semiconductor example, we would much prefer to hire an MBA who worked at a company like Texas Instruments – even if it was a non-business role – than someone who worked in entertainment and knows nothing about technology.

Q: I’m going to stop you right there, because I don’t quite believe that – or at least I’m skeptical.

I’ve gotten feedback from a lot of readers who say that it’s tough to get in with a more technical background, so what advice would you give them if they wanted to follow the non-business experience to MBA to equity research path?

A: Yeah, as I said, you need some type of business intuition. If they look at your resume and think, “He’s a tech nerd and can only talk to computers” then it’s not gonna fly.

To show that you have some business sense, you should either:

  1. Find or spin something business-related about your current job – for example, if you’re in an engineering role you can talk about a cost-benefit analysis you did, a feasibility study, or something that shows you know how your work impacts revenue and expenses.
  2. Do something outside of work that’s business-related – personal investing is an obvious choice, but it could be anything from activities to professional groups.

You could also try to move into an area like business development at your company, but you don’t necessarily need to do that if you’re already going for an MBA.

Pitch Me a Stock…

Q: So let’s say you’ve landed a bunch of interviews – what topics do you need to know? Is there anything you can ignore?

A: The questions are pretty similar to what you would get in a banking interview on the accounting and valuation side.

You might think that since we don’t focus on transactions as much in equity research, you can skip over merger models and LBO models but I wouldn’t recommend doing that – you still need to be familiar with them and understand at least the basics.

The biggest difference is that we focus more on the market, what you invest in, and so on – I guarantee that you will be asked to pitch a stock, sometimes multiple times, in equity research interviews.

It’s a common question in IB interviews as well, but the difference is that you could name private companies there.


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Q: Why don’t you show us how it’s done? Pitch me a stock.

A: I didn’t realize this would be a real job interview.

Q: OK, fair enough. Why don’t you just explain how to do it and the most common mistakes people make?

A: Sure. I would aim for 1.5 minutes for your pitch and would start by saying why you like it or don’t like it – both “buy” and “sell” ideas are fine.

I would structure it like this:

  1. Make an actionable recommendation – buy or sell – and get to the point in the beginning with a quick summary sentence (“I think Company X is a great investment because it’s undervalued next to the competition and has been diversifying its operations and getting into higher-margin businesses.”)
  2. List 3 key reasons why you like or don’t like the company, followed by how these reasons are different from the consensus. It is essential to understand what the “mainstream” thinks in equity research and then think differently from others – if you can’t do that, why would big-name investors ever pay attention to you?
  3. Summarize what you think the stock should be valued at (“Right now it’s at $20, but I could see it rising to $30 within the next year”) and explain how you reached this conclusion. You might talk about comparables, DCF analysis, or other methodologies, many of which you would probably also use in banking.

The biggest mistakes people make are:

  1. Not actually giving a recommendation one way or the other.
  2. Rambling on for too long and dwelling on unnecessary details.

You need to be concise because investment managers don’t have time for anything else – in real life you might only chat for a few quick minutes during the day.

I hate to bring up the Wall Street references yet again, but it really is just like that scene when Bud Fox first meets Gordon Gekko: tell them something they don’t know – quickly and legally – or get out.

If they want more details from you, they’ll ask for them – that’s what follow-up questions are for.

M&I Note: More on stock and company discussions in interviews here.

Q: So do you usually get into extended conversations about stocks in interviews? How much preparation do you need?

A: Yes, they’ll usually ask follow-up questions – especially if it’s an industry they know something about. They’re more likely to ask detailed questions than in banking interviews. People in equity research tend to be inherently curious, and you must have that curiosity to excel in this industry.

So you should try to learn what the company is doing relative to its competition, be prepared to defend and explain your valuation, understand what current investors are thinking, and so on. They want people who are intellectually curious enough to go out and find new ideas and then pitch them convincingly.

The best way to find information like this, ironically, is to get actual equity research reports on the company you want to pitch. If you sign up for a brokerage account with TD Ameritrade you can get free reports from Credit Suisse; some other brokerage services offer a similar deal and you could always ask friends or professors to pull reports for you.

Q: Since you can get into these detailed discussions on stocks, should you also be worried about case studies? Would they ask you to sit down and build a revenue or expense model or a 3-statement model?

A: Real case studies are not that common, at least in the US – I might assume that it’s different in regions like the UK where assessment centers are the norm.

But you could easily get a financial modeling test – you might get asked to build a 3-statement model based on a company’s filings and growth and margin expectations.

So you should be prepared for that, even if it’s an entry-level interview.

They might also say something like, “We’re looking at Company X and thinking about what investment recommendation to make – what information would you like to know?”

With that type of question you should always hedge yourself by saying, “I realize you cover these companies all day and I’m not an expert at all, but based on what I know, here’s what I would ask for…” Again, it’s important to be savvy and to show good business judgment.

Q: So you should try to find out what sectors the person you’re interviewing with covers before you go in to speak with them.

A: Definitely. If they cover consumer packaged goods companies, read up on all the research you can and get a feel for what different companies are doing and recent news.

Usually they’ll tell you beforehand what groups your interviewers are in, so you would be foolish not to research their respective industries – and if they don’t tell you, just ask and see.

Certifications, Lateral Interviews, and More

Q: So it sounds like interviews are fairly similar to banking interviews, with a few differences such as the modeling tests and more detailed discussions of stocks.

Now onto my favorite topic in the world: the CFA. Is it helpful for equity research?

A: It’s more helpful than in investment banking and private equity, but it still shouldn’t be your #1 priority.

They care more about your academic background, work experience, and stock pitches than which level of the CFA you passed; I’ve met some people who think that passing any level of the CFA will make up for a 2.0 GPA and no internships, and that’s not the case at all.

Go for the CFA if you already have high grades, solid finance-related internships, and a few dozen people you’ve networked with and have been speaking to in the industry. If it comes down to you and someone very similar, the exam might make a difference.

It’s also more helpful if you’re coming from a non-finance background – if you already have 2 investment management internships, high grades, and a personal portfolio that returned 30% in the past year then the CFA is a marginal boost at best.

Q: Right, but a lot of the Analysts on equity research reports have the CFA title after their names – so isn’t it a requirement?

A: For entry-level roles, no. You might study for the exam once you’re already working and they ask you to pass it, but there’s no hard requirement to complete it just to break in as an Associate.

Q: It is a huge time commitment, so that makes sense. You’ve also moved around to a couple different banks – do you think there are any differences in lateral interviews for equity research?

A: The main difference is that they’ll ask you more intelligent questions – if they see that you’ve written reports and built models before, they won’t ask you how to link the 3 statements together.

Instead, they’ll ask what ideas you came up with on your own, how you think about investments, and how you analyze stocks differently from other people.

You don’t want to be contrarian just for the sake of being contrarian – you want to find opportunities where it makes sense to diverge from the mainstream and then capitalize on them.

And that’s what they’re looking for in interviews: they want someone who can generate new ideas and become a trusted source for investors on the buy-side.

Q: Any differences between interviews for bulge bracket and boutique equity research?

A: Not really – having worked at both types of shops, I can tell you that the personality types and interview formats are generally similar. In an interview, you may want to mention how you appreciate the more cohesive and entrepreneurial environment that often characterizes smaller firms.

However, at the end of the day, interviewers at any shop want to see that you have a genuine passion for investing as well as the interpersonal skills to speak persuasively about your ideas.

Q: Awesome – thanks for your time.

A: Sure thing, enjoyed the chat.

And if you want to get personalized advice from our interviewee on how to break into equity research, you’re in luck:

Numi Advisory has advised over 400 clients by providing career coaching, mock interviews, and resume reviews for people seeking jobs in equity research and investment management. With extensive investment experience in equity research and private equity and now working as an analyst at a long/short equity hedge fund, Numi has unparalleled insights into the recruiting process and advancing on the job.

Numi customizes solutions to each client’s unique background and career aspirations, and teaches clients the most efficient and impactful methods to achieve successful results on their career search. He has helped place over 50 candidates in leading buy-side and sell-side jobs. For more information on career services and client testimonials, please contact, or visit Numi’s LinkedIn page.

Equity Research Interview Series:

M&I - Brian

About the Author

Brian DeChesare is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys memorizing obscure Excel functions, editing resumes, obsessing over TV shows, traveling like a drug dealer, and defeating Sauron.

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Read below or Add a comment

  1. Hello,

    Thank you for the article. It was really helpfull for a novice like me. I can’t find the “dated but good reports” Numi mentions as an example. Where can I find them ? Otherwise do you know other reports that you would advice me to have a look at ?

    Thank you in advance,

  2. Pedro D'angelo

    Hi I’d like to ask the name of the interviewee for quoting your interview in graduation article.

    1. ??? What is your question?

  3. Hi,

    I am professional in online travel industry with 2 years experience (data analytical and business side), and i graduated from Columbia with an engineer master degree (math, cs, stat background, non-finance). I recently passed all three level of CFA exam. And i am really interested in make my career change from online travel agent to er.

    After reading your article, i realized
    1. CFA might not be so helpful in this situation also since my previous experience is non-fiance related
    2. It might be advantage for me to start with hospitality ER first (Professional experience)

    So my questions is:
    1. how can i find out the firm/bank the specific industry they covered?
    2. any suggestions in improve my strength so that i could stand out from other candidacy?
    3. is utilizing the CFA society a good approach?

    Thank you!

    1. This transition will be extremely difficult because you do not have financial experience but you also do not have senior-level operational experience in an industry. I would recommend a Master’s in Finance degree combined with internships before/during the program to make the change. Also, ER is a shrinking/troubled industry, so you might want to re-think this plan altogether and think about other fields of finance. The CFA might help a bit, but relatively little vs. work experience/grades/degree/investing ideas.

  4. Equity Research

    Hi Brian, a little background on me. I just completed my CPA, I have a Master in Accounting with a strong GPA, and I have internship experience doing audit at big 4. However, I want to move into equity research. I cant find any alumni from my school on LinkedIn that are in the industry. Is applying online for me virtually useless and should I try contacting non-alumni?

    1. Try contacting non-alumni first. Online applications tend not to be useful unless you have exactly the right background.

      1. Equity Research

        What is exactly the right background for ER? Its still a little ambiguous to me. It seems like people with a lot of different backgrounds break into ER. From this article I take it they like people who have experience in the industry they are working in but besides that its not too clear. I am thinking with my accounting background ER would be more relevant than IB, would you agree with that or no?

        1. The problem is that there are fewer positions in ER, and it’s not exactly a growth industry right now (it’s declining at most large banks). The ideal background is someone who has done ER or public markets internships and then joins out of university or someone who’s worked in another area of finance, like IB or asset management, and can apply a similar skill set in ER. Sometimes industry experts and Ph.D’s also get in if they have knowledge and connections the bank needs. I don’t think accounting would necessarily be more helpful for ER than IB.

  5. Ruth Boxer

    Hi Brian,

    I’ve been an engineer in the semiconductor high tech sector for the last 6 years, I worked with design and manufacture of products, I recently quit my job to focus on making a career change into financial services, mostly looking into Hedge fund, Venture capital , Asset management or Investment banking careers. I think given my background in technology as well as finance ( I have a masters degree in engineering and recently completed my masters in finance from Harvard extension school), I could be a good fit in the equity research positions. Could you suggest the best way to make this move? Would it easier to move into a boutique investment firm to make this move? I’ve tried applying online but have not gotten any responses yet, what would be the best medium to network in order to help facilitate this career change?

    1. You pretty much have to start networking using LinkedIn and your alumni network… you might have a better shot at boutiques, but spread a wide net because you never know when something will open up. Applying online is useless in your case. Use LinkedIn to find people and email to contact them (and do a search on the site for all our templates).

  6. Hey Brian,

    I’m a Junior at a non target school with equity research internship experience, a 3.5 GPA, and what I consider a pretty solid cover letter and resume (following your guides of course). I applied to over 30 internships from 12-1-2016 to 12-10-2016 and still have not heard anything back. I was under the impression that recruiting began in Nov/Dec but I see many banks have already recruited fully for this summers ER class and its barley January. Did I apply too late? and if so, where should I focus my attention to now? Thanks.

    1. Yes, you probably applied too late. See:

      At this point, maybe apply to smaller asset management firms and boutiques and see if any of them have research analyst internships.

  7. Radu Cristea


    Really nice and insightful article! Thanks! The article intrigued me, however, and if you read the following lines you’ll maybe understand why. I would really appreciate some pieces of advice though.

    I’m currently preparing for a final round interview at a top European and global bank, on an entry-level equity and fixed income research analyst position. My background is in economics (major) and politics in the UK, with a highly quant master’s in econ. However, I had little academic exposure to finance and the vast majority of my knowledge in this sense comes from following the markets’ developments, press and investopedia. In terms of experiences, I’ve only got internship and a long-term traineeship in the public sector on financial and economics-related positions.

    My Assessment Day will be comprised of 3 1:1 interviews with senior people from ER and fixed income, 9.30 to 14.00. Given my background, what should I expect? I’m also surprised having made it through to this stage, especially after reading your article. Nevertheless, I’m aware how strong my analytical skills are and how driven and capable I am.

    Sorry for the lengthy piece of writing, I’m really struggling to get this job as I love its description!

    Thanks a lot,

    1. This article has some tips for the specifics of what to expect in ER case studies and interviews:

  8. Is there a lot of maths in equity research or is it like IB?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Not really unless you’re in a highly quantitative role, such as strategy and macro research. There’s some Math involved, but mainly Accounting related.

  9. Hello,

    I graduated a year and a half ago from a decent school (not top-tier but best school in my state and well ranked in the top 50 nationally) and have been working in sales for one of the bigger brokerage firms (think Fidelity, Scwaab, TD) basically in the pipeline to become a financial adviser. I have been closing a lot of business and been promoted very quickly but am pretty bored in sales and want something more geared towards actual research and analysis than just building and maintaining good relationships with clients. I know equity research would suit me as I graduated with a Marketing degree but was a Finance major for my first three years and greatly enjoyed all my financial modeling and analysis courses. I want to break into the field but feel as though my lack of internships or experience with doing any modeling or analysis in the real world might hinder me. I am thinking about enrolling in the CFA program to be able to show I have knowledge of the technical side but I wonder if you think that is a worthwhile pursuit in my case or whether there might be a better route to take. Any advice would be highly appreciated.


    1. Potentially, yes, the CFA could help, but you might need an MBA (and a pre-MBA internship) to move over at this stage. Another option would be going to a boutique research or investment firm, gaining modeling/investment experience there, and then moving in from that.

  10. Shama Patwardhan


    The article was really insightful. I am in San Francisco. Currently I am searching for entry level position in the field of investment management. I did my Masters in Finance with 3.5 GPA (specialization Asset Management, Financial Modeling). I have 7 months internship experience. I have worked on few projects during my Masters. I also have 1 year experience working as Performance Analyst in Portfolio Risk Monitoring team in India.

    I have been applying to positions on LinkedIn and other job sites. However I do not get a lot of interviews. Please can you advise what my profile lacks? Do I need to have some programming skills such as SQL, R, etc? What kind of positions and which companies should I target? Please can you help?

    Thank you

    1. What was your internship experience? Most likely, you either don’t have the work experience they’re looking for, or your resume/profile make it seem like you’re more interested in risk monitoring rather than asset management (I am assuming that you want investment analysis roles at AM firms, correct?). Finally, you generally won’t get good results by just applying online. You have to network and contact individuals at firms rather than relying on online job postings.

      1. Shama Patwardhan

        Hi Brian,

        Thank you for your reply. Yes. I wish to work in equity analysis and investments, with final goal of having career in portfolio management. I worked at an asset management firm in Champaign, Illinois. It mainly included recording performance metrics for firm’s funds and its benchmark, and generating performance reports. I also worked on 2 financial modeling projects.

        You are right. I have experience mainly in performance monitoring. What skills/qualifications should I add to my resume to show interest in equity research? I cleared CFA Level 1 in Dec 2014. I decided to focus on job search and hence haven’t registered for level 2 as yet.

        Please can you suggest how I should improve my profile? I will keep focusing on networking through LinkedIn for sure. Is it realistically possible to directly call the companies and ask to meet (to talk about my profile, to show my sincere interest to work with them)?

        I am really grateful for your help.

        Thank you

        1. M&I - Nicole

          Shama, CFA level 1 is useful. You may want to add CFA Level 2 and the date you plan to take the exam. Having investment experience be it at work or your portfolio would help. Yes you can call companies but its best to keep initial phone calls short (5 mins). Ask them if they’re hiring. Best to connect with research analysts/PMs at the company through LinkedIn/email first. Having access to Bloomberg and connecting to them via Bloomberg can help quite a bit.

          1. Shama Patwardhan

            Thank you Nicole. That’s really helpful. And what do you advise about programming skills? Do you think these skills (SQL, R, Python) are required/beneficial for entry level positions?


          2. For portfolio management, no, not really. They would be useful for quant roles at hedge funds or IT-related roles.

  11. I am a healthcare professional, with a bit of consulting experience. I am now pursuing an IB internship/career in the long run. I have just managed to network my way through my MBA program into a ER internship here in Australia, could you please advise whether an ER internship could be detrimental to long term ambitions of securing an IB internship/grad role?

    I currently do not have any other relevant “finance” experience, so I understand this alone makes this internship valuable. But, should I accept and complete this ER Internship- would IBs pigeon-hole me as an “ER guy” and ignore me for Summer/winter IB internships or IB grad role positions in the future?

    I, sincerely appreciate the time you have all taken to reply to this post. Thank you very much.

    1. An ER internship would only help you with IB in the future. It’s better than almost anything else you could do except for an IB/PE internship. So unless you have an IB/PE internship lined up, take the ER one.

  12. Hello,

    So I just completed the first round at a boutique bank for a ER position and I think it went well. I was told the second round will involve a excel test and writing test, so my question is how do I prepare for the second round if I make the cut/what will the excel test and writing test be like?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I am not 100% sure if you can prepare for a writing test. It usually requires you to write a sample in a short period of time. I’d suggest that you sleep well and have a clear mind before the test. The key is to read the instructions, and finish the task within a time frame. Keep your answers simple and concise.

  13. Hello, I am a junior at a “target” school studying science with 3.7 gpa. I want to break into equity research for healthcare sector, but I have no finance internship in the past, just consulting and industry. How should I develop my strategy to break into equity research? Info sessions and endless networking? I am concerned about whether I will be able to pass the resume screening process to start with.

    1. Yes, you will need to network a lot so that should be part of your strategy. If you have a past consulting internship you can probably get through a resume screen, but you should also spend time learning accounting/finance on your own and developing a few solid stock pitch ideas. You need to show strong interest in the public markets and in following specific companies to have a good shot at getting into ER.

  14. So how strict are banks with GPA cutoffs for ER? Is it like IB where you just need a 3.5?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Yes, 3.5, some 3.6

  15. Hi,
    First of all, i would like to thank Brian for writing such a detailed article. I have few questions and before i put them down, i would like to give a little background about myself. I used to work in Asset managemnt Operations in J P Morgan in India, with a total experience of 5 years. I am pursuing CFA and currently awaiting results for Level 2. I am looking to move into Equity Research and was hoping that you could provide me with some advice.
    I gather that knowledge of financial modelling using excel is pivotal to land a job in ER/IB. I am on the verger of enrolling myself for an online course in valuation and would be opting from one of the below options;
    1). Wall street prep
    2). BIW premium package

    I did go through the demo videos from both the websites. Any input from M&I team will be very helpful.


    1. ER Aspirant

      Brian/Nicole – I would also appreciate some insight on the query above. While there is a lot of literature available online about BIWS Vs. other training programs, your take would be much valued. Like the guy above, I’m also about to purchase either BIWS or Wall Street Prep – many thanks in advance for responding.
      Determined ER Aspirant

      1. M&I - Nicole

        Please refer to my answer above.

    2. M&I - Nicole


      Thank you for your note.

      The core difference, we believe, is that the other companies are all, ultimately, trying to sell their in-person training classes.

      We don’t think classroom training will even be around in 50 years, so we focus 100% of our time and energy on the online experience and the community, in order to create the best online training experience around.

      If you want a point-by-point list, here’s a summary of the differences between the BIWS modeling courses and those offered by the other companies:

      – Online Video-Based, from the Ground Up
      – Case Study-Based
      – Global Coverage of Non-US-Based Companies
      – Teaching Method: We use analogies to explain key finance concepts – and we start with relatively blank Excel sheets and show you exactly what to do line-by-line. No other course provides step-by-step instruction in the same way. They gloss over steps or do NOT provide “Before” and “after” Excel files for each individual lesson as we do.
      – Quizzes and Certifications
      – Lifetime Access & Support
      – Bonus Case Studies: No other provider offers bonus case studies based on real deals. With 20+ hours of additional free video tutorials, stock pitch and investment recommendation templates, and more, these bonuses alone contain more content than entire training programs from other companies.
      – Price: Our Premium package is the same price, or a lower price, than everything else out there

      If you go to you can gain a better understanding. Please let us know if you have other questions.

      1. Thank you

        Hi Nicole,

        The insight provided by you has been helpful to select the right program. Thank you very much for such a detailed response. I selected the BIWS Premium program.


        1. M&I - Nicole


          Thank you for your email. I am excited to hear that you find our advice useful.

          Please let me know if you have other questions! We look forward to having you in the BIWS community!

  16. I graduated with a 3.33 overall GPA but took a hard course load at Cal (Computer science and stats) and am working as a data analyst in a well known trading firm in Chicago. I occasionally write articles on seeking alpha as a hobby and have my own blog where I write about new investment ideas. Would my low GPA be a barrier in getting into equity research or would firms be willing to overlook it? Also, what would be the best way to break into the industry for someone who has graduated?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Yes I think some firms may overlook your GPA. I’d network a lot and potentially start as a research assistant first if you want to break into ER.

      1. Would a research assistant be on the same level as an associate and also what are some networking tips for someone who’s graduated?

        1. M&I - Nicole

          No, RA is probably a bit more “junior.” I’d focus on using LinkedIn and attending industry (buy-side, CFA events)

  17. Econ Researcher

    Hi there. I applied for Equity Research but was given Economic research at a boutique IB instead. I have no interest in doing economic research. I initially planned to go for ER and proceed with AM/IBD in the following year.

    I was told that I would be doing economic forecasting, reports, data collection and econometric modelling. A friend of mine (who also got Econ research last year) said he was able to do some work with the ER team during his spare time. Anyways its a little far out from stocks and all. I was wondering how i’d be able to leverage this to get into AM or maybe even IBD for my following year ? What would you recommend I try to learn from this internship in this case?

    1. M&I - Nicole

      The analytical skills you gain as well as economic forecasting experience you have been exposed to are useful for econ/credit research roles in the sell-side and potentially AM. I am not sure how economic research is useful to IBD roles but you can talk about your analytical skills you’ve developed there and how you can apply them to IB roles. However deal experience is most useful for IB though.

  18. ER Candidate

    Hi Numi,

    I currently work in Operations for a well-known AM firm. I am looking to move into Equity Research within my field and was hoping that you could provide me with some advice, since my work is not related to portfolio analysis or research. How do you suggest I plan this transition?

  19. First year

    First year student.
    How tough is it to get an internship in ER ? compared to AM or IB

    Thank you

    1. M&I - Nicole

      I’d say ER and IB are on a par with each other. IB maybe a more demanding job (depends on the time though during earnings season ER is challenging), but I’d say spots in ER are fewer so competition can be keen.

      AM tends to be “easier” to break into since there maybe more spots, and given the job nature, candidates who apply may not always be as competitive as those who are interested in IB (I may be wrong here and again there are some very competitive candidates in AM; this is a generalisation given the nature of your question.)

      But since you’re a first year, I’d say aim for AM first then ER. IB rarely accepts first year students as interns.

  20. ER_Associate


    I work as an ER Associate at a boutique firm, and am trying to move to a bigger firm within ER. The Analyst I currently work with was I.I. ranked in 2008 and 2009 (this was BEFORE i started working with this Analyst). Do you think I should mention this in my resume? Would it come across as a +ve in my favor, that I have worked with a reputed analyst? Or do you think the fact that the Analyst was ranked 5 yrs ago and BEFORE i started with him will make this point ir-relevant, and hence I shouldn’t mention it in my cv?


    1. M&I - Nicole

      I don’t think it is terribly relevant but you can include it in there if you want.

      1. ER_Associate

        Thanks Nicole! :)

  21. Hi Numi,

    I have two years of Operations experience at an asset management firm and a MBA, however no relevant front office experience. My industry specific experience is in the restaurant industry, totally unrelated to finance. Do you find it would be difficult to break into ER as an associate in the Dallas area? Likewise, any advice on transitioning into a front office role just as junior trader from middle office?

    1. You don’t want to sell equities in Dallas.

  22. Also 2nd question, is it appropriate to pitch a banking stock in a first round interview, provided it is very likely the person interviewing me will not be from FIG?

  23. Hi I have been relatively successful landing ER interviews, but I am having a bit of difficulty picking the right stock to pitch. What would you suggest is a good way to screen stocks?

    The latest interview I have is with someone heading the European Product Management Group – Equities. Any idea where that lies in a BB?

    Thanks a lot!

    1. M&I - Nicole

      Everyone has different opinions on this front and it depends on the industry. may help

      This lies within equities, but not necessarily in front office.

  24. Hello, I have a two part question for you. ER has really interested me and got my eye.

    1. Are these types of jobs only in NYC or can they be in smaller major cities like Boston, Philly, Pittsburgh, Chicago, etc.?

    2. I only have a 3.3 GPA but I do have internships in Big 4 and regional accounting and a private equity internship and I also have an online trading account with $7000 for a few months now with a 12.1% return thus far. Is my GPA too low and would my internships help make up for that?


    1. M&I - Nicole

      1. Of course they can be in other major cities.
      2. Your PE internship can potentially help and if you can pull your GPA up to 3.6+ that would be best so you can make cutoff for banks

  25. equity_researcher


    I work as an equity research associate at a boutique firm. I am considering moving to a bulge bracket in a few months. Numi mentioned above that in lateral interviews, the interviewer is likely to ask you about ideas you came up on your own etc (as opposed to more basic stuff), but as an associate, I am not supposed to come up with investment ideas (not sure if this is true for all firms). My analyst decided what companies we cover and then we do the research together, but the “idea generation” is not my responsibility. In such a case, how would you suggest I handle the interviews when this questions is put up in front of me?


    1. M&I - Nicole

      I’d be upfront and tell interviewers that you’re not responsible for idea generation at your firm. However, if you’ve still generated some ideas on your own (you took your initiative) and pitched them to the analyst. And then you tell them what those ideas were. If you haven’t generated any ideas for work at all then I’d say that you’ve mostly generated ideas personally because you were very interested in the markets, and elaborate on the ideas you’ve generated etc

      1. equity_researcher

        Great, thanks for the suggestion Nicole :)

        1. M&I - Nicole

          You’re welcome.

          1. equity_researcher


            As I mentioned, I am working in equity research in a boutique bank. I have been in the job for less than an year as of now. I am interested in moving to a hedge fund in 1-2 years. Do you think it is better if I transition first to a bulge-bracket bank so as to get more options when it is time to move to a HF, or would you say that moving to a BB within 1-2 years of joining my current job would look bad on my resume, so I should stay at my current firm and try and make the transition to a HF from here itself?

            Also, besides the bulge brackets, which are some other banks which are well-respected for consumer equity research? I just want to know which banks I should target if you suggest that I should get out of my (boutique) firm before planning the move to a HF.

            Just fyi – My analyst was rated very highly a few years back, but no I.I. rating for the past few years. With respect to moving to a HF, would you say that working for a good analyst is more important, or working at a bigger firm?

            Thanks so much Nicole :)

          2. M&I - Nicole

            I’d try to move to BB ER and move to HF from there. If you can move to a credible HF from where you are I’d do that

            If you go to Barron’s website,, you should be able to find a few banks which specialize in consumer ER

            Yes working for a solid analyst is more important.

            Please note that there’s a limit to what we can answer on this forum in respect to other readers who have subscribed to BIWS. Thank you for your support of the site!

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