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

117 Comments | Equity Research - Recruiting

21 Flares 21 Flares ×

Equity Research RecruitingNumi 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.

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 numi.advisory@gmail.com, or visit Numi’s LinkedIn page.

Equity Research Interview Series:

About the Author

is the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions and Breaking Into Wall Street. In his spare time, he enjoys learning obscure Excel functions, editing resumes, obsessing over TV shows, and traveling so much that he's forced to add additional pages to his passport on a regular basis.

Break Into Investment Banking

Free Access to Exclusive Content for Members Only!

Loading the player...

Sign up for The Banker Blueprint today and enjoy:

ebook
  • Free Report: 57-page guide with the action plan you need to break into investment banking - how to tell your story, network, craft a winning resume, and dominate your interviews,
  • Exclusive emailed bonus material,
  • Free Banker Blueprint newsletter with more in-depth advice,
  • Unlimited access to all articles, videos, and advice - and free updates whenever new content is added to the site,

 

We respect your email privacy

Read below or add a comment...

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

Comments

  1. Baggins says

    I can’t believe the timeliness of this post. I was just about to as a question about ER.

    I live in Tokyo (born & raised), went to a non-target school here, graduated this spring.

    I currently work at a top-tier (equivalent of what you call BB in US) securities/investment banking house, in their Equity Research team.
    I work 8 to 5 (yeah!) and basically I assist the senior research analyst. My title is ‘Assistant to RA’ (laugh)

    It’s a cushy job. the hours are great. Comp isn’t that bad.

    Only thing is that it’s titled ‘part-time’

    We do have some interns in our firm but none for our dept, so they hire part-timers with indefinite employment term. (Our culture is like.. as long as you don’t do something stupid like slapping the MD’s face on the Monday morning meeting, you can stay as long as you want – of course if sth like Lehman happens, I’ll have to go) and there aren’t many, but there are 2 who started as part-timers and turned into full-time.

    Now, I recently got an offer from a commercial bank at their e-business division. I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing something entirely different, but it’s a full-time job.

    I plan’n on going to b-school in 2-3 years and then hopefully off to IB or PE

    I could work here for 2-3 years but on my resume it will still be written as “part-time”
    Would the fact that it is a “part-time” job affect my future applications? (Hence I should move?)

    • says

      Why can’t you just write it as something different on your resume? Did they explicitly say you have to list “Part-Time”? That seems silly. Maybe just explain in your application what it actually was and how the title isn’t accurate.

    • Paul says

      Baggins,

      This is a bit off topic. But since I am also studying in Tokyo, I have got a few questions for you. Do you mind sharing with us how you got into a top-tier securities house coming from a non-target school? Did you do any internships when you were in university? Or did you network really hard?

      I’m currently in my sophomore year. I applied to the only BB that recruits sophomore students for summer internship this year but I never heard back, so I ended up doing a consulting internship this summer. That was a very hard choice to make since I have no interest in consulting, and I don’t believe they can “add value” to their work. Ok, enough complaining. It’s nice to know that there are people from Japan who are reading this site:)

    • Neraki says

      Hi!

      I’m glad that I came across this comment!
      I’m looking into opportunities to break into ER in Tokyo!

      I’m originally from Hong Kong; studying abroad in one of the “target schools” in the States; just finished exchanging for a semester in Tokyo. My Japanese is intermediate level, I’d say. Well, but I’m Chinese, so I can read Kanji and it definitely helps a lot.

      I know it makes so much more sense and so much easier if I choose to work in Hong Kong, but I just love Tokyo so much…
      All in all, is it at all possible to break into ER in Tokyo as a non-native? Or is it like IB, where it’s mostly native?

      Thanks a lot! =]

      P.S. Brian, thank you for posting so many helpful posts!! So many!! ^v^”

      • M&I - Nicole says

        I don’t think it is impossible but may be challenging unless you speak the language fluently. Others might be able to offer you better suggestions. Apply and see how it goes.

  2. ret says

    Solid article. I did my junior year internship doing equity research at a BB. Though not as prestigious as banking per se, you do a lot of analytical work similar to banking: updating operating models, spreading comps, running DCFs. And your hours are awesome: mine were typically around 7 to 7…Should’ve stayed in equity research (sigh).

  3. Marty says

    This is brilliant. Thanks M&I!

    Also, interested if ER likes Big 4 accountants in the US as much as they do in the UK (or do they even really like them in the UK)… and would also be very curious into reading an article on credit research – it seems to go overlooked quite a lot on the relevant boards.

    THanks!

    • says

      Not really sure about that one, it probably helps some but I think they would still prefer someone with deep industry experience + some knowledge of accounting/finance. Credit research is a good one, just tough to find volunteers.

      • Neil says

        Hi,

        Glad i came across this post!! i work in Hf Back office operations for almost an year now and completed CFA L1 nd targeting MBA in a year or two.

        i really am sick of HF ops as learning is zero nd only learning that i hv is extensive reading and studying outside my job…should i be targeting getting into a ER entry level role now( i love ER and analyzing cos n industries) or should i do my MBA first…

        1) If i don’t get into schools im targeting this time i don’t feel like spending another year here…any advise?

        2) would it sound bad if i apply for ER post MBA if i hv experience in 3 cos in 3 years( i spent 6 months in risk consulting before this and assuming i take any entry level ER job now…im networking aggressively and decent investing and market knowledge)

        • says

          1) Attempt to move to a front office role at another HF or asset management firm.

          2) Don’t understand the question but I guess not?

  4. George says

    Finally!I’ve been waiting for this ER piece for months, lol. Thanks for coming through Brian. When are you posting the second half of the interview?

  5. Brezeck says

    Now you see people do care about sales and trading. I do too. Please tell us more about it! Thanks for previous articles though.

    • says

      There’s already a lot on S&T here – just do a search for it or look on the Groups & Regions link at the top. But more will be coming soon.

  6. Pike says

    This is a bit of an unrelated topic…but I am a little curious. I have been agressively networking for most of the summer and have come across a family friend who is high up at a firm in Miami. The firm is called ______ Capital Management and when I googled/bloomberg searched, it came up as an asset management firm that also manages a mutual fund? I guess I am a little curious about exactly what firms like this one do and how that is different from asset management at a bank or larger company. Thanks

    • says

      It probably isn’t too much different, if you look at the article on asset management / hedge funds here most of that is likely applicable. The main difference is that it’s smaller, so you’ll get more random work / tasks but also the opportunity to get more involved with real decisions.

  7. T says

    Great article. I’m doing an BB ER internship right now but now and I’m still considering whether this career path is right now me. Really looking forward to part II of this article.

    Thanks!

  8. PIke says

    Would a fall internship with a commercial real estate investor or a PE firm that solely deals in real estate (“real estate consulting and investing firm”) be applicable for someone interested in breaking into IBD but not necessarily in real estate?

  9. J says

    Great interview! Thanks a lot!

    Sorry I have to ask an irrelevant question here. Shall I do sth special for my mentor and colleagues at the last day of my internship? Thanks!

    • numi says

      A hand-written note for your direct boss thanking him/her for the summer experience would be great. However, no need to get anyone presents. What I’ve done in the past, and would recommend to others, is just to stop by the desk or office of everyone you were close with, chat with them one-on-one about your experience and what you enjoyed most about working with them, and express your interest in keeping in touch. High-touch interactions are always appreciated especially if you really did enjoy your experience there — Wall Street is a small world and you never know when you will call upon your colleagues again in the future.

  10. Pike says

    Question about networking:

    I recently spoke to an alumni who is an associate in restructuring at a large boutique in their headquarters. We have a very good conversation and he gave me some great advice. He sugested I go on their website and read some case studies to learn more about restucturing. I read a few articles on an MD in his office, one being an interview. I am extremely interested in this particular boutique and their group, do you think it would be too much to send an e-mail or call the MD and talk to him about one or two of the articles in hopes of getting an informational interview? You always say to meet as many people in an office as possible so I thought i’d ask. Thanks

  11. Josh says

    Probably isn’t the most appropriate blog to ask this qusetion, but your S&T and Back Office articles were all quite a while ago, so I’m choosing the most recent Recruiting article…

    I’m currently doing a summer internship at a BB in Operations, working closely with the traders (although I don’t get to contact them myself). Right now I’m stuck with a dilemma. I need to be able to live when I graduate, and back office still pays better than most other entry levels in other industries, but I want to go into trading as that’s where my interests lie. I’m fairly confident my performance so far would warrant a return offer, but I’m losing sleep over whether or not I should bring up the fact that I’m more interested in trading. What should I do? Would I lose my return offer if I tell them I’m more interested on the front side of things? There weren’t that many networking opportunities, so I probably won’t have a ton of traders vouching for me…

    • says

      You can ask questions wherever it’s most appropriate… I purposely leave out dates everywhere because I don’t want anything here to be time-dependent except for a few things like bonus predictions. And comments still show up on everything.

      For back office I personally wouldn’t bring up that you’re interested in trading right now, better to get the return offer first and then network over once you start working… if you take a look at the back office –> S&T interview he did something like that.

  12. PP says

    Thanks for the article, it was really helpful.

    I’m looking to go into ER at the moment. My internship experience was at the Foreign Office working on the Iraq Enquiry and my latest work experience was on Teach First (British version of Teach for America). Good grades at Uni in Economics and Politics.

    I’m worried that my lack of finance internship will put me at a disadvantage, and i’m not sure how to sell my teaching experience. Do you think a CFA would help for the next round of recruiting?

    Thanks

  13. Jesse says

    I am studying Political Science and Economics in a target university in Canada (I think it’s a target since the BBs recruited here every year and they came for most of our career events). ER is something that I am really interested in to pursue as a career, but for now, as my internship, next Summer.

    I have taken courseworks ranging from European Politics, Monetary Relations to Corporate Finance 1. Unlike the US, in Canada, we actually have undergrad business schools. So, do you think that recruiters would differentiate between those in Liberal Arts and those in Business?

    My second question; ER department is not available on every continent. I know for a fact that, Global Investment Research at G.Sachs is only available at London, NYC, Singapore, HK and Tokyo. So, due to less offices, do you think that the competition will be tougher?

    • Jesse says

      My last question, does ER also cover macroeconomic research? Because I got an economic outlook reports every month from my back, which were authored by economist. So, who is an economist and who is an associate?

      • M&I - Nicole says

        Yes. Each ER shd hv a global macro strat team. The economist is usually the MD who leads the team and takes a stance on where he/she thinks the economy will head, and provide stock recommendation/portfolio strategies. An associate is hired by the MD to help him/her out.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      1. Yes, though sometimes recruiters don’t care as long as the candidate can demonstrate their knowledge in finance/accounting. You just need to make the “cut” from the resume screening, and then pitch your story to your interviewer.
      2. Law of supply & demand – in a way yes, though you might face keener competitor getting into IBD. Honestly though, focus on yourself – WHY you want ER, what value you can add, read up on the markets, and pick a few stocks you like/dislike and be able to articulate why.

  14. Dusmall says

    Sorry, confused newbie here.
    1) Do IB Equity Researchers ever research small-cap stocks?

    2) And do they make suggestions for IPOs – like if a med-size company is considering making an IPO, could an IB’s EQ-ers have anything to do with that?

    If the answers to either of these is no, could you give me an idea of who does?

    Thanks a tril

  15. a_pad says

    Advice/Question
    I graduated in May from a target school with a finance major and went to work in a non-finance field. I’m already bored so I’ve been reading ER analyst reports and contacting the analysts with questions. Predictably, most haven’t responded. A few just asked for my resume; one in particular I followed up with later to say I actually had questions (I really did) and he said he didn’t have time to speak but said that I had made a favorable impression and he liked my resume and that his bank might have opportunities later, which he would contact me about.

    I looked him up again and it ends up he’s an MD, so I feel good about that. However, how long is appropriate to wait before resuming contact? As he’s an MD I don’t want to be forgotten but I also don’t want to be a pest.

  16. Harry says

    Investment Management also has their research team and provide investment recommendations. So what is the difference between the two?
    Thanks alot!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      IM does research for their own fund.

      Equity research does research for their clients – institutional investors which includes IM/AM firms.

        • M&I - Nicole says

          Yes because PMs like to have different perspectives. ER departments from different banks feed PMs info and PM’s research team decipher the info and come up w their own analysis. PMs of IMs also open brokerage accounts at IBs to buy/sell stocks & gain access to IPOs/follow-ons so by default they have access to ER reports

  17. Dre60 says

    Got an interview for an ER position at a Boutique, covering small cap capital intensive companies.

    To recap on my background again:
    I recently finished an assingment working with a BB in trade operations as a contractor. Before that I worked for a BB Asset Manager as a Portfolio Accountant supporting IMs and PMs. Before that I worked at the US Department of Treasury while pursing my Master’s in econ. and before that I worked as a Financial Analyst at a Global Telecom company. I also have a Bach in Bus Admin & Econ major.

    How can I leverage my background to tell a story of how it correlates to Equity Research?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      If you’ve valued any companies, evaluated which stocks to buy, sell and conducted research on certain industries in your previous roles, I’d suggest you to highlight such experiences!

  18. Ryan says

    In addition to being prepared to make stock pitches in an ER interview, what are your thoughts on attaching (when possible) a 5-7 page research report to my application? I’ve done this in the past and it ended up being the focus of a large portion of the interview, and I thought it demonstrated by analytical abilities well.

    I’m worried it could make me look like a teacher’s pet, though. What would you think if you got an application like that?

    • says

      That can work well, but more so at smaller places with less standardized recruiting processes.

      But it’s not a bad idea, and it’s worth doing even at larger firms if you can’t get through to them via other means and need to grab their attention.

      • Ryan says

        Thanks, that’s helpful. One additional question: how many stocks should I be prepared to pitch? In a half-day of interviews, for example, is it okay to pitch the same stock to each interviewer? Or should I have 2-3 stock pitches ready? If so, should each stock be in a different industry?

        I guess that was actually four additional questions…

        • says

          I think 3 stocks are fine. Pitching the same stocks to each interviewer is OK. They don’t need to be in different industries, but I would try for at least 2 different industries so it doesn’t look like you’re only interested in one field.

  19. Sim says

    Hi there thanks for the very informative post.

    I am at a big 4 firm in advisory with 3 years of transaction advisory/corporate finance experience. I am from London but want to get into equity research in the US – San Francisco specifically.

    Could someone enlighten me on my chances of getting in? Or how I could?

    People have said it’s very difficult to crack the states and that the US dont regard the big 4 as highly as in the UK.

  20. Danny says

    Hi,

    I am a sophomore studying in Singapore in a well known college with 3.6+ GPA, and I hope to break into ER full time.

    I currently have two offers, one in a small wealth management firm, and the other in General Electric Finance, which do you think will be more relevant to get interviews for bb ER and top AM firms like Fidelity?

    Also, I have a boutique AM interview next week and have secured a boutique WM internship part time internship (2-3 days) for the next term.

    Which of the 2 internships should I take? And will the boutique AM internship be better than the two?

    Thanks a lot!

    • M&I - Nicole says

      General Electric has a better name but what will you be doing there?

      Which of the 2? Hard for me to say given the limited info you provided. I’d say go with a firm/team you like the most, a firm/role that gives you lots of responsibilities. Try to figure the above out on your interview next week

      • Danny says

        Hi nicole thanks for your reply.

        I will be doing financial planning & analysis at GE Power. Heard that it involves forecasting future performances for GE and basically think of ways to expand and grow the business.

        What do you think of this job scope? Is it relevant for ER and AM?

        Thanks once again!

  21. says

    I have spent the past five years of my life doing Business Analysis work in the US Capital Markets domain. What that means is I act as a bridge between the IBD and the Software Developer who automates certain workflows for the IBD.

    I am an Engineer myself and have a fairly good understanding of how the Software Industry works. I have a good academic record (from back home in India). I am invested in US stocks and actively follow certain sectors.

    I want to shift careers to ER or PM over the next two years. I am 28 now.

    My plan was to try passing the first two levels of CFA and start applying for ER and PM firms.

    But from most posts of yours, I find that an internship is needed to land even an interview. Also, I have absolutely nil direct financial experience (~investment management/ER).

    Will firms humour my requests for an interview?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      It takes a bit of luck, hard work and persistence. I’d suggest you to try approaching your contacts (alumni, previous work network etc) for informational interviews!

  22. Stephane Blake says

    Hi,

    Is background in IBD and PE going to help if someone goes for an MBA and wants to work in Research afterwards?

    Thanks

  23. Thang says

    Do you know how the ER’s recruiting is going to be? I am interested in it, but some friends told me that ER is still a cost division. And at this time, they may cut it down. What do you think?

    • M&I - Nicole says

      ER is a cost division though they are very integral to helping a bank market its offerings, brand & brokerage businesses. If you’re interested in ER and have a passion in the markets, I’d still go for it. Yes hiring needs haven’t drastically increased for ER but you can still try.

      • Thang says

        Thank you, Nicole!

        I sometimes found it harder to network with ER for some reason. Any suggestions you may have for me as I am going to network very soon with ER. Thanks!

        • M&I - Nicole says

          Google ER research reports and read up on them. Compile a list of analysts of the banks through the reports!

  24. Andy says

    Hi,
    I am a sophomore coming from a Community College and I am starting at a State University this Fall as a junior. I have a 3.0 at my school now but it doesn’t transfer to the new school so they will give me a new GPA and will be expecting to keep my GPA higher then it is now mainly because I won’t be working as much. Does any one have any advice for my specific situation. I think I will apply for internships this year but I won’t get my new GPA until the end of the Fall semester. Should I start networking now even though my GPA is low and I am currently coming from a Community College? Or should I wail until I get my new GPA and I can say I go to a 4 year state university? And what do you think my chances are of breaking into Equity Research with my background assuming I can keep my GPA up?

    • Numi says

      You are at a major disadvantage coming from community college and with a low GPA. This challenge isn’t totally insurmountable — one of the things that matters most is having your resume and cover letter as polished as possible. The other thing is having one or two fantastic stock ideas to talk about during your interview, and possibly include a write-up when you’re applying for jobs. After all, the job is all about investment analysis and idea generation, and there are plenty of people with good academic credentials that don’t get in because they aren’t able to convey that they’re truly passionate or curious about stock investing. In any case, you probably won’t be able to get a job with a bulge bracket especially given the way the industry is these days, but that won’t preclude you from getting a job at a smaller firm or boutique bank provided that you network effectively and you know how to “talk the talk,” ranging anywhere from general investing to specific stock ideas.

      Good luck…you have your work cut out for you, but it’s not impossible.

  25. Jane says

    I have recieved a second-round at a equity research firm that has been described to me by the admin assistant in charge of recruiting as a “test.” I was told that the Analyst will not be present as I work on the test. Anyone have any thoughts as to what this may entail (i.e. case study, modeling, other?), or have had this experience elsewhere, so I may be able to prepare for it the best I can? Thanks!

  26. JW says

    Dear M&I

    I have an equity research interview on Thu and they have told me that I will be given 45min to prepare a presentation on a company to my interviewers.

    Given the short time nature, what must I do and what can I leave out.

    Assuming DCF is out of question

    Thanks

    • says

      Come up with a solid stock pitch for that company using the advice above, and review the fundamentals of 3-statement modeling and valuation. I would not bother with a DCF – just focus on valuation multiples and what drives revenue growth and expenses.

  27. Mamta says

    I have been in ER division working for a global bank since 8 years. However my experience is only limited to IT. so my skill set is only to develop and verify the applications needed for ER.

    Now I want to get domain knowledge instead of being in IT only. So choosing CFA level 1 to pursue career in ER. However was curious to know if ER the only industry for CFA’s to get jobs? what are the other fields where CFA can fetch jobs in whole finance domain? Please can you throw some light on this. Appreciate your help!

  28. Frank says

    Hi Brian and Nicole,

    Have a question for you on answering the motivation question for joining ER. Are there any other factors besides of interests in investing? What if the interviewer asks why don’t you join houses that make direct investments instead of ER just making recommendations?

    Thanks!
    Frank

    • says

      You could just say that you enjoy following a specific set of companies over time instead of looking at dozens or more and only investing in a few for that type of question.

  29. Avadhut says

    Hi Brian,

    From the article and answers below it shows, for a fresher, internships are more important than CFA.

    1. I would like to know top 5 skills required to get into equity research.

    2. Also having the above skill set, where else (functional area) the person can apply for a job?

    Appreciate your help.

    • M&I - Nicole says

      1. Communication, presentation, analytical, quantitative and interpersonal skills
      2. Asset Management, private wealth management, other buy side roles

  30. Jim says

    Hay Brian,

    What can you expect for the first phone conversation with ER analyst who is looking to recruit an associate? Stock pitch? Fit questions?

    Thanks,
    JP

    • M&I - Nicole says

      JP, I think he/she may ask you why you’re interested in ER, your modeling & valuation skills/knowledge in the sector, yes perhaps a stock pitch (remember to have an idea in mind before the interview), how you analyze stocks, your thoughts on the industry trends, and your previous experience. I wouldn’t expect there to be too many technical questions though it does depend on the interviewer and the sector focus – if it is for more quantitative role like Strategy Research then your technical/quant skills are very important.

  31. J.J. says

    Hi, I’m interested in Equity research and or investment analyst roles at Investment management firms. My profile U.K. Student:
    Non-Target University
    A-Levels are AAAABC
    Degree in Economics-has Accounting and corporate financial management (Expecting a 1st class) currently in my 1st year
    Graduating in 2015.
    Attended an insight day at Schroders Investment Management, but unfortunately was Finance & Accounting related
    Networked with Head of Group Management reporting, Head of Asset management reporting and a 2nd year analyst at Finance & Accounting division.
    I currently have a virtual portfolio(34 stocks) which is over 90% above major indices. Not overly diversified but over performing the markets.
    I want to Apply for a 1st year internship at BAML which, is 1week unpaid.
    Active committee member of a Finance Society, worked alongside the president to get an Ex-GS/HSBC banker and BAML risk manager to guest speak at my non-target school this month.
    Connected with a private bankers Assitant at Citi.
    Currently learning F. Modelling and have good knowledge on valuation metrics like P/Es etc, even though I haven’t taken any classes for it thus far.

    Also run a Support Group where we performed a stock analysis on two companies and gave recommendations.

    Given my profile, what sort of opportunities within the above mentioned networks should I cease?
    How well do you think I should position myself to land a F/O or summer internship next year as an investment analyst or ER analyst?

    What sort of contact would be very useful to my career?
    Should I also consider accounting and private banking as an option?
    Do I stand a chance in this competitive field?
    I need your advise, thanks.

  32. J.J. says

    Since the BAML 1st yr program is a generalise one, should I show preference to ER in my application? I’ve only got 2 days to apply.

  33. FICCle says

    Hey! Love the site and always come here when I’m curious about different aspects of the industry.

    Long story short, I just started a credit research position in AM and am curious to learn more about credit/FICC research at banks. Specifically speaking what I’ve often seen referred to as a desk analyst (usually in High Yield, distressed, IG, etc).

    Thank you!

  34. says

    I’m interested in a research role but not so much equity research,I would like to know how different the other research desks are compared to equity research.

  35. anonymous says

    Hi,

    I have an offer for an equity research position in NYC in a boutique firm. The manager told me that the hours will be 12hrs/day avg. Just wanted to check – do equity research positions in NYC come with overtime pay?

    Thx!

  36. Stephen says

    Hi,
    Are some industries in ER better than others to cover from my standpoint ?

    I am currently studying a B.B.A. in one of the top universities in Taiwan ,Planning to apply for MSc in finance in US ….have US citizenship. Want to get filthy rich at Uncle Sam’s.

    (I have not done any finance internship here because basically finance jobs here are nonexistent except in our capital )

    I am interested in ER ,but do specific sectors for example like
    bio-tech , Technology …etc hire hard core
    chemical engineering/Computer Science PhD’s who’s working in the the specific field over finance graduates ?

    Which sector ,do you advise ,is the best for non-experienced finance graduates in the US ?
    (excluding Consumer Retail….don’t want to spend the rest of my life analyzing Walmart and P&G !!)

    Thanks

  37. Giorgio says

    Hi, in the interview he mentioned that you should start your own personal portfolio. Does it makes any difference whether it’s a real money portfolio or a paper portfolio (provided that I put the same effort in the paper one)? Because I’d have around $1,000 dollars to invest, but I’ve looked up online for the fees and the least I’ve found is a little bit less than $10 per trade (plus there’s also the cost of opening an account). Let’s say that I buy 8-10 stocks, I would spend 10% of my budget just on fees, not counting when I’ll have to sell them.

  38. Manu says

    Hi,
    I´ve seen some places refering to “investment research” as being only related with debt and stocks. Would this position also apply to private equity and real estate investments or in these cases it would be more correct to state “market research”?
    Thank you very much in advance.

Leave a Reply