Hmm… interesting that you don’t have a financial modeling background and you’re the only one in research at your firm. I am basically our research desk here, but I have a background in financial modeling/analysis. I like the buy side because I can do a lot more depth of the models/research vs. when I talk to sell-side, they generally don’t have a clue because they can’t allocate enough time to each of the companies in their universe. I also like that I work in a bunch of different industries vs. sell side where you usually cover only one. You definitely need to be proactive with your career and skillset (I try to travel quite a bit to attend conferences/go to workshops etc). given that you don’t have a team of people above you mentoring you.This is probably the biggest difference to working at a big shop - you have to seek out your own training/ways to improve your skills. The big upside is the hours - sell side sounds horrible, and I’m glad I was able to bypass that.
That being said, I had a good base level before I moved into research and am a CA (Canadian CPA), so picking through the financial statements was pretty easy for me. When I first started, I took a modeling course in NY, but to be honest, it was just a lot of practice and trying to logic my way through waterfall calculations etc.