Career move: Compliance to Research

Hi all,

I have worked in Compliance now for about four years in banking. This is, I love maths and I love analysis and I really want to move into research, for that reason - buy-side. There just aren’t many opportunities for that kind of work in Compliance. While it is a great sector, and I have actually done rather well in it, it doesn’t suit my working style, and I don’t love it.

I’m no stranger to financial services, having worked with it for some time (central compliance - surveillance and monitoring/thematic reviews) but to boost my skills and knowledge I have, like many, begun the CFA. I have to say, so far I love it - it is exactly the sort of thing I like doing and the sort of thought processes I wish were involved in my job every day.

I have seen a fairly healthy number of would-be equity analysts posting here and there, but what I have not really seen dealt with, is research as a side-step. What is my “way in”? There is no investment research at my current bank, so no one to talk to here.

Assistant jobs really are booking meeting rooms and cars, associate jobs want “solid financial modelling skills” (will be doing that after CFA I!). Is there an in-between? What should I be looking for?

Thanks, really look forward to your thoughts :slight_smile:

your chances are really poor. it’s not like you have 1 or 2 yrs of compliance work, you have 4. so you’re known as a compliance guy. jumping buyside research is unheard of, unless you literally know someone.

your only real chance is a strong MBA program (chances improved, but still low).

An entry level role for someone with 4 years commercial experience surely isn’t such a terribly long shot?

I guess my real question is not what are the chances, but what are the roles - what should I be appplying for? Admin? Assistant? Grad scheme? How do other people get into it?

It is. for many reasons.

First, buyside hires directly from top schools or former sell side people. The chances of some guy from compliance jumping ahead of those 2 groups of people is basically Zero.

you have no modeling skills.

your skill set is very different.

list goes on and on

What qualifications do you have? I see you are a CFA level 1 candidate so that’s a start.

I think a grad scheme might be the best way in, but if your undergrad wasn’t in a relevant area you may need to go back and do a masters or MBA before trying to move across.

Thanks for your help, Itera. My question is “how”, not “can I” and I don’t really want to argue. I see you are adamant that it is impossible, and thank you for the heads up, but you have made your point now, and I understand it, so thanks for your help and realism.

Carson, sir, I would start in sell-side if it was easier to get into.

I will also point out that I am in London so the targetting “schools” thing is not quite as prevalent here, except for in enormous corporates perhaps. Ideally, I would avoid those.

I have a Law Degree, LPC (post-grad diploma in legal practice. I graduated in 2009, it wasn’t a good time. Thankfully. I would not like to be a lawyer now!) and this CFA and I am also prepared to be patient.

I have, in networking, met a young lady (I’m also a lady and not a dude) who went from science to be an assistant to CIO and now is a researcher (not in pharma or anything relevant to her background) and speaking to her, that is a way in. I just cannot seem to find these roles anywhere! I gather that they are rare and not publicised - so cold letter and CV? I do not know her very well so don’t want to hound her all hours of the day, but are there alternative avenues.


You seem to have a positive attitude and that can carry you far.

If I were you, I would consider taking a year out to do a finance related masters and then trying to switch into a grad programme. However, that is obviously going to be expensive. If you can’t swing that then you will have to keep slogging away and be patient. Being a level 1 candidate doesn’t mean much I’m afraid and even passing all three levels won’t guarantee you a front office position.

Try to beef up your CV anyway you can. Even relatively trivial things like joining an investment club and/or starting to build models on stocks at home can be useful in a cover letter etc.

Maybe take a more active interest in your local CFA society too for networking purposes.

Back to school is the only realistic chance unless you somehow already have lots of research skills that would be directly applicable and allow you to convincingly hit the ground running on day one.

school is it.

i have an inside look into the recruiting process at a large bank. theres so much supply its not funny. need a solid mba program and to network. the end.

You’re a lady, that actually improves your chances, marginally, in my mind.

I would start by networking as much as you can and see what kind of value drivers Research side people are looking for in your area. While the core skills are the same in NYC, London, Toronto etc, there are slight variations in terms of ‘triggers’ that peak interest. Find those and try to match yourself to them (or get them ie. finance program). Meanwhile, get some modeling done, write a few notes to prove you can write recommendations, and maybe join an investment club/have your own portfolio. The key to success is finding time to do personal research, and demonstrating your interest to people who can hire you. There’s a lot of supply as mentioned, I’m in the same boat right now - get yourself in front of people as much as possible, and be ready to be pushed on your knowledge.

I thought I might do that, learn some modelling and do some work at home, almost become one in my own time. “I’m an equity analyst, just don’t do it for a job. Yet.” and see if meanwhile anyone is desperate for an assistant like me! (and applying to grad schemes)

With a background in compliance, strong math skills, and cfa under your belt, why not try risk management?

don’t listen to these kids on here. they’re a bunch of haters. have faith :wink:

well said

This is an option and would involve the same stuff you seem to enjoy.

My advice based on USA is that research jobs are really a hired out of college, hired from another firm doing it, or hired from industry to be a research in that industry. Itera is right that is really tough unless you are one of these groups. But keep trying, but I would try to get in another role because the longer you are in compliance the less of a shot you have. I think risk management would be an easier transition, but go with what you are interested in. And I think sell side is where you should be focusing, not buy side

Good luck.

Is research buy-side now?

Hi, thanks everyone.

I have this issue in that I REALLY hate what I am doing. I hate it. So much. I’m sure you know what I mean, thaat feeling that you’re wasting your life, aging from giving so much of yourself to something which you get nothing out of etc etc. I think if I did risk, I would find that much more engaging, it’s an incremental step in the right direction and it would buy me a lot of patience.

BUT, here, all the risk jobs I’ve seen need a maths degree and you need to be able to code excel to take a dump for you, your boss, and his children. I just don’t have those skills.

Meanwhile, there is a young lady on my course, did a languages degree, then went to work on reception at a hedge fund. After 6 months they offered her a job as team assistant and junior analyst. While I am unlikely to decide to go an work as a receptionist until the timing becomes right (ha. no.) that is now two people I have met in a short space of time, (2 out of all 3 people in research that I have EVER met in my life) who went into research from less relevant backgrounds than mine. So it really is not impossible. I just need to break into their secret club.

Meanwhile, YES, Risk, can anyone give me more advice? It looks like a closed door from where I’m standing.

Strange comment. Can you name a single buyside firm anywhere that makes investments without first doing some research on whether they might be good or bad?

To the OP. Can’t give you much advise except to say good luck and keep trying. Something will come along eventually for you. Don’t let that example of the girl who started on reception and moved within 6 months to a junior analyst nag at you too much though. Assuming that is true, it would be a real outlier. I think such moves are very very rare. She must have had great people skills to win over the hiring manager as well as demonstrating some exceptional intelligence/aptitude along the way.