Hey Numi, first off, just want to say I enjoy reading your posts and appreciate your insight. I was asking another poster in a different thread about equity research, and he said that you might have a better feel for it than he did and am hoping you can help me out. I’m a senior at the Univ of Michigan, majoring in Economics. After reading a little about equity/investment research, feel that it’s a better career path than ibanking (the 80-100 hour weeks are just too much, even if the pay is higher, imo). But I have a couple questions. The job search: 1. Experience. Unfortunately, I just don’t have the relevant working experience, and was unable to land an internship this past summer. How much will this hinder me in my search for an entry level position in this field? If it’s a big hindrance, I may need to focus on finding a job in a different field (I really am trying to focus in on one field before going back to school in a couple weeks, and really am intrigued by the research field). 2. Should I be aiming for smaller firms, boutiques? I would really like to find a job in Texas or the southeast, but not sure how to go about finding the firms and the best way to find a job in these areas. The job: 1. The progression I read from another thread is that you start out as an assistant or associate (the opposite terminology I was used to seeing in my ibanking job search online where analyst was entry level and associate was higher up). In the research field, if you want to progress past associate and onto analyst, etc. etc., can this be achieved internally? Or is it similar to ibanking where after you finish a two year analyst program, you move on to something else (if lucky, associate, if not, possibly MBA)? 2. The pay/hours. In another thread, I read the pay range for the entry level positions in research can vary from ~50-70k. For someone right out of college, I think that’s pretty good, though I realize the numbers are just a range and can vary greatly depending on buy side vs. sell side, location, firm size, etc. etc. I also was curious about the average hours for an entry level position? But everything starts with landing a job, and my chances of doing so considering my lack of experience and tough market. I’d greatly appreciate any and all advice and insight you can share with me. You can also email me at email@example.com. Thank you very much!
kp824, I’m not numi, but given your request in the other thread I will do my best to answer these questions. One thing I would like to preface is that I work on the buy side and everything I say is consequently more applicable to equity research on the buy side. Others, including numi could do a much better job filling you in on the sell side. One other piece of advice would be that do something because you enjoy it, not because it has a favorable hours/comp ratio. Granted, personally I’m greedy, so it be hard for me to be an artist or something to that effect, my point is that research might not be the most glamorous job, but to a select few it is interesting and fulfilling each day and that is why I do it. 1. When I go back to Stern to talk to undergrads, I tell them to seize every opportunity for work experience, this is one of the most valuable assets you can add to yourself (much more so than the extra A in some random elective). Although it would obviously be better if you worked an internship (especially in the current job market) all is not lost, UMich is a decent school, try to get involved in a investment club or something to exemplify your enthusiasm for the field. Chances are you can assume TRowe, CapRe, Wellington etc are out. But 2nd tier regional bank’s asset managers and mutual funds are still a possibility. Just off the top of my head I can think of a couple in both minnesota and chicago, which should have a favorable bias towards UMich. Couple more energy fund in the texas area, although selling yourself as a econ major with no experience and not from a top 5 school may be a little difficult. 2. As for progression, it depends on the company culture, I have talked to people at Janus and they are adamant about developing their own talent, ie promoting internally than again places like Capital Group and Templeton are completely against it. I think generally if you are going to a smaller places they will promote internally. If you are going to a top 5 firms (honestly, not to sound like a prick, it is probably not a dilemma you are going to have the luxury of having) it should be no problem to get into a top 5 bschool and maybe open doors in other careers if you so desire. And you can refer to the other thread for pay/hours. alright enough typing, someone else please fill this kid in on the sell side.
Thanks for the response! Based on what I’ve read SO FAR, I do think research is a field I’m interested in, especially moreso than ibanking (for me, that’s a big deal because for the longest time I really wanted to go into banking, partly because of the $, and the other part because I thought it’d be a good stepping stone). Now I’ve realized that it’s not all about the money for me, especially not straight out of undergraduate, as it’s hard to even land a job in the first place in this market, and because it’s also important to do something that’s interesting. 1. I actually am a member of a couple investment/finance clubs, but don’t hold a leadership position in any of them. I have put them on the resume and just stated what I’ve learned and done as a member of the clubs. And yeah, I kinda figured that the big firms would be unrealistic for me, but that’s ok. As far as the firms in Minnesota, Chicago, and Dallas, can you email who these firms are (firstname.lastname@example.org)? I’d really appreciate it, especially if they will have a favorable bias towards UMich! I’ve also read some of the articles about the sell side with regards to research, and it seems like there are issues in the industry since Spitzer. From the sounds of it, I’d prefer the buy side, but I’ve heard that it’s much harder to break into and you need sell side experience, does this also hold true for research, or should I go ahead and try to break into a buy side firm? 2. Interesting comments on the progression question. Seems like it varies, but it’s more likely that smaller firms will promote internally (that can be viewed as a positive, imo). And no worries about being harsh or “sounding like a prick”, it didn’t come off that way at all. I’d prefer to hear the honest truth and constructive criticism/advice, it’s definitely beneficial!
hi (1) experience – i think you should always go for your first choice job, whatever it is. don’t worry too much about plan B until plan A has failed. think about it this way, do you go for the average girl because you’re not sure you might have a chance with the hot girl? do you forgo the opportunity with the more attractive one simply because you have doubts about yourself or concerns about rejection? i don’t know what you’d do, but in my view, you should always go for the gold. most girls will tell you that the most effective way to get their attention (besides looking like brad pitt or george clooney) is to just talk to them. i.e. just go for it. same deal with jobs. you may feel like a loser if you get rejected, but the most surefire way to be a loser is to not try at all. (2) you should be applying for every job out there that fits your career objectives. there is nothing wrong with a MM or a boutique especially if you think that’s the best you can do. (3) most people that get promoted from associate to analyst are internal or direct promotes. going back to get an MBA will generally set you further back in your career track in research simply because you will have spent time away from the public capital markets, and getting to know a sector requires you to be immersed in it all the time. however, for you, you should be more concerned with getting a good entry level job and seeing where that takes you. there’s no point in predicting whether you really want to become a sell-side analyst because that job is so far down the line and is also very different from the associate role. (4) i think you should go in expecting to work 65-70 hours a week in sell-side research, and possibly worse. that way you’ll be pleased when you have a 60 hour week, which does happen. (5) yes, you’re right, everything DOES start with landing a job. you have figured this out so you are on the right track. don’t get preoccupied with detours, excuses, exams and certifications, or whatever else people tell you – just try your best to get that job and networking like crazy should help you. many people who make it in this field only know how to do things one way – and that way is “all-out, all the time.” good luck
Numi, thanks for the response! 1. I definitely hear ya when it comes to going after the job regardless of fear of rejection. I think for me, the reason I brought up the experience factor and how much it could potentially hinder me is because I want to at least try and be realistic and plan accordingly. Last year, I didn’t really plan very well, didn’t have very good advice, and kinda just applied wherever and for any internship, I think that lack of focus and realism burned me, and I don’t want that to happen again. I realize that most every field is tough to break into, especially now in this market, but if it’s near impossible (e.g. a position at a hedge fund), I’d prefer to know what I’m up against and deal with it accordingly. But from I’ve heard so far, it seems like at the very least, it is possible for me to break into an entry level assistant/associate role (just curious, would you say research is more or less competitive/difficult to break into than typical ibanking positions?) 2. Can you direct me to any resources or databases that could list off MM or boutique firms? Outside of the big investment banks and their research divisions, I’d like to find out about some of these smaller firms, but can’t seem to find a very good resource that lists these companies. 3. That’s a good point, my main focus right now is just breaking in, but was just curious about the progression, and thought I’d ask. 4. The hours sound manageable, I mean they aren’t “great” when compared to the average 40 hour work week, but I wasn’t expecting that going into this field in the first place! 5. I’m certainly going to give it my all when it comes to my job search this year, I really do NOT want to end up without a job despite having graduated. This past summer, without an internship, I had nothing to do and so I signed up for the CFA Level 1 in December, figuring I had to do SOMETHING, I can’t let it come to that again. That’s why this time around, I’m trying to seek out as much quality advice as possible (something I didn’t really do last year, which was clearly a mistake), getting things figured out and being better prepared for the job search. Thanks again for the help, very appreciated.
(1) it’s always possible to “break in”…but “probable” is a different question, and there are varying levels of probabilities. however, if you go to umich, there should be lots of alumni in your network that work on wall street and who can possibly help you out. you should start reaching to them before it’s too late. a lot of your classmates have already done so already. as far as whether it’s easier to get into research or banking, i’d say that it’s less competitive to get into equity research. there are less positions available than banking, but i think the demand for banking jobs exceeds that for research jobs by a greater proportion. both are pretty competitive though. (2) i’d say check the vault guide…there isn’t a whole lot written about each firm’s research operations, but if you have questions about specific banks when/if you get interviews, you can post them here and i or others can opine (5) sounds like you have the right attitude. it’s good that you worry about unemployment – fear can be a powerful motivating factor and it’s not too late to get on with the job search. definitely keep asking questions here and on wallstreetoasis.com. people here will probably have better ideas about research but there are more bankers on wallstreetoasis. just be aware that the sentiment right now is pretty negative because a lot of the regulars don’t post with much frequency anymore (including myself), and there are a lot of “newbie” questions. not that there’s anything wrong with that, but just don’t be discouraged if you get non-constructive replies there…just keep doing your ting and ask the right questions
- Good point. I initially was going to ask something along the lines of “ODDS of breaking in”, but I thought it’d be somewhat impossible to really narrow down. If being from UMich, having decent grades (3.3 GPA), and no finance work experience, has at least a respectable chance (~25-50%, random ball park figure/range that I just made up) of breaking in for an entry-level position, that’s not bad at all. Also, I just recently found the alumni database and certainly will be contacting them. I had a feeling that might be the case with regards to research vs. banking. In my very limited job search online, the past few days it’s been harder to find entry level research positions, but ibanking analysts positions can be found in greater numbers, but if the demand side is as you say, that’s at least somewhat encourage (relatively!). 2. I’m just reading through some of the Vault Guide right now, and IF (key word) and when I get an interview, I’ll be sure to post my questions on interview prep, what to know, what not to do, etc. 3. I can understand why the sentiment is negative, and I don’t mind if there are some non-constructive replies along the way, but that’s why I sought you out, I know you always are helpful to many posters on this site. Overall, after reading both yours and Buddha’s responses, along with some of the Vault guide, I’m hopeful that I can find that first entry-level position to start off my career! I’m expecting it’ll be a long process, but I want to start off right this time around, and exhaust as many resources as possible, and ask many questions along the way. Right now, I think I’ve polished up my resume (with the help of a couple people) pretty well and have a decent cover letter, now the next step is to try and get that to the right people and go from there.
kp824 – you have the right attitude. just be persistent, ask the right questions, and don’t be afraid to reach out to alumni. the important part is not to ask them for jobs, but to ask about their career objectives, what their days are like, and so forth. it’s implied that you’re looking for a job, so you just want to demonstrate your curiosity, dedication, and basically just someone that they can get along with. you never know who might put in a good word for you, and as you build those relationships, you can start asking if they can give you suggestions for potential opportunities. and of course, take advantage of all the on-campus recruiting too. good luck with everything and let me know if you need anything else
Thanks Numi. I do have one other question. While I certainly assume it wouldn’t HURT, is it NECESSARY to have a firm grasp of a specific industry going into my job hunt/applying/interviews? I follow the markets on a daily basis and am familiar with many stocks and know a little bit about various industries, but with my level of experience, I’m not an “expert” when it comes to any industry. From following the market for several years, I’ve certainly picked up things on the way, and while studying for L1, am having my memory refreshed/relearning FSA. I know with research, especially on the sell-side, you cover more companies within an industry, but without knowing what industry I would like to work on in an entry-level role, not sure how to address this question. I know I mentioned earlier that I wanted to be more focused and precise with my job search this year, and so I’m happy that I at least have it narrowed down to wanting to get into equity research, but I think narrowing it down even further would leave me at a disadvantage as it would limit my opportunities. It very well may be the case that entry-level positions don’t require expertise in any one industry, and that this is more applicable to an analyst role, but still thought I’d ask just to make sure/clear things up.