Some of you may already be aware of this but I have made numerous posts about trying to break into equity research. Well I finally caught my break! So I thought I would make a post to share my story and how I finally broke in to hopefully help someone else out like me.
Basically my problem was I went to a standard state school with fairly good grades but not perfect. Coupled with no experience in the industry applying pre-graduation to any type of research roll was a joke. Not even one call back. So rather than inject a hefty batch of leverage to my personal balance sheet with an MBA I decided to pursue a CFA since it was more concentrated at what I wanted to do and it had an appealing ROI. I continued to apply and the same result…nada. So to cut to the chase here’s the top reasons to how I finally broke in:
*You’ve already heard this 1000 times over but there is a good reason for this. Networking is the single most important factor, IMO, to not only equity research but any type of job. With real estate they say, “Location, location, location”. With getting a good job, “Network, network, network”.
1b) Work your ass off in your spare time
*How bad do you want it? Everyone wants to be rich, famous, a successful athlete, doctor, etc. but most people do nothing to get there. You must become obsessed. Thinking about it every single day. Every rejection you get should motivate you more. Do what you can control and improve your research/modeling skills anyway you can to demonstrate to employers your willing to do anything and will decrease your perceived learning curve and apply to as many firms as you can. Sleep less, work more. Sleeping is for people that are happy mindlessly going through the motions at their standard 9 to 5 week in week out, rotting their brain away. Don’t ever be this person.
2) Demonstrate your understanding of the business/job
*I credit Numi for pointing out this flaw in me. I like one of his quotes a lot, “The more you can sound like you’ve done the job already, the more attractive you will look. Nobody wants to hire someone totally green; everyone wants to hire someone that can hit the ground running.” Don’t underestimate this one.
3) Show your passion for equity research
*If you’re in it for money, I believe employers can see right through you. Unfortunately, passion isn’t taught. It’s something that comes off naturally in conversation. If you’re not passionate and only in for the money then I suggest looking for a different career (and a different certificate). If you are passionate about research and the markets, however, let it shine through.
* Based off all my research and my own personal experience the CFA is great in many ways but I think most employers look for MBA/some experience over CFA for obtaining a job, however, I think a CFA gives you more creditably to your clients by having that CFA title after your name on your research reports after you get into the industry. The information learned is also more pertinent to the field. The CFA carries weight your whole career, but for breaking into equity research it certainly helps but not as much as people think. But by all means, getter done!
So in summary, if your struggling to break in to equity research because a lack of important credentials I suggest networking, doing everything and anything you can do to improve your research skills, apply to as many firms as possible, understand how the business works, be passionate, and crush those CFA exams.
You absolutely can do it. If me, an average Joe made it, you can make it. It all boils down to, how bad do you want it?! Remember, if it were easy to break in then it would not be lucrative and just another 9 – 5, blend in with the population type of job.
P.S. Thank you to all the AnalystForum people who helped me and others break in. I took all your advice into consideration…minus some.