Sign up  |  Log in

Equity Research as an undergrad aiming to be Portfolio Manager after CFA completion

I’m a recent undergrad in a regional asset management working as equity analyst (1yr), does working in a BB like Credit Suisse while doing my CFA (Level 2 Candidate) would improve my CV and would add value to my skill set if my ultimate goal is to be portfolio manager? or it is better to stay in the buy side?

I’m going to attempt to translate this. Let me know if I missed the mark.

“I’m a recent college graduate who’s been working with a regional asset manager as an equity analyst for the past year. Would working at a top tier firm like Credit Suisse look better on my CV? I’m also a L2 candidate with the ultimate goal of becoming a portfolio manager. Should I pursue opportunities at big name firms even if it means moving over to the sellside, or should I remain on the buyside while honing my skills?”

Assuming I’m better than Google Translate, I would recommend staying where you are. You’re on the right career path already, and working for CS or The Goldman Sachs isn’t going to really help unless you want to move up the ranks there. Plus, if it means having to move to the sellside, hell no. 

So, I’ll take the other side on this one.  Working on the buy side is great and to STL’s point you’re already on the buy side so that aspect of it is true.  The sell side to buy side transition can sometimes be tricky.

HOWEVER, over time having worked on the sell side can add a layer of brand name to your resume and be very valuable experience that is particularly valuable if your current buy side firm is not a premier shop and since you’ve already had buyside experience I think the move back would not be too difficult.  It’s very possible to get stuck in second or third tier asset management firms for your career for this reason.

That said, if you’re doing an MBA later, then either one will be great experience and assuming you go to a good school you will have great selection on exit so you always (for the next few years) have that optionality.  The sell side is a bit of a dumpster fire right now, so if you’re happy, then it may be best just to stay put.  You’re on the right path to PM assuming you do well, so either way you should be fine.

#FreeCVM #FreeTurd #2007-2017

I’ll chime in as well, since there are elements of Sweep The Leg and Black Swan which both could be true. If you are already at a good buy-side shop learning great fundamental research and analytical skills, you may choose to stay. On the other hand, the brand name, training, resources, the sector you cover, and of course access to clients you get at a bulge bracket sell-side shop can open up many other doors in the future.

There are some “changes” on the sell-side now especially at certain shops; however, overall this is the best hiring environment I have seen in years, both on the buy-side and sell-side, in terms of both junior and mid-level roles. On the buy-side, this has been a very good year for the typical long-only or long/short equity firm, with significant outperformance vs. passive in many cases as flows to passive over the last few years in hopes of “chasing” performance have essentially saturated the performance.

Don’t take my word for it; take a look at all the job postings on LinkedIn. I myself have been working with several clients who are in active recruitment processes with four or five sell-side/buy-side firms. Even at some of the bulge bracket and upper middle market firms that went through some “realignments” earlier this year, many are looking to backfill the displaced roles, especially at junior levels. There is probably little downside to testing the market and seeing what else is out there, in any case.