Networking Success Stories

I work at a fairly small firm that has next to zero research oriented front office opportunity. I’ve been there for a bit more than 2 years. The experience I have does not deal with individual securities, so it’s challenging to transition this to something like an equity research position at another firm. To top it off, I’m in a smaller town that is anything but a finance hub, so face to face networking is not possible. I’m trying to get out of this situation, and obviously passing Level 2 is not looking like a golden ticket to anything, but I’m hoping that it can help a little. One thing I think I should do is design my own stock pitches that I can send with job applications to patch over the fact that my current experience does not cover that. Hopefully I’m less than a week away from finishing my first one. But I think the most important thing I can do for myself is network. Linkedin might be helping, but my company wants to take over all of our accounts, keep our passwords, and essentially keep that tool out of reach. If they ever get around to enforcing those rules, I can’t use that site anymore. Has anyone had any recent networking success stories? I know that there is no magic bullet, but I need to do something creative while in this town. It’s not like I at least have the benifit of being in a place like NYC. I was thinking about joining Has anybody tried that?

Your company seriously asked you for your linkedin password and controls your personal account?

I highly doubt that. Your company blocking linkedin I can believe that

A company that wants to control your LinkedIn account seems very invasive. I get that they might want to make sure that what you say about them is accurate and flattering, but to prohibit you from publishing who you are seems to cross the line. It may even be illegal. Saying that you can’t do LinkedIn on work hours is presumably permissible, but also shortsighted, unless the company assumes that your network is and ought to continue to be valueless to them.

I would certainly want to get away from them.

Your other ideas about having your own research to show people is good.

If you are in a smaller town, then the closest asset management possibilities are wealth managment. So try to make friends with as many wealthy people as you can. It takes time. You can start casually talking about markets with them and if you have a decent feel or insights, you might over time be able to convince them that you are worth listening to. At some point, that might be useful for developing a book of business.

Wealth management is not such a bad deal, either, assuming you like to work with people. You may not get the compensation that you see with the big hedge fund managers, but you can have a pretty nice compensation with a decent work-life balance once you’ve built a book of business that is large enough.

I’ve heard stories of people wanting to get access to people’s facebook account at interview stage to check them out. And so I’m not surprised to hear people saying that companies want to get access to their LinkedIn account.

In either case, I would politely tell them to go f*ck themselves. Asking for access to your digital property is a blatant violation of your personal space. I’m sure there must be some law or something that makes them asking for that illegal. If not, there must be a juicy lawsuit waiting to happen on that kind of thing surely.

btw - LinkedIn is a blocked site at my new job (in a large Australian bank). Also don’t get access to youtube and a heap of forums that I would usually use to help me with work. Seems kinda ridiculous but that’s the way it is.

That’s a very nice site to exchange ideas, or just to see some different practical approaches to valuation, but the membership is anonymous, so you can’t really use that for networking.

I’m not familiar with that site, but I don’t think the fact that it’s anonymous rules it out as a networking opportunity. Take this site for example, it’s a lot of like minded anonymous people shooting the shit, helping each other with exam or finance related issues. I’m sure there’s a fair bit of networking that’s occurred through this site though.

The finance job market isn’t great here at the moment. But is it really great anywhere in the world? If you can get a visa sorted for yourself though, it’s a great place to live.

Finance is contracting in most places of the world. If there are any opportunities somewhere, the supply of labor will move and the arbitrage will be gone.

The difference is that here we’re allowed to exchange e-mails and reveal our true identities, if we want.

There they have the specific goal of anonymity, so members can’t exchange private messages or e-mails, and they also can’t tell each other who they are. The reasoning is that, if people have direct access to each other, this could hurt the quality of public debate about the investment ideas on the forum.

Of course, there may be ways to circumvent to some extent but, if the goal is solely networking, I think the benefits would be either null or very small compared to alternatives.

For any buy-side investors here, I would highly recommend SumZero. One of my friends started the site (he was an original founder of Facebook) and it’s really blossomed into a pretty sweet buy-side community. I haven’t networked with too many other members yet, but I’ve posted a couple investment ideas and also have benefited from reading others. For a buy-side membership, you need to submit an investment idea, prove that you work at a buy-side firm, and then publish an idea on the site to get six months of unlimited access to the research database.

I browse Value Investor Club from time to time, and there’s some godo stuff there too. As with any open forum, you have to be thoughtful about evaluating the different ideas, but the quality of posting there is definitely better than Seeking Alpha.

There is also an “elite” membership where retail investors pay $120/month to get access to top investment ideas. It’s definitely worth it if you’ve ever seen the quality of the write-ups.

I truly believe that everyone serious about getting into sell-side or buy-side, especially buy-side, should be doing this. I didn’t have an investment write-up when I was interviewing for sell-side research as I was hired directly out of university several years ago (i.e. before the financial sector blew up), but had a couple of decent ideas to talk about. Nowadays it’s more competitive. It’s a great idea to write up your own research, though I’ve seen a huge gradient of quality and you probably will do more harm than good if you have a crappy report. That said, I get so many resumes sent to me every day at my workplace that unless the candidate has been referred to me by a friend or unless their resume is that good, I just delete their e-mail if it doesn’t come with an investment write-up.

Also, I would never give my Facebook or LinkedIn log-in to anyone. It’s not because I care about what they see, because I have a patent aversion to letting people access my life outside of my work. Yes, I know some firms do this and some people are willing to give up their log-ins if it’s a make-or-break for their employment. However, if a company did this to me, it’s not somewhere I’d want to work anyway.

If any firm demanded passwords to my personal accounts, the first thing I would do is say, “I’m going to let you rethink asking that question to me.” If they pushed, I tell them, “Ask again, and I’m leaving. Roll the dice.” If they were stupid enough to ask again, I’d pack my ish up and leave then and there (the old 2 weeks to notice, maybe payroll would take awhile to catch on ;-)). I would also report my experience (in truth to avoid the libel card) on fbook, linkedin, and twitter to get it out in the business world hard and fast! Best of luck to them in the future attracting any decent talent. They’ll be picking up the desparate applicants who suck at every job they’ve had and will gladly give up a pw to linkedin or fbook for a job.

Much like my man Numi, I could never work at a place full of paranoid people demanding to control you.

No credible company asks for their employees passwords for applications outside of work.

What’s next? Your bank account password?

Sorry to hear that, but this type of thing happens. Nine out of ten stocks I look at are basically fairly priced; the other one has some opportunity also has risks and it’s important to be thoughtful about those too. Don’t worry about wasted efforts on this company that got sued though – think about it as a good learning experience. In fact, I’m sure that through your diligence you identified some competitors or customers as well? Why not see if any of those are stocks you can pitch, and in the process develop knowledge of the whole competitive landscape or value chain? I often find that people who know the key drivers of an industry well can play longs and shorts pretty opportunistically, because they know what leading indicators to look at or how one competitor fares versus the other.

Also, let me just add that for you, as someone looking to break into an industry, don’t obsess too much about finding an ideal stock pick. The quality of your thought process matters more than actual results (which will be opaque anyway since nobody has a crystal ball). Generally, what I recommend to the clients that have signed up for my career advisory services is to come up with a pitch that you think has 20-25% upside (or downside if short) if it’s large or mid-cap, and 35-40%+ upside (or downside if short) if it’s small-cap. The rest of it comes down to how good your analysis is and how much of a value-added view you can deliver, so even if your thoughtful analysis suggests that maybe a stock you’ve been looking at has only 15% upside, you can fudge the numbers a bit to make things work. Otherwise you will be taking too long to find the “perfect” stock to pitch and will be spinning your tires too much.

So does anyone have a demo stock pitch to share? I’m curious how they’re laid out, how long they are, etc

^ While I spend a significant amount of time helping my clients to develop their own stock pitches which often lead to advanced stage interviews or offers on the buy-side or sell-side, unfortunately I don’t have any write-ups of my own that I can share publicly. It’s all internal stuff.

However, Value Investors Club is a good starting point for anyone; it’s definitely a mixed bag, but over time you might learn to discern which are good write-ups to emulate and which ones you should avoid.